TO: Universal Pictures, Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment
RE: Jurassic World Dominion
Stop this “Jurassic World Dominion”, I want to get off. Seriously. Please. There’s no meat left on these dinosaurs’ carcasses. The franchise has been picked clean.
“Jurassic World Dominion” (Universal-Amblin, 2022, 140 min.), billed as the last chapter of the second trilogy – please let’s hope – brings back Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum from the ’90s “Jurassic” movies and , just like Abbott and Costello, has them meet Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard from the newer films, with plenty of dinosaurs to gawk at. And isn’t it sad how no one cares about a great actor like Laura Dern unless there’s another one of these dumb movies to be manufactured? You used to count on Jeff Goldblum to make movies fun and quirky, but even he looks like he’d rather be home playing piano.
I thought the first “Jurassic Park” (1993) was okay, but it wouldn’t even make my top ten Spielberg movies, and aside from a few suspense action sequences, “The Lost World” (1997) was pretty much a filmed deal . Actually, Joe Johnston’s “Jurassic Park III” (2001) is my favorite of the series. Why? Its runtime is 92 minutes. To paraphrase “Barton Fink” (1991), “It’s people! Being chased by dinosaurs! What do you need, a road map?” Gentlemen, these movies don’t have to be over two hours.
Once upon a time, Colin Trevorrow made a sweet, romantic sci-fi indie called “Safety Not Guaranteed” (2012), and now he’s spent nearly a decade propping up Spielberg’s old park theme ride. Trouble is, he’s not Spielberg, so he shouldn’t be making Spielberg’s leftovers.
To paraphrase the late, great Lester Bangs, if you think I’m going to review “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount-Skydance, 2022, 131 min.), you’re crazy. But I am going to swim in it. (Thanks, Lester.)
I saw “Top Gun” when it opened in 1986, and while I grudgingly admit that this dumb movie actually works on your emotional patriotism, I was 23, I detested the military industