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JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION review

JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (hereafter simply referred to as "DOMINION") is directed by Colin Trevorrow. The is scored by Michael Giacchino, and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott, Scott Haze, and Dichen Lachman. It's the sixth installment in the JURASSIC PARK/JURASSIC WORLD franchise.

Following the events of JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM, dinosaurs have been released out into the world, no longer bound by the walls of a park or the borders of an island. This has resulted in chaotic activity, including a prehistoric locust swarm devouring the world's grain supply, not to mention black market activity involving illegal sales and use of dinosaurs. Raptor expert Owen Grady and former Jurassic World executive Claire Dearing raise young Maisie Lockwood in secrecy, having saved her from disaster in the previous film. The Biosyn corporation is believed to be behind the disasters at hand, but can a reunited Alan Grant, Ellie Satler, and Ian Malcolm shed light on the conspiracy, exposing the company's schemes?

If DOMINION can be described in one word, that word would be "ambitious." "Less is more" has never been the philosophy of the JURASSIC PARK series, and that's truer here than it's ever been. DOMINION brings back nearly every major legacy character who didn't pass away in an earlier installment, and with its varied plots, characters on display, and even more deadly dinos and threats than ever, it's one wild ride. Yes, it overreaches like many a Hollywood blockbuster, with an overlong running time and too much going on, but general audiences shouldn't be disappointed in what they find here. I might even go so far as to say this is my favorite JURASSIC PARK film since the 1993 original, even if it can't quite rival that cinematic gem (but then again, what can?)

The conclusion of FALLEN KINGDOM opened the doors to an interesting premise for its follow-up installment, with dinosaurs having invaded the real world, albeit in a somewhat believable way. No, humanity isn't at a full-on war with the dinos, but seeing how they interact in an open world they're not accustomed to coupled with the human reactions makes this an interesting trip from start to finish. To get too into how the dinosaurs are used in this movie would veer into spoiler territory, but this is one movie that certainly keeps your interest.

Seeing characters introduced in earlier installments of the JURASSIC WORLD trilogy of films is one of the highlights here, including the relationship between Owen Grady (a scene-stealing Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing, the latter of whom has come a long way from her early days as a heartless executive of sorts. The family dynamic of them with their "adopted" daughter Maisie Lockwood makes for some interesting drama and some powerful, effective scenes. They kept my interest even in scenes that didn't have dinosaurs around, and that's no easy task, yet these entertaining actors manage to pull it off. Disappointingly, the characters of Zia and Franklin from the prior film show up in the film's first act, but are largely forgotten after that.

If you're in it for the legacy characters, though, you won't be disappointed either. Jeff Goldblum reprises his role of Dr. Ian Malcolm, and he's as snarky as ever, getting many of the movie's best moments (he'd previously appeared in the first two JURASSIC PARK movies, and had a glorified cameo of sorts in the previous installment, FALLEN KINGDOM). For the first time since JURASSIC PARK III back in 2001, Sam Neill and Laura Dern reprise their roles as scientists turned estranged lovers, and seeing these two together again makes for plenty of highlights. We even get to see the old generation interact with the new, and while it borderlines on gimmicky fan service at times, this fan didn't mind. It is good to see that the film chooses to focus on and flesh out these existing characters rather than introducing new and mostly forgettable ones as some prior installments did.

Yes, I've rambled on about the humans long enough, but don't worry. DOMINION serves up plenty of dinosaurs. In fact, it holds nothing back. From smaller creatures interacting with humans to gigantic and dangerous apex predators, the movie serves up the good and then some. From chases through European streets to planes under attack from aerial predators, DOMINION throws in everything but the kitchen sink. If the filmmakers wanted to create a summer blockbuster that never relents and keeps serving up scene after scene of endless dino action and some compelling story beats and human characters in the mix, this fan would say they've succeeded.

A major MVP who deserves credit with this film in addition to director Trevorrow is composer Michael Giacchino, one of the great movie score composers in the business today. He'd previously helped the former two JURASSIC WORLD movies, but here he composes his best musical score for the franchise yet, with just the right instrumentation to suit any scene. There's a reason Hollywood filmmakers keep hiring this guy, and rightfully so.

While I did enjoy DOMINION immensely, I won't call it a perfect film (in fact, even already I'm seeing plenty of critical reviews from reviewers who didn't like the movie as well as I did). The film's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness - it never knows when to stop. There are tons of characters, dinos, and everything in between, leaving the story with little breathing room. Not every single scene, character, and story beat was needed. And despite some great characterizations and action, it doesn't quite go out with the bang of a conclusion you might want. Ads tout this as the conclusion of the JURASSIC film era, but I'm willing to bet we revisit this world on the big screen again in the coming years. Insert random witty comment about "extinction" here.

DOMINION may go out with a whimper and try to do way too much with far too many characters, subplots, and scenes, not all of which were needed. But it's an action-packed blockbuster that give us the best characters from both trilogies, united at last, doing what they do best. Whether the movie will stand the test of time has yet to be seen, but for this moviegoer it's the best JURASSIC film since the original 1993 JURASSIC PARK, trying something different and mostly succeeding. General audiences will love this dino-sized blockbuster despite its overlong running time. Recommended!

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