I am a wimp, especially when it comes to “jump scares.” They get me every time—even the false alarms and fake-outs. There are enough of them in Jurassic World: Dominion to fill several films, which is just one reason the movie wears out its welcome long before it’s finished. 

The setup for the third in the Jurassic World spinoff series is more blatantly contrived than ever, which is a shame since director Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly are no hacks. I was among the cheerleaders when their indie feature Safety Not Guaranteed came along. I appreciate that two lifelong fans have gotten to work on such mainstream fare as Jurassic World and Star Wars. But they have succumbed to laziness here, treading past familiarity into the realm of utter predictability.

Yes, it’s fun to see the Dorian Gray-like Sam Neill (still the epitome of cool) reunited with Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum after several decades, but it would be much more satisfying if the writers had given them anything interesting to do. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the nominal stars of this series, reprise their now familiar roles. Newcomers like DeWanda Wise and Mamodou Athie are well showcased, while white-collar bad guy Campbell Scott is doomed from the moment he sets foot onscreen. But you knew that already.

This is not a story that begged to be told or a saga that demanded a finale. It’s another dispiriting example of how Hollywood never leaves money on the table. As long as moviegoers will pay to see people in peril from scary prehistoric creatures there are people who will provide them with what they want:  more of the same. It’s just a shame that so much talent is wasted in the process.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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July 2024