[REVIEW] ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ or Wait- What About Dinos and Humans Living Together?

Hi friends! Let me take you back to 1993. I was 12 and I stepped into a theater to see a Spielberg movie called Jurassic Park. The theater grows dark, the John Williams score begins and I get introduced to an island with special creatures. “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” John Hammond says and my mouth is agape right along with Dr Ellie Sattler and Dr Grant. I’ll never forget that moment. It’s when I realized movies could wow me in a way no other artform could. I saw the movie 7 times that summer and have adored it every time I’ve watched it throughout my life.

Now let’s move to 1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park opens and I eagerly make my way to the theater. “This is going to be great!” I say to myself. But it wasn’t… I admit I haven’t rewatched this film in a long while but at the time it was the first movie to truly disappoint me. The characters were stupid and shrieky, the story wasn’t compelling. It broke my young movie-loving heart.

Unfortunately this pattern of disappointment would continue with each entry in this franchise. Each film somehow built up my anticipation- ‘maybe this is the one that will recapture the magic?’ only to be then stuffed with stupid characters, few scares and terrible dialogue. Maybe my expectations were too high but I have a low bar when it comes to creature scares movies- I liked 47 Meters Down, The Shallows, and Crawl. These movies are simple and create tension between man and beast- like the original Jurassic Park did. Is it too much to ask for this from the Jurassic Park sequels? Is it too much to ask for characters I care about facing off with beasts that are unpredictable and scary?

The latest entry in this franchise to disappoint me is Jurassic World Dominion. It’s supposedly the last of the Jurassic World trilogy but if it makes a billion dollars I’m sure we will see more from the Jurassic brand at a theater near you.

Spoiler warning for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom:

In the last film we are left with an intriguing idea for a movie (how they get there is stupid but these are Jurassic movies after all…). Clone little girl Maisie lets the dinosaurs out of their cages and into the human world. This could be fun! Then we got a short film in 2019 Battle at Big Rock that features humans dealing with dinosaurs as they are camping and living their lives. Yes! This has potential for a return to form for this franchise.

You can imagine my disappointment then when this new movie Jurassic World Dominion barely touches on this dynamic. Instead we get the convoluted story of an evil biotech firm creating giant locust to control the world’s agriculture production. This was so boring not even the return of our legacy characters of Grant, Sattler and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm could save it.

Chris Pratt is charming as always as Owen but he’s not given much to do and he still has no chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire (who continues to be such a frustratingly poorly written character). DeWanda Wise’s Kayla is charismatic but not given enough dialogue to get to know well or be invested in. And then we have Campbell Scott as a bit player from the original film Dr Lewis Dodgson (he even has the shaving cream can from the OG film…) now the evil head of the locust/dinosaur loving company.

There are some enjoyable sequences. My favorite was when Owen is racing through the streets of Malta with raptors chasing him. That was great and what was promised in the trailers and the short. But too quickly it moves to a research facility where we go long stretches with only a few dinosaurs and far too many locusts.. Everything becomes dull with scenes that are supposed to have tension that don’t. It’s always clear our characters aren’t in any real jeopardy especially if Owen can put out his hand and make any dinosaur do his bidding…

Of course it is fun for me to see Dr Sattler, Grant and Malcolm back but I would honestly rather see an interview of them all talking about the original film than what they get here to do. It’s so bland and not the least bit scary (or romantic).

Maybe some of the scores of people who loved the last 2 entries in this franchise will enjoy this but it didn’t even look that great? There are some impressive CGI sequences but some, like a scene where Claire parachutes to the ground, look cheap and sloppy. Another example is when Owen has a dinosaur strapped to his back that looks like a plastic toy. In my opinion, it can’t even be saved by awe and spectacle.

When you get to see Jurassic World Dominion let me know what you think. As for me, I’ll just watch the original and remember what it was like to be 12 and in love with the movies.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

How to Save Jurassic Park

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One of the most impactful moments of my movie-going life occurred when I was 12 years old and saw a little movie called Jurassic Park. I loved it so much I saw it again, and again until I had seen it 7 times in the theater. My young brain was completely caught up in the magic of the great storytelling. I had never seen images like the dinosaurs on the screen. I had never felt such fear, awe, majesty and excitement. It was exhilarating! Even now years later, Jurassic Park still holds up as quite possibly the greatest blockbuster entertainment ever made.

Having loved the first one so much you can imagine my excitement when they announced a sequel and Steven Spielberg would be directing again! This was thrilling! And then I went to the theater and had my first real disappointment. It was cluttered, boring and thoroughly lame.

The rest of the sequels have continued the trend of the Lost World and been very disappointing. The most recent example is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I liked it a little bit better than Jurassic World because the director J.A. Bayona is talented enough to put together some engaging set pieces. However, some plot choices were idiotic and much of the movie the dinosaurs are in cages because that makes sense…

So it begs the question- what would I do to make a better Jurassic movie or is it just a hopeless endeavor? Do you have to get so convoluted trying to get people back to the dinosaurs that it just doesn’t work any more? Well, like I have saved Superman, Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton I have a proposal to what I think would fix Jurassic Park (BTW the hints at Jurassic World 3 left in Fallen Kingdom sound completely awful so this is strictly a fantasy pitch).

