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Jurassic World: Dominion completes the devolution of a once proud series.

How the World Will End

Owen (Chris Pratt) in Malta
Owen (Chris Pratt) in Malta

The biggest curiosity about Dominion is its director, Colin Trevorrow, hit it out of the (Jurassic) park in 2015 with Jurassic World. That one was a fun summertime romp. J.A. Bayona led the problematic follow-up, Fallen Kingdom, in 2018. Now Trevorrow’s back and he’s lost a step in the wake of his troubled Book of Henry and subsequent dismissal from Star Wars: Episode IX.

Aside from Bryce Dallas Howard, none of the cast comes across well this time around. That includes Chris Pratt and Jeff Goldblum and — oh so disappointingly — the highly hyped return of Laura Dern and Sam Neill, stars of the original Jurassic Park 29 years ago. The story is populated with a whole host of fresh faces, but many of them still need a little more time practicing their craft before attempting to dabble in an imaginary world full of dinosaurs.

There is one notable exception. As Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) trot around the world trying to stave off its implosion (or something like that), their adventures take them to Malta and their fate is put in the hands of a rogue pilot named Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise, The Harder They Fall). She’s cool. Really cool. So much so — and this is an impressive accomplishment in this sort of series — she stands out as worthy of a spin-off. An interesting character well played.

And it doesn’t hurt Kayla is instrumental in one of the movie’s best action sequences, in which Owen careens through the streets of Malta on a motor bike and drives right onto Kayla’s plane as it’s taking off.

Day of the Dead Locusts

Malta — the setting for a volatile dinosaur black market — is where Dominion shines. It’s a fresh landscape desperately needed to bring the action out of the jungle and into a wholly new terrain.

The movie begins looking like it’s going to fulfill the promise set up at the end of Fallen Kingdom. A well-crafted play on a documentary news feature called Now This sets the stage for the antics to follow. There are all sorts of dynamics to consider as raptors and other creatures begin to inhabit Earth’s major urban areas, making nests and seeking out food in the world’s most populated cities.

From there, Trevorrow tries to ratchet up the tension — something along the lines of The Swarm, The Birds, even Jaws — as a variety of horrific scenes unfold, including an effective scenario involving a swarm of giant locusts. Dominion surveys different situations around the world and picks up a slight vibe akin to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

But Dominion never builds on that momentum and it quickly loses steam as it turns into a carousel introducing random characters conveniently appearing and disappearing in the thick of a lot of random action. One character after another picks up on Owen’s move to calm the dinosaurs and keep them at bay. It might as well be called “The Jeter,” after the outstretched arm motion legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter would use to alert the umpire of his need to take a pause while at bat.

Sadly, the story still reverts back to the hostile confines of the jungle, or its natural cousin, the wilderness. At least there’s one effectively creepy scene involving Claire as she eludes a dino by submerging herself in a murky pond. It features a nice, elemental split-screen visual as the beast hovers above water and Claire holds her breath below the surface.

Darn. All sorts of cool possibilities never come to fruition as the movie loses the courage to stay focused on the devastation of life in the densely populated concrete jungle.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) in trouble
Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) in trouble

As the antagonist, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott, The Sheltering Sky), comes front and center the movie beings to derail altogether. While his goal is to use paleo DNA to cure cancer and advance other medical research, the guy is clearly a play on Tim Cook, the extremely capable CEO of Apple and — in another head-shaking poke at Apple — Lewis’ empire, Biosyn Genetics, has a dino reserve in the Dolomites that bears a striking resemblance to the archetypal circular headquarters that is Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif.

The Lost Civilization

Come on. Lewis is a challenging villain for all the wrong reasons. As the story naturally moves toward the destruction of the evil corporation, Lewis turns into a bit of a man-child doing his best to rein in his temper tantrums.

The disappointment is compounded by the fact the reserve — housing 20 displaced species of Jurassic beasts — is yet again in a remote location, akin to Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, but on a smaller scale. Fallen Kingdom, though ended with a post-credits tease of raptors starting to nest in the Eiffel Tower at the Paris casino in Las Vegas.

Kayla (DeWanda Wise) in control
Kayla (DeWanda Wise) in control

But, Vegas, baby, doesn’t factor into the action in Dominion. And, unfortunately for Universal and pretty much everybody involved in this production, that’s probably what every soul on Earth was expecting to see. Dinosaurs running amuck in urban America, which, by the way, was a facet of The Lost World: Jurassic Park in 1997 when a T. Rex was brought to San Diego. After 25 years, The Lost World holds up well; it’s likely Dominion will merely be a cinematic fossil in 2047.

It’s hard to tell exactly what case Dominion tries to make. Will stupid, greedy humans destroy the planet? Are dinosaurs smart enough to compensate for stupid humans and make coexistence a possibility? Or maybe it’s that woke culture will ruin everything that used to be fun and will ultimately lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it?

And that’s Dominion’s own downfall. Too much of this is insulting, highlighted by a snicker-inducing scene of science babble that explains the (self) birth behind Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). It’s unbelievable Dominion actually tries to go “there.”