Monday, June 13th, 2022
Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park brilliantly adapted Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, envisioning a world where humans did the unthinkable and cloned back to life several, sometimes terrifying, Dinosaurs. The film tantalized movie goers everywhere and to this day, Jurassic Park remains legendary in Hollywood for it's daring visual effects, thrilling cinematography, and advanced use of realistic looking animatronics. Now, 5 motion pictures later, Jurassic World: Dominion claims to tie up all the threads of both the Park and World trilogies, merging together the legacy cast of Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum with our new heroes Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
This will be a spoiler free review so please enjoy and let me know your thoughts if you went to see it!
Every movie in this Jurassic Park saga has been a far cry from the cinematic masterpiece that was the original film in 1993, and if we are being honest none of the subsequent films have filled any meaningful gaps in the dino DNA. However, that doesn't mean they lack entertainment value. Jurassic World (2015) saw Bryce Dallas Howard's character Claire overseeing a functional Jurassic Park full of patrons, rides, shops, etc. It really captured what John Hammond's original dream could have looked like in action prior to several prehistoric problems occurring. But of course, as Dr. Ian Malcom so eloquently puts it: "Life, uh, finds a way".
After the horrific events unfolded at Jurassic World, any remaining pro-dino park building sentiment was seemingly squashed. However, now two islands off the coast of Costa Rica (Isla Nubar and Isla Sorna) are chock full of uncaged dinosaurs with the full ability to reproduce. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) addressed the predictable animal rights campaign that dealt with what humanity's responsibility is for these creatures. A dormant volcano awakens on the islands and threatens yet another extinction level event for the species and society is torn on what to do. Should we save them? Or has nature once again decided their ultimate fate?
Leave it to shifty money hungry businesses (the recurring villain in every Jurassic movie) to want to use raptors as trained warfighters. They import the dinosaurs onto the mainland of North America to be held for auction, selling to the military industrial complex on the world stage. Enter Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard who save the dinosaurs but inadvertently release the lot of them into the wild, setting the stage for Jurassic World: Dominion where humans and dinosaurs are living in the same ecosystem as each other, poised to shake the boat even further and suggesting that Hammond's original tampering with genetics just might be the end of human civilization.
Jurassic World: Dominion promised two things during its press tour: 1. Legacy characters from Jurassic Park interacting with new characters from Jurassic World and 2. a neatly tied bow wrapping up the overall story of Jurassic Park. The film messily stumbles its way to what I consider to be an ultimate success on both fronts.
This film is FAR better than its predecessor, Fallen Kingdom, and a better, more satisfying ending than what Rise of Skywalker was for Star Wars' culminating event. Its full of fun, nostalgic moments that makes the silliness and improbable action filled situations tolerable. And honestly what do you do with the world that was created? You have fun with it. The legacy characters were the best part and had great interactions with the new cast. Nothing felt too forced and I actually really enjoyed revisiting these characters. The most important part to me is that none of the nostalgic pieces felt shoehorned in JUST to be there. Everything either had a plot purpose or was so subtle that it was inconsequential.
Not a great movie by any means and as I've said, none of the movies have lived up to the phenomenon that was the original Jurassic Park. But it’s just fine. Especially after being forced into some extremely dumb plot lines from Fallen Kingdom. The story ultimately handled them well and isn't afraid of what it is. Its an action movie with dinosaurs. They embrace it and knowingly rely on nostalgia to help bring the series full circle in a myriad of ways.
It won't win any critical acclaim and I definitely have my issues with certain spoiler filled moments that I won't discuss here. But it is not as god awful as some are making it.
I grew up loving Jurassic Park and wore out the VHS from repeated use. Its the film that got me excited about creativity and movie making, and one of the reasons I adore Grant and his directing and producing prowess. Dominion doesn't do anything to ruin that legacy or trample on the characters we've come to love. By that metric alone I recommend enjoying it for what it is. A love letter to Dinosaurs and Michael Crichton's story of human greed.
And of course, who doesn't love the beautiful John Williams theme. The score uses it effortlessly and really amps up the moments that matter.
If you've stuck through the hits and misses of this Jurassic story line, I highly encourage you to enter the theater with optimism and remember that this movie isn't trying to be serious. None of them have. Have fun with what they've made and enjoy the nostalgic threads as well as seeing Doctors Alan Grant, Ellie Saddler, and Ian Malcom back in action to wrap up a story 65 million years in the making.
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