“Jurassic World Dominion” begins with a nod to “The Deadliest Catch”: a marine reptile munch on king crabs in the Bering Sea before setting its jaws on a trawler and its crew. Ouch! Then, a fake newscast quickly brings us up to speed on the global catastrophe that began unfolding nearly 30 years ago in the first “Jurassic Park” movie. In case you need a reminder, how it all started with Richard Attenborough raving about the wonders of life; how it goes is that big lizards are everywhere, usually bringing out the worst in people.
It would be nice if these reanimated monsters inspired better movies. The “Jurassic” brand, born in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel, promises cringe-worthy action and sublime reptilian special effects steeped in pop pseudoscience and bioethical chin-scratching. The second trilogy, which debuted in 2015, didn’t quite deliver on that promise. “Dominion,” directed by Colin Trevorrow, is perhaps a little better than its two predecessors (“Jurassic World” and “Fallen Kingdom”), but in a way that underscores the hectic inconsistency of the whole enterprise.
However: Jeff Goldblum is back, as Dr. Ian Malcolm, the “chaotic”, more seductive than the dinosaurs themselves. Ian reunites with his “Jurassic Park” enemies, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). Ellie has been married and divorced and has made a name for herself in the field of genetics. Alan always carries a torch for her. Yes, he is in love with her, but what I mean is that he literally carries a torch, to light their way through an ancient amber mine deep in the Dolomites.
This rocky part of Italy is where the fiercest and largest ancient predators now live, in a reserve built and overseen by Lewis Dodgson, an evil tech/pharma billionaire played by Campbell Scott. He seems nice enough at first – his company, Biosyn, claims to protect dinosaurs from the goodness of its corporate heart, and also to cure disease, feed the world and so on – but no one except a naive scientist does. is likely to be fooled. There are too many tell. Lewis’ silver hair is combed flat against his scalp, and he wears collarless shirts and soft jackets in rarefied neutral tones like ecru, pewter and walrus mother. His very speech patterns suggest that libertarianism has gone mad.
It turns out that Lewis has bioengineered a plague of giant locusts, with the help of Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), another returning from the previous “Jurassic Park” movies. Biosyn has also kidnapped Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the cloned avatar of a famous scientist.
To make a very long story as short as possible: for the past few years, Maisie has been in the care of Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who have been with the franchise since “Jurassic World” and who have many less and less to do. Well, that’s not quite fair. It’s just that everyone is more interesting, old and new alike. Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise are both better than they are. should only be in cookie-cutter parts. She’s Kayla Watts, a tough, cynical cargo pilot, and he’s Ramsay Cole, a tech-savvy servant. They both end up pretty much where you end up. wait, Kayla is someone you might hope to see in her own movie.
Pratt and Howard, bless them, are the designated action figures, who do a lot of running, jumping and fast driving. There’s a convoluted chase through the narrow streets of a picturesque Mediterranean seaport, which is only tangentially linked to dinosaurs but which might remind you, not unpleasantly, of a Jason Bourne film. Other chases unfold through mud, rain, snow, and the dark of night, along the sleek, curving hallways of a high-tech research facility.
It’s a very crowded movie – there are so many species of dinosaurs, and I’m so bad at keeping up with them that my 8-year-old self doesn’t speak to me anymore. They’re variously menacing, ravenous, bizarre, and rather cute, but the frenetic live action and digital special effects rarely produce moments of Spielbergian awe.
In the world of “Dominion”, dinosaurs are not a big deal. The message seems to be that human beings must learn to live with them, accepting the occasional mutilation of pets or devouring boats as the price of coexistence. Is it utopian or dystopian? A vision of ecological harmony or genetically modified apocalypse? A Covid metaphor or just a sign of imaginative exhaustion?
Jurassic World Dominion
Rated PG-13. Lizard brain stuff. Duration: 2h26. In theaters.