"Nobody said there'd be bugs."
I recently re-watched Jurassic World Dominion with my kids, and realized I never reviewed it when it first came out a year ago. I wanted to rectify that and complete my collection of Jurassic World reviews.
Much has been said already about the movie's flaws: thin villains, a plot that hinges on one ludicrous contrivance after another, and above all--a premise that utterly failed to capitalize on the "dinos loose in the world" setup of the prior film in favor of freaking locusts. I'm not going to belabor all that here; Cinema Sins and Pitch Meeting have done it better and funnier.
Despite it being a seriously flawed film (objectively speaking), I really enjoyed it. Part of that was the nostalgia of seeing the three original characters return together, but mostly I just like the dino set pieces. Claire and company rescuing the baby triceratops at the beginning (so adorable!); the flying dinosaur taking down the plane; Owen and Kayla, on the ice, dodging the Pyroraptor (with feathers!); the entire Malta chase sequence; and that epic scene of Claire hiding from the blind dino in the scummy pond water. Yes, they were all strung together with the flimsiest of twine, but it was still a fun summer popcorn movie.
In some ways, too, Dominon is the one of franchise's most feminist films. Top honors still belong to the original, thanks to Laura Dern's iconic portrayal of paleobotanist Ellie Sattler, but this film gives us four great female protagonists to root for.
Though weighed down by some clunky dialogue, Ellie is still the same smart, determined woman she was in Jurassic Park. She teams up with Ian and Alan to prove that BioSyn is behind the mysterious locust swarms. I found it interesting that the whole locust plotline was, in part, to give Ellie a way to use her paleobotany skills. As director Colin Trevorrow told Variety, "We made sure to make her the engine of the story, so all three of them could have that as part of their legacy." Points for effort, but still... the bugs were a huge miss.
Joining the franchise is pilot Kayla Watts, played by Dewanda Wise. Sassy, funny, tough, and driven by a moral code which frankly should have gotten more development on-screen, Kayla is a great addition to the cast. I really wish the film had given her more to do. Maybe they could have cut some of the bug stuff?
Reprising her role as clone(?) teen Maisie Lockwood, Isabella Sermon does a great job with her limited screen time. In just a few scenes, we see the bond she's built with Owen and Claire, as well as the tension. "You're not my mother," she snarks to Claire before riding off defiantly and ending up kidnapped. Her quest to understand where she came from and her bond with Blue's baby raptor elevate her from the walking plot device she was in the prior film. Again, I wish we could have had fewer bugs and more Maisie.
Last but not least is Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). From corporate suit to dino activist to full-on eco warrior, she has probably seen the most growth of any character in the franchise. It would have been nice to see a bit more of the transitions there, instead of having them all occur between films, but the end result was satisfying. In Dominion, Claire has her badass moments (escaping from raptors and fighting a knife-wielding dino smuggler), but she is also allowed to show her warmth and concern (especially with Maisie), and vulnerability. Howard's incredulous "WHAT?!" when Owen tells her to jump out of the plane is priceless.
Getting the Gang Together
As much as I loved seeing the original cast back, the whole crop/locust storyline felt really unnecessary. For me, Maisie and Beta's kidnapping was more than enough to carry the plot. Ian was already tied in through BioSyn. Ellie could have been brought in by playing up her connection to Maisie's mom, and she could have still dragged Alan along with her. I would have loved seeing the two "generations" team up towards a common goal from the start, rather than running completely parallel stories that intersected at supremely contrived moments.
"Motorcycle, Chris Pratt, sprinting dinosaurs: If you require more than that out of a movie, you’re being unreasonable."
Yeah, it's still enough for me, bugs or no bugs.
- Princess Power:
- Bechdel Test: Pass
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