The group could be kind of similar to the diverse collection of people on the show Lost

My main premise is to take the idea of the Jurassic Park 3 but actually execute it well. You start out with a cruise ship that is shipwrecked onto the Isla Nublar. They have no way of reaching anyone and nothing to do but to try and survive until another ship comes.

Do not have any of the original characters but create new characters that have compelling backstories about why they came on the cruise. You could have a mixture of workers, elites, young singles looking for love etc. You can cast charismatic actors that are fun together and of course you need to have some people who are jerks that can be eaten by the dinosaurs LOL.

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Naturally you are going to want to have lots of dinosaur action and antics but don’t forget to have moments of awe and wonder as well. One big mistake in Jurassic World was killing off all the herbivores so there was no moments to stop and breathe. In Jurassic Park we get a lovely little break where Lexi, Tim and Dr Grant get to pet a brachiosaurus. As an audience we need this moment both as a breather for the characters but to make the dangerous dinosaur moments more chilling and real.

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I would also make it a priority in my movie to create real characters that have meaningful conversations. Sure the dinosaurs are great in Jurassic Park but so are the characters. One of the best moments in the film is when Dr Sattler and John Hammond are eating ice cream and Ellie calls Hammond out on his BS. He is waxing on about his dreams (letting us get to know him) and she basically dope slaps him and says “all that matters is the people that we love”. We learn so much about these characters in one quick scene of dialogue and so we care about them when they face all the action and tension.

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The thing I like about this shipwreck idea is that it wouldn’t require some convoluted reason for them going back to the island and it wouldn’t necessitate some ridiculous excuse for mutant or militarized dinosaurs. It’s just people on an island with dinosaurs trying to survive. That’s enough. That’s all you need. These other sequels have just gotten too stupid for my liking and I can’t deal with it. Jurassic Park was smart! It can be done.

Of course some of the characters would fall to the dinosaurs but eventually a ship would come or they would find some way to signal from the old Park headquarters and be rescued. And as they are being rescued the T-rex would be coming towards them but they zoom away just in time. This would be exciting and a thrilling moment for all involved. Don’t worry about setting things up for a sequel or starting a cinematic universe. Just make a fun monster movie with a good script and it will make tons of money. I know I would LOVE it!

So there you have it. That’s my idea for a Jurassic Park movie. I think almost anyone will agree my idea is at least better than whatever ridiculous nonsense they have planned for Jurassic World 3.

Sigh…What could have been.

How would you save Jurassic Park? And what do you think of my idea? Let me know in the comments section

Monster Trucks Review

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We live in the era of nostalgic films and most of the time that means lazy retreads of what we know and love. Movies like Jurassic World or Kong Skull Island provide momentary pleasure but none of the lasting enrichment of the films they are attempting to imitate. They leave me feeling empty and the victim of corporate movie-making.

These misfires are why it is frustrating when people really try to do nostalgia right and it still doesn’t quite work. This is the case with the recent box office bomb Monster Trucks. It starts out as a real charmer but then devolves into a tedious exercise that belongs on CW more than a feature film.

The film revolves around a high schooler named Tripp Coley played by Lucas Till. Tripp is the typical angsty teen of these types of movies who works at the local junkyard. One day he meets a octopus like animal he names Creech. He also has a girl who is in love with him played by Jane Levy. All of this actually works in the first act as a nostalgic throwback to movies like The Goonies and even ET. Neither of the leads look like they are in high school and the villains are one note but it was winning me over.

Then the monster gets in the trucks and it all goes downhill from there…

I guess if you like car chases then you might like the last 2 acts of this movie but I grew very bored. Most of it is scene after scene of Tripp and Creech being chased by bad guys and causing all kinds of destruction along the way. There are so many scenes where cars are crashed into and piled upon. In one scene an entire car dealership is plowed through with the entire lot being destroyed.

Another long sequence involves a wall of fire and a giant platform car taking out car after car. There are people in some of these cars but it is all taken at a very slapstick silly level.

It really is a shame because Chris Wedge had some charming ideas here and the special effects on Creech are impressive. You can feel the love that went into making Monster Trucks but I can’t deny I was bored with those car chases and very tempted to fast forward the video.

Danny Glover plays a man in wheelchair who is kind of a mentor of Tripp but he seems wasted. As is Amy Ryan as Tripp’s mother. Also it kind of annoyed me that Jane Levy exists only to fawn over Tripp despite his complete lack of interest in her. She is presented as this strong, smart girl and yet is a complete ninny when it comes to Tripp. Groan (one part of nostalgic films I could do without!).

