Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Campbell Scott, DeWanda Wise, Isabella Sermon, B D Wong, Omar Sy, Mamoudou Athie, Justice Smith, Dichen Lachman.
This is the sixth and supposedly final film in the Jurassic franchise that began way back in 1993 with Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park. And it manages to bring together the key characters from the two different strands.
This film take place some four years after the events of JA Bayona’s Fallen Kingdom. The island of Isla Nublar has been destroyed, and dinosaurs roam freely in the world. Man has to adjust to living with these large prehistoric predatory creatures. The demand for dinosaurs though has created a black market, and mercenaries track down dinosaurs and sell them. A giant corporation known as Biosyn has been experimenting with dinosaur DNA at its laboratories nestled in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. Its CEO is Lewis Dodgson (now played by Campbell Scott), who was a minor character in the original Jurassic Park – he was the shady figure who convinced Wayne Knight to smuggle a sample of dino embryos out of the labs. Dodgson has used the DNA to genetically modify locusts, which he uses to destroy the naturally grown crops of farmers, thus forcing them to purchase and plant his genetically grown seeds.
Environmental activist and paleobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is investigating the source of a devastating locust plague, and she suspects Biosyn is responsible but needs to find proof. She turns to world renowned paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) for help. The pair wrangle an invitation to Biosyn’s laboratories, where they encounter an old friend in chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, whose character provides a link between the two strands of the franchise with his cameo appearance in Fallen Kingdom). Malcolm has apparently feigned interest in Biosyn’s operations where he now works as an in-house lecturer to penetrate their top-secret laboratories and potentially expose their operations.
Meanwhile dinosaur whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the former operations manager of Jurassic World theme park are living off the grid in a remote cabin somewhere in Nevada with their adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sherman), who was the genetically engineered daughter of Sir Benjamin Lockwood. Maisie is kidnapped by mercenaries hired by Biosyn, along with Beta, the baby of Owen’s favorite velociraptor Blue. Owen and Claire track down the kidnappers with the help of French spy Barry Sembene (Omar Sy, from The Intouchables, etc) and daredevil smuggler pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise). The trail leads the pair to Biosyn, where they team up with Sattler and Grant to close down the evil corporation.
The script for Jurassic World: Dominion has been written by Emily Carmichael (the remake of The Black Hole, etc) and series regular director Colin Trevorrow, who has made the transition from low budget independent films like 2012’s Safety Not Guaranteed to big-budget blockbuster spectacles. The writers manage to seamlessly bring together several narrative strands and bring in legacy characters from the original film, and they cram a lot into the 146-minute running time. However, the film has a number of cliched elements like the evil corporation tampering with DNA and genetic engineering, and much of the dialogue is also quite cliched and delivered in perfunctory fashion, and many plot elements seem to rehash ideas from the earlier films. It seems as though the filmmakers are running out of ideas, and it’s probably time to put the concept to rest.
Jurassic World: Dominion serves up something of a cautionary tale about science out of control, the hubris of scientists in tampering with nature, and the dangers of genetic engineering. However, the film also delivers some exciting action sequences, with lots of running and dodging dinosaurs, but the highlight is a high-speed chase through the streets of Valletta. There’s also a climactic battle to the death between two CGI created alpha predators.
And the special effects are superb. When Jurassic Park first hit the screen thirty years ago, we were amazed at the then groundbreaking CGI technology that created the dinosaurs and made them appear so realistic. Back then there were only a few dinosaurs to deal with. But, in the years since, CGI technology has advanced enabling the filmmakers to introduce many more species, including the giganotosaurus, the biggest carnivore the world has ever known. The dinosaurs here have largely been developed with the use of animatronics, courtesy of designer John Nolan, who has created some 27 new dinosaurs for the film. But they are frighteningly lifelike and realistic and have been seamlessly incorporated into the human action, although some of these may prove to be a bit too scary for young kids.
Trevorrow delivers some exciting set pieces here, and the action has been shot on a range of locations, from the plains of North America to Malta. Cinematographer John Schwartzman (who also shot Jurassic World for Trevorrow) has done a superb job with the visuals. There is also some great production design from Kevin Jenkins to create the interiors of the Biosyn laboratories and control room.
The performances of the cast are all good, and there is a great chemistry between Dern and Neill, although Dern’s character is given a bit more to do here in driving the action forward. Goldblum’s droll delivery provides some moments of humour. B D Wong reprises his role as Dr Henry Wu, one of the original scientists who developed the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park, and who also worked at the Jurassic World Theme Park, and his character provides yet another link to the original film. One of the standouts though is Wise, who plays the sassy pilot Kayla and gets to deliver some snappy one-liners. Scott is your typically unctuous and mercenary villain here.
Jurassic World: Dominion delivers plenty of action and is perfect entertainment for the popcorn crowd, and it deserves to be seen on the big screen.