Jurassic World: Dominion Review

When the predecessor to Jurassic World: Dominion was unveiled in the summer of 2018, it proved the franchise had indeed fallen to a new level of mediocrity. Fallen Kingdom was a huge disappointment. As much as I wanted to give it credit for trying some new things, the execution failed. Despite a couple of cool set pieces and the dinosaurs still looking cool, I found Kingdom to be the worst of the five in the series.

Dominion challenges that status. Colin Trevorrow made 2015’s Jurassic World. While many of the complaints about it were valid, I still found it to be satisfactory even if did lean hard on the nostalgia angle. After J.A. Bayona handled directorial duties for #2Trevorrow is back behind the camera here and the nostalgic leanings are in full force. So much so that the three stars of 1993’s iconic Jurassic Park – Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm – are mixing it up with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and their sort of daughter who may or may not be a clone.

In case you forgot (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did), Fallen Kingdom thrust human cloning upon us as a plot point. Isabella Sermon’s Maisie was revealed to be the recipient of such experimentation and now she’s a young teen living with Pratt’s Owen and Howard’s Claire deep in the woods. She’s not allowed to go anywhere because many would like to continue experimenting on her. Her isolation is wearing on her as she seeks to break out of her small radius. As you may also recall, dinosaurs are now roaming freely across parts of the world (including Maisie’s backyard).

There’s one corporation who’d like to snatch Maisie and her Dino friends. Biosyn Genetics is run by Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Located in the Italian mountains, the futuristic company has its greedy hands in all kinds of pots. The main one involves locusts. Yes, a significant portion of Dominion‘s plot involves these crop eating creatures and Biosyn’s plans to control the world’s food supply. If that seems like an out of nowhere storyline that has little to do with dinosaurs, you’d be correct.

However, these CG locusts do give an excuse to bring back Neill and Dern’s characters when they travel to Italy to investigate (Goldblum is already working for the company). When Maisie is snatched up, Owen and Claire find themselves trekking overseas as well for what we know will eventually be a melding of the stars of both trilogies.

There’s some new characters including DeWanda Wise’s cocky Air Force pilot and Mamoudou Athie as Dodgson’s morally conflicted right hand man. The real thrill is meant to be the return of the OG players from three decades ago. Here’s the rub – despite Jurassic Park being amazing, its one minor flaw was its human characters (with the exception of Goldblum) being a bit dull. Seeing Neill and Dern reignite their unrequited passion isn’t exactly Han showing up on the Millennium Falcon with Chewie after 30 years. I’ve already discussed the lack of passion between Owen and Claire in my review of the predecessor.

Where Dominion manages to be a very slight improvement over Kingdom is a couple of expertly constructed action sequences. A car chase involving the prehistoric creatures in Malta is legitimately thrilling. These brief moments of excitement are too often interrupted by humdrum fan service, cloning, and attacks of the locusts. In other words, there’s a couple of cool set pieces and the dinosaurs still look cool. It’s not enough. The Jurassic series veered off course with Kingdom and it doesn’t regain much footing in Dominion. 

** (out of four)

Oscar Predictions – Jurassic World: Dominion

When it comes to the nearly three decades old Jurassic franchise, only the first two (the ones directed by Steven Spielberg) have attracted Oscar attention. The 1993 classic received three nods for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing (those races have since combined), and Visual Effects. It won all three. The 1997 follow-up The Lost World: Jurassic Park managed a Visual Effects mention but lost to Titanic. 

The dinosaurs have failed to make Academy ballots for 2001’s Jurassic Park III and the initial entries in the current trilogy – 2015’s Jurassic World and 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. 

Dominion is the closing chapter that reunites prominent cast members from both trilogies. It’s out Friday and the review embargo is extinct. The result? Only a 40% Rotten Tomatoes which serves as a series worst (predecessor Kingdom previously had the low point at 47%).

So while those creatures might still look cool, I don’t see any chance of a Visual Effects nomination or any others. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Jurassic World: Dominion Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/08): My prediction for Dominion has fallen… from $165.3M to $155.3M

Two generations of Jurassic actors team up for the release of Dominion on June 10th. I’m also told there are dinosaurs involved. Closing out the trilogy that began with the record breaking Jurassic World seven summers ago, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard join forces with familiar faces that populated some of the original trilogy – Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. Other costars include BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott, Scott Haze, and Dichen Lachman. Colin Trevorrow, who made the 2015 entry but not the 2018 sequel, is back in the director’s seat.

