21 summer films to get you excited about going to the movies again
Unfortunately, that makes the “Dominion” a fitting capper to the “Jurassic World” trilogy. Trevorrow, the co-writer of all three films and director of the first and third installments, doubles down on the traits that made 2015’s “Jurassic World” no more than a guilty pleasure and 2018’s JA Bayona-directed “Fallen Kingdom” a franchise- worst catastrophe. Remember the militarized raptor brigade? Or the black-market dinosaur auction? “Dominion” offers more of the same preposterous plotting.
That’s a shame, because “Fallen Kingdom” at least succeeded in teeing up a potential-laden premise for “Dominion,” in which dinosaurs have been unleashed on the world, leaving civilization to confront humanity’s hubris. But beyond painfully expository bookends, which show glimpses of dinosaurs roaming through traffic, galloping across the plains and nesting atop a skyscraper, “Dominion” has little interest in exploring how these prehistoric creatures imbalance the ecosystem or recalibrate the food chain.
Instead, Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael (working off a story by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) deliver an overstuffed spectacle about climate defeatism, big tech overreach, the morality of cloning and, yep, more underground dinosaur trading. And much of the movie unfolds at a dinosaur sanctuary in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, restoring the status quo and allowing our heroes to once more strive for survival while navigating the dinos’ turf.
In addition to bringing back the “Jurassic Park” trio, “Dominion” forges ahead with “Jurassic World’s” decidedly less charismatic central duo: former velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and park manager-turned-dino rights activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). The movie picks up four years after “Fallen Kingdom,” in which the dinosaurs created for the doomed Jurassic Park and its successor, Jurassic World, were saved from a volcanic eruption, shipped to California and set loose on the American mainland after the aforementioned dino bidding went awry.
Hiding in the Sierra Nevada, Owen and Claire are staying off the grid while looking after Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the on-the-lam teen who impulsively unleashed the dinosaurs in “Fallen Kingdom” after discovering she was a clone of her mother . But Maisie’s valuable DNA puts her in the crosshairs of Biosyn, a genetics behemoth run by the amusingly off-kilter 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) are seeking to expose the same company for its unabashedly evil plot to control the world’s food supply through genetically enhanced locusts.
As the conclusion not just to this trilogy but to the six-film “Jurassic” saga, “Dominion” gives Neill, Dern and Goldblum a satisfying enough victory lap. Before the “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” generations collide, however, there are many more characters to cycle through. BD Wong is back 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 reprisal of “Fallen Kingdom’s” hokiest conceit, wields a laser pointer that commands dinos to attack its targets. Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise make for appealing additions – as Biosyn’s shadowy head of communications and a virtuous cargo pilot, respectively – but still get lost in the shuffle.
To give Trevorrow credit, he sure knows how to stage an action sequence and conjure evocative imagery. A motorcycle chase through dino-infested Malta makes for a rollicking ride, and a white-knuckle scene in which Howard’s Claire evades one beast by plunging underwater proves worthy of Steven Spielberg’s original film.
Speaking of that movie, the “Jurassic Park” callbacks – which come thick and fast, especially in the final act – induce groans, cheers and nothing in between. When “Dominion’s” final 20 minutes play as a beat-for-beat re-creation of previous films’ set pieces, it becomes clear that Trevorrow and Co. have nothing new to say. In a welcome sliver of self-aware shtick, the movie at least allows Goldblum to sum up the state of the franchise: “Jurassic World? Not a fan. ”
PG-13. At area theaters. Contains intense sequences of action, some violence and strong language. 147 minutes.