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Jurassic World: Dominion Cannoli Send a noteboard - 15/06/2022 04:56:50 PM

The lesson I am learning from recent years of franchise failure is: don't let someone else direct the middle film of your trilogy. Jurassic World is not a good series. It didn't have as far to fall as Star Wars did, not least because of the deterioration of the original trilogy, which, honestly are not so much a trilogy as a complete movie and a pair of tacked-on sequels. But the same problem holds with the Star Wars sequel trilogy, in that someone else directed the second one, introducing a lot of dumb things, and then when the director of the first comes back, there is clearly no unifying creative vision, and he's basically ignoring the setup of the last movie.

In this case, I believe, there seems to have been some sort of mandate to pay homage to the original Jurassic Park. Beyond the obvious point that they brought back Sam Neil and Laura Dern, B.D. Wong's Henry Wu has been softened a great deal and is much less of a mad scientist, and source of problems. He is wearing a cardigan and has grown his hair longer, so you can tell he's nicer.

Also returning from the original movie is Dodgson. You remember Dodgson, right? Guy who hired Nedry to steal the dinosaur zygotes and inadvertently cause the downfall of Jurassic Park? Recast with a slightly more famous actor, who has actually been a leading man once or twice (Campbell Scott), rather than a shady fixer or corporate espionage facilitator, now he has been reimagined as a tech billionaire genius archetype with vaguely autistic mannerisms. He's the head of BioSyn, the evil corporation that may or may not have been in prior movies.

Of course, if you are trying to give your movie OG credibility, maybe don't try to do so with a character whom most people remember in the original film mostly from the following line: "Dodgson, Dodgson, we've got Dodgson here! See? Nobody cares." (Emphasis mine) This doesn't stop them from throwing in an easter egg near the end referencing his role in the original movie to make you feel clever for noticing.

Anyway, the plot is that dinosaurs are out in the wild, and causing problems and for some reason, people are debating what to (shoot them) about their interference with normal activities. They are causing a lot of property damage and even threatening humans (shoot them) and there are even agencies and sanctuaries set aside to prevent heroes from saving us all from this menace poaching. The idea seems to be that wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are still sacrosanct, so once a dinosaur ends up in one of those, there is nothing we can do, since you can't hunt in a wildlife refuge. Never mind that introducing a super predator like a velociraptor into a wildlife refuge is going to make it no longer a refuge for the other wildlife - we actually see the raptors in question kill more predators than prey animals.

The idea seems to be that now humans are unable to march around like the lords of creation, since there are bigger critters than our plans and engineering standards have accounted for (but there would not be if we shot them).

Anyway, BioSyn maintains a protected refuge area in a mountain valley in Italy, not that there is anything at all in the movie beyond dialogue and subtitles to indicate it IS in Italy, instead of the US or China or Africa or wherever. But that's really all we care about the issue of dinosaurs overrunning the world. The ACTUAL plot is that Owen and Claire are shacking up in a cabin that might be supposedly the one he was seen building in the prior film but looks like it's in a completely different place, raising Maisie, the cloned granddaughter of John Hammond's partner we forgot to mention in the first four movies. The existence of this Abomination is apparently public knowledge and people are hunting her for sinister reasons, because human clone, and so Owen and Claire are just keeping her hidden and forbidding her to ride her bike into town, but she's fourteen and rebellious, she can't help it and she is mean to Claire over it, like Claire is just being controlling instead of trying to protect her from legit threats.

Also living nearby is that damn 'raptor Blue, in whom the series desperately wants us to be invested, and care about Owen's relationship to her, rather than properly viewing it as the deranged projection of a relationship onto a vicious predator that Owen freely admits is dangerous and doesn't care about him, but for some reason is mesmerized by his palm. An issue made in each of the three films with them in it, is that this relationship and his ability to stare her down is the result of training her from her hatching and being the dominant presence in her life growing up. This does not stop Owen from brandishing his magic dino-taming palm at other dinosaurs he confronts. And sometimes it works, because dinosaur behavior is exactly whatever is convenient for the plot.

