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Jurassic World: Dominion
I don't understand why the Jurassic World franchise (Formerly known as the Jurassic Park franchise) has a consistent allergy to letting its full blockbuster schlock flag fly but offering an installment that fully takes place in a world where dinosaurs and humans battle it out.
After the third act edging of the San Diego T-Rex attack in The Lost World all the way back in 1997, the fans were promised the move towards seeing all kinds of prehistoric reptiles wreaking havoc on the city streets and on locations that weren't yet another secluded island in South America.
Yet Jurassic Park III delivered just that: More of the same. After the stupendous and tone-deaf decision to have the dinosaurs released to the world at the end of the last Jurassic World entry, the Fallen Kingdom, some teaser shots before that movie ended promised yet again that the franchise was finally going to take this leap into full-on global dino mayhem.
And here comes Jurassic World: Dominion, which, after a spectacular dino chase sequence in the narrow streets of Malta, once again settles into yet another secret island where yet another evil tech billionaire is hatching yet another evil plan that yet again goes haywire, leading to yet again the same sequences of our heroes running away from dinos in a forest setting covered in chewed up scientific buildings made out of human hubris.
Side note: Director Colin Trevorrow would also like studio heads to know that he'd like to direct an installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise since the first half of the film forgets about the dinosaurs in order to lead our cardboard heroes Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) into globe-trotting spy shenanigans. After he pulled the same atonal crap during the last five minutes of Safety Not Guaranteed in order to snatch a job as a Spielberg understudy (Hey, it worked), maybe one day he'll actually direct the movie he's hired to helm.
The two major plots of Dominion have very little to do with dinosaurs. One involves genetically engineered giant locusts that belong in a 1950s sci-fi/horror b-movie throwback, and the other expands upon one of the most superfluous subplots from the last installment: Maisie, the clone girl who's now under Claire and Owen's protection.
The locust story involves the legacy characters of the franchise, Grant (Sam Neill), Sadler (Laura Dern), and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) as they try to get to the bottom of the locust problem spurred on by the mad tech billionaire du jour for the franchise, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). It's baffling that Dodgson's upgraded to being a sinister genius since he came across as a random meathead henchman during his single scene in the original Jurassic Park. I guess the writers ran out of characters from the franchise who might still be alive. Expect a one-armed Samuel L. Jackson to make a sudden return as the new villain pretty soon.
Neill and Dern's return is very welcome since the characters and the actors have actual chemistry, as opposed to the dead-eyed nothingness that passes between Pratt and Howard, and it's charming to see these characters, who were separated in Jurassic Park III, reignite their romance. As mentioned above, the midpoint dino chase set-piece is the highlight of the film, but there are some solid scenes full of tension and bombastic dino fights (The climactic fight is pretty awesome, although it has nothing to do with the plot or the human characters' journeys, to the point where one of them actually says "This has nothing to do with us").
Dominion gets the job done when it comes to pushing the nostalgia and old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment buttons in order to provide some form of forgettable escapism for the masses. Anyone else looking for the franchise to finally go full schlock while exploring a world made-up of dinos and humans duking it out during the ENTIRE film will have to keep waiting.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com