BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — “Jurassic Park” was a monumental moment in film history when it opened in 1993 because of its blend of well-developed characters, intelligent writing and use of technology beyond anything moviegoers had ever seen. It was easy to believe – while also seeming unbelievable – that dinosaurs walked the Earth again.
Each sequel and incarnation has watered down the brilliance of the Steven Spielberg film to the point that the latest – and if there is any justice in the world, the last – offering in the franchise, “Jurassic World Dominion” is a painful failure. Gone is all of the magic of the original movie having been replaced by a convoluted story, tired characters and a technology that now seems archaic.
“Jurassic World Dominion” is closer to the B-grade cheesy science fiction movies that populated drive-ins during the 1950s. The only good thing that can be said in terms of the work by director Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom”) is that he has made a strong case to end the film franchise.
In a cinematic swamp like this production, the problems are almost too numerous to name. But, there are some big methane bubbles of errors that ooze to the surface that are responsible for the biggest stink.
It starts with the script by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael (“Pacific Rim Uprising”). The original “Jurassic Park” took the smart approach of making the dinosaurs the major source of tension and terror without making them the villains of the story. The dinosaurs are merely the result of one man’s attempts to create life without the proper attention to the consequences.
“Jurassic World Dominion” goes for the trite storyline of having the greedy head of a major corporation, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), be the mastermind behind a potentially cataclysmic world threat. Although dinosaurs roam the planet like feral cats, the writers needed to add another level of danger with the introduction of genetically-enhanced locusts. It is easier to make the creepy crawlies scarier than the dinosaurs that have been painted so often as merely the victims of their situation.
The plot gets even more jumbled when there is a major effort to kidnap teenager Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the cloned offspring of super scientist Charlotte Lockwood who died at the age of 24. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) have been looking after her since the “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” days.
Dr. Wu (BD Wong) tries to explain how the two plot threads are connected but the effort comes so late in the production that by that point nothing really matters. Trevorrow opts for big chase scenes that are far too familiar and battles for survival in the jungle that are rehashes of previous movies instead of trying to give his film any intelligent life. Even the fate of the evil corporate boss is recycled from numerous low-budget movies.
The film does mark the return of Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) who were the key figures in the original film. If the thinking was their participation in the movie would give “Dominion” a bridge to past glory, it was logic as faulty as the script.
What their presence actually does is serve as a reminder of just how great they were in the original movie and how well their characters were developed. Grant’s crusty nature and Sattler’s spunky optimism made them the perfect people to see the world of dinosaurs for the first time. Now they are reduced to trying to hide their very obvious sexual tension.
Goldblum’s Malcolm is one of the most interesting characters in the film but having him working at the secret lab where all the evil dinosaur testing is happening comes across as way too forced. He ends up being more like a character from “Mystery Science Theater 3000” where he’s less a part of the film and more like a snarky viewer offering witty comments from the sidelines.
Both the original and second team “Jurassic” players get trumped by a new member of the cast. DeWanda Wise plays the very capable Kayla Watts, a pilot who helps part of the team reach the secret site. Her character is so strong and entertaining, there should be a spinoff film spotlighting her.
A spinoff would be fine as long as it is not another movie in the “Jurassic” series after seeing that “Dominion” is the best that can be mustered. The complete absence of originality in story, characters and technology in “Jurassic World Dominion” leave the film as little more than looking like a sad effort to capitalize on a greatness that faded a long time ago.
Jurassic World Dominion
1 1/2 stars
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise.
Director: Colin Teverrow
Rated: PG-13 for violence, language, action sequences
Running time: 147 minutes.