The dinosaurs are the only living part of Jurassic World Dominion

Chris Pratt and an Atrociraptor in ‘Jurassic World Dominion.’ ILM/Universal Pictures and Ambli

For nearly three decades, the fun of these dinosaur movies has been the cathartic thrill of seeing strangers’ expensive family vacations ruined by realistic CGI monsters plucked from our childhood fascinations. Who hasn’t stood in one of those relentless lines at Space Mountain and wondered how the situation could be improved — or at least mercifully brought to an end — by some triangulating Velociraptors on the prowl?

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Jeff Goldblum, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong
Duration: 139 minutes.

But just as many of us have had to accept that the price of travel and health problems have at least made dream vacations a thing of the past, so has the Jurassic World franchise went way beyond the resort era.

In the latest movie – the supposed last of a lame but profitable trilogy that started in 2015 Jurassic World and again overseen by that movie’s director, Colin Trevorrow – dinosaurs have jumped the fence permanently and now live among us. You can find several species that nest in skyscrapers, trample construction sites, chew crab traps, and compete with ducks for breadcrumbs by a pond.

It’s a situation well-suited to produce some daring, drive-in-worthy pop imagery—in the beginning, trilogy star Chris Pratt riding horseback on a snowy northwestern plain among a herd of horned-and-rope dinosaurs—and some fascinating ideas about the nature of life and humanity. of the former, Jurassic World Dominion has a memorable handful; of the latter it is utterly bereft.

It doesn’t help that the film is deeply disinterested in its characters, or even has anything compelling to say. The script, written by Trevorrow and Pacific Rim: Rebellion co-screenwriter Emily Carmichael reads like a mid-’80s self-help book, when she’s not buzzing with a synthesis of half-baked techno-babble and nature spells. “You’re the only you that ever was,” a mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) tells her adopted daughter (Isabella Sermon), who herself is an exact genetic clone of her birth mother.

The signature move of Chris Pratt’s zookeeper Owen Grady is to put his hand in the air and make his eyes really wide, like a crossing guard just waking up from a nap. That’s about as deep as his character gets.

Admittedly, a lack of character development shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who caught the anemic, lava-filled franchise episode of 2018 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. But it’s especially disheartening to watch this radiance of individuality hit a trio of remnants of Jurassic Park, the 1993 Spielberg colossus that started it all: Drs. Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm (Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum, respectively). Neill, in particular, spends much of this film as a weekend warrior looking for the right aisle at Home Depot.

A baby Nasutoceratops, Laura Dern and Sam Neill. ILM/Universal Pictures and Ambli

While Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing doesn’t get any more help than the others, the camera loves her angular, expressive face. lordship was mostly shot on 35mm and 65mm film by original Jurassic World cinematographer John Schwartzman, and the film has individual moments of upbeat cinematic exuberance, such as wide shots of genetically modified locusts – set on fire – making their way into a dinosaur’s mouth. It’s almost enough to forgive the cardboard-cut characters and lack of narrative momentum.

Almost. But with emotional investments at an all-time low and the storyline as thin as possible, there’s no bulletin board to pin on. Jurassic World Dominion‘s occasionally inspired snapshots.

Instead, the film seems determined to show how little gas it is. Again and again there is a false moment of relief followed by the manifestation of a so-called terror exactly one beat later. Trevorrow is not adding any new idea to this franchise.

We’re just too far advanced in this technological revolution to think that the computer-generated creatures themselves are enough, no matter how artfully arranged they are.

“You never get used to it,” says Dr. Sattler of Dern, rubbing the nose of a baby dinosaur. If only we were so lucky.

Observer Reviews are regular reviews of new and notable cinema.

In 'Jurassic World Dominion' the dinosaurs are alive and everyone is a cardboard cutout

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