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"JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION"
(2022) (Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Sci-Fi: Various people must contend with dangerous dinosaurs as they try to stop a biotech firm CEO and his nefarious plans.
PLOT:

A few years after a volcanic eruption allowed dinosaurs to escape from Isla Nubar, they've now populated the world, forcing humans to adjust to living with them. Former Jurassic World manager Claire Dearing (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) isn't happy with subsequent illegal dinosaur breeding operations, but she and velociraptor trainer boyfriend Owen Grady (CHRIS PRATT) have bigger concerns. And that's protecting 14-year-old Maisie Lockwood (ISABELLA SERMON) from those who want her for her genetic makeup, what with being a clone of the late granddaughter to one of Jurassic Park's co-founders.

Chief among those interested in the girl is Biosyn Genetics CEO Lewis Dodgson (CAMPBELL SCOTT) who runs a dinosaur sanctuary near his headquarters but has the likes of scientist Henry Wu (BD WONG) doing dangerous experiments. The latest are giant mutant locusts that are now ravaging the world's food supply. That's drawn the concern of paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (LAURA DERN), mainly because the insects aren't eating crops grown from Biosyn seeds. Getting word from chaos theory mathematician Ian Malcolm (JEFF GOLDBLUM) -- who now works for Dodgson as his in-house philosopher -- that she needs to visit headquarters to see what's really occurring, she convinces her former Jurassic Park co-survivor and current paleontologist Alan Grant (SAM NEILL) to join her.

As they're shown around the facility by Dodgson's number two, Ramsay Cole (MAMOUDOU ATHIE), Claire and Owen must contend with Dodgson's agents kidnapping Maisie and stealing a baby velociraptor, all of which forces them to enlist the help of smuggler pilot Kayla Watts (DeWANDA RISE) to get them to Biosyn's headquarters, with everyone having to contend with dangerous dinosaurs along the way.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

One of the more memorable -- and certainly prescient -- quotes from 1993's "Jurassic Park" was when Jeff Goldblum's snarky, chaos-theory peddling mathematician Ian Malcolm states "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." He, of course, was referring to the cloning of dinosaurs and creating a theme park in which to view them, neither of which turned out well.

That is, at least for the characters in the film. But for those who made it, the financial rewards have been impressive for the original flick and its four sequels -- 1997's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," 2001's "Jurassic Park III," 2015's "Jurassic World" and 2018's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" - as the series has grossed more than $5 billion worldwide.

Thus, it's no surprise that a sixth installment got the green light, was given a production budget north of $150 million, and who knows how many tens of millions have been spent promoting it up until this week's release. And while I'm fairly positive it's going to make beaucoup moola at the worldwide box office, all of that circles back to Goldblum's character's "should have?" thought as related to the non-financial aspects.

Alas, Malcolm's sentiment was right, and just because the powers that be could obviously pump out another flick in the series, they clearly didn't stop to think whether they should from an artistic standpoint. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, and especially coming on the heels of the excellent, hyper-efficient, and thrill ride offering known as "Top Gun: Maverick," "Jurassic World: Dominion" feels like a lumbering dino, unsure of where it's going while thunderously plodding along for nearly two and a half hours.

The flick -- directed by a returning Colin Trevorrow who works from a screenplay he co-wrote with Emily Carmichael -- picks up where the 2018 flick left off. Namely, the dinosaurs have gotten loose and -- apparently reproducing faster than rabbits -- populated the world, resulting in an uneasy and unpredictable human meets resurrected species coexistence. Meanwhile, the stars from the last flick -- Chris Pratt's Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire Dearing -- now live out in the wilderness trying to keep their 14-year-year-old adoptive daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) -- from falling into the wrong hands.

She's the clone of the late granddaughter of one of Jurassic Park's co-founders and the fact that she won't ultimately die prematurely from a genetic disorder like her immediate predecessor -- not to mention that Owen's favorite velociraptor, Blue, has asexually reproduced -- has this film's quirky big tech villain -- Biosyn Genetics CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) -- interested in what makes both tick. Accordingly, his goons nab both, putting Owen and Claire on a rescue mission that ultimately involves smuggler pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and puts their plotline on a collision course with the other one that fuels the other half of this offering.

And that would be none other than a return of the trio of consultant survivors from the first flick, Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and the aforementioned Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Ellie is concerned about a pending world food supply disaster courtesy of giant mutant locusts created and unleashed by Biosyn. For reasons not at all suspicious, the ravenous critters don't touch crops grown from the company's genetically modified seeds. And with word from Ian -- who works for some weird reason as the biotech company's resident philosopher -- that she needs to show up and have a look around, Ellie convinces Alan to join her.

Much like the characters in the film who are no longer giddily amazed to see dinosaurs, many viewers are going to feel the same way about watching the same sort of shenanigans unfold on the screen. Sure, some of the action scenes and moments of peril are effective, but the rest of the film -- especially the mostly inert first act -- suffers from a lackluster and disjointed plot that makes one long to sneak over to the adjacent theater to re-watch Cruise and company and their magnificent flying machines.

Simply put, I never found myself invested in the story or its characters, although it was nice seeing the stars from the original return even if they've been left high and dry by the material. Yes, from a studio's bottom line financial standpoint, the film absolutely should have been made, but all involved should have stopped and heeded the chaos theory proponent's sage notion and subsequently come up with better material. Okay here and there, but otherwise a disappointment, "Jurassic World: Dominion" rates as a generous 4 out of 10.




Reviewed June 7, 2022 / Posted June 10, 2022


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