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Jurassic World: Dominion (2022) Review

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Jurassic World Dominion

Time: 146 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts
Mamoudou Athie as Ramsay Cole
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Campbell Scott as Dr. Lewis Dodgson
BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Omar Sy as Barry Sembène
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

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I was going into Jurassic World: Dominion only mildly interested. I’m not the biggest fan of the Jurassic Park franchise. The first movie is known as a classic and was highly influential for cinema, I liked it but wasn’t in love with it like many other people are. At the same time, I like all the movies in the series. The sequels are definitely flawed and aren’t as good as the first or even second movies, but I found some enjoyment in them. So I went into Dominion fairly open minded and expecting to like it, and I did.

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I had fun watching Jurassic World: Dominion but I had some issues with it, mainly the writing. You can tell that it really pitches itself as this grand and epic conclusion of the Jurassic Era, by that I don’t mean that it feels epic, but rather that it is trying to feel epic. Despite all that, Dominion doesn’t seem like a conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy let along the whole Jurassic “Saga”, and it doesn’t feel like much has happened by the end. It is also very long at around 2 hours and 30 minutes, and by the end it just felt dragged out, messy and bloated. I think it does have a very weird plot for a Jurassic Park movie, even more so than Fallen Kingdom which had one half about saving dinosaurs from an erupting volcano and the second half a suspenseful mansion sequence with a killer raptor. Instead of it being isolated to one location full of dinosaurs, Dominion has a globetrotting and at times convoluted plot with so many subplots and too many moving parts. The characters don’t go through much development, it is just them moving from one place to another. The movie itself didn’t get off to a great start with its opening 30 minutes. 4 years had passed since the events of Fallen Kingdom and in its first scene it attempts to recap what happened since then. Whether it be with the returning Jurassic World characters, the original Jurassic Park characters, and the overall world, it just feels rushed and messy. The recap of what happened with the world is worst of all with a montage and a narration flat out telling you, the worst part is that they made it in the form of a NowThis video. The movie is pretty bad at exposition dumps, even if nothing is as bad as that opening monologue. Exposition aside, the dialogue is awkward much like the previous Jurassic World movies. The worst cases are with some of the dialogue between Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) because its them having to say really bad lines. I really could’ve done without Laura Dern having to deliver the line “he slid into my DMs”.

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Dominion takes a lot from the previous Jurassic movies and can be repetitive, not really covering new ground. The main theme once again is about how humanity shouldn’t meddle with nature, there’s yet another story of an amoral billionaire using science to profit (and going full Umbrella Corporation). Without getting into too much depth, the movie even ends up having its own ‘park’ despite the world now being established as having dinosaurs roaming free. Instead of taking advantage of the end of Fallen Kingdom, it introduces this random plot about locusts which ends up being a central part of the plot. One plotline that is continued into Dominion however is the one focussing on the character of Maisie and her being a clone. It’s still weird and crazy considering that it is in a Jurassic Park movie, but I liked it more than I expected. At the very least there was more going on with her compared to some of the other characters (especially Owen and Claire). Dominion does lean into some absurdity thankfully, especially with a sequence in Malta. It really picks up in the second half and it is nonstop action in the third act. Of the Jurassic World trilogy, Dominion tries the hardest for nostalgia, which you could probably expect considering that they brought back the main trio of Jurassic Park characters into the plot here. I don’t think it earns the nostalgia, but I don’t dislike their inclusions.

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The returning Jurassic World characters aren’t that great, mainly Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, despite some decent enough performances from both. The highlight of the whole movie for me were the returning Jurassic Park trio: Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. It’s definitely a play for the nostalgia crowd but I can’t deny, it is so great to see them back. A lot of the time they’re not really given great material to work with, but their presence added a lot to the film and I would’ve liked the film a lot less without them. There are some new characters, DeWanda Wise is my favourite performer of the movie outside of the aforementioned Jurassic trio, and I really liked her. The villainous characters are quite generic and over the top but not nearly as silly as the ones from Fallen Kingdom. The central antagonist is the main corporate billionaire played by Campbell Scott who seems like he’s basically playing Tim Cook. Scott is clearly enjoying playing a goofy biotech mogul and it’s a fun performance at least, making the cliched character more enjoyable to watch.

