‘Jurassic World Dominion’: Dinosaurs, Yes; Diversity, Dubious Choices ⭐️⭐️

If you weren’t around when the first film, “Jurassic Park,” came out in 1993, you might wonder about a few things: There was a “Jurassic Park” trilogy which was followed by a “Jurassic World” trilogy and this new film that comes out this week is the last film of the “Jurassic World” trilogy. The greatest progress since 1993 has been the design and CGI of the dinosaur which should delight fans of dinosaurs like my husband. The very White cast has some additions in order to fulfill diversity political correctness. The original had some diversity, but “Jurassic World Dominion” chooses to favor the binary of Black and White.

Jurassic Park Trilogy

In the original film a paleontologist, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and his colleague paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are invited by industrialists John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to a theme park of cloned dinosaurs on the fictional Isla Nublar. His lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) brings a mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).

The explanation is that the DNA from a mosquito starts the cloning process with for DNA used to fill games in the genome of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs were all female to prevent breeding. But a a greedy computer programmer (Wayne Knight) steals some dinosaur embryos to sell to another corporation. His sabotage with other park problems results in the escape of dinosaurs and the descent of the park into a chaotic wild park.

The man in charge of the lab, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), is set up as the man behind the science. Besides Wong, the film featured Latinos Miguel Sandoval and Martin Ferrero and African American Samuel L. Jackson.

Besides the questionable age gap between Dern (b. 1967) and Neill (b. 1947), this film also used an actor, Cameron Thor,  who was later convicted of a sex crime. Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Thor)  briefly meets with the programmer and pays him for the dinosaur embryos.  Dodgson appears again in the Jurassic World Series but is played by Campbell Scott.

There’s also the incredibly stupid scene where the kids have to climb over a fence that they could have easily gone through. As an person experienced at living life at the size of a 12-year-old, I would have gone through and waited for the adult (Neill). There’s a few stupid moments in “Jurassic World Dominion” as well.

In the 1997 “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” John Hammond calls Ian Malcolm to lead a team to Isla Soma where the dinosaurs were bred before transport to the park in order to turn the island into a free-roaming preserve. Malcolm’s girlfriend, paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) is already there. Hammond’s nephew wants to capture some animals to bring back to San Diego for a theme park.

In the 2001 “Jurassic Park III,” Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler return. Grant offered funding for his research if he helps a supposedly well-to-do couple find their lost 12-year-old son Eric, who was lost on the restricted Isla Soma. The couple are actually divorced and Eric was with the mother’s boyfriend. Grant contacts Sattler and she summons the Navy who rescues the survivors.

The survivors unintentionally left the Pteradons’ aviary unlocked. In the rescue helicopter, they see escaped Pteradons flying freely as they leave.

Jurassic World

The 2015 “Jurassic World” brings back B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu.

Claire Dearing is the operations manager of the dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World. On this particular day, her nephews Zach and Gray Mitchell are visiting. The park has a new attraction, the Indominus rex, a transgenic dinosaur created by Dr. Wu.

Also on the island is Navy veteran Owen Grady who has been training Velociraptors (Blue, Delta, Echo and Charlie). The head of security Vic Hoskins wants to use the animals as weapons.

The climax is a battle between the Indominus rex, which has taken control of the Velociraptors, and the Tyrannosaurus rex. The survivors, including the boys and Owen and Claire, evacuate the island. Hoskins and Wu also take dinosaur embryos with them.

Omar Sy makes his first appearance as Barry Sembène.

The 2018 “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” brings back Jeff Goldblum. The focus is on Claire and Owen who are now a couple. The film begins in 2015 when a reconnaissance team land on Isla Nublar and collect DNA from the Indominus rex. Although they escape with a bone sample, they also allow a Mosasaurus to escape into the open ocean.

Three years later, the U.S. Senate has a debate about whether to save the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar from the destruction of a volcanic eruption. Dr. Ian Malcolm believes the dinosaurs will naturally perish while Claire Dearing is now the head of the Dinosaur Protection Group. While the Senate rules against efforts to rescue the surviving dinosaurs, Claire comes into contact with Benjamin Lockwood,  former partner of John Hammond.

