Dominion’ could spell the end of the franchise

It’s been almost 30 years since audiences were first struck by the sight of animatronic dinosaurs stomping across the screen. Now, Jurassic World: Dominion, the sixth installment, marks the return of the human characters that powered previous sequels.

There’s paleontologist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), reunited with her former partner Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and philosophical chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Add raptor-wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and former theme park manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), foster parents to teenage Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), an orphaned clone with a unique genetic code.

In the four years since Isla Nublar park exploded in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs have roamed free, terrorizing cities and wreaking havoc. On the western plains, animal behaviorist Grady herds herbivores, dinosaur rights activist Claire, and Maisie befriends a baby velociraptor named Blue.

Meanwhile, in a heavily guarded sanctuary in Italy, BioSyn’s sinister CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) and his assistant Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie) are secretly developing giant, mutant locusts that will cause widespread famine, an ecological catastrophe that will allow him to them to control world nutrition. Corporate greed has become the villain, pushing cloned prehistoric beasts to the periphery.

A fascinating subplot in which Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) uses Maisie’s DNA, is introduced briefly and then discarded. Likewise, cynical cargo pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) does a reluctant Han Solo-esque heroic feat and then disappears.

Director Colin Trevorrow wrote the nostalgic screenplay with Emily Carmichael. What has been lost is the cheerfully dazzling wonder introduced in Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel and visually steeped in Steven Spielberg’s spectacular 1993 original film.

The problem is: Due to frenzied storylines, numerous gigantic species, and too many clumsy characters, there’s no emotional connection. And when two ferocious CGI apex predators finally wrestle, it’s over a puny deer carcass. Perhaps this cautionary tale heralds the extinction of the once-beloved Jurassic franchise.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Jurassic World: Dominion is a sentimental, but overloaded, superficial 6, set in theatres.

Susan Granger has been a television and radio commentator and entertainment critic for more than 25 years. Raised in Hollywood, Granger appeared as a child actress in films with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball and Lassie. She currently resides in Westport.

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