Sometimes humans are beneath the dinosaurs' notice, other times, they will go well out of their way to hunt down a single human, in one case, ignoring a deer corpse, which is a lot more meat than a human played by a Hollywood actress, which means she is among the lowest percentile body mass (and thus meat content) in the whole human buffet.

Anyway, a bunch of shady types want to snatch both Abominations, Maisie and Blue's baby, Beta, for nefarious purposes connected to some more powerful party that could not possibly be BioSyn with its lovably eccentric visionary leader and his "in-house savant," Ian Malcolm.

Meanwhile, there is an issue with giant locusts suddenly plaguing the world, and when giant locusts have eaten your crops, who ya gonna call? Why an aging paleobotanist, of course! And when Ellie Satler needs help because the first thing she ascertains through clever detective work (i.e. the farmer whose crops were eaten straight-up tells her) that the locusts won't eat BioSyn's gen-mod crops, she goes looking for a septuagenarian paleontologist! So Grant and Satler are back in action and teaming up again (she's conveniently and ecstatically divorced, btw) and preparing to investigate BioSyn. Because when animals won't eat gen-mod crops, the FIRST THING you think is that the company making the crops is responsible for the animals, instead of the obvious point that these crops are just too alien to the animals' dietary needs. Like, in the end of the Jurassic Park novel, it's mentioned that some dinosaurs have escaped into the wild, and have been feeding on crops and livestock that contain high amounts of the nutrient on which they were engineered to be dependent. So established fans of the IP will be aware of other possibilities.

It doesn't matter, because this is the 21st Century where characters in movies always make the right deduction, no matter how much of a leap it is, so they need a contact inside BioSyn, and as mentioned, for some reason, Ian Malcom took a job with another company tampering with nature and dinosaurs. That is totally a thing he would do.

You might be thinking "Come one, Cannoli, that's a little bad faith on your part! Maybe Malcom took the job to keep an eye on them." That's what I thought too, except it turns out he was not, or he was bad at keeping an eye out, because it was another whistleblower who actually approached him with the dastardly intel. He just took the job for the money and ego-stroking.

Anyway, Owen and Claire's concern for their Abominations, and Ellie and Alan's concern over locusts and the world's food supply, lead them in the same general direction, which is BioSyn's corporate HQ located smack dab in the middle of their dinosaur preserve, with an interlude in Malta, the crossroads of the dinosaur black market, where kidnapped Abominations change hands, dinosaur pit fights are held, dinosaurs bred and trained for combat (they still have not given up on that nonsense** ) are shipped out to buyers and swarthy old men in exotic clothes sell you dino-parts and spit-roasted meat from mini-dinosaurs.

** BTW, they have apparently fixed the laser-guided dinosaur issue from the prior movie. The laser pointer just indicates a target, which the dinosaurs will attack and pursue on their own. So it does make a kind of sense, in that it might be easier to hit someone with the laser instead of a ballistically-complicated bullet, and then you can forget about it, because the dinosaurs will proceed to relentlessly hunt that person down, and even, apparently, have its fellow dinosaurs join the chase in some sort of pack mentality. Of course, that does not change the fact that humans still have means to evade or defeat the pursuing dinosaurs (shoot them) and it's not exactly a subtle weapon suitable for discreet assassinations, but it's a marginal improvement on the incomplete description of the method from the prior film.

Along the way, this very white collection of prior film veterans collects some duskier friends, but the wokeness is not a thing. Men are actually allowed to save women, and female feats of strength or derring-do are no more over the top than any action movie character's. The strong black woman, Kayla, is your basic capable shady type with a conscience, who is appropriately snarky without denigrating the white devil leads. Think your typical Han Solo ripoff. She's possibly LGBTQ enough to titillate social media, but not explicitly enough to offend China (which is also probably why the dino-market is in Malta, instead of Hong Kong or Macao).

Overall, this was not all that bad. I had a better time with it than the prior two, but then I can say the same thing about "Rise of Skywalker" and "A Memory of Light". Maybe I was just so jaded that I was going with the flow, or maybe it was just more fun. They didn't really bother to address the issue of dinosaurs running amuck (shoot them), and that point was not even necessary for the main plot, which, like every other movie in the franchise, was primarily set in a closed environment with dinosaurs and faulty or sabotaged dino-protection systems.

