Wrenage is back, but this time he’s not going back… back into time. He’s bang up to date and tackling the biggest release of the week. Jurassic World: Dominion. Here he is…
Jurassic World: Dominion
I was a movie-going machine these past couple of days. I saw Top Gun: Maverick (pretty solid), and I saw Jurassic World: Dominion, which, if memory serves, is the fortieth movie in the franchise. I didn’t want to see JWD40. Other people forced my hand. I decided to be a good sport, open my mind and embrace the experience. As a result, I actually felt IQ points leave my brain.
If you care…
JWD40 starts off with do-gooding, which is never a good sign. Bryce Dallas Howard and her diverse friends rescue a cutsie-poo dinosaur from an evil confinement farm. The movie takes several instances here and there to morally grandstand. That’s never a good sign either.
Speaking of Bryce Dallas Howard, I conject Hollywood has made her self-conscious about her figure. Whenever her full body is shown, it is swaddled, either by blankets, baggy clothes or long-hanging shirts. It reminds me of a girl I once knew who got so twisted up about such things, she would wear jeans over her swimsuit when going to the lake.
JWD40 takes place in a world where dinosaurs are an invasive species that have taken root throughout the planet. They are shown being nuisances, yet they must be protected…or something.
Meanwhile, an Elon Musk guy is trying to take over Earth with genetic engineering and destroying crops with locusts. I’m not sure how exactly. To be honest, I left the theater several times for work-related reasons. Maybe a golden five minutes of the movie existed that I missed that tied everything together in an air-tight plot. Or, more than likely, not…
The villain is played by Campbell Scott, son of George C. Scott. If he was anymore white in this movie, he would be Anthony Zerbe from The Omega Man.
Moving on, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are living the simple country life in the snowy mountains. We know they are now country-folk because Bryce Dallas Howard is shown shucking fresh sweetcorn…in the mountains…in the winter. I also noticed the creators of this movie referred to wheat as corn at one point. Obviously, we are dealing with experts who are very much in the know when it comes to lecturing the audience on the evils of modern farming.
Pratt is a fun guy, but he is not a good action man. One cannot take his heroic moments in this movie seriously. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t take them seriously either. It truly looks like he is channelling his Burt Macklin character from Parks and Rec.
Pratt and Howard are protecting a teenage girl, who is one of those characters that are the key to everything. I think she was from JWD39, but I’m not entirely sure. I never saw that movie. To be fair, I have heard from some people it was kind of fun. I’m not inclined to disbelieve them. Dinosaurs amok should be a slam-dunk concept when it comes to fun.
Next, legacy characters start appearing in the film: Laura Dern and Sam Neil. I get the feeling that Dern is so open-minded in real life that I could tell her I identify as a genocidal maniac, and she would respond with, “Namaste, friend.”
In JWD40, Dern is there to do stuff when it is her turn to do stuff. JWD40 is a total check-list movie. Each character takes their turn contributing equally to the film. It’s like they used a slide-ruler to figure it all out. You can also play Where’s Diversity, throughout the movie, like a Where’s Waldo game. Ah, there it is…woman contributing. Ah, there it is, person of color contributing. Ah, there it is, [insert demographic here] contributing. It’s all very beautiful in its mathematic precision.
As for Sam Neil, he doesn’t have anything to do overall. He’s there because the filmmakers thought it would be a nice touch to bring the gang back again to crash diet in an effort to look somewhat virile at seventy years of age. I imagine in between takes, lots of these statements happened:
Neil after running ten steps:
“This sure was a lot easier thirty years ago!”
Eventually, some bad guys kidnap the teenage girl. They also take the baby of that raptor the Pratt character has some sort of bond with. This sets the heroes off on their journey to save the teenage girl and end up in the lair of the bad guy. Dinosaur encounters are inserted by side-rule along the way. Some of the CGI is pretty wonky. Other instances of the CGI are impeccable.
The movie has a couple of decent set pieces. The escape from the underground dinosaur club manages to generate nice energy. I genuinely perked up during that sequence. In addition, we are introduced to Strong Woman, played by DeWanda Wise. Her character also checks a lot of boxes (yes, even the lesbian one). To be fair, I liked Wise as an actress. She has a great presence and physicality onscreen. I can see her being great for a Bond movie.
However, Wise’s character looks like she stepped out of futuristic Luc Besson film. Her plane and outfit seemed like they were designed by Moebius while everyone else is wearing normal clothes. It is a weird juxtaposition that does not make a lot of sense visually.
Eventually, everyone makes it to Bad Guy Island. Jeff Goldblum’s character is already there. Gone is the robust, iconoclastic, brilliance of Dr. Malcolm. Now he is simply a quirky, dorky old man. He helps Dern and Neil uncover the secret of something or other, and they all run around in an effort to escape while dinosaurs do things in between.
Wikipedia has this to say about the writing of JWD40:
“During production of the previous Jurassic World films, Howard kept a list of possible ideas for the final film, including a baby raptor and an underground dinosaur market in Malta. Trevorrow consulted the list while writing the script with Carmichael.”
Yep, that is exactly how the movie plays out — a bunch of stepping stones tenuously-connected.
One more character of note is also on the island. Mamoudou Athie plays a mole in the bad guys organization and helps the heroes on their journey. He also dresses like Ellen DeGeneres. Toward the end of the film, Athie confronts the bad guy. The bad guy basically says, join me, and Athie says:
“No, I’m not like you!”
Or something to that effect. It rang pretty silly because it was played so serious. I almost got the sense they were trying to throw some sort of allegorical racial thing in the movie since Athie is a grown-up Steve Urkel and Scott is Anthony Zerbe from The Omega Man.
The reason I believe that scene might have been a clumsy stab at allegory is because of my favorite stupid part of the movie: The Amazing Flaming Locusts!
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this one. To start the finale of Jurassic World: Dominion, the bad guy incinerates a bunch of genetically-engineer locusts and then, for some inexplicable reason, vents them into the air. The locusts then – stay with me now – proceed to stay on fire for roughly thirty minutes and get the whole island burning, which I believe was meant to be allegorical to global warming.
I repeat, the locusts stay on fire for roughly thirty minutes!
What are these locusts made of…cigars?
I have never seen an insect burn for thirty minutes and still be mobile enough to fly around an entire island and start everything on fire. We are talking top-notch idiocy here, folks!
Within the conflagration, our heroes escape, the bad guy gets eaten by those dinosaurs that ate Wayne Knight in the original Jurassic Park and a T-Rex fights a Giganticboxofficesaurus. Finally, BD Wong releases a locust that will kill all of the bad locusts that eat wheat-corn, the baby raptor is reunited with its momma raptor, and we get more allegory as dinosaurs romp around the planet with other animals, which teaches us we can all “coexist.”
Shed your tear and get me out of here.
I honestly don’t know how to rate Jurassic World: Dominion. Giving it a rating validates its existence. On one hand, I’ve seen worse. On the other hand, Amazing Flaming Locusts.™ It helps to not think of this as a movie that was released.