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Jurassic World 2022 Review – Jurassic World: Dominion might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life! The plot made no sense, the dialogue was atrocious, and the special effects were way below what you’d expect from a modern Hollywood blockbuster.
If you’re looking to catch dinosaurs on the big screen this summer, do yourself a favor and watch something else! (Like Jurassic World 3-D or Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.)
Disclosure: Spoiler Alert!
When “Jurassic Park” came out in 1993, computer-generated and digitally composited effects were still fairly new. Director Steven Spielberg and his team gave them more credibility by using them sparingly, often in dark or rainy scenes, and mixing them with old-fashioned practical FX work (mainly puppets and large-scale models).
The result made people feel both primitive wonder and fear. The T-Rex attack in particular was so well-thought-out and scary that it made this writer shift in his seat and raise one arm in front of his face as if to protect himself from a dinosaur.
When there was a break in the chaos, Spielberg cut to a very quiet scene and let everyone hear how many people in the audience had been screaming in fear. This was a foolproof showman’s trick that made everyone laugh a lot and let the tension go away.
A little girl sitting next to this writer saw how his body was still twisted in fear and asked, “Mister, are you okay?”
Nothing in “Jurassic World: Dominion” comes close to the first T-Rex attack in “Jurassic Park” or any other scene from that movie. Or, for that matter, any of the scenes in the Spielberg-directed sequel “The Lost World,” which made the best of an inevitable cash-grab by using the movie as an excuse to stage a series of dazzling large-scale action sequences and making Jeff Goldblum’s chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm the action hero.
Goldblum, who is back in the same role in “Dominion” with Sam Neill and Laura Dern from the original cast, turned his “Lost World” performance into a wry but angry critique of corporate capitalism.
Even so, there’s nothing in this new movie that’s as good as the best parts of “Jurassic Park III,” “Jurassic World,” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” That last movie had a problem called “diminishing returns,” but it still had some great action scenes and dino attacks.
The plot of “Dominion” is both literally and figuratively based on “Fallen Kingdom” by J.A. Bayona. “Fallen Kingdom” had the most unexpected turns since the first one, bringing to mind Spielbergian images of wonder (like the sad shot of the brachiosaur left behind on the dock) and mixing gothic horror and haunted house movie elements in its second half.
Michael Crichton got the idea for “Jurassic Park” from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” The character Maisie Lockwood, played by Isabella Sermon, is a clone made by John Hammond’s business partner to replace the daughter he lost.
“Dominion” has a lot of important characters, and Maisie is one of them. Her sad situation gets a few new, disturbing details in “Dominion.” But returning franchise writer/director Colin Trevorrow (who also wrote and directed “Jurassic World”) and his team can’t stay focused on their deeper meanings long enough to give Maisie the depth needed for a great or even good science fiction/horror movie.
Maisie’s bad treatment is just one mistake in a sequel that throws ideas, images, characters, and plot twists into a dumpster and calls it a movie.
At the beginning of the movie, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who used to run Jurassic World’s park operations and is now in charge of the activist Dinosaur Protection Group, breaks into a ranch where baby plant-eaters are being kept and decides on the spot to save one of them.
Then she goes to Maisie’s cabin in the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains, where she lives with Owen Grady, who used to work at the park as a bird whisperer (Chris Pratt). The three of them make up a makeshift nuclear family, and their main goal is to protect Maisie from people who want to use her for genetic and financial gain. Blue, a semi-tame raptor, also lives with them.
He has reproduced without a mate and has a child, which mirrors Maisie’s relationship to her mother’s DNA, though it’s done so haphazardly that it seems like the filmmakers didn’t even think about the connection between the two creatures.
As in most of the other films, there is also a corporate spy plot involving a thoughtless and/or evil company that talks about magic and wonder but wants to use the dinosaurs and the technology that made them make money. Since “The Lost World,” the people who took over after park founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), who was a nice old man who meant well but didn’t think through the consequences of what he did, have been actively bad guys.
Dr. Lewis Dodgson, a character from the first movie who has been recast and made CEO of BioSyn (get it? “bio sin”), is the bad guy in this one. Dodgson hired B.D. Wong’s Dr. Wu, who shows up in a lot of “Jurassic” movies and is arguably the real bad guy in most of them (in an oblivious way, like John Hammond), to breed prehistoric locusts that are genetically programmed to eat all crops except the ones that the company sells.
Dodgson is the one who planned to take Maisie and Blue’s children away. Campbell Scott gives Dodgson a unique personality through his body language, the way he speaks, and the way he pauses and speaks again.
He makes him a parody of two generations of tech-bro capitalist gurus from the Baby Boomer and Generation X. He acts like a peace-loving hippie, but he’s really a greedy yuppie who hires black marketeers and hired killers to work for him. The way Dodgson says “caring” with a warm voice but dead eyes are especially scary, like a zombie Steve Jobs.
It’s the second most creative performance in the movie, after Goldblum, who never moves or talks the way you expect and blurts out things that sound like they were made up on the spot. “Why are you skulking?” he asks colleagues who are moving too slowly for his taste.
