The latest installment in a blockbuster franchise is aggressive… fine. While it has some nostalgic moments, it is ultimately forgettable.
Nearly 30 years after Steven Spielberg first wowed audiences with Jurassic Park, the franchise’s new generation realized that the way back to retaking magic was to, well, go back.
Jurassic World Dominionthe final installment in the revival trilogy, goes all out on nostalgia, regrouping original stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, while also evoking the tone, aesthetics and beats of the 1993 classic.
It worked, to an extent. Jurassic World Dominion is an aggressively fine and above all enjoyable romp that does some things well and others less so. It’s the epitome of just OK.
If you’re an existing fan, it’ll serve you well – and there’s a lot of fan service, including little callbacks and nods. You know exactly what the filmmakers, including director Colin Trevorrow, are doing when Neill’s Alan Grant is reintroduced on a dig site, surrounded by dirt and paleontological equipment, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you’ve got Neill on board, use him and milk that nostalgia for all it’s worth. At this point in the franchise, six entries in, it’s running out of fresh ideas, so it might as well be leaning on what it knows is going to work.
What works are big set pieces with roaring dinosaurs, sharp teeth and humans in danger, or the merry reward that awaits every bad guy.
And, of course, very cute baby dinosaurs – especially if they’re animatronic and don’t mute the 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 magnificence of the third act in which the two parallel storylines converge, even if it takes too long to get there.
There’s one featuring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Grady and Claire on a rescue mission for their kidnapped adoptive daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) and another in which Neill’s Alan and Dern’s Ellie Sattler collect evidence of the deliberate ecological disaster perpetrated by a genetic company. mustache-twirling boss Dodgson (Campbell Scott).
That hopping through the wilderness of the dinosaur sanctuary is Spielberg’s film naked. We’re talking inverted jeeps, torches swinging around in the dark, and the thrill of staying very still while a ferocious beast is an inch from your face.
Except there isn’t that much tension because there aren’t that many stakes – none that you would believe anyway because you know they won’t get Neill, Dern and Goldblum back to kill them, and they’re not going to send Pratt and Howard either, it’s not that kind of movie.
What kind of movie is it then? It is a harmless action film with little effort. It may dress up in ideas about the ethics of genetic engineering or the pride and folly of man’s ambitions to control nature, but in the end it’s about a few jumpscares and the clash of apex predators.
It’s like taking the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios. You step in excited for some safe punches and jolts, and your breath will catch on before you take the plunge.
But you also know exactly what to expect. There are no surprises, no bets and you walk away satisfied enough, but within a few minutes of queuing for the next attraction, you’ll have forgotten what just happened.
Jurassic World Dominion is now in theaters