With the help of Owen and paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda),  the animals are located by a mercenary team led by Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), but Owen, Claire and former park tech Franklin (Justice Smith) are deserted on the island by Wheatley while Rodriguez is taken hostage. The dinosaur find their way to the Lockwood estate where Lockwood’s aid, plans to sell dinosaurs on the blackmarket. The mad doctor Wu has created another transgenic dinosaur, Indoraptor. He wants to use Blue’s Velociraptor DNA to make it more obedient. Things go wrong.

Ultimately, Owen and Claire discover that Lockwood’s orphaned granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is a clone from Lockwood’s deceased daughter.  The dinosaur are released into the wild.

The film ends with Dr. Ian Malcolm at a U.S. Senate hearing where he states that this is the beginning of a new Jurassic Age, but one where humans and dinosaurs must learn to coexist.

Jurassic World Dominion

This script by director Colin Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael (“Pacific Rim: Uprising”) has a few problems. Trevorrow had a hand in the first “Jurassic World” script (with Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Derek Connolly) and the second one, “Fallen Kingdom” with Connolly.

One of the beginning scenes to set up the Neo-Jurassic Age involves a crab-fishing boat in the Bering Sea, 80 miles west of Alaska. The cage comes up with a a nice catch of crabs, but up from the depths comes the Mosasaurus who takes down the cage and cripples the boat. Do dinosaur need iron? Doesn’t it leave them in need of dental care? No matter. (Mosasaurs are not dinosaurs, but a separate group of reptiles.)

From there, we jump to other places. An illegal breeding facility in the Southwest (Nevada?) where the investigating team takes an ailing dinosaur baby out (great chase scene). Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Claire and Owen are living in a cabin far from town with Maisie who they’ve adopted. Blue, the Velociraptor from Owen’s original trained group, lives in the vicinity with a baby that she had conceived without a mate. Owen and Claire attempt to keep their presence low-key although Owen is also seen riding a horse with others trying to round up Hadropsaurids. They only capture one, roped and then tamed by a single hand gesture. This is a definite do-not-try-at-home with wild or feral animals.

In West Texas, Ellie Sattler looks at the impact of industrial farming, but there’s something weird. Locust. Giant locusts. They rise in great waves and the dark clouds cover fields. But oddly, the locusts only seem to target certain fields. Sattler turns to her old friend Alan Grant who is on a dig in Utah. If Grant wanted a safe and quiet life, he’s not going to get it. He quickly learns that Ellie  has parted ways with her husband and her kids are away in college. If that’s not a smoke signal for a hot time between the sheets, what is? They have another invitation to disaster from the mathematician Ian Malcolm who is not associated with Biosyn.

On their way to Biosyn, Ellie and Alan travel to a Pennsylvania relocation center. Illegal dinosaurs are sent there first to be given a health check before they are sent to the Biosyn reserve. But we already know that something’s not quite right.

In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, mercenaries kidnapped Maisie and Blue’s baby and through their pass off to their client, we learn they are linked to Biosyn. Owen and Claire use their connections to find Maisie and end up in Europe. After a chase through a dinosaur black market Europe (Omar Sy appears as a former trainer who worked with Owen in this sequence) and some gory dinosaur feeding on unsavory characters, Owen and Claire meet up with Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise). Kayla had seen Maisie during one of her illegal dinosaur transport runs. She decides to help Owen and Claire and takes them to the Biosyn research facility in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. Under attack by Pteradons, Claire ejects while Kayla and Owen are forced to crash land into a place where dinosaur roam everywhere. In their efforts to be reunited with Claire, Owen and Kayla will also find Alan and Ellie and Maisie.

The CEO of Biosyn, Dr. Lewis Dodgson (now played by Campbell Scott) is inherently evil and Jurassic Park as well as Jurassic World likes the bad guys to meet dinosauriffic endings. And, of course, there will be a battle between apex predators at the end.

