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Will Jurassic World: Dominion Encourage or Smother a ’90s Renaissance?

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T-Rex terrorizes a drive-in in Jurassic World 3

Twenty-nine years after the movie that Jeff Goldblum helped make a multi-decade cultural sensation, the Universal Pictures film’s latest and sixth main installment Jurassic World: Dominion, is making no small splash in the market. It is being met with wide criticism of its lackluster plot and over-reliance on that very same plot, even though it once again stars Jeff Goldblum.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, the film stars the original trio of Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern, as well as the bankable star Chris Pratt and the Star Wars franchise’s latest brilliant mind Bryce Dallas Howard. Dominion takes place in a world where dinosaurs live amongst humans, rapidly displacing the food-chain hierarchy and threatening to tear down civilization as we know it. This plot, with this cast, should result in a pretty great film, but that’s not what’s happening.

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Jurassic World: Dominion arrives in the golden era of nostalgia, in a world where Kate Bush is the trending artist, every guy wants to be just like Steve Harrington, and the highest-grossing and most culturally profound movie of the moment is the sequel to Top Gun. Why is Dominion not celebrating its magnificently timed success? Though it may not become a financial failure, as no one can resist dinosaurs, the queen Laura Dern, the world’s favorite uncle Jeff Goldblum, or the rising Bryce Dallas Howard, how will the movie be remembered, and will it have a positive, creative impact on the industry? Or will it negatively impact the broader nostalgia trend that it seeks to milk? Or will it have no real influence?

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The reasons why the film doesn’t completely work for audiences aren’t clear-cut, especially since people are still going to see it and are enjoying it, modestly so. The problem isn’t so much that the Dominion is a huge disaster, though it may be for critics. It just doesn’t hit the marks that it should. Audiences should leave the theater after seeing this film invigorated, thoroughly entertained, and beyond bemused. Instead, they are walking out saying, “that was okay. Want to get something to eat?”

With this premise, this budget, and this cast, the film’s impact should be more significant. Worse yet, because Jurassic World: Dominion boasts such a strongly attempted return to the qualities that made the first 1993 film so great and isn’t achieving the goal, it gives the nostalgia trend a bad name. Will the franchise ever try to beat its first movie?

Trevorrow said of the film regarding whether he will ever return to direct another one, leaving the future open to interpretation:

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