21 summer movies to make you want to go to the cinema again
Unfortunately, that makes “Dominion” a fitting capper for the “Jurassic World” trilogy. Trevorrow, the co-writer of all three movies and director of the first and third installments, doubles down on the traits that made 2015’s ‘Jurassic World’ nothing more than a guilty pleasure and 2018’s JA Bayona-directed ‘Fallen Kingdom’ a franchise- worst disaster. Remember the Weaponized Raptor Squad? Or the black market dinosaur auction? “Dominion” offers more of the same absurd plot.
It’s a shame, because “Fallen Kingdom” at least managed to create a potential-laden premise for “Dominion,” in which dinosaurs were unleashed upon the world, leaving civilization to face the pride of humanity. But beyond the painfully expository bookends, which show glimpses of dinosaurs wandering through traffic, galloping across the plains and nesting atop a skyscraper, “Dominion” has little interest in exploring how these prehistoric creatures unbalance the ecosystem or recalibrate the food chain.
Instead, Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael (working on a story by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) deliver an overloaded spectacle about climate defeatism, the overreach of big tech, the morality of cloning and, yes, more underground trade in dinosaurs. And much of the film takes place in a dinosaur sanctuary in the Italian Dolomites, restoring the status quo and allowing our heroes to once again fight for survival while navigating dinosaur territory.
In addition to bringing back the “Jurassic Park” trio, “Dominion” moves forward with the decidedly less charismatic central duo of “Jurassic World”: former velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and park manager turned dinosaur rights activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). The film picks up four years after “Fallen Kingdom,” in which the dinosaurs created for the doomed Jurassic Park and its successor, Jurassic World, were rescued from a volcanic eruption, shipped to California, and unleashed on the continental United States after the aforementioned dino . the auction went wrong.
Hiding out in the Sierra Nevada, Owen and Claire stay away while caring for Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the teenage girl on the run who impulsively unleashed the dinosaurs in “Fallen Kingdom” after discovering she was a clone of his mother. But Maisie’s valuable DNA puts her in the crosshairs of Biosyn, a genetics giant led by fun-loving, quirky Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott, in a role briefly played by Cameron Thor in “Jurassic Park”). Meanwhile, paleontologist Alan Grant (Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Dern), and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (a scene-stealing Goldblum) seek to expose the same company for its shameless diabolical plot to control the global food supply through genetically improved locusts.
As the conclusion to not just this trilogy but also the six-film “Jurassic” saga, “Dominion” gives Neill, Dern, and Goldblum a pretty satisfying victory lap. Before the ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jurassic World’ generations collide, however, there are plenty more characters to go through. BD Wong returns as Dr. Henry Wu, the genetic engineer whose repeated failure to learn from his mistakes borders on parody. Dichen Lachman plays a dinosaur smuggler who, in a baffling retaliation of “Fallen Kingdom’s most hoki conceit”, wields a laser pointer that commands dinos to attack his targets. Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise make attractive additions – as Biosyn’s shadowy communications manager and a virtuous cargo pilot, respectively – but still get lost in the shuffle.
To give Trevorrow credit, he knows how to pull off an action sequence and conjure up evocative imagery. A motorcycle chase through dinosaur-infested Malta is a wild ride, and a white-knuckled scene in which Howard’s Claire escapes a beast by diving underwater proves worthy of Steven Spielberg’s original film.
Speaking of this film, the callbacks to “Jurassic Park” — which come quickly, especially in the final act — result in moans, cheers, and nothing in between. When the final 20 minutes of “Dominion” plays like a beat-for-beat recreation of the sets from previous films, it becomes clear that Trevorrow and Co. have nothing new to say. In a welcome burst of self-aware shtick, the film at least allows Goldblum to sum up the state of the franchise: “Jurassic World? Not a fan.”
PG-13. In neighborhood theatres. Contains intense action sequences, some violence and bad language. 147 minutes.