The Movie Guru: ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ a treat for fans of the series
Grade: Three and a half stars
If you like the “Jurassic World” movies, you’re going to love “Jurassic World: Dominion.”
The movie, which opens in theaters this weekend, builds on all the good things about the series and fixes a lot of the less successful parts. In addition, it serves as a lovely coda for the “Jurassic Park” series, giving them a plot that’s more than just reunion and fixing one of the most annoying things about “Jurassic Park 3.” Taken together, it’s a fun, exciting, unexpectedly sweet return to a familiar world.
Set four years after “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” the latest movie brings us to a world that now has dinosaurs covering every inch of it. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are in the Sierra Nevada mountains raising and protecting Maisie, the clone girl they saved in the last movie. Dr. Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) has discovered that a new biotech company has engineered huge locusts with prehistoric DNA, and she recruits Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to help her discover the truth. When the biotech company kidnaps Maisie to further their research, the four cross paths on an adventure that could change the world.
Owen and Claire have thankfully not reset their relationship this time around, having fully delved into parenthood in their attempts to keep Maisie safe. Owen has clearly matured from the experience, and the relationship between the three of them is a sweet note than provides extra depth to the series. DeWanda Wise is an excellent addition as Kayla Watts, a smuggler pilot who ends up feeling compelled to help.
If anyone was worried that the “Jurassic Park” crew would be squeezed into token guest appearances, don’t be. They have their own independent storyline, fully in character and given equal weight to Owen and Claire’s. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) even gets more than a scene or two of screen time, and he gets to mix comedy in with the serious monologues.
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Of course, there are also plenty of dinosaurs. They’ve moved away from genetically created monsters, delving into the paleontological record to come up with suitably large creatures to menace our heroes with. They’ve even introduced one with feathers, which also happens to have such long, scary claws that it’s easily as intimidating as any of the other predators in the movie. Dilophosaurus also get more attention than they have since the first “Jurassic Park,” ending up more menacing than any of the larger dinos.
Blue also makes an appearance, complete with a daughter they actually have a good explanation for. Neither dinosaur has a starring role, but they serve as a larger metaphor for so many things about the series. Also, they’re completely adorable.
If you’ve never liked the “Jurassic World” series, this isn’t going to change your mind. But if you do, then you don’t want to miss this welcome return to the land of the dinosaurs.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.