Chris Pratt Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard Claire Dearing
Laura Dern Ellie Sattler
Sam Neill Alan Grant
Isabella Sermon Maisie Lockwood
Campbell Scott Lewis Dodgson
Jeff Goldblum Ian Malcolm
Dewanda Wise Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie Ramsey Cole
Recently we went to COSTCO to pick up a few things…hundreds of dollars later we departed with not only everything we did not need (also forgetting to pick up what we went there for), but we also bought a package for the local cineplex at a discount. Our intent at the time was to see the upcoming new TOP GUN movie with it. So, Top Gun: Maverick is in our local theatre, we wait a few weeks for the crowds to subside a bit and make the walk over to the film. Even though it was playing in two screens within a half hour of each other, we could not get any seats. So, we looked at the marquee and decided on the latest Jurassic Park film. Jurassic World Dominion (JWD) to be exact. While it was not the reason why we went to the cinema (just like COSTCO), it was still a worthwhile choice. JWD is the sixth outing in this series and combines the principal characters from the 2 trilogies.
This sixth and final film takes place 4 years after the destruction of Isla Nublar. Dinosaurs have pretty much expanded to live all over the world and are now co-existing with humans in a not so pretty balance. As is typical in this type of film besides demonstrating the good side of humanity that tries its best to co-exist with nature (morphed as it is) we also see the seedy underbelly as well. For example, we are introduced to the typical corporate greed storyline; i.e. the evil company (Biosyn) who is mutating locusts to a prehistoric version that will only eat wheat that is not of their manufacture, or to the cage fighting of smaller dinosaurs in gambling dens. As I said, the good and bad of humanity.
For the first act of the film, we are basically re-introduced to all the principal characters from the Jurassic Park franchise. We find Grady (Pratt), Dearing (Howard) and Maisie (Sermon) living in the woods. The primary reason is to protect Maisie from the aforementioned evil companies and various bad-guys who would do her harm as she is a clone of Dr. Lockwood’s daughter, one of the founders of the original Jurassic Park. They are living in the woods, trying to keep a low profile, but as Maisie (Sermon) is now a teenager, and we all know how teenagers act, she does not follow the rules and just wants to go into town and explore. Grady (Pratt) and Dearing (Howard) are trying to do their best to raise her, while still fulfilling their own personal agendas. Dearing (Howard) and followers are having their own private war against Biosyn and what their doing to the dinosaurs and Grady (Pratt), is pretending he is a member of the Yellowstone cast as he gallops around the countryside hogtieing and lassoing the various wild dinosaurs.
Concurrently, we find Sattler (Dern) and Grant (Neill) reunite on a prehistoric dig. The reason for the reunion is that Sattler (Dern) has been involved in studying prehistoric locust who are decimating the food supply of the world…yet leaving anything Biosyn alone. She (Dern) is requesting Grant’s (Neill) help in finding evidence that Biosyn is behind this invasion of Locusts.
So while the main characters are in the same film, they are actually following two separate storylines that we just know will intersect sometime further along. It is at this point we see poor Maisie (Sermon) kidnapped by some ne’er do wells who are in the employ of Dodgson (Scott) the CEO of Biosyn. So what we have here for the storylines are Sattler (Dern) and Grant (Neill) trying to pin Biosyn with creating a toxic Locust swarm and trying to save their day, and Grady (Pratt) and Dearing (Howard) traveling to Biosyn to save their adopted daughter Maisie (Sermon). Biosyn is the common thread, and it is there that they also all meet up with Malcolm (Goldblum) who is under the employ of Biosyn. All in all, a kind of twisted, intricate plot that will try and connect together in a reasonable and buyable conclusion. I won’t give out any more of the plot, needless to say, there is a lot of action, a plethora of dinosaurs (both new and old), chases, special effects and general mayhem throughout the film.
So, what did we like about the film you ask? In the case of Jurassic World Dominion, we have almost as many likes as dislikes, but let’s start with the like portion.
- The return of Dern, Neill and Goldblum to the franchise. The three of them embodied what was great about the series. All solid actors with incredible resumes. You can see the chemistry between them at all times, and they still manage to take a weak script and make it enjoyable.
- Cinematography – We loved all the scenes in Malta, (primarily as it was one of our favourite holiday places), each scene brought back a memory of when we there and we both would point at the screen when certain sights/places would go by. The dinosaurs running around actually interrupted our memories!
