Some people were lucky enough to see “Jurassic Park” in theaters in 1993 and were blown away by what was the most successful movie of all time between “ET” and “Titanic.” Even as a little kid, some of my earliest movie memories are watching the old VHS copy we had. Why my parents let me watch it when I was 6, I don’t know.
Either way, the Jurassic Park series has been a monumental and influential piece of Hollywood ever since, but no sequel has lived up to the original. I’m a die-hard fan of every installment even though I know from a critical standpoint that they aren’t great because dinosaurs running amok and eating people is a fun time.
But now, with “Jurassic World: Dominion,” the sixth film overall and the third in the new trilogy, it’s getting harder and harder to defend them. On the one hand, trying to cash in on nostalgia comes across as cheap and passionate once again. However, with the great special effects, suspenseful atmosphere, and music by John Williams, it’s still a fun time.
It’s supposed to be the last film in the series as a whole, and it’s sad to see what started out as a promising sequel trilogy end on such a ho-hum note. It would almost be better if it was downright terrible, but being solidly mediocre is a clumsy way to end a 65 million year old story.
Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans and the rest of the animal kingdom all over the world. Former Jurassic World park employees Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) attempt to protect their adopted daughter, Maisie Lockwood, and the dinosaurs they can from those who harm them.
Meanwhile, Drs. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm attempt to find the connection between a deadly new species of giant insects destroying the world’s food supply. Unfortunately, familiar faces from the original Jurassic Park and the new Jurassic World team must infiltrate the same evil corporation into a secret base where dinosaurs roam free.
Today, the future of our world depends on maintaining the delicate balance between humanity and the large predators adapting for the first time to life outside the park.
At the end of the previous episode, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the dinosaurs are unleashed on the continental United States, and audiences get a glimpse of what this sequel should have been – a mosasaur under surfers, a T-rex roaring at an African lion in a zoo, pteranodons flying with pelicans and a raptor standing over a cliff looking at a suburban residential complex full of potential prey.
But aside from a few short scenes of humans, modern animals, and dinosaurs living somewhat peacefully, nothing in “Jurassic World: Dominion” relates what has been set up. Instead, Maisie and a baby raptor are kidnapped and Owen and Claire must track them down and bring them home – basically the Liam Neeson movie “Taken” but with dinosaurs. And the trio’s big return from the original trilogy doesn’t see them face off against dangerous dinos in the real world until the final act. Instead, they try to bring down a company over bugs.
So while the story is arguably the worst in the saga, what I and a lot of people wanted to see were some cool action scenes with dinosaurs eating people, and there’s thankfully plenty of that for make it worth it. There are even a number of dinos never featured in previous films that finally make their debut and terrorize the heroes in all sorts of exciting ways.
Nostalgia bait is a kind way of explaining how many references, flashbacks, and easter eggs are sprinkled throughout the runtime, but if this is an ongoing story, it makes sense. And frankly, it’s always a joy to finally see the old and the new together, even though that’s about all this film has to offer.