Jurassic World: Dominion
(Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, et. Al | PG-13 | 2 hr 27 min | Universal Pictures )
Overview: From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live - and hunt - alongside humans all over the world.
This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with historyís most fearsome creatures.
Verdict: Almost 30 years after Steven Spielberg first thrilled audiences with Jurassic Park, the franchiseís new generation realized the way back to recapturing the magic was to, well, go back.
Jurassic World Dominion, the final installment in the revival trilogy, goes all in on nostalgia, regrouping original stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum while also evoking the tone, aesthetic and beats of the 1993 classic.
It worked, to an extent. Jurassic World Dominion is an aggressively fine and mostly enjoyable romp that does some things well and others things less so. Itís the epitome of just OK.
If youíre an existing fan, itíll serve you well Ė and there is a lot of fan service including little call backs and nods. You know exactly what the filmmakers including director Colin Trevorrow, are doing when Neillís Alan Grant is reintroduced on a dig site, surrounded by dirt and paleontology accoutrements, and thereís nothing wrong with that.
If you have Neill on board, use him, and milk that nostalgia for all itís worth. By this point in the franchise, six entries in, itís well out of fresh ideas so it may as well lean in on what it knows is going to work.
What works is big set pieces with roaring dinos, sharp teeth and humans in peril, or the gleeful comeuppance that awaits every villain.
And, of course, very cute baby dinosaurs Ė especially when theyíre animatronic and not deadening CGI. There is a greater reliance on puppetry and animatronics in general here than in the previous two entries.
A forgettable motorcycle and dinosaur chase in Malta is offset by the pageantry of the third act during which the two parallel story lines converge, even though it takes too long to get there.
Thereís one involving Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howardís Grady and Claire on a rescue mission for their kidnapped adoptive daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) and another in which Neillís Alan and Dernís Ellie Sattler are gathering evidence of the deliberate ecological disaster being committed by a genetics companyís mustache-twirling boss Dodgson (Campbell Scott).
That caper through the wilds of the dinosaur sanctuary is nakedly aping Spielbergís movie. Weíre talking upturned Jeeps, torchlight beams swinging about in the dark and the tension of remaining very still while a ferocious beast is an inch from your face.
Except thereís not that much tension because there arenít that many stakes Ė none you would believe anyway because you know theyíre not going to bring back Neill, Dern and Goldblum just to kill them off, and theyíre not going to dispatch Pratt and Howard either, itís not that kind of movie.
So what kind of movie is it? Itís an inoffensive, low-commitment action flick. It may dress itself up in ideas about the ethics of genetic manipulation or the hubris and folly of manís ambitions to control nature, but in the end, itís about a few jump scares and the clash of apex predators.
Itís like going on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios. You board the ride excited for a few safe knocks and shocks, and your breath will momentarily catch before the plunge.
But you also know exactly what to expect. There are no surprises, no stakes and you walk away content enough, but within a few minutes as you line up for the next attraction, youíve already forgotten what just happened. [WM]