My husband thought this was the best of the three films and would give it three stars. He doesn’t know much about animal training. I pointed out to him the first scenes of the mosasaurs doesn’t make sense with the subsequent scenes of a mosasaur peacefully swimming with much smaller whales. I’d say that the mosasaurs would cause the extinction of whales, sharks and dolphins. Don’t expect to be surfing anytime soon in a Neo-Jurassic world unless you don’t mind being a salty snack for a mosasaur. And while we might think mustangs running free is a symbol of the Wild West, horses are feral and another example of introduction of foreign species that upsets the balance of nature.

But we’re not dealing with reality in the Jurassic Park or Jurassic World worlds. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, people can hardly live together with coyotes. I imagine people would find living with dinosaurs  much more difficult. The film shows a rabbit, wolf, deer and fox being eaten by dinosaurs. Imagine what would happen if someone Chihuahua, Labradoodle or cat became a dinosaur snack.

We aren’t even dealing with the mountains of poop (something brought up in the first Jurassic Park film. I give this film a high mark for CGI dinosaurs.  Still I’d like to see more herbivores featured and not as overly docile Dinos. I think if one roped a feral horse or a wild buffalo, it would be capable of doing more damage than the roped Hadropsaurids. Any roundup that comes back with one animal (after spotting and chasing a whole herd) is a failure. Think of how real roundups of cattle, sheep or wild horses work. Consider how American buffaloes were rounded up.

 

Woo-hoo for the Dinos running with and ruining vehicles.  My main problem, however, is one of diversity.

Diversity

Remember, this all started on the Isla Nublar which was a volcanic island about 120 miles west of Costa Rica. Whites and Mestizos make up about 84 percent of the population. People of African descent are about 1 percent. Indigenous people are 2.4 percent. I would have liked to have seen Miguel Sandoval who played Juanito Rostagno return.  Rostagno was the owner of the Mano de Dios Amber Mine. In the “Jurassic Park” script, he is described as thirty-something and a smart-looking guy in workers clothes. He’s the guy we see with a piece of amber that has a fully preserved mosquito inside. There are real amber mines in Costa Rica.

Because of the initial action takes place in Latin America with closer proximity to Central and South Americas than to the US, and for those reasons would Costa Rica or Panama should have been involved in the US Senate hearings or the White House as part of international affairs. If the Pteradons and Mosasaurus escaped from just off of Costa Rica, you’d expect the problems to begin in Costa Rica and Panama and quick spread north to Nicaragua and Mexico and then south to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. There are paleontologists in Latin America and some are making incredible discoveries.

The person who is at Jurassic Park before Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm become involved is another doctor, Dr. Henry Wu. It would have been nice to have seen his role expanded. If we are to know the before and after and the whole impetus behind the scientific side, this part of the trilogy should have focused on the man behind the scenes: Wu. We know about the personal lives of Grant, Sattler and Malcolm. Grant is a bachelor but has hope with Sattler. Malcolm is married with children. Benjamin Lockwood had a daughter. Did Dr. Henry Wu give up on his personal life just to do research funded by White men? Where is his mother and father? Are they proud? Where is their cry/campaign for grandchildren and where are those Asian aunties?

Jeff Goldblum is 69. Sam Neill is 74. Wong is only 61. Is there any reason to feel that a lead geneticist couldn’t be as dashing, daring and physically fit as a 74-year-old paleontologist or a 69-year-old mathematician? Instead, Wong’s Henry Wu has to be helped to escape unlike the other men. Sure, Wong is shorter than Goldblum and Neill, but sometimes short people are feisty. In any case, he’s been around dinosaurs longer and more consistently than any of the other characters. Why didn’t he have a moment to shine in controlling or training them?

Do you ever wonder about the family of Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson)? He was the chief engineer of the Jurassic Park in the first film. Don’t you think Ray Arnold’s  family would have filed huge lawsuit against the original corporation, International Genetics Technologies.

The franchise has been quite careful to give the audience two attractive new Black characters: Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie). They are both super attractive and yet this starkly reminds us of how diversity was imagined throughout this six-film saga. But really, the logistics of the series called for more Latino characters and an expansion of an Asian American character.

Ironically, “Jurassic World Dominion” premiered in Mexico City on 23 May 2022. The film was released on 10 June 2022 in IMAX, 4DX and Dolby.

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