Grade:  B-
Sci-fi action-adventure
Rated PG-13

In 1990, Michael Crichton scored a hit with his sci-fi novel about dinosaurs brought back into existence through DNA preserved in amber. A film version was released in 1993 to critical and audience acclaim. The concept was inspired, the special effects were wondrous, the characters were introduced in such a way that we got to know them before the coprolite hit the fan, and the science was sufficiently explained. You believed it was possible, and that made it all the more terrifying.

Since then, the franchise has failed to clear the high bar set by the first film, which was a hit with 92 percent of the critics and 91 percent of viewers at Rotten Tomatoes. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) only got a 54 percent approval rating from critics and a 51 percent rating from viewers. Jurassic Park III (2001) dipped even lower, with a 49 percent critics’ rating and 36 percent fan approval. Part of the problem was that there was less story in the sequels, which began to take on the one-dimensional character of action films.

After a dormant period, the franchise rebooted with Jurassic World in 2015, and that pleased 71 percent of critics and 78 percent of fans, helped by Chris Pratt and his “raptor whisperer” antics and the bond he had with one special raptor. But the 2018 sequel in this second trilogy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, only appealed to 47 percent of the critics and 48 percent of fans. That makes it the lowest rated film in the franchise . . . until now, if you believe the critics.

Only 30 percent of Rotten Tomatoes critics liked Jurassic World Dominion (2022). Curiously, though, 77 percent of viewers liked it—making it the fans’ third favorite, behind the original and Jurassic World. So depending on your outlook, it’s either the absolute worst of the six films, or the third best.

I’m siding with the audience.  Laura Dern and Sam Neil return for an encore, and their third wheel from the first film, Jeff Goldblum, is here too, after first testing the reboot waters in Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom. Watching this trio follow their own plot line while Jurassic World’s Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard follow theirs is like viewing a crossover episode of TV series. There’s a certain delight that comes just from seeing these tandems interact.

And the dinosaurs? One battle between a T-Rex and Allosaurus may remind fans of the old Godzilla vs. Whatever films, and the land dinosaurs, flying reptiles, and prehistoric locusts look real enough for you to sit back and enjoy the ride.  Maybe it’s pandering to fans, but this final installment filmmakers also seemed to balance the scary dinosaurs with cutesy ones featuring tiny or baby dinosaurs. Lots of them.

The downsides to Jurassic World Dominion include a weak and clumsy attempt to set the context and recap carryover plot points from the previous film. I personally think it would have helped to have an extended scene early featuring Biosyn (pun intended) CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) to firmly establish his evil plan before all the action begins. As is, we might get that Maisie (Isabella Sermon), whom Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) “adopted,” is a clone of the daughter of conspiratorial entrepreneur Benjamin Lockwood. But’s not super clear why the bad guys want to get their hands on her. Still, Jurassic World Dominion is an apt enough fable about corporate greed and the tendency of people at all levels to individually profit off of anything and anyone.

Another downside is that the strongest emotional connection isn’t between Owen and Claire, Ellie (Dern) and Alan (Neil), or even the concerned “parents” for the young girl they’re trying to rescue. All of those human relationships are upstaged by a CGI raptor  and its offspring—which only calls attention to emotional opportunities that were missed by writer Emily Carmichael and writer-director Colin Trevorrow (who also directed Jurassic World).

In the end, the dinosaurs win out. Despite a cast reunion and blending of teams, the stars of Jurassic World Dominion are still the prehistoric creatures. They’re rendered convincingly, there are a number of different species to appreciate, and plenty of tense moments keep them in the foreground. Plus a few allusions to the very first film in the franchise to tie a big neat bow on the double trilogy. That is, Jurassic World Dominion is still good family fun.

Entire family:  No (3rd grade and older?)
Run time:  147 min. / 160 min. Color
Aspect ratio:  2.00:1 widescreen
Featured audio:  English DTX:X
Studio/Distributor:  Universal
Bonus features:  B-/C+
Includes:  Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Code
Amazon link
Trailer
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence and language

Language: 3/10—No f-bombs but there’s an appropriate use of the middle finger and a smattering of lesser swearwords

Sex:  0/10—Nothing; two Jurassic power couples, and all anyone can manage is a single passionate vertical embrace?

Violence: 6/10—It’s not so much the violence but the intensity of the peril; heads get bitten off, animals get roasted, dinosaurs eat people, and people try to taze dinosaurs or use conventional weapons, with peril throughout

Adult situations: 1/10—Who has time for personal indulgences when there are dinosaurs or bad buys in constant pursuit? One character is shown drinking a beer, and that’s it

Takeaway: Jurassic World Dominion brings the franchise full circle; it started with a dream to educate and entertain, and ended with profiteers misusing something good and turning it into a nightmare—and in a capitalist society, corporate greed will always eventually turn out to be the villain