As mentioned, when the dinos came back in 2015, it set the all-time ; the domestic opening with $208 million (that held for six months until Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped). It eventually made $652 million. Three years later, the lesser regarded Fallen Kingdom started with lesser numbers. The premiere was $148 million with an overall gross of $417 million.

My hunch is that the mixing of stars from nearly three decades ago with Pratt and Howard could push this to better earnings than its predecessor. On the flip side, I don’t see it hitting over $200 million like Jurassic World. This might debut in the middle range of its trilogy counterparts and perhaps closer to Kingdom. 

Jurassic World: Dominion opening weekend prediction: $155.3 million

Ron’s Gone Wrong Box Office Prediction

After premiering to solid reviews at the London Film Festival last week, the sci-fi animated comedy Ron’s Gone Wrong hits multiplexes on October 22. From directors Jean-Philippe Vine and Sarah Smith, the voice cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, and Rob Delaney.

Wrong is the first effort from Locksmith Animation, a British outlet. Distributed by 20th Century Studios (a subsidiary of Disney), future Locksmith titles will be handled by Warner Bros. This is a rare wide release animated work not based on existing IP that isn’t coming specifically from the Mouse Factory or Illumination or DreamWorks.

Reviews are decent with an 84% Rotten Tomatoes score. Yet I really question whether family audiences are even aware of its existence. There’s not much competition for kiddos (The Addams Family 2 will be in its fourth weekend). I still am skeptical that this reaches double digits for the start.

Ron’s Gone Wrong opening weekend prediction: $8.4 million

For my Dune prediction, click here:

Dune Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Ron’s Gone Wrong

The computer animated sci-fi comedy Ron’s Gone Wrong has debuted at the London Film Festival prior to its UK bow next weekend and US premiere on October 22nd. The film marks the first effort from Locksmith Studios which is owned by 20th Century Studios. Jean-Philippe Vine and Sarah Smith co-direct and the voice cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Justice Smith, and Rob Delaney.

Buzz coming from London is mostly solid though measured in its praise. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 80%. I’m not confident this will serve as a major contender in Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. It has no chance of winning. In my estimation, there are arguably three slots filled (Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines). Disney’s forthcoming Encanto certainly has the resume to contend. Assuming it makes the cut, that leaves one spot that could be filled by Belle, Vivo, or something else. I don’t foresee Ron’s having quite the right ingredients to fill it.

My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Pokemon Detective Pikachu Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (05/08): I am downgrading my estimate from $74.8 million to $64.8 million

Ryan Reynolds hangs up the Deadpool costume for a bit in order to lend his voice to another hoped for franchise when Pokemon Detective Pikachu debuts next weekend. Based on a 2016 video game, the Pokémon series has been thriving for nearly a quarter century in various iterations on Nintendo and on the big screen. Rob Letterman, who was behind the camera on Gulliver’s Travels and Goosebumps, directs. A mix of live-action and animation, the supporting cast includes Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy.

Warner Bros is certainly hoping a slew of follow-up features are in the cards. A sequel has already been commissioned. With Reynolds in the lead and the popularity of the source material, the studio might find itself in luck. Estimates for the opening weekend gross are wide-ranging – everywhere from $50 million to over $100 million. If it falls on the lower end of that spectrum, it may not top the box office due to the third weekend of the record-breaking Avengers: Endgame.

In 1999, Pokemon: The First Movie opened to $31 million and ended up with $85 million. Sequel Pokemon: The Movie 2000 couldn’t replicate that success with a $19 million start and $43 overall gross. By 2001, the series had run out of gas when Pokemon 3: The Movie opened to $8 million and petered out at $17 million.

