REVIEW: Jurassic World Dominion is this franchise's version of The Rise Of Skywalker
The sixth (and reportedly final) Jurassic movie arrives in Irish cinemas this week.
When the first Jurassic Park stomped its way into cinemas in 1993, it was to this reviewer what Star Wars was to so many of a previous generation. This was the eye-popping spectacle combined with pure rollercoaster thrills, marking the exact point that I fell in love with cinema.
Much like what the lovers of Star Wars have found themselves enduring, the further we get away from those original movies, the more questionable that journey has been.
2015's Jurassic World actually beat The Force Awakens to the big screen in terms of long-delayed legacy sequels that were stealthily just remakes of the first movie, and that was totally okay. Getting to see a fully functional (at least in the short term) dino-park was the dream we all had since that first failed attempt.
But now we're on to this trilogy capper, the sixth (and reportedly final) entry in the series, and Jurassic World Dominion has more in common with The Rise Of Skywalker that anything else.
It has moments of pure brilliance and it is great to see some of the old cast back again... but there is just too much. Too much of everything! Far too many new elements introduced at the last minute, a sense of no real plot through-line from that first Jurassic World to this one, and the overall messiness amounts to what hindsight might make the worst entry in the franchise to date.
After the ending of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in which dinosaurs have escaped into the wild and are now a part of everyday life, we find Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) living a mostly happy life in a cabin in the woods, with their sorta-adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who is brimming over with "You're not my REAL MOM!" energy.
When Owen's sorta-pet raptor Blue has her dino-baby stolen by poachers, he takes it upon himself to track them down, and the trio get a tip that they should head to Malta...
Meanwhile, Alan (Sam Neill) is still a palaeontologist, who is visited one day by his ex, Ellie (Laura Dern), who comes with a grave warning about - and we're not kidding here - locusts. Apparently a genetics company may have been using dino-DNA for nefarious reasons, and they decide to head to the company's headquarters, as their old friend Ian (Jeff Goldblum) happens to be working there...
Over the course of the plot, the characters from World and Park will collide, but not before a globetrotting adventure involving scientific industrial espionage and a lot of dinosaurs... at least initially.
Before too long, everyone has found their way to the isolated HQ, which is basically just another version of the dinosaur preserves we've seen in pretty much every Jurassic movie before. They're filled with some classics - justice for the Dilophosaurus, at last! - and some newbies, almost all of which are some variation on either a T-Rex or a Velociraptor.
All of it rushes by so quickly - A bike chase! A plane crash! A frozen lake fight! - that barely any of it registers, with the exception of one stand-out scene where Claire finds herself being singularly pursued by a Therizinosaurus, all beaks and claws and territorial fury, in an incredibly tense sequence that calls to mind the can't-hear-a-pin-drop panic from the kitchen scene in the very first movie.
But combined, none of it really adds up to much. Sure, it is great to see the original trio back together again, but the plot they've dropped them into is so monumentally dumb, they definitely deserved a better use of their talents than this. New arrivals DeWanda Wise (a proper scene-stealer) and Mamoudou Athie pump some new life blood into proceedings, but they're not given an awful lot to do.
Pratt and Howard are as likeable as ever, and over the course of their trilogy, they've both had some huge arcs to embark on, but - and no shade intended - we're not here for long-term character development. We're here for the dinosaurs. And while Dominion does throw more of them at the screen than ever before, it really doesn't know what to do with them other than have them stomp around a bit, roar a bit, and maybe kill some supporting characters to prove how dangerous this whole situation is.
In much the same way that there was clearly no way that The Rise of Skywalker was how they intended that trilogy to end when they began filming The Force Awakens, it doesn't feel like Dominion was the planned end goal when we first got Jurassic World. It is big and loud and sometimes exciting, but it is also in no way original or memorable or even that interesting.
Jurassic World Dominion arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday, 10 June.