Approximately three decades after Steven Spielberg’s eye-popping “Jurassic Park,” the franchise appears far from extinction.
Two-plus years in the making, “Jurassic World: Dominion” – the series’ sixth installment – landed in stateside theaters to cash in concurrently with box-office beast “Top Gun: Maverick.”
The latest “Jurassic” movie begins with an on-location news report simultaneously showing an array of dinosaurs roaming among humans, animals and other creatures worldwide. How can such living conditions be sustainable?
Director Colin Trevorrow transports us to the Sierra Nevada mountains, where Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) spend time in a cabin with Maisie (Isabella Sermon), a girl valued as “intellectual property.” After all, the young lady is the offspring of Charlotte, a now-deceased groundbreaking scientist.
Nestled amid a toasty tent-filled terrain is paleontologist Alan (Sam Neill), where paleobotanist Ellie (Laura Dern) emerges to rekindle their friendship and get down to business – which means paying a visit to a remote laboratory.
It has been four years since Isla Nublar went kaput; now there’s a clandestine Biosyn facility operated by a greedy CEO (first-rate Campbell Scott) and a protege (razor-sharp Mamoudou Athie) – where theorist Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) resurfaces as a resident lecturer.
One additional key figure: An Air Force veteran and pilot (DeWanda Wise) who navigates aircraft and passengers through Doomsday conditions.
Trevorrow, who helmed “Jurassic World” in 2015, appears to have followed Speilberg’s path to inflated movies: Reportedly shot in British Columbia, Malta, Italy and England, “Dominion” – without enough edits on the cutting-room carpet – grinds onward for 145 minutes.
For my money, Scott shines brightest with a less-is-more approach: The actor’s low-key demeanor and stellar reputation belie the villain’s intentions. Dern, who typically has a pleasant way about her, is another sight for sore eyes and ears.
I’ve never been impressed by Ms. Howard (daughter of Hollywood filmmaker Ron), whose blue-eyed overemoting makes everything she does – talking, observing, breathing – appear difficult. By contrast, Goldblum, who ostensibly portrays himself on screen, does so with a deadpan delivery of one-liners: “Is that a dinosaur on your shoulder?” he asks in the calmest manner.
The story’s questions at hand: What modifications does the future hold, and who will be the “apex” predators henceforth? Could there be a food shortage (art imitates real life) in the U.S. heartland, as the locusts continue to destroy crops?
If the science is sketchy, if the particulars about cloning and reproduction get too deep in the weeds, at least “Jurassic World: Dominion” proves it’s worth as a visual feast, with exhibit A being the fiery overgrown locusts.
For all its moral musings and sci-fi claptrap, the film’s creators forgot what made the 30-year-old predecessor memorable: suspense and jolts to accompany the eye-popping images. This time, would-be scares or surprises are lost in the wild.