Go ahead, ask me if I have seen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). The answer to this query, spoken aloud or not, is no. Or at least I do not think I have seen it. If you have seen one dinosaur movie, you have seen them all. I like the original, Jurassic Park (1993). The same can be said for millions of others, so obviously I am not unique in this regard. And when there are so many warm bodies out there willing to put their butts in seats to watch anything, you can bet your bottom deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that they will be making sequels. The question I ask myself is why did so many enjoy the first one? To me, it was the novelty of seeing, even if through the canard of motion pictures, long extinct animals interacting with people like you and me. This would lead me to believe that such novelty would wear off after maybe one more, and yet this weekend they released Jurassic World Dominion, the sixth installment in the franchise. I guess I have no place to complain. My favorite cinematic series, Star Wars, has eleven movies and counting.
Okay, so Jurassic World Dominion has dinosaurs everywhere. This is the backdrop for a couple different sets of characters that we follow, and who will all inevitably meet. This will take a while, so buckle up butter cup. There is Clare Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is a former employee of the spectacular failure that was Jurassic World (2015), and is running around trying to shut down illegal dinosaur breeding facilities. She lives out in the middle of nowhere with her boyfriend, another former park worker, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). They have hunkered down in this remote location because they are trying to protect (for reasons that I suppose, and do not care, are covered in the previous film) Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). There is an evil corporation called Biosyn (I am sure there are no encoded messages there, right?) and they have people out looking for her because they want her DNA, she being the clone of Dr. Charlotte Lockwood (Elva Trill), one of the scientists responsible for the original dinosaur debacle. We are soon treated to other nefarious acts Biosyn is up to, other than stalking and planned kidnappings, which they eventually succeed in doing. In a field in West Texas, giant locusts are devouring crops, triggering a worldwide concern that there is going to be a food shortage. The only thing that seems to be in shortage is panic over this situation, but I digress. Called out to investigate this phenomenon is a holdover from the first of these films, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). When examining one of these overly large insects (which a little kid just so happened to capture), she finds that it has paleo-DNA in it. The road seems to lead to Biosyn because a neighboring field, using that company’s seed, remain untouched. Dr. Sattler’s plan is to go to Biosyn and try to sneak out the evidence she needs to prove that the globe spanning corporation, which is also doing dinosaur research, is up to no good. She has an in at the company as her old friend, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), is some kind of philosophy consultant to Biosyn owner Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). The only thing Dr. Sattler needs is extra credibility, so she turns to Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), her ex-boyfriend from the first film. Together, they arrange to travel to meet Lewis Dodgson, and Dr. Malcolm, who knows of Biosyn’s shady dealings, helps them to gain access to the information they need. While this is going on, Clare and Owen use their contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to track where Maisie is being taken. Biosyn apparently does their shady business deals in Malta (as you do), and Clare and Owen attempt to intercept Maisie in the tiny Mediterranean island nation. Maisie and the Biosyn lackey arrive in Malta before Clare and Owen, but this is witnessed by smuggler pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise). As Clare wanders about the seedy parts of the city looking for signs of Maisie, she encounters Kayla. At first, Kayla wants nothing to do with the situation until Clare shows her a picture of Maisie. Soon, it is Clare, Kayla, and Owen taking off in Kayla’s Duck Tales-esque plane to get to Italy where Biosyn is located, and where Maisie has been taken. En route, the plane is attacked by flying dinosaurs, and Clare is ejected. As all this is going on, Drs. Grant and Sattler manage to collect their evidence, and bump into an escaping Maisie. Their activities alert Dodgson, particularly how Dr. Malcolm had aided them, and the company philosopher is immediately fired. It all leads to them finding one another out where Biosyn has their dinosaur play pen. However, they cannot leave yet because Dodgson has made it so that it is impossible to get out of the valley in which they are located. Hence, they must make their way back to headquarters, while Dodgson attempts a dastardly escape, only to be killed (in a manner eerily similar to the first film) by the little spitting lizards, whatever. We are treated to one more giant dinosaur battle (which is the real reason people pay to see these films) before our band of heroes escape and are able to carry on with their lives.
Jurassic World Dominion is an example of plot convenience. As Harry S. Plinkett of Red Letter Media once said of this concept, “plot convenience equals movie suck.” There are a few examples that illustrate this point. The first is a general thing. One of the characters not mentioned above is Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie), the Biosyn employee tasked with showing Drs. Grant and Sattler around their headquarters. As it becomes apparent, he knows about the company’s questionable practices and is willing to assist. He also has the superhuman ability to show up at the right moment to spout explanatory dialog. Another is Dr. Grant. There is no reason for him being in the movie when you come down to it, and does little to affect the plot. The big one, though, is the fact that they all happen to end up at the same shelter in the middle of the dinosaur sanctuary. Now, these people have no prior experience with one another, and outside of searching for Maisie, they have no reason to end up together. Yet, because I guess they were tired of the film being two different movies, they had to put the all in the same scene. The valley in which this all takes place is shown to be pretty big, and yet they randomly manage to find each other in it. At any rate, there were many instances where myself, and some of my best friends with whom I saw it, were wondering how any of this made sense.
There are also some comments of Jurassic World Dominion of a Catholic nature that I must bring to your attention. One of these is that they let on that Maisie is not a clone as we would think of it, but rather a copy of her mother to which Dr. Lockwood gave birth. In other words, we Catholics cannot have Jesus’ birth to a Virgin Mother as being unique to our Faith anymore. I am only being slightly facetious. Still, this leads to a discussion of a character not yet covered, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). He is the scientist responsible for the locust plague (their word, not mine) threatening the world’s food supply . . . even if the world does not appear to be panicking. Either way, Dr. Wu needs Maisie to study the girl’s DNA, which he needs to reverse replicate a solution to the growing environmental catastrophe. He explains all this to Maisie, which begins to earn her trust, and later that of Clare and Owen, by extension. Dr. Wu says some things to Maisie that help gain this status, and serve as a good comparison to Faith. When Maisie begins lamenting that she is nothing special, Dr. Wu reminds her that she is different from her mother, and truly one of a kind. That is precisely how God made each one of us, even twins. The Church definitely has a moral problem with cloning, mostly because the responsibility for the creation of life is His sole purview. We are merely vessels. With Dr. Wu, he has a change of heart from the cynical “genetic power” that greedily motivated everything Dodgson did.
If you must see Jurassic World Dominion, then I guess you should see it on the big screen. Big dinosaurs and big screens go hand-in-hand, I suppose, though the thrill of all that died for me somewhere about 1994. As such, it comes off as goofy to this reviewer. I do have some philosophical, faith-based objections to the movie, but otherwise there is nothing too objectionable about it. So, yeah, whatever.