Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, 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 history's most fearsome creatures in a new era. (from IMDB)
In 1993, Steven Spielberg released the feature film Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton's mega hit book. The film was an even bigger hit, and it spawned a 1997 sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. While it cleaned up at the box office, it was largely considered a disappointment by many, and went on to be considered as one of the lowest points in the series (although IMDb fan ratings place it third behind the original and Jurassic World). However, the first movie released to an enthusiastic 13-year-old me who found the movie to be everything I'd dreamed to see involving dinosaurs in a movie (the concept art for the film even inspired me to want to learn to draw realistic artwork, soon launching my pursuits as a portrait artist). The sequel, while over-the-top for sure, has always had a special place in my heart as well. It's highly entertaining, and gives viewers way more dinosaur action, as well as more Jeff Goldblum, and it continued to inspire my creative artistic endeavours. The story wasn't nearly as good as the first one, but it not only gave us a really, really great soundtrack from composer John Williams, but it expanded the world of Jurassic Park to include a second island of dinosaurs, named Isla Sorna, where they had been bred before being moved over to Isla Nublar where the park was. To this day, I still really enjoy revisiting The Lost World: Jurassic Park - flaws and all.
In 2001, Jurassic Park III released, taking characters to Isla Sorna (with a fantastic twist where Jurassic Park's Dr. Grant is "kidnapped" by a family trying to find their son who was lost on Isla Sorna and believes Grant could be their guide... but he'd never been to that island before). It was a further decline in quality for the series, but still an interesting direction for the story to continue. Then, in 2015, the story was given a "soft reboot" with a fourth movie, Jurassic World, continuing from where the failed attempt of Jurassic Park had left off, introducing a new attempt a dinosaur theme park, "Jurassic World," on Isla Nublar. This time, the park was actually successfully opened and active. The film also introduced the idea of genetic hybrids with the Indominus Rex, and the franchise torch was passed to Chris Pratt as Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire. Of course, history repeated itself and the Jurassic World park failed. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in 2018, had a Lost World vibe where a team was sent to the island to rescue dinosaurs as a volcano on the island became active and threatened to wipe out all the dinosaurs on it. The movie further explored genetic hybrid dinosaurs and militarizing dinosaurs. We also meet the first human clone in the series, named Maisie, and the movie concludes with Maisie saving nearly doomed dinosaurs by releasing them into the wild on the U.S. mainland -- hence, redefining "Jurassic World."
Why am I telling you all this? Well, this summer's Jurassic World: Dominion marks the supposed conclusion of a story that began with 1993's Jurassic Park. 29 years since its debut, Jurassic World: Dominion is poised to wrap up the Jurassic franchise as we know it. Whether or not this means we'll never see a "hard reboot" or a spin-off remains to be seen. (Knowing Hollywood and film studios who love making money, we can expect some new Jurassic movie in the next 10 to 20 years, I'm sure.) What's great about Jurassic World: Dominion, though, is that director Colin Trevorrow made a way for new AND familiar things to abound in his film. This movie marks the very first - and only - time we've seen Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) together again since 1993's Jurassic Park. And even more amazing is he has returning World cast members Pratt and Howard sharing the screen time with them. While all too "convenient" in its setup, Jurassic World: Dominion is the dream of anyone who's been a fan of Park and World and wished to see the core of the original cast on screen together one more time. Jurassic World: Dominion is a wonderfully satisfying finale.
This isn't to say that Jurassic World: Dominion is without its flaws. Giving it a 4/5 rating here may be more generous than it actually deserves, in a way, but it also manages to pull off a very difficult task. It unites casts from two different iterations of the franchise (think what Disney failed to accomplish with their Star Wars sequels), concludes a six-movie storyline, and introduces new threats while making many nods to what has come before. (In fact, I've been listening to the audiobook for the original Crichton novel for Jurassic Park, and this movie introduces characters and an organization that was talked about in the original book!) There are some really clever ways that this story picks up things from the original film or remedies disappointing plot developments from the sequels. I also loved seeing the "legacy" cast get ample screen time where recent "legacy" casts - in movies like Star Wars or Ghostbusters: Afterlife - didn't get the amount of time or focus that most fans probably hoped for. Jurassic World: Dominion aims to satisfy and it really does a good job in the process.
Among its flaws is a sluggish pace for a good third of the movie's start. Trevorrow takes his sweet time showing us what a world with dinosaurs and man living together might look like, as well as reintroducing characters from both trilogies, but it lacks the signature Jurassic Park wonder. I was instantly concerned about the movie with how it crawled along from the start, but once Trevorrow unleashed the plot, the movie barrelled forward like a velociraptor hunting its prey. Dominion ventures into new territory, like the scene that takes place in Malta, where dinosaurs are being trafficked on the black market and we see some of the seedy underground that is part of this. In this scene, the action also feels remarkably like a Jason Bourne or Mission: Impossible movie more so than a Jurassic one. It's trippy, in a way, but also something new for this series. (There's even a shot that follows a raptor jumping off a rooftop like in The Bourne Ultimatum). We also get new settings for the first time - like ice and snow - and weaponized dinosaurs that we caught a glimpse of in Fallen Kingdom. But, for me, as an original JP fan, the real joys of Dominion are seeing the original trio on screen again. Grant and Sattler get quite a bit of screen time together, and I felt like a kid again every time the movie returned to them. It's surreal and a lot of fun. The finale gets back to the basics a bit, having nods to the other movies, showcasing new and favorite dinosaurs, and even giving us a bit of a vintage monster movie throwback.
The content for Dominion is in line with the other Jurassic movies. It's still violent with plenty of dinosaur mayhem, but it's actually even less bloody than before; it's clear they had kids more in mind this time (Fallen Kingdom was really pushing the violence and horror). One scene shows a beast picking up a man and swallowing him, while another intense sequence shows two dinosaurs grabbing on to each of a man's arms with one trying to devour up his arm while the other creature tugs at the other arm. A third dinosaur then lunges at his head off screen. It's not bloody, but it's definitely intense. Another death is teased with flashing lights and a character being surrounded, but the actual death isn't shown. The only blood we see this time around is through the occasional scrapes and cuts on faces and such, and some blood on dinosaurs during a few dinosaur-vs-dinosaur scuffles. Even that shot of Blue nipping at or smacking away Owen's hand from the trailer is never focused on, but we see Owen's hand wrapped in a handkerchief afterwards. The grossest thing might be briefly seeing a large insect split open and pinned to a table, exposing its insides, but even that isn't especially gruesome. There is more violence this time involving people trying to hurt other people, but it's still mostly dinosaurs attacking humans or each other, and humans trying to get away. (We do see a large dinosaur get impaled on the large claws of another dinosaur, but the scene is dimly lit and it isn't especially gory.) Other than that, there is some language, with about 6 uses of the "S" word, a bunch of "Oh my G-d" as exclamations, a use of "*ssh*le" and a few others. Also, the teenage girl Maisie gives someone both middle fingers at one point.
Like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic World: Dominion is a popcorn movie. It's pretty much what you'd get if you grabbed some Jurassic World, Jurassic Park and G.I. Joe toys and had a blast playing with them on your living room floor. It's fun, exciting, silly, emotional, boring, suspenseful, and satisfying all in one. I'm curious to see how repeat viewings feel, but after my first view, it exceeded my low expectations and proved to be a fun time at the movies.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/12/22)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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