Expectations are different this time around. I’ll say Pikachu (The Movie) has an opening in the middle of its huge range and that’s about $10-15 million under what the first movie accomplished overall 20 years ago.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu opening weekend prediction: $64.8 million

For my The Hustle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

For my Poms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/

For my Tolkien prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/04/tolkien-box-office-prediction/

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Movie Review

The central theme of the Jurassic franchise is whether the scientific re-creation of dinosaurs for profit is enough reason to justify their existence. Of course, the real reason these movies exist is so we can gaze upon glorious CG creatures that took our breath away 25 years ago in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Three years ago, Colin Trevorrow gave us Jurassic World. It did just enough to tap into our nostalgia for the original while keeping another central theme prominent in all series entries – the humans are less interesting than their prehistoric counterparts.

In the inevitable sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, we have a newer problem in that the dinosaurs are becoming increasingly less fascinating. When we left that theme park in 2015, it was in tatters due to the havoc wrought by its main attractions. We’re informed that the dinos still roam the deserted Isla Nublar and there’s a political debate as to what to do with them. That conversation is accelerated as a volcano is about to erupt on the island and incinerate everything. As audience members, let’s just choose to forget that even if the park had become successful and free of T-Rex breakouts, it would’ve only existed for three years because of that volcano. We don’t watch Jurassic pics for logic, after all.

The impending meltdown gets the attention of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park’s former operations manager, who’s now an advocate for the dinosaurs survival. Her nephews from Jurassic World aren’t seen or mentioned. Perhaps they were smart enough to want nothing to do with all this. She’s recruited by Ben Lockwood (James Cromwell), the ailing former partner of the late John Hammond, to gather up Isla Nublar’s famous residents. Claire recruits her ex-flame and dino whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) to join her, along with a ragtag group of assistants and military types led by mercenary and hunter Ted Levine. It turns out Lockwood’s assistant (Rafe Spall, a rather bland villain) might have conjured up other ideas for the creatures true purposes. Oh and Lockwood has a granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Kids in Jurassic flicks are mandatory. She’s got a spotty British accent and an eventual revelation about her character that is downright bonkers.

Our return to Jurassic World does allow for a couple imaginative action sequences that are well choreographed and filmed by franchise newcomer J.A. Bayona (Trevorrow isn’t behind the camera but has co-writing credit). In the second half, the pic moves to a more insulated setting. This section is less satisfying. While Bayona and company get a wee bit of credit for trying something different, the execution falters.

That’s the real issue here. 25 summers ago, the visuals of Jurassic Park were brand new and stunning. The technology, while still state of the art, isn’t fresh anymore. Human characters here aren’t compelling either. The dynamic between Pratt and Howard is as dull as before. Jeff Goldblum turns up as Dr. Malcolm for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World, but his presence is brief and forgettable. What wowed us a quarter century ago is now a listless undertaking occasionally punctuated by genuine excitement. Put another way, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a tough time justifying its existence.

** (out of four)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/15): I am revising my prediction down from $155.4 million to $140.4 million

Arriving three years after its predecessor set a series of box office records, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looks to flex its dino might next weekend. The fifth picture in the massive franchise that just turned 25 years old, Kingdom is the sequel to Jurassic World and brings back Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jeff Goldblum (for the first time since 1997’s The Lost World). New cast members include Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, and Ted Levine. J.A. Bayona takes over directorial duties from Colin Trevorrow.

The history of this franchise setting opening weekend milestones is significant. Steven Spielberg’s original in 1993 had the largest debut ever at $47 million a quarter century ago. The Lost World would achieve the same honor four years later with $72 million. And, of course, Jurassic World stunned prognosticators in 2015 with $208 million out of the gate, which stood as the greatest premiere until Star Wars: The Force Awakens topped it six months later.

Fallen Kingdom will not and is not expected to break records. Jurassic World seemed to have its stars aligned for a spectacular opening. It had been nearly a decade and a half since the previous installment and the nostalgia factor was off the charts. Mostly positive reviews didn’t hurt and Mr. Pratt was coming off a star making role in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Critical reaction is mixed. The sequel currently sits at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes (World got to 71%). The film is already out in a number of foreign markets and it earned $151 million worldwide over the weekend (a bit above expectations).

The stateside tracking for Kingdom is between $130-$150 million. My general feeling is that this franchise has continually exceeded expectations and may do so here, albeit not by much. Jurassic World was a phenomenon while this is looked at as another summer sequel. It just happens to be one with a huge fan base who love returning to see these CG creatures.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opening weekend prediction: $140.4 million