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Colin Trevorrow’s direction isn’t great but I do think its an improvement over his work in Jurassic World. The visuals are fairly nice, the dinosaurs look great and fun to watch too. It seems that they finally found the right balance of practical and special effects. There are some enjoyable action sequences too, from the sequence in Malta involving a motorcycle chase with raptors, to the thoroughly enjoyable third act. I actually think the moments of horror are really well done, there are some good scenes of suspense.

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I would say Jurassic World: Dominion is probably one of the worst movies in the series, but it’s at least better than Jurassic Park III. It has some entertaining moments and aspects I really liked. Still, I think a lot of the other films achieved what they were setting out to do a lot better. The plot is very bloated and strange and there’s fun to be had with that, but for a film aiming to be an epic conclusion, it was underwhelming. I can’t tell who’ll like the movie, but if you disliked the previous Jurassic World movies, I’m pretty sure you won’t like Dominion. As someone who generally likes all the films in the series however, I enjoyed it.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Retrospective Review

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Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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Many people seem to be very split on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, even among those who liked/disliked the first Jurassic World. I was very mixed about Fallen Kingdom when I first saw it, so I was curious about whether my opinion would change that much on a rewatch. I can at least say that I appreciate it a lot more this time, despite its numerous flaws.

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Like with Jurassic World, the main issue here is the script. The story is a mixed bag with plenty of cliched and recycled plot points. One thing notable about Fallen Kingdom is that it is not a film of 3 acts, but of two very different halves. The first half is about Owen, Claire and co. trying to save the dinosaurs from an island whose volcano is about to erupt. I wasn’t such a huge fan of that section, it wasn’t that interesting to me. It felt like it was falling back into Jurassic World’s worst tendencies with humour that falls flat, bad dialogue, and poorly written characters. The second half is where the movie begins to work more for me, going in a different direction compared to the first half. It consists of the main characters being inside a mansion and trying to stop dinosaurs from being sold off, while a special dinosaur wreaks havoc. I liked the plot more in this section and I especially enjoyed the horror aspects.

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I do think that out of the 5 movies thus far, Fallen Kingdom is the weirdest of the Jurassic Park movies, from the closed in haunted house second half, to the weird decisions, and there certainly are plenty of weird decisions. The one that springs to mind is a subplot following a girl named Maisie played by Isabella Sermon, where it is revealed in the third act that she’s not the granddaughter of James Cromwell, but rather a clone of his daughter. It is really out of place from the rest of the movie. Most of all, it feels contrived, like it was only there so that she would make the decision to let the dinosaurs out at the end. Much of the absurdity of these movies continues with Fallen Kingdom. That extends to the militarisation of the dinosaurs which is full on Umbrella Corporation and Weyland-Yutani levels of silliness. However, the first Jurassic World sort of got away with it because of the self awareness and the silly tone. Its follow up however seems to be comparatively darker and serious, making its absurd moments feel even more out of place. There are some genuinely good scenes. The moment with the brachiosaurus being left behind as the boat leaves stands out most of all, very startling in fact, coming out of nowhere. It is a very memorable and effect moment, even if it’s a bit emotionally manipulative. There are also some good character moments, and the plotline between Owen and an intelligent raptor named Blue was one of the highlights and I thought it worked well enough. Also, Fallen Kingdom ends on the note with dinosaurs going into the wild, leading the franchise into a direction that it hadn’t gone in before (and will be shown in the third movie).

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Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return to their roles of Owen and Claire and gave similar performances. Their characters may be more bearable to watch, but their acting isn’t quite as good, and they feel a little bland here. Once again, the chemistry isn’t strong and it falls flat, but thankfully the film doesn’t seem to be focussed on it in contrast to its predecessor. James Cromwell is decent in the few scenes he’s in. BD Wong also returns as a minor recurring antagonist Dr Wu. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, but really it is just for two scenes, in the first act and at the end. It really feels like he was included just so that he can say “Welcome to Jurassic World” at the end. A lot of the other characters are poor however. There’s a couple of people who tag along with Claire and Owen played by Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, and they were really a source of a lot of the annoying humour in the movie. Then there’s the villains, who are somehow even more over the top than Vincent D’Onofrio in the last movie. You have Rafe Spall as a character who you can immediately tell is going to be revealed to be evil at the end. There’s also Toby Jones as a generically evil auctioneer for dinosaurs, and as well as Ted Levine as a cartoonishly evil mercenary and dinosaur hunter.

