The older I get, the more I realize greed ruins everything. Cutting corners to make arbitrary deadlines, budgets and profit margins is why you get disasters like the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Kansas City Hyatt skybridge collapse, plane crashes, car fires, space shuttle explosions and more. The need to profit from EVERYTHING leads to poor planning, poor decision making and bad judgements. Sometimes taking a risk is necessary but when it flies in the face of common sense and science, someone must be mature enough to say “stop.” The “Jurassic Park/World” movies are examples of hubris and greed run amok. The idea we could bring back dinosaurs from tens of millions of years ago, keep them in a contained environment and make money from them without losing control is a theme running through all six films, including the latest “Jurassic World: Dominion.” I suppose you could say the movies are a commentary on humanity’s blindness to its own limitations and its desire to make money. The same could be said for the film makers behind this convoluted, illogical and messy exercise.
Claire, Owen and the clone Maisie (Brice Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and Isabella Sermon) live in an isolated cabin in the Sierra Nevada. Owen wrangles loose dinos in the area while Claire works to stop the illegal smuggling and breeding of dinosaurs. Maisie is bored and restless as she wants to explore the world but is forbidden to go “past the bridge” as people are looking to abduct and experiment on the only known human clone. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is studying the recent outbreak of giant, long extinct locusts that are decimating crops in the Midwest and could lead to a worldwide famine. Sattler notices the locusts don’t eat the crops from grain sold by bioengineering firm Biosyn, owned by Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Biosyn has started a research and containment facility for dinosaurs in Italy’s Dolomites mountains. Sattler suspects Biosyn created the giant locusts and approaches Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to help gather evidence at Biosyn headquarters, thanks to an invitation from Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) who is a consultant at the company. Back in the Sierra Nevada, Maisie is kidnapped along with the velociraptor Blue’s baby named Beta. Claire and Owen begin a worldwide chase to find the girl they consider their daughter, and Beta, and everyone eventually winds up at Biosyn.
I’ve left out another page worth of plot summary, including a sassy cargo pilot, an ice-cold dinosaur broker, a straight-from-Central-Casting bad guy/kidnapper, and the return of Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) who has grown a conscience out of nowhere. The overstuffed plot, the massive number of characters and the enormous number of coincidences that must play out for everything in the story to come together make this the silliest of all the six films dealing with the recreation of dinosaurs from the ancient past with fragments of DNA gathered from a mosquito captured in amber…and that’s quite a feat.
Despite all the goofiness, “Jurassic World: Dominion” is never boring. The slower parts of the film with the story and emotional beats are quick and to the point. The next action scene is never far away. Whether it’s Owen on a motorcycle being chased by raptors trained to stay on a target until it’s dead, or Claire crawling on her belly in a forest trying to escape a Therizinosaurus, or an airplane attacked by Quetzalcoatlus, or a swarm of giant locusts that are on fire, or any number of other hair-raising adventures involving dinosaurs and humans, you will have little time for your mind to wander. This works in the film’s favor, as you pay less attention to the lack of logic, the not following its own rules and the overall silliness of the story.
Let’s first consider the stamina of raptors. A big part of the trailer shows Owen on a motorcycle being chased. To a lesser extent, Claire is also a target. This chase scene appears to cover miles through the city of Malta. The raptors are never far behind Owen, even chasing him into a cargo plane that is taxiing down a runway. These creatures appear to have extraordinary speed and the ability to run for days without rest. While I’m no expert on raptor physiology, I doubt they could sustain a chase for that long.
The famous line about how Tyrannosaurus rex vision was limited to moving prey is repeated then ignored almost instantly. There are several instances when a character is confronted by a dangerous carnivore but doesn’t take an apparently clear path to, at least, temporary safety. Maisie is shown in the trailer climbing a ladder with a protective cage around it but stops when a Giganotosaurus clamps down on the cage. I’m sure it would be very frightening to be almost entirely in a Giganotosaurus mouth, but stopping your climb seems like the last thing one would do. There are several other similar instances where characters pause to gawk at another dinosaur when safety is just a quick bolt away.
There’s also a scene, also in the trailer, where Owen and cargo plane pilot Kayla Watts (played by DeWanda Wise) are running across a frozen lake that’s cracking beneath their feet while being pursued by a feathered raptor. The raptor dives through a hole in the ice and is chasing them underwater. For NO GOOD REASON, both people jump in the air and Owen crashes through the ice. Why did they jump? There was nothing in front of them to avoid. Why?! It makes no sense. But that can be said for just about everything in the film.
“Jurassic World: Dominion” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language. Dinosaurs chase various characters through the film. Some children are terrorized by a swarm of giant locusts and these bugs apparently bite. Locusts also attack a pair inside a research lab. A character is bitten on both hands by dinosaurs and then killed when a third chomps on his head. The black goo spitting dinosaurs from the original “Jurassic Park” make a pivotal return. Various extras are chomped and swallowed by the larger dinosaurs. Some of the attacking dinosaurs are stunned with a high-powered electric prod. Foul language is scattered and mild.
Having the casts of the original “Jurassic Park” and the “Jurassic World” trilogies combine (again by coincidence) was a nice thing to see. But that warm feeling only goes so far to soothe away the awfulness of this film. Maybe this creative team and the films’ producers Amblin Entertainment will allow this series to go extinct. With a worldwide gross of $389 million in the first few days of release, it’s likely we’ll revisit the creatures of an ancient era soon. I can only hope more thought and logic is put into future stories and the “Jurassic World” franchise manages to make a movie that has more depth than a 3D model of a T. rex.
“Jurassic World: Dominion” gets two stars out of five.
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