Steven Spielberg’s original “Jurassic Park,” based on Michael Crichton’s novel, was an instant, classic blockbuster. Jurassic classic. It had originality in world-building, the king of movie magic directing, and the kind of lo-tech puppetry that, done well, can put sophisticated CGI to shame. It created a true sense of wonder. Remember the vibrations in the dashboard water cup, due to ponderous T. rex footfalls? Pure magic.
Then came the installment that tweaked DNA and created monster-saurs out of dinosaurs. That was a pretty good one. Evil humans! Always fiddling about like wicked Uncle Ernie from The Who’s “Tommy,” being driven by technological competition and greed.
Now, with “Jurassic World: Dominion,” we’ve finally arrived at the franchise’s conclusion. After 29 years the thrill is gone, T. rex is boring, and what we’re left with is a bloated vessel—call it an ark—of dinos that’s listing badly, about to sink, but which attempts, in its final moments, to float a boatload of Hollyweird wokeness at the world. More on this later.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
My brother once did TV’s “Deadliest Catch” for real; he worked aboard dangerous crab boats in Alaska’s Bering Strait. He said, of going ashore, that our national bird, the majestic bald eagle, is as common as chickens out there, squabbling over fish scraps on beaches, and that you really don’t want to see hoards of them like that because there’s an eventual loss of respect: Familiarity breeds contempt.
In “Jurassic World: Dominion”—same deal. The cloned dinosaurs that escaped their island paddock and have been running around onscreen since 1993 have lost their majesty and become the type of pests you call the exterminator about.
But more than that—they’ve assimilated. They gallop in herds, in romantic John Fordian fashion, across America’s great plains (pursued and lassoed by cowboys, no less). They saunter amiably alongside pachyderms on African flood plains. And there are pterodactyl nests on top of Manhattan’s Freedom Tower. Very normalized! Not exotic! Not strange. Acceptable. Can we all get along? Can you see where I’m going with this?
Human greed is full-blown in “Dominion.” Dinos are big business, bred as if in puppy farms, haggled over in black market “Star Wars”-type bazaars, and purchased willy-nilly by Big Pharma, hell-bent on excavating lucrative ancient remedies for modern illnesses.
The baddie here is gene-techie CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) who runs a massive company called Biosyn, a dino sanctuary in Italy. He’s a classic, benign-seeming, absent-minded-professor type, but he’s got a few surreptitious irons in the fire, one of which is a plan to control the world’s grain supply by bioengineering gargantuan dino-locusts and letting them do their locust-y nom-nom-nom thing on America’s crops. Ahem. Sort of like we’ve been hearing about powerful folks currently buying up America’s farmland.
Problem is, big crunchy locusts, while gross, are not scary. “Dominion” tries to make up for this scare-vacuum by ramping up the action: motorcycle chases, shootouts with dino smugglers, and cargo plane mayhem involving territorial pterodactyls. Along with the now standard dino-on-dino chomp action between two or three of “the biggest” dino carnivores.
The nonstop bickering ex-Navy SEAL-turned-raptor-trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and former dino park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are a couple now, living in a cabin, attempting to parent human clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). Also protect her, because who can keep their hands off a free-ranging human clone running about? She must be collected and lab-tested. Take a wild guess by whom.
Back by popular demand from the original “Jurassic,” Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) sees what’s going on with the locust situation. She goes and gets original Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), who’s still doggedly digging up original dino bones even though live dinosaurs are now basically running around in his backyard. They head over to Biosyn to sniff around.
Also, genetically tampered-with velociraptor Blue from the last movie had a baby (for which she didn’t require a mate), and suddenly the baby and Maisie the clone are simultaneously kidnapped by mercenaries and whisked off to Biosyn, where the original (and now-famous) chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is guest lecturing. Once everyone is gathered at Biosyn, let the inevitable dino destruction commence!
From day one, the “Jurassic” series has always been about exploitation and capitalistic greed. Dino DNA was manipulated to resurrect Lazarus-like dinosaurs from extinction for purposes of scientific advancement, but mostly to sell theme-park tickets and merch.
We know all this. And it’s been fun. And to be fair, once this clunker gets rolling, it’s got some decent, theme-park roller-coaster tension and fun as well.
But the thesis of “Dominion”—that it’s logical to think that dinosaurs could blend into modern planetary existence and not be megapests—is sci-fi, pseudoscience nonsense at best. New York City, after a century’s worth of three infestations (rats, roaches, and bedbugs) can’t get rid of them but, say, a man-killing velociraptor infestation … no problem?
It should go without saying that we humans have unnaturally elevated ourselves to apex predator status via technology. In a world of giant, unchecked T. rexes, raptors, various flying and swimming horrors, not to mention the diabolical gene-spliced, stronger-faster-smarter weaponized versions of all these apex-apex-apex predators, there are no more human dino-snacks left on planet Earth probably inside of a week.
“Let all the species get along” is unsound logic and also bad storytelling. Nobody wants to see humans get along with dinosaurs. We want to see bad humans get eaten by dinosaurs—that’s the payoff you want from your outrageously inflated, expensive movie night out; we want to see a T. rex eat whoever’s responsible for $7-a-gallon gas prices. That would be such poetic justice, since gasoline is ultimately dinosaur bones.
The purpose of all of this Rodney King “Can we all get along?” plea as it pertains to cloned dinosaurs, genetically modified dinosaurs, and cloned humans is this: This cornucopia of contrived life forms is a blatant metaphor for the myriad permutations and combinations of surgically, pharmaceutically, and eventually genetically tampered-with gender alterations and gender transitioning that the world is now looking at and indoctrinating our children with in schools.
Here’s the ultimate example: Clone Maisie Lockwood’s mom got herself pregnant in a lab. Not a man in sight. What would you call that? Maybe a “birthing person”? Is Hollywood saying, who needs men? Transitioning rules the day? Frankenworld?
Hollywood herewith just tried to subliminally normalize the world’s current gender confusion. It’s contrived, unnatural, inorganic, tampered with, and it reminds me of a popular 1960s TV ad, the punchline of which was “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
Mother Nature is smarter than humans. She’s the birthing person of humans. There’s always retribution for human fiddling foolishness.
Let’s hope “Jurassic World” remains only a movie concept.
‘Jurassic World: Dominion’
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard,Campbell Scott, Isabella Sermon
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 26 minutes
Release Date: June 10, 2022
Rating: 3 stars for dino action: 1 star for woke content