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J.A. Bayona honestly added something to Fallen Kingdom with his direction, more so than Colin Trevorrow in the previous movie. There are some good action scenes and set pieces from the volcano erupting in the first half, to the haunted house in the second half. A lot of Bayona’s horror skills get to be on display here, and the horror elements in the second half work quite well. Even the Indoraptor plays like a full on horror movie villain; there’s a scene where it approaches Maisie in her bedroom like it was Freddy Kreuger. The visuals in Fallen Kingdom were improved from Jurassic World, same with the CGI on the dinosaurs. A big part which probably helped is that in Fallen Kingdom, outside of a few sequences, there usually isn’t an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. When the volcano erupts and lava is pouring close to a paralysed Chris Pratt, it looks fake but that’s just in one scene.

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was better than I remembered. There are plenty of bad elements that make the experience frustrating, but it is mainly because there are some other aspects that are really good. For what it is worth, I do think that Fallen Kingdom is slightly better than Jurassic World. There are some really good scenes, and most of all the direction from J.A. Bayona was solid. The end of the movie has an opportunity for the franchise to take a different direction, which Dominion hopefully takes advantage of all.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and scary scenes
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu
Justice Smith as Tim Goodman
Kathryn Newton as Lucy Stevens
Bill Nighy as Howard Clifford
Ken Watanabe as Detective Hideo Yoshida
Chris Geere as Roger Clifford
Suki Waterhouse as Ms. Norman
Omar Chaparro as Sebastian
Director: Rob Letterman

Ace detective Harry Goodman (Justice Smith) goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds). Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

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Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was a movie I was surprisingly interested in. I’ve heard about Pokémon growing up but never got into it, so I was really out of the loop when it comes to the series. I heard about the movie for a while but the only thing I really remembered hearing about it as it was being made was that Ryan Reynolds would be voicing Pikachu for some reason. However, trailers were released for it and for some reason it actually looked pretty good and I was curious about it, it looked cheesy but fun. And having seen it recently I can confirm that for what it is, Detective Pikachu works really well, and I had fun with it.

The movie starts off a little shaky, as it focusses on the main character Tim, and it doesn’t exactly set him up for the audience to really like him all that much. Not that these scenes should’ve been cut down or anything, just should’ve been handled a little better. Once we meet Pikachu however, that’s when it picks up. Before you think it’s like the Transformers movies where the title characters are regulated to the background and the boring human characters are put in the forefront, it’s not. Sure most of the other Pokémon aren’t really focussed on but both Justice Smith and Pikachu are consistently the main characters throughout, and you do get to see a lot of Pokémon throughout. It’s a kids movie for sure, but I liked it quite a bit for it is. One of its greatest strength is that it is genuinely funny, even as a kids movie the humour really works. Some of the twists are a little easy to see coming, all in all it’s a pretty simple story. The movie goes for an hour and 45 minutes long and honestly I couldn’t imagine it being longer, it was the perfect length for the movie.

Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu is the true star of the movie. Yes, it’s a very weird casting and most of the time it just sounds like PG-13 Deadpool trapped in the body of Pikachu, but he works really well. He may only be a voice in the movie, but he just does so much, this doesn’t feel like a paycheck role for him. The human cast generally was weaker but the actors try the best they can. The main character played by Justice Smith was a bit of a mixed bag, he started off quite weak and then gradually got a little better over time. However, Smith does improve the role a little and is putting everything into his performance. He and Reynolds played off each other really well.

The direction isn’t anything special or great but deserves some credit for managing to make a live action Pokémon movie actually work. All the Pokémon have surprisingly been implemented well in the movie, you really feel like you’re in a different place. The Pokémon generally look good but Pikachu particularly looks fantastic. Occasionally some effects don’t look great, but I wasn’t expecting a lot from the movie, and it looks a lot better than I thought it would. Visually on the whole it looks really good. The little bits of action are a little simple and bland but it’s not what I went into the movie looking for.

