Trevorrow even manages to recycle, not once but three times, one of the only clever gags in his “Jurassic World”—a comment on the 40-year budgetary and spectacle escalation of the summer blockbuster, in which a great white shark, the creature at the center of Spielberg’s groundbreaking 1975 film “Jaws,” gets eaten by a mosasaurus the size of a skyscraper. Every time Trevorrow does something like this, it feels like an even-more-desperate attempt to remind us of how much fun we might’ve had during “Jurassic World,” which wasn’t that great of a film to start with, and that was dining out on reheated cultural leftovers even during its best moments.
There are also scenes where characters (mainly but not always Malcolm) tie the capitalist rapaciousness of BioSyn to the film you’re sitting there watching. But these don’t have the wit and playfulness that powered similar material in “The Lost World.” They just seem curdled with self-loathing and awareness of how hollow the whole production is. At one point Malcolm chastises himself for taking the company’s money to work as their in-house philosopher/guru even though he knows they’re cynical corporate exploiters, and there’s a self-lacerating edge to Goldblum’s voice that makes it seem as if it’s the actor rather than the character who’s confessing to low personal standards. And there are times where Sam Neill, like Goldblum, seems embarrassed to be onscreen, or at least confused as to what he’s doing in the story—although to be fair, the script never convincingly justifies why Allan, a reluctant action hero in his other two “Jurassic” appearances, would leave the dinosaur dig site where Ellie finds him, other than that he’s from the earlier movies and needed to be here for nostalgia-marketing reasons.
Worst of all, the series again fails to properly explore its most tantalizing question: how would our world change if dinosaurs were added to it? The opening section packs any halfway intriguing or funny thing that “Dominion” might have to say about this topic into a TV news montage—showing, for instance, a little girl being chased on a beach by baby dinos (an homage to “The Lost World”), a couple releasing doves at their wedding only to have one of them get snatched out of the air by a pterodactyl, and pteranodons nesting in the World Trade Center (possibly a reference to Larry Cohen’s “Q: The Winged Serpent,” in which an ancient Aztec god nests in the Chrysler Building). Ninety minutes of footage like this, minus any characters or plot at all, probably would’ve resulted in an artistically better use of a couple hundred million dollars than “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which will doubtless be a smash on the order of all the other entries in the franchise, even though it doesn’t do much more than the bare minimum you’d expect for one of these films, and not all that well.
Now playing in theaters.