Review – An Extinction Level Event? (“Jurassic World: Dominion”)

After five sequels, TV specials, cartoons, short films, theme park rides, and an unimaginable amount of merchandising items from T-shirts to a movie-accurate Jurassic Park Jeep, this film marks its conclusion after many decades. Yeah. Right. Sure.

If you remember the events of 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Isla Nublar (home of the dinosaurs) was destroyed, but not before a whole bunch of them were shipped to the U.S. for an illegal sale. Thanks to Owen (Chris Pratt), Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and young cloned Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the sale was stopped. However, all the dinosaurs were set free on an unsuspecting America. Oopsie! Well, it’s three years later and them dinosaurs are now all over the Earth, cohabitating with everyone. . . in one capacity or another. A few are pets, others are just annoying, and many are poached or sold on the black market.

However, there’s something diabolical going on with bio-engineered locusts the size of small dogs that are wreaking havoc in the Heartland, threatening the world’s food supply. Behind this catastrophe is Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), the CEO of BioSyn Genetics who has opened a dino sanctuary in the beautiful Italian mountains. He has tunnel-vision to cure Alzheimer’s, cancer, and more using dino DNA and nothing will stop him, not even a minor setback like worldwide genocide. The only cure for stopping these lethal locusts is getting blood from two sources: teenager Maisie and the baby raptor offspring of Blue, Owen’s velociraptor friend. And yes, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) is behind it all again.  

So, while Maisie is being kidnapped and taken to BioSyn, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) needs to team up with her old partner, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to get vital evidence against BioSyn and their nefarious locust experiments. As Ellie and Alan hatch a plot to gain access to BioSyn – and see their old pal, Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) there – Owen and Claire are chasing after their ‘daughter’, thanks to an old buddy (Omar Sy) who’s now in the CIA and stationed in Malta. There, they discover a den of dino thieves, a corrupt black marketeer (Dichen Lachman), and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), a crafty mercenary pilot who ends up helping Claire & Owen get to BioSyn.

The third act is the convergence of all the players at BioSyn along with the dinosaurs, including the newest one: the Gigantosaurus, who is bigger and badder than the T-Rex! With all the constant running around, non-stop being chased by dino’s, and many call-backs to the 1993 original movie, screenwriters Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim: Uprising) and director Colin Trevorrow (the Jurassic World franchise) have pretty much run out of ideas in a movie franchise that ran out of ideas years ago. I mean, honestly, how many ways can you show people being chased by dinosaurs and escaping and not make it look routine? I was hoping for a War of the Planet of the Apes type apocalypse with dinos running amok causing widespread carnage, but noooooooo!

What you get is a 2hr and 26min movie which is, essentially, one long ‘get chased/escape/repeat’ film, with a few tense moments. But for every exciting scene like Owen’s motorcycle chase in Malta, there are many more ridiculous plot-hole scenes where the gang plans their escape and ‘magically’ knows where everything is! Yes, this should’ve been called Fan Service: the movie, as this is just an excuse to see the core Jurassic Park cast meet the new Jurassic World cast. And, I’m not gonna lie, it did put a smile on my face to see everyone on the screen together.

It’s a good thing the cast didn’t phone it in. Pratt and Howard still have chemistry together, as do Neill and Dern, who light up the screen with nostalgia. Goldblum, finally getting more than a few minutes, is great. Grown-up Sermon just shines while Wise turns in a terrific performance. I love Campbell Scott as the pseudo-mad scientist and BD Wong shows a tortured side to his long-time commitment to his work. As far as this being the “final” movie is concerned, it could have been worse (Jurassic Park 3, anyone?), but it could have been so much better. And don’t get me started on that finale! Aauuugghh! So corny!

**Now playing only in theaters

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Jurassic Park (1993)

Yes, the one that started it all! Michael Crichton’s magnificent book (read it, it’s better than the movie!), Steven Spielberg’s fantastic direction, John Williams stirring musical score, an exceptional screenplay by Crichton and David Koepp, and that incredible cast! Oh, the practical, as well as the CGI dinosaur effects? You just could NOT go wrong here!

It’s called Jurassic Park, a work-in-progress theme park filled with living dinosaurs and it’s ready to open to the general public on the Costa Rica island of Ilsa Nublar. The CEO, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), needs authoritative okay’s from leaders in their field prior to its opening, so he nabs chaos theory mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), leading paleontologists’, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and a lawyer (Martin Ferrero). Oh, and Hammond’s “target audience”, his grandchildren, Alexis (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello).

They’re all given the short tour (how the dinosaurs are genetically ‘made’), see a baby raptor courtesy of Dr. Wu (BD Wong), and then are sent out in unmanned SUV’s to see the real dino’s, but things go south very fast as an unscrupulous employee (Seinfeld’s Wayne Knight) sabotages the computer system so he can steal some dino embryos. A power failure, plus a nasty storm, results in the dangerous captive velociraptors and T-Rex running free on the island!

It’s a wild and scary ride with humans being chased by giant dinosaurs who are hungry for a quick snack, and great lines like: “If the Pirates of the Caribbean [ride] breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists”. Look for Samuel L. Jackson in a small role as a computer programmer and the voice of Richard Kiley as the tour narrator. After all, they spared no expense. Sure, there are some people who poo-poo’d the idea that dino DNA isn’t real, but screw ’em, this is one entertaining and super-fun movie to watch and launched a franchise as popular as Mickey Mouse. 

This move made a humongous amount of money and racked up some impressive awards from Best Movie (MTV Awards) to Best Director (Saturn Awards) and everything in-between. It also gave Universal Studios a mega-shot in the arm, theme-park wise, with a gargantuan (and highly profitable) merchandising campaign, along with its popular Jurassic Park–The Ride water coasterThis movie also single-handedly resurrected the whole dinosaur mythos and re-interest that we have today. Pretty damn amazing for just one movie, huh?

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