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu was way better than it had any right to be. For people who aren’t familiar with Pokémon, don’t expect it to be great, but it is fun, with Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu really making this movie. I can’t speak for people who are fans of Pokémon but I feel like they might at least enjoy what has been done here. There’s been a sequel already announced, and honestly I’m open to seeing more of these movies, I don’t know much about Pokémon but I can tell there might be a lot of things that can be done with the game lore.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. When I saw Jurassic World for the first time it was fine to me but it really got worse over time. The one thing that gave me hope however instead of Colin Trevorrow returning to direct, J. A. Bayona was directing it, Bayona did a fantastic job with A Monster’s Call. However on the whole I was still rather sceptical, but still willing enough to try it out. Fallen Kingdom turned out to be better than I thought it would be, but at the same time it wasn’t particularly good. While it has some pretty good aspects like a decent second half and J.A. Bayona’s direction, it also has one dimensional and annoying characters, overused plot points and some other really dumb aspects (many of them brought over from the first Jurassic World). It’s a rather mixed bag.

Fallen Kingdom doesn’t feel like it has 3 acts, its more split into two halves. I wasn’t impressed by the first half, with it being not particularly interesting, way too familiar to other Jurassic Park movies and just flat out annoying at times. The second half is much better, which was probably a mix of me getting used to the plot, a more horror-like emphasise and certain plot aspects getting better over time. The plot itself isn’t that great, despite it being a Bayona directed movie, you can really feel Colin Trevorrow’s writing here following on from the previous movie, and that includes many of its more absurd aspects. It seems like he really still thinks that Jurassic World’s plotline about military people thinking that weaponizing dinosaurs is genius, because he uses it again here, and it’s just as dumb as it was in the previous movie. A lot of the human characters are once again quite poor, I think that’s one of the aspects about these newer movies that make them not work as well as the other movies (even Jurassic Park 3), the characters are so poorly written and don’t work in any way. There is a bunch of humour that really falls flat, and there are plot points that once again are cliched, too familiar and don’t work. There is an odd plotline focussing on a girl played by Isabella Sermon. It ends with a twist that works okay but is rather confusing and out of place, it really didn’t need to be in the movie. However it’s not all bad. The plotline/scenes involving Chris Pratt and an intelligent raptor named Blue were one of the highlights of the movie, it actually was quite effective. Also despite the first half feeling rather average, at the end of that segment is a startingly effective emotional scene which really got to me. It just came out of nowhere and despite not liking the movie particularly much, it actually worked. The movie is over 2 hours long and it can drag at times, even during the second half, you kind of feel the 2 hour+ length. This movie ends on an interestingly different note, one that the next movie seems like it’ll be focussing on. It has potential but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the sequel. I didn’t watch it myself but for those interested, there is an end credits scene as well.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard like in the first movie do pretty well here. Their chemistry isn’t really that strong for the most part but the film doesn’t try to emphasise that aspect as much as the previous movie, so it was somewhat tolerable. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm for like one scene, he really didn’t need to return to this movie. James Cromwell is decent in his role but really his character could’ve been played by anyone. Isabella Sermon is good in her role, despite the odd choices with the character’s storyline. A lot of the other actors however are stuck with poor characters. One is Justice Smith as some IT guy who really is annoying, especially during the first half. However the more stand out annoyances are the villains. If you couldn’t stand Vincent D’Onofrio’s cliched character in the first Jurassic World, you’re going to have a hard time with Fallen Kingdom. You have Rafe Spall as some business guy who predictably turns out to be evil, Toby Jones as an auctioneer for dinosaurs and Ted Levine as an over the top mercenary, and all of them are so cartoonishly evil its actually rather astounding. I know at the very least that Toby Jones and Ted Levine are great actors, but they aren’t given really anything to work with except with acting evil, none of their talents is on display here.

J. A. Bayona really added something to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with his direction. In the second half, the movie utilises a lot of horror elements that is actually rather effective, and plays a large part in this half working so well. The CGI on the dinosaurs is better here than on the previous Jurassic World, they really don’t look as great as in the original film. I think a big part about why it works better is that unlike the previous movie, they don’t have an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. There was one lava effect that I felt looked really fake looking but that’s just in one scene.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was slightly better than I was expecting and wasn’t quite the disaster that a lot of people seemed to make it out to be. However, it’s still not that good either. For every element or scene that worked quite well, there was another that made the whole experience frustrating, dull or just annoying. With the different story direction that Fallen Kingdom ends on, I can say that there is an opportunity for a different direction to take the franchise that can lead to more places that’s not just familiar territory (that the franchise had been constantly doing for the past films). However, the next film is directed by Colin Trevorrow, so I’m not holding out much hope for it for now. If you could somewhat tolerate the first Jurassic World, you should be fine with this one. Otherwise I’m not sure how much you are going to like Fallen Kingdom, if at all.