But that's not all that bad of a thing, considering how absolutely awful the Jurassic World trilogy's take has been on the puzzle of dinosaurs in the wild and among humans (shoot them). There is sort of a montage in the beginning showing examples of their interaction, including Owen helping cowboys herd parasauralophus (the ones with the backward horn, that I was taught was a snorkel in first grade because science is never ever wrong). Why they need a raptor tamer to help with the extant skills of riding horses and roping large animals is not clear, especially when it becomes obvious that something twice as large as a cow is not as amenable to being roped. The Abomination is able to offer a suggestion to getting a sauropod out of the way of a lumber-hauling project (shoot them), but more the most part, dinosaurs running around is just background noise as the heroes focus on a corporate espionage plot. That, coincidentally, includes dinosaur threats.

We also get the return of Claire's horrible sidekicks from the last movie, but between Jurassic movies, both actors got jobs "ruining," according to YouTube, Japanese cartoons, for men who honestly seem too old to care about that stuff but passionately do. So there is one scene of Claire and her minority henchpersons investigating dinosaur abuse on a farm only for them to inform her at the end that they have real jobs now, and shouldn't she be giving this stuff up to direct awful Star Wars spinoffs secretly raise her Abomination team up with Owen? And the guy, played by Justice Smith, has been allowed to grow up some and not shriek every time something dangerous happens. He has a new job that will be sufficiently convenient to the plot to get him in a second scene.

We also get more background on the Abomination, which is sort of a retcon to be more acceptable to the feminist STEM field agenda, and is validated by two different original characters, but really, her plot line is just a transparent hook to involve characters with dinosaur adventures when they really should know better by now.

The action is fun and over the top. The final act is a bit crowded in a lot of the action scenes, especially when you realize that the near-dozen characters on screen are too much the leads or too important to the legacy or too diverse, to get killed, but they also don't depend on you being worried about their fates, or stretching out the dramatic peril too much. And in the end, there is a dinosaur endangering their escape which they evade through the time-honored tactic established in several other movies.

As I implied above, the plot is not great, and often transparently moving the characters between action set pieces, and dragging them into dinosaur stuff. A solution to one of the bigger problems to the world at large incidentally presents itself with no effort on the heroes' part, which highlights the point that their dinosaur action scenes don't have a lot to do with the stated motivations for the plot. The central premise of dinosaurs threatening humans' dominion of the planet is still highly implausible (motherfucking shoot them already! ), but they wisely ignore it for conflicts more within the scope of a band of plucky screen heroes. They don't really need much a basis for relationships between the old and new characters, because the old characters wrote books and so the new characters are in awe of them, and the old characters need the physical abilities of the new ones to survive their collective peril. And the Abomination has really big eyes, so of course, everyone cares about her well-being.

It's dumb, and dubious, but not offensively so, and not immersion-breaking either. The original Jurassic Park was fairly dumb, especially compared to the novel (Preteen can operate the park's security system because she knows Linux? Kid can survive clinging to an electrified fence intended to deter giant lizards? Really? ), and let's not forget defeating raptors with gymnastics, or dinosaurs swallowing phones so the ring tone tells you they are nearby. There are levels of dumb that are acceptable in a movie about dinosaurs being un-extinct, and this one, I believe, does not transgress too badly, and they don't turn the trio from the OG films into jokes to elevate their new leads. These days, that, along with women & black people who are normal human beings and equal to the whites & males, is about all you can ask for in a nostalgia/action franchise.

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
This message last edited by Cannoli on 17/06/2022 at 09:31:55 PM
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Jurassic World: Dominion - 15/06/2022 04:56:50 PM 41 Views
Still no lizard ladies with huge venom sacs though? - 15/06/2022 06:22:09 PM 10 Views
Sort of? - 15/06/2022 06:56:10 PM 10 Views
Sounds like there's room to keep bioengineering... *NM* - 15/06/2022 08:56:09 PM 2 Views

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