(Spoiler free review)
I've just gotten off the ride that is Jurassic World: Dominion.
This wonderfully fun, messy, movie is a ride. And you don't have to be "this tall" to ride it. With the exception of some exposition scenes that show us where the characters are today, the movie quickly becomes a blur of chase scenes and dino-death close calls.
Through a fake newscast that tells us what the world is like now, we discover that dinosaurs are all over the earth. They're in the mountains, public parks, nesting on the roofs of skyscrapers. And it's a problem. Joggers are attacked. Giant locusts are destroying crops. The Deadliest Catch boats also have a dino problem. The tech to make dinosaurs seem real has been perfected in this film. It's not hard to suspend your disbelief by their look and interactions with live characters.
Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing) are living in the Unabomber-esque cabin, keeping adoptive daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) hidden – because she's the clone of Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter from the last movie.
Meanwhile, the original cast is back after almost 30 years. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) reunites with her old partner Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to prove that a company is intentionally destroying the world's food supply with illegally created dino-locusts. That company is Bio-Syn, an Apple-like company the world has put in charge of helping dinosaurs and humans living together. Bio-Syn's founder (played by Campbell Scott) gives off a realistic Tim Cook vibe. Sadler and Grant get a chance to prove BioSyn is behind the crop problem with help from our favorite chaotisist, Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).
Bio-syn believes Miasie, the clone, is key to more profit and evil so they have her kidnapped and she must be rescued.
Two casts, two storylines. Is your head spinning yet?
The original cast of Dr's Grant, Sandler, and Malcom are sneaking around Bio-Syn's secret complex. Meanwhile, Claire and Owen are searching the globe to get Maisie back. What ensues is relentless chase scenes and velociraptor street-fights worthy of a Bourne or Mission Impossible film.
One stand-out new character is Kayla Watts (Dewanda Wise). Her pilot-for-hire character has the charisma of Han Solo and just might be lined up for the next generation of Jurassic films. We all know this is not the end of this franchise. I can envision her and Maisie taking this juggernaut forward from here.
The last hour of this movie is all adrenaline. The dinos are trying to take a bite out of our protagonists, and each other. Beyond the idea of dinosaurs existing in our current world, the escapes and stunts require a shut down of your entire frontal lobe. If you can shut off your internal "Oh, come on", you'll have fun. The plot is cumbersome and clunky. Probably too much fan service is given to Ellie and Adam's relationship.
I've decided to give dumb, summer blockbusters their own scale because they should be judged on their ability to thrill, instead of artistic merit.
So my two scores:
Dumb, Summer Blockbuster score: 8.5
Artistic Merit score: 5
If you'd like to hear a review of the original Jurassic Park before you go, I suggest you subscribe to the new podcast I've joined with hosts Justin Bradford and Jeremy K. Gover. It's called "Untitled Film Project Podcast". (all the good names were taken)