By Bob Garver
Even among the crowded 2010’s box office, “Jurassic World” managed to be one of the most successful franchises of the decade, after “Stars Wars” and the MCU. This despite my worries that “Jurassic Park” fandom ended after the disastrous third film in 2001. The first two films of the new trilogy made a combined $1 billion at the domestic box office, proving that there is indeed still a place in moviegoers’ hearts for man-eating dinosaurs. Now comes conclusion “Jurassic World Dominion,” which is opening in the 2020’s where almost everything underperforms. But this movie is entertaining enough that I don’t see why it can’t be an exception.
The movie picks up four years after teenage clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) let a cache of dinosaurs out of her grandfather’s compound and into the world. She now lives in an isolated cabin with former dino-keeper Owen (Chris Pratt) and redemption-seeking former exploiter Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). She needs to be kept hidden away from bad people who want her clone DNA, but she wants to go on adventures and live life. She needs rescuing roughly one minute after striking out on her own, as she gets kidnapped trying to rescue a raptor, also captured for its DNA.
The world is under attack in this movie, not so much from the original freed dinosaurs, but from dino/locust hybrids that are eating all the planet’s crops. That is, all the crops that aren’t protected by the BioSyn corporation, led by long-cast-aside original “Jurassic Park” baddie Lewis Dodgson (now played by Campbell Scott). It doesn't take Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) long to figure out that the company is up to something shady, and she enlists the help of old friend Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to infiltrate its research facility/dinosaur sanctuary and gather evidence of wrongdoing. The mission should go smoothly, since they have a man on the inside: Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) works for BioSyn, not-so-subtly trying to destroy the company from the inside out. Breaking away from the tour led by Ramsay (Mamoudou Athie) is easy enough, but the rest soon goes haywire in true “Jurassic” fashion.
Owen and Claire, for their part, track Maisie to Malta, where they infiltrate a shadowy dinosaur black market, complete with exotic steaks and people gambling on dino-fights. They’re too late to retrieve the child, but they enlist the help of helicopter pilot Kayla (DeWanda Wise), who can give them a ride to, where else, BioSyn, where Maisie is being held by Dodgson and Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), the latter of whom is having an uncharacteristic attack of conscience. First they have to get out of Malta, which involves one of the true urban-set action sequences of these movies, as they must navigate a treacherous urban grid Jason Bourne-style, evading dinosaurs that are being electronically manipulated into attacking them.
The whole thing ends up at BioSyn, where the characters meet up (they all know each other because they’ve read each other’s books and articles, that’s all the introduction they need) and have to navigate a dinosaur-filled compound together. These movies have a way of always coming down to the characters having to survive in a dinosaur-filled compound, and at this point the movie is really not unique from any of the others. But at least we get the relatively-creative chase scene in Malta, and I’m more inclined to root for the established Dern, Neill, and Goldblum characters than the Pratt, Howard, and Sermon ones that never caught on. I’m not seeing a lot of love for “Jurassic World Dominion” from other critics, and I can understand why, with some clunky dialogue and overly-familiar action after Malta. But this movie was able to hold my interest just enough that I’m willing to give it a recommendation. Given the disappointing nature of the rest of this trilogy, “Jurassic World Dominion” is about as good a conclusion as we could have hoped to get.
“Jurassic World Dominion” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language. Its running time is 146 minutes.
Contact Bob Garver at [email protected].