All storylines lead to BioSyn headquarters, where Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler from Neill and Dern have gone to ask Ian Malcolm for help getting top-secret information that can end the prehistoric locust plague, and where Maisie and Blue’s baby has been brought so that their genetic secrets can also be mined.
Two new characters, Han Solo-like mercenary pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), who says she doesn’t want to get involved in the heroes’ problems but then does, and Dodgson’s disillusioned follower Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie), who says he doesn’t want to get involved in the heroes’ problems but then does, add to the drama.
They’re probably being set up as new leaders who can take over the Even if the whole movie had been set at BioSyn’s headquarters, the movie might have seemed too long and not creative enough. But Trevorrow turns the movie into a global travelogue with action taking place in all kinds of places. Each scene feels disconnected from the others, like a bad spy movie.
There’s even a rooftop chase like the one in “The Bourne Supremacy,” but with a raptor.
A long scene in Malta, where Claire and Owen go to save Maisie from people who have taken her, shows all of the movie’s flaws.
There are a lot of interesting ideas in it, like a “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones”-style black market for dinosaurs where criminals go to buy, sell, and eat illegal and endangered species. But it doesn’t work because it has a lazy undercurrent of comic-book Orientalism and seems unable to even see, let alone use, material that has a lot of comedic and dramatic potential.
Michael Giacchino’s score is full of scary Arabic-African “exotic” clichés as if he were setting up an R-rated prison thriller in which Owen does a “Midnight Express” stint in a Turkish prison for having hashish.
Owen and the main kidnapper are thrown into a fighting pit where people watch and bet on dinosaur fights. The scene is composed and edited as poorly as most of the other action scenes in the movie, and it’s depressing to think about what Spielberg or even his favorite second-unit director Joe Johnston (“Jurassic Park III”) could have done with it.
It could have been a tiny masterpiece of action, comedy, and social commentary, with the pit audience at first getting angry when their regularly scheduled dino fights are interrupted, then gleefully changing gears by betting on the two humans fighting, making new odds and handing out fistfuls of cash while baying for blood.
Trevorrow sees nothing but a hero fighting a bad guy in a pit when he looks at this set-up.
There isn’t a scene in the movie that is bad or has no point. At this point, there’s no doubt that the “Jurassic” factory knows how to design and animate prehistoric creatures and combine them with live-action scenes where actors run, scream, shout, set fires, and do other things.
Still, the whole thing doesn’t feel very well put together, and the stalking, chasing, and dino battles lack the sense of life-or-death tension that every other movie in the franchise has been able to create.
And the plot is terrible. It relies too much on coincidences and lucky timing, makes personal connections between new and old characters where none exist, and gives the heroes big wins as easily as a hotel clerk hands a guest a room key instead of making them work for them.
Trevorrow even reuses one of the only funny parts of “Jurassic World” three times. It’s a joke about how summer blockbusters have gotten bigger and more expensive over the past 40 years.
In it, a great white shark, the main character of Spielberg’s groundbreaking 1975 film “Jaws,” gets eaten by mosasaurs the size of a skyscraper.
Every time Trevorrow does something like this, it seems like an even more desperate attempt to remind us how much fun we might have had watching “Jurassic World,” which wasn’t a very good movie, to begin with, and, even at its best, fed on cultural leftovers.
There are also parts of the movie where characters, mostly Malcolm but not always, talk about how greedy BioSyn is as a business and how it relates to the movie you’re watching. But these don’t have the wit and fun that made similar parts of “The Lost World” so entertaining.
They just seem to be full of self-hatred and aware of how empty the whole thing is. At one point, Malcolm scolds himself for taking the company’s money to work as their in-house philosopher/guru even though he knows they are cynical corporate exploiters.
Goldblum’s voice has a self-deprecating edge that makes it sound like the actor, not the character, is admitting to having low personal standards. Sam Neill, like Jeff Goldblum, sometimes seems embarrassed to be onscreen or at least confused about what he’s supposed to be doing in the story.
To be fair, the script never explains why Allan, who has been a reluctant action hero in his other two “Jurassic” appearances, would leave the dinosaur dig site where Ellie finds him, other than the fact that he was in the first two movies and needed to be here to market nostalgia.
Worst of all, the show still doesn’t answer its most interesting question: how would our world be different if dinosaurs were still around?
The first part of “Dominion” is like a TV news montage, showing things like a little girl being chased by baby dinosaurs on a beach (a reference to “The Lost World”), a couple releasing doves at their wedding only to have one of them be caught by a pterodactyl, and pteranodons nesting in the World Trade Center (possibly a reference to Larry Cohen’s “Q: The Winged Serpent “Jurassic World: Dominion” doesn’t do much more than the bare minimum you’d expect from one of these movies, and it doesn’t do it all that well. Ninety minutes of this footage without any characters or plot would have probably been a better artistic use of a couple hundred million dollars than “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which will probably be a hit like all the other movies in the franchise, even though it doesn’t do much more than the.
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