"Still got it."
Picking up three years after the events of Jurassic World, everyone is still adjusting to life with dinosaurs. As hot topics begin to surface regarding their safety and humans' responsibility concerning their ecosystem, many are focused on survival.
Such is the case for Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard's Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. Now an inarguable couple, the pair live in an isolated cabin in the middle of the forest with Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), an unusual young girl said to be born in a science lab.
The film, at its core, hinges on Maisie's safety. Though the franchise has always revolved around dinosaurs and the greed in humans as they attempt to play God, Jurassic World Dominion offers a minor detour.
Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum return to the franchise for the first time since 2001's Jurassic Park III. Their reentry, at times forced, provides a full-circle moment for the franchise while giving fans a hefty dose of nostalgia.
For the first two-thirds of the film, the two triads of characters appear to be operating in different universes. The legacy players investigate a corporation's possible ecological corruption that could mark civilization's end. The newer group is hunting down their daughter's captors to protect her from the rigors of science and greed. They are ultimately brought together by Campbell Scott's Lewis Dodgson and Biosyn, a corporation that provides a haven for dinosaurs.
As Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler head into the illusive Biosyn compound, which looks oddly like Apple Park, and meet Dodgson, who, oddly again, resembles Apple's Tim Cook, we begin to understand the aurora of the place. Fronted by crisp, clean, modern lines, the air appears heavy and thick, hinting at the crooked and unethical dealings happening in the sub-levels of the highly secured facility. But, not to worry, our scientists came prepared. They have a bracelet.
It is during this sequence that Jurassic World Dominion begins to take shape. Director Colin Trevorrow has a knack for crafting incredible action moments and does not disappoint. Utilizing the unpredictability of a creature we know very little about, he plays against our imagination, using an occasional reference point to give the current course of action purpose and understanding. It's an awareness that helps ground the film, giving fans a complete, immersive experience.
Through this, the energy remains high, an impressive feat given the film's nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime. In fact, on more than one occasion, an obvious plotline is cut short as many doors open and close without a full investigation. That is, at its core, the main issue I have with the film. Outside the ridiculous depiction that humans can outrun a dinosaur, Jurassic World Dominion is painfully formulaic in its approach, even sacrificing itself for a pair of future Universal Studio rides.
The climax, as characters old and new connect amid a circular tower, is enthralling and does give us moments of visual perfection. That said, the stakes never seem high, primarily because the film never reaches the apex of a human v. dinosaur affair. Even Dr. Grant confidently proclaims, during an encounter with the largest known preditor, "This isn't about us."
Compare that to an hour before, when Bryce Dallas Howard, being sniffed out by a creature, crawls into a watering hole and submerges herself to erase her scent. The film is inconsistent in its approach and delivery. That doesn't make it particularly bad. Many will find the apparent sendoff quite good. But the imbalance prevents it from garnering the franchise magic, impeding it from being anything more than a summer popcorn flick.