- The Animatronics’ and CGI were also first rate as what would be expected from this franchise. We enjoyed when all the dinosaurs were active in the film, there were just not enough scenes with them in it.
- The additions to the franchise of Athie and Wise. They were both excellent supporting actors and I enjoyed their parts as well as their interaction with the main cast.
- Homages to previous films – I also enjoyed the several touches to previous films in the series. i.e. The shaving cream can, several quotes and scene repeats. However, at times the repetitive scenes were getting a tad old, so it was a dangerous game to keep revisiting the same sequences that were used so well before.
- D. Wong – on a smaller scale, seeing Wong again as the confused scientist who realizes what he had done was enjoyable as well. Even if his portion of the storyline was a little skewed.
Things that could have been done better.
- Script and plot – These were both very weak. At points it seems that the script was written by a child, especially where the villain was concerned. His dialogue and part were in my opinion, almost infantile. The special effects did not really enhance the story, i.e. the flaming locusts, but it rather provided a distraction from how weak it was. The plot holes and inconsistencies were so numerous it was hard to count. In one breath, it is said how dangerous all the creatures are, the next breath, we are seeing a cheap version of fight club with the dinosaurs. So they are extremely dangerous, yet some idiot can have some for pit fights. I was also amazed that a Yellowstone wanna be, was able to take down a huge dinosaur with only a trusty lasso and trained horse…come on, some things go just beyond believable.
- The Villain, Dodgson (Scott) was horrible. As I just mentioned, his dialogue was extremely weak, and he did not come across as a villain at all…more like a petulant child. I don’t know if this is the actor’s fault or that of direction/script, but it was horrible.
- The over use of the outstretched hand – Ok, this started to annoy me about ¾ of the way through the film. I was just sick of that movement. It was used far too much and when they all do it near the end…it was actually a head smack moment.
- Overuse of previous film moments and blatantly stealing concepts from other films – it was ok to see a few scenes of homage to previous films in the series, but it was way overdone, and at some times ludicrous. So while I got a kick of seeing the shaving cream container from the first film, lets be realistic. That container was covered in mud etc, and no one knew where it ended up, so how could he have it in the office…another WTF moment. Also, some scenes I felt like we were in different films i.e. Fight Club, Star Wars, Fast and the Furious…to many ideas were stolen or repeated.
- Not enough Dinosaurs – This whole franchise was about dinosaurs being reborn. Yet they actually had minimal screen time. You think it would have been more prevalent within the film. While on the subject of dinosaurs, it was always great to watch them break the law of physics and nature, but that’s ok, it did make it or action packed sequences (even if realistically it would not make sense).
That’s enough what I found was lacking in the film as far as major points. Now lets look at the cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady: I like Pratt in most films, and I even liked him in this one. Not his fault if the script or storyline was weak. He is another actor who has been around it seems forever and has been in so many projects that you actually forgot him and how long he has been acting. Personally, it was not until Zero Dark Thirty that I started to remember who he was. (I know for others it is more Parks and Recreation, but I was not a fan of that show). I also think that for most people, it was not until his inclusion in the MCU as Peter Quill/Starlord that his career really took off. The Jurassic Park franchise really helped his status in Hollywood as one of the new a-listers. In JWD, he had enough action and comedic sequences to keep you entertained, and keep watching, even with the weak dialogue etc. As I previously mentioned, I got really sick of the outstretched hand with every dinosaur as I felt that sequence was way overused in this film. Was it a great performance for him…not really, but it was not horrible either. At least this film wrapped up a franchise and/or trilogy so the chances of him joining another JP film should be minimal. For further reviews on Chris Pratt films, see my review of the Tomorrow War.
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing: Here is another case of an actress who I had to look up and find out where I had seen her before. Howard has been around far longer than most people would imagine, in predominately small roles. In the first film of this trilogy, I really got to like her character, and her as an actress. However, as the trilogy continued, I liked the character less and less. She was stronger in the first film than in this one, in my opinion. In JWD, she comes across strong at the start while she and her followers invade a company to investigate the illegal use of the new dinosaurs, and that just falls to crap as she then converts to basically a weeping mother throughout the rest of the film. Even though her chemistry with other cast members was adequate, it did not do enough to save her in this role. As with Pratt, not her best film.
Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler: Dern is a family favorite, she has been around for ever and is an extremely talented actress. Her chemistry with Grant (Neill) is awesome. It was a real pleasure to see her back in the Jurassic Park franchise and have her reunite with Neill. In this film, her chemistry really comes forward with her co-stars and it actually demonstrates what all fans of the original movie wanted to see – and that was Sattler and Grant ending up together. A fine performance from Dern in a rather weak film.
Sam Neill as Alan Grant: My opinion of Neill is much like that of Dern. A family favourite who has been in such great roles throughout his career. I think the first film I saw with him was “Dead Calm (1987)” with Billy Zane and Nicole Kidman, and I thought that he was pretty good. Then came “Hunt for Red October” where he also excelled as a co-star. In the years that past, we saw him in numerous films and shows that displayed his talent on both the large and small screen i.e Jurassic Park, Event Horizon, Merlin, Tudors to name but a few. In JWD, I found his talent to be present as always, his only limitations were that of script and scenes that are ultimately beyond his control. As with Dern, his chemistry with her was fantastic and he actually played the ageing Professor just as I imagined he would act. In this film, I only wish they gave Dern and Neill more leeway with their characters, as I am sure it would have undoubtedly enhanced the film.
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood: While the character of Maisie is integral to the storyline of JWD, I did not really find her character engaging. Mind you, she is still very new in the business and her only credits to date are those with the Jurassic World franchise (2). Her chemistry with her principal co stars of Howard and Pratt was pretty good and believable. I am curious to see what she does next.
Campbell Scott as Lewis Dodgson: Scott playing the principal villain of this film was basically just a time vampire. He would steal time from other worthwhile characters without really contributing to the film writ large. You could have put the villain as some kind of anonymous entity that no one really saw and it would have actually enhanced the film. I had to look at his resume to see what he had done in the past. While he looked familiar, nothing stood out. I was completely surprised at the volume of Scott’s work according to IMDB. The only thing that sort of came to mind was his character in Spider Man. With respect to JWD, his character as written was weak and had no real depth. This is probably not the fault of the actor, but that of writer/director. But needless to say, this was not a very good role, probably for any actor/actress.
Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm: Another iconic actor, Goldblum has been involved with some of Hollywood’s best films over the years. He returned to the role of Malcolm like a person putting on a comfortable glove. He continued his role and character just as any fan would imagine. Demonstrating great chemistry with his old co-stars of Dern and Neill, and also the same with Athie was enjoyable to watch. A talented actor who adds to any project that he has been involved with. The character of Malcolm while clichéd overall, is still an enjoyable experience on the big screen.
Dewanda Wise as Kayla Watts: This character was new and a surprise for us. Watts (Wise), the mercenary pilot who was supposed to be one of the bad guys, yet becomes good. This is another case that Wise was familiar but couldn’t put my finger on it. According to IMDB, she has been around awhile, but for the most part has played more on the smaller screen. She has been a guest on many of the shows that I have liked over the years, “The Twilight Zone, Underground, The Mentalist, Boardwalk Empire and the Good wife” to name but a few. I enjoyed how she portrayed her inner turmoil as she made the decision to help our heroes, while still maintaining the “toughness” that she tried to exude in her character. I really hope that she gets some larger roles in the future as I believe that she has great potential. This was probably a good role for her to give maximum exposure for her talents.
Mamoudou Athie as Ramsey Cole: Cole (Athie) was the hand picked protégé/assistant to Scott’s Dodgson. He portrayed the right amount of subservience to trick Dodgson in the end. I really liked his character in this film. Another relative newcomer, I had only seen him in “The Circle” which I had previously reviewed, albeit he was in a minor role in that film. I enjoyed his role and his character and I really look forward to seeing him in future productions/roles.
So now comes the ultimate question, were we entertained? Yes, we were. Jurassic World Dominion is not a great film, but it is one that you can sit back and enjoy on a hot summer night. Watching this film on a big screen is a must as smaller screens will not do the special effects and animatronics the justice it deserves. Yes, the film has plot holes bigger than a brontosaurus, but it is still enjoyable nonetheless. If you are a fan of the franchise and the stars, then yes please go see this film. But really only to bring the series to a finale. The film may be the weakest in the franchise, but it does close some loops, bring the two trilogies together, and also to show the latest in special effects. If you are not a great fan, then give this a pass and try to go see Top Gun like we did!
Our rating: 5.5/10
Till next time!