A part of me wants to tell people to see this movie just to support people that were really trying to make something special but unfortunately I just can’t. Too much racing and chasing for my tastes!

Overall Grade- C-


Jurassic World Review

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So I just got the chance to see one of the big movies from the summer, Jurassic World.  It is the 3rd sequel to the 1993 classic- a movie I saw in the theater 6 times because it hung around my town theaters forever.  It’s interesting because I don’t normally like scary movies but I’ve always had a nostalgia for the original.

Jurassic Park 2 was a disappointment with the scenes in San Diego feeling more like a Godzilla movie than Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum as the skeptic makes 2 watchable along with Steven Spielberg’s direction.  3 is just plain silly with Tea Leoni shrieking her way through every scene.

After all that we get Jurassic World and they acknowledge all of the previous films.  There are little hints, easter eggs for all 3 throughout the movie (something I did enjoy).

That said it makes for a premise that to me was hard to get on board.  It’s supposed to be 20 years after the original movie.  That means how many years since San Diego and the island in the 3rd?  It takes a long time to build a park like they show in Jurassic World and yet they not only built it, contained the dinosaurs, and convinced 20k people to come all the way to Coasta Rica on a regular basis after what happened in San Diego?  No way.  (And like I said the previous movies actually come into play so it is not a moot point).

jurassic world3I went into the movie hoping they would convince me that such a park could really exist and I was not convinced.

But let’s accept that it does and move on.  Surprisingly I didn’t hate this movie.  In fact, if you want a popcorn movie it is entertaining on that level.

Basically they have the park up and running and Bryce Dallas Howard is the corporate non-kid friendly woman in heels we’ve seen in a million other movies.  She was such a weak uninteresting character.  And there is a scene where she literally outruns a t-rex in heels!

jurassic world7She makes such idiotic choices again and again.  It’s the equivalent of a person in a horror movie who decides to keep going back into the house of the crazy person.  Evacuate the island!  (Laura Dern is sorely missing in this one, or even Julianne Moore).

jurassic world6Chris Pratt plays an animal trainer who has managed to train 4 raptors who he has given names.  I really liked his character and just as in Guardians of the Galaxy, he is funny and sarcastic and very confident.

There are also other solid side characters like Irrfan Khan as the CEO of Jurassic World who is a little more sensible than Howard’s Claire.  BD Wong also makes an appearance (another wink to original movie).

jurassic world10(How does he look exactly the same from 1993?)

We also get Claire’s nephews played kind of blandly by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins. I heard an interview with them and they asked what they would do differently than their characters in the movie? The little boy said “I would be smarter than they were”  Yep, they aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.

jurassic world5The key that makes this movie watchable and entertaining is the cat and mouse chase between the dinosaurs and the people.  Claire and the park has created a new creation called Indominous Rex.  Evidently people have gotten bored with a regular T-rex.
Funny because nobody has gotten tired of Shamu? Circus’ still draw crowds with their elephants. I think people would be plenty excited for a t-rex!
The new Rex is unpredictable and breaks out killing dinosaurs and causing mass panic.  It was pretty scary but not too scary.

jurassic world4This part of the movie worked as spectacle and I was entertained by it (and it is a lot of the movie so that is saying something).  Because it is a new dinosaur we haven’t seen in 1-3 it was a little unpredictable but my friend and I kept whispering to each other ‘ah she’s a goner’.  It was so easy to predict who was dinosaur fare and who wasn’t.

jurassic world8Vincent D’Onofrio plays a black hawk type security guy who wants to take the dinosaurs and use them for warfare.  This whole plotline even for a stupid popcorn movie was so ridiculous.  I couldn’t wait for him to get off screen and get back to the dinosaurs.  The idea after San Diego of controlling the indominus rex or even the raptors is so absurd.

jurassic world9I’m making it sound like I didn’t like it very much but that isn’t the case.  It is stupid and dopey but some good scares and Pratt is charismatic so I was entertained.  I think the average moviegoer will go and enjoy themselves.

It could have been much better and the ending is too dark.  I couldn’t tell what was doing what.  And I though the iconic music was way underused.  I guess they didn’t get John Williams to do any new variations on his themes?  It wasn’t grand enough for this kind of popcorn movie.

Like I said if you want to go to the movies and see kid-friendly scares and laugh at the dopey characters and story than you’ll enjoy it.  If you can’t dive into an imperfect movie than give it a pass.

Any of you seen it?  What did you think?  What do you think of all the winks to the other movies?

As far as content there are lots of kills but minimal blood and some scares but nothing a kid old enough to see the Harry Potter movies can’t handle.  There’s a very silly scene where a woman rolls up her sleeves and unbuttons her shirt to show she’s tough…groan but that’s about all the skin you get.  Minimal language.

Overall Grade- C   Content Grade- B+

Also even with inflation how did this cost 50 million more than the original.  A few of the special effects looked really green screened and cheesy? Hollywood needs to get the budgets under control.