It’s been almost 30 years since audiences were first awed by the sight of animatronic dinosaurs stampeding across the silver screen. Now Jurassic World: Dominion, the sixth installment, marks the return of the human characters who propelled previous sequels.
There’s paleontologist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), reunited with former partner Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and wisecracking philosophical chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Add raptor wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and former theme park operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), foster parents of teenage Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), an orphaned clone with a unique genetic code.
In the four years since the Isla Nublar park blew up in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs have roamed free, terrorizing cities and causing chaos. On the Western plains, animal behaviorist Grady herds herbivores, activist Claire advocates for dinosaur-rights and Maisie befriends the baby of a Velociraptor named Blue.
Meanwhile in a heavily guarded sanctuary in Italy, BioSyn’s sinister CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) with his aide, Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie), is secretly developing huge, mutant locusts that will cause widespread famine, an ecological disaster that allows him to control the world’s food supply. Corporate greed has become the villain, pushing cloned prehistoric beasts into the periphery.
An intriguing subplot involving Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) using Maisie’s DNA is briefly introduced and then discarded. Likewise, cynical cargo pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) does a reluctant Han-Solo-ish hero bit then vanishes.
Director Colin Trevorrow wrote the nostalgic script with Emily Carmichael – and what’s been lost is the joyously dazzling wonder introduced in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel and visually infused in Steven Spielberg’s spectacular original 1993 film.
Problem is: as a result of frenzied storylines, numerous gargantuan species and too many bumbling characters, there’s no emotional connection. And when two savage CGI apex predators finally grapple, it’s over a puny deer carcass. Perhaps this cautionary tale heralds the extinction of the once-beloved Jurassic franchise.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Jurassic World: Dominion” is a sentimental, yet overstuffed, superficial 6, playing in theaters.