Jurassic Park is one of those blockbuster movie franchises (like, say, Men in Black) that continues to pump out films apace, despite a steady erosion of fan goodwill. No director has been able to capture the awe and wonder of Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 adaptation of Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel. So those that have followed in his wake have simply opted to concentrate on updated special effects and theme-park thrills. Jurassic World Dominion, the crowning film in the film’s second trilogy (helmed by Jurassic World writer-director Colin Trevorrow) knows it isn’t going to win any new converts to the series. So it does what many Hollywood “three-quels” opt for—which is repeat everything that came before at twice the pace and three times the volume.
Seems that things are getting progressively worse in this dinosaur-themed timeline. With the Jurassic World theme park obliterated once and for all in the volcanic destruction of Isla Nublar (the opening half of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), you’d think humans could finally breathe a sigh of relief. But no. Prehistoric monsters are now busy horning in on the human world. Across the globe folks are doing their best not to get trampled by brontosauruses during rush hour or snacked on by pterodactyls while sitting on the patio at Starbucks. Naturally, another shady high-tech corporation by the name of “Biosyn” has risen up to take the place of previous baddie InGen. They’re allegedly rounding up and carting off all the dinos to a nature preserve in Italy’s Dolomite mountains to live in peace and harmony. (Yeah, right.) Meanwhile, our previous heroes, ethologist Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), are off doing their own thing to save the planet. Claire is rescuing baby dinos from evil poachers and unethical breeders, while Owen is lassoing wild dinos in the Sierra Nevadas. (Nice to see Dominion keep up the tradition of borrowing inspiration from 1969’s Valley of Gwangi.)
But when Owen and Claire’s adopted clone daughter (Isabella Sermon) is kidnapped and taken to Italy, the two embark on a quest to take down Biosyn. (You’ll be forgiven for forgetting the cloned girl subplot from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.) At the same time, old-school Jurassic Park hero Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) recruits paleontologist pal Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to help investigate strange doings at Biosyn at the urging of wacky chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Eventually, the two groups crash together in the mountains of Italy and team up to take down secretly evil corporate genius Dr. Lewis Dodgeson (Campbell Scott doing the silver screen’s umpteenth take on “evil” Steve Jobs).
Turns out that Dodgeson is—bear with me on this—breeding dachshund-sized locusts using dinosaur DNA to … um, eat up all the food crops in the world except those grown with Biosyn seeds? Why he thought destroying the world’s food source was a good idea and how he figured no one would realize he’s behind it all is a little unclear. Frankly, Dr. Dodgeson is in the running for the most comically inept supervillains of all time. There isn’t a single moment when his master plan is sensible or feasible or … well, anything less than an apocalyptic trash-fire of an idea.
In case you can’t tell, there’s an awful lot going on in Jurassic World Dominion. The story jumps around the globe like a hyperactive James Bond movie—only the heroes are being chased through exotic locales by prehistoric raptors instead of European sports coupes. Dominion doesn’t shirk on the action, with our large cast of heroes narrowly avoiding being chomped on by a different species of dinosaur every three to four minutes. It’s distracting enough to ferry audiences from one fan-service Easter egg to the next. The inclusion of the old Jurassic Park trio is a welcome addition, but only points out how better written and acted those old characters were. If you came for the plot or the characters or rich world-building mythology, you’re in the wrong theater. If you came for the dinosaur action, there’s more than enough to feed your inner 5-year-old.