‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ review: The old and new DNA come together in an XL-sized mediocrity
Even the marketing campaign comes across as a rather conspicuous fib, billing this as the saga’s “epic conclusion,” which is questionable in terms of the first half and hard to swallow in the latter, since, like dinosaur DNA, while the blueprint might be altered, these kind of box-office attractions are too enticing to leave dormant for long.
Yet the emotional core comes from reuniting the stars of the 1993 original — Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum — with the years having been kind to them, even if the writing hasn’t.
Indeed, the convoluted plot operates on parallel tracks that only gradually begin to intersect, with giant prehistoric locusts sweeping across the land, creating an existential threat to the food chain. All signs rather transparently point to a classic corporate villain, Biosyn Genetics, whose bespectacled CEO (Campbell Scott) seems to have been unceremoniously plucked from one of the later Bond movies.
Still, any more serious themes and ideas are overshadowed not just by the size of the supporting characters, but the absurdity necessary to eventually assemble everyone in the same place. As for some of the nail-biting escapes, let’s just say checking one’s brain at the door, reptilian or otherwise, certainly helps.
The two existing groups pick up a few key additions, perhaps most significantly DeWanda Wise (Netflix’s “She’s Gotta Have It”) as a fearless pilot somewhat reluctantly drawn into the adventure. But other than a kinetic chase with Pratt keeping his motorcycle one step ahead of rampaging raptors, the action proves too scattered and repetitive to deliver much sense of jeopardy, despite the customary technical wizardry at work.
The most pleasing elements thus reside in the occasional quieter moments, from unexpected interactions to snippets of John Williams’ original theme to Goldblum’s chaos-theory-spouting Ian Malcolm’s “Life finds a way” snideness, reminding those around him that what they’re doing is dangerous and stupid. He’s right, but to the extent that the second critique often applies to the script, his admonitions come with a heavy side of irony.
Like many a monstrosity concocted in the lab, “Jurassic World: Dominion” falls short of its potential, which doesn’t mean it won’t be a success. Because just as life finds a way, when it comes to a title with this level of built-in name recognition, sequels somehow find a way, too.
“Jurassic World: Dominion” premieres June 10 in US theaters. It’s rated PG-13.