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'Jurassic World: Dominion' bites, but in good way

6th movie in 'Jurassic' saga reunites cast members from original film
'Jurassic World: Dominion' cast
Posted at 2:25 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 14:30:55-04

In this summer's movie season, the sequels just keep on coming. A couple of weeks ago it was the very entertaining "Top Gun: Maverick," and this week it's the sixth "Jurassic Park" film. Or to be more precise, the third film in the "Jurassic World" series, which began in 2015 with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as the main characters.

The first film in the series reboot was a hit with critics and audiences. The second film, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," continued that box office success but felt a bit bloated with more and more dinosaur attacks and special effects and a less memorable story. This new, third effort returns to basics: Not only is director Collin Trevorrow back (he handed off the director reins for "Fallen Kingdom" to someone else) but so are the three main leads of very first "Jurassic Park" film – Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. This blend of both original and new casts was a wonderful creative decision, buoyed by a clever script by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael ("Pacific Rim: Uprising.")

"Jurassic World: Dominion" picks up four years after the end of the last film, with dinosaurs now living free in various places around the globe. Former Jurassic World park manager Claire (Howard) and her dinosaur trainer boyfriend Owen (Pratt) are living in the wilderness, still helping to protect dinosaurs while also trying to protect their adopted teenage daughter, Maisie, played by Isabella Sermon (Maisie was the young girl from the last film who was told she was the cloned granddaughter of the co-founder of Jurassic Park).

Chris Pratt in scene from 'Jurassic World: Dominion'
Chris Pratt returns as a dinosaur trainer in "Jurassic World: Dominion."

Naturally, they just want to be left alone, but powerful forces soon intercede that force the couple into action to find both their daughter plus a kidnapped young dinosaur.

The film manages to navigate the delicate balancing act of a parallel storyline that features Dern seeking out her old boyfriend (Neill) for help battling a new super locust that threatens the world's crops. These giant bugs are tied to a big, mysterious genetics company that's using prehistoric DNA for evil purposes. The head of the company is played by Campbell Scott, who seems to be channeling (in the looks department, at least) Apple CEO Tim Cook. Even the circular shape of their company headquarters looks inspired by the Apple HQ. It's also here where Goldblum's scene-stealing character of Dr. Ian Malcolm reappears, giving lectures on ethics to the company staff (his lecture scene does seem reminiscent of Goldblum's Apartments.com commercials).

WATCH: 'Jurassic Park' cast reflects on 1993 Steven Spielberg epic

They are joined by a series of returning characters, as well as a variety of newcomers. The most notable newbie is DeWanda Wise ("She's Gotta Have It") as a super-confident former Air Force pilot-turned-smuggler who slowly drops her tough exterior. She plays a major part in one of the movie's most exciting sequences – a dangerous takeoff while being pursued by a very angry dino.

Laura Dern and DeWanda Wise in scene from 'Jurassic World: Dominion'
Laura Dern, who starred in 1993's "Jurassic Park," reprises her role in "Jurassic World: Dominion" alongside DeWanda Wise, who is new to the franchise.

The filmmakers made a daring – and very rewarding – choice of locations. Rather than the go-to pick of shooting in a jungle or a modern-looking city, they filmed some major scenes both in the forests of British Columbia, as well as in the old city of Valletta, the capital of Malta. Two spectacular sequences involving dinosaurs chasing a motorcycle, plus a rooftop foot pursuit, rival anything seen in a Jason Bourne movie.

A big challenge with the "Jurassic" series is how do you find new and visually exciting ways to show the dinosaurs in action? The filmmakers accomplished that with this film. Be it an underwater attack below frozen ice or an ejection seat scene involving flying prehistoric birds or giant airborne prehistoric locusts, we're seeing things we haven't seen before.

Chris Pratt chased by dinosaur in 'Jurassic World: Dominion'
Chris Pratt is chased by a dinosaur in a scene from "Jurassic World: Dominion."

One criticism – it seems almost every "Jurassic" movie has a big climactic battle between two big dinosaurs. They change that formula here – a little, but not much.

But what really makes this movie work is that there's lots of emotional content in the story – be it the relationship between former boyfriend/girlfriend Neill and Dern or the adopted daughter discovering details about her deceased mom or a dinosaur parent in pain after being separated from its baby.

There's a good balance between both action and the characters which helps take "Jurassic World: Dominion" to a higher level.

Rated PG-13
4 ½ stars out of 5
Now in theaters