‘Jurassic’ franchise showing its age with latest installment

Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World Dominion / Ambling Entertainment

There’s nothing like visiting with old friends at the movies, but even the return of Laura Dern, Sam Neil, and Jeff Goldblum failed to make “Jurassic World Dominion,” the fifth sequel to Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking original, a welcome reunion.

Sure, the CGI dinosaurs look even more real and are portrayed just as menacingly as in 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” but it takes more than just great special effects to make a great movie.

Somehow director Colin Trevorrow lost sight of the need of a clear story and compelling character moments in this convoluted tangle of a movie. Those are the very things that propelled Spielberg’s original above the norm, and why it’s become a classic rather just another sci-fi/horror flick to take up space on late-night TV.

I mean rampaging dinosaurs are a level of fun even with a sloppy and confounding story, but Spielberg in the original and to his credit Trevorrow in “Jurassic World,” his first endeavor into dinosaur directing, actually delivered the goods.

This movie, though, seems like an excuse to continue to sell toys, T-shirts, and whatever other merchandise a velociraptor can be fit on.

Now, there is some fun to be had with the movie which stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as dino-wrangler Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, former park manager and founder of the Dinosaur Protection Group. There is decent chemistry between them and Isabella Sermon, the actress who plays their “daughter” Maisie Lockwood. All three are immensely likable in albeit one-note performances. Likewise Dern, Neil, and Goldblum step back into their roles easily and quite comfortably.

Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Varada Sethu in Jurassic World Dominion / Ambling Entertainment

Campbell Scott plays Dr. Lewis Dodgson, the evil CEO of Biosyn, who appears to be modeled in appearance after Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple. He’s working with B.D Wong, who returns once more as Dr. Henry Wu to use their genius to monstrous effect.

DeWanda Wise as Kayla Watts and Mamoudou Athie as Ramsey Cole are serviceable in supporting parts as insiders of the evil Biosyn Corp. — get it Bio Sin. Once they separately discover Dodgson and Wu’s nefarious plot to use the science that regenerated the dinosaurs to corner the farming market, they rally to the aid of our heroes.

There is plenty of dinosaur action, too, and the CGI special effects are impressive, but as the sixth movie in the venerable franchise, the thrill of seeing various dinosaurs stalk and attack humans and other dinos just isn’t quite as captivating as it was back in 1993.

I’m likely spoiled as a moviegoer, but I’ve seen every one of the attacks in this movie done more effectively before in this franchise. All of the callbacks to the previous films, particularly to Spielberg’s original, just becomes tedious during the film’s nearly two-and-a-half hour running time.

That said, as I walked out of my viewing, I overheard a family discussing the movie, and the two children were jazzed about the experience. One of them even asked if he could see it again.

That conversation reminded me that while we all may watch the same movie, the experience is different for each one of us for any number of variables. So take this review and others with a grain of salt. You know your own taste in films better than anyone else.

“Jurassic World Dominion” might just be THE movie of the summer for you and your family, and more power to you if it is.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 27 min.
Grade: C

  New in Local Theaters

Jurassic World Dominion (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2 hr. 27 min. / AMC Fiesta Square,Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, 112 Drive In, Skylight

777 Charlie (watch trailer) / (NR) 2 hr. 43 min. / Malco Pinnacle

Ante Sundaraniki (watch trailer) / (NR) 2 hr. 56 min. / Malco Pinnacle

Classic Corner – Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? / The Associates & Aldrich Company

If creepy old ladies are your thing, then the Malco Razorback Cinema and Fathom Events has the movie for you at 1 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday with screenings of the 1962 horror/suspense classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.” The film is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

The movie stars professional rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as feuding, codependent sisters in what has to be the oddest and most horrific picture of the two super-stars’ storied careers.

Masterfully directed by Robert Aldrich (“The Dirty Dozen,” “The Longest Yard,” “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”), the movie is a weird masterpiece of the genre, combining camp, black comedy and horror to a stunning effect. The film isn’t for everyone, but it stands next to Hitchcock’s “Psycho” as the best two horror pictures of the early 1960s.

The plot is odd and awful as Davis plays an aged former child star who enjoys reliving her past successes by wearing baby-doll dresses and wigs almost as much as she delights in torturing and tormenting her paraplegic sister, who was also a former Hollywood star.

The cold, real-life relationship between Davis and Crawford added meaningful subtext to the movie and was played up in the marketing of the film. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards. Davis’ nomination for Best Actress was her 10th and final one. The picture only garnered one Oscar win for costume design, but it remains influential in the horror genre more than a half a century later.

Davis’ Jane became a child star during the days of vaudeville and was so famous that porcelain baby dolls were modeled after her, but her popularity waned as she matured, and her jealousy and alcoholism grew as her sister Blanche (Crawford) became a successful and revered film star. However, Blanche’s career came crashing down when she was paralyzed from the waist down in a suspicious car accident that was blamed on Jane.

The rivalry between the two sisters escalates to murderous levels of madness when Jane learns that Blanche plans to sell the house and have sister committed to a psychiatric hospital. That’s just when the twists and turns of this monstrous story of sibling rivalry begins.

The movie truly is a mad classic that turns your assumptions upside-down by the time the movie reaches its climax and conclusion.

Davis’ line, “You mean all this time, we could have been friends?” is an all-time classic, which works a meta statement on the characters’ as well as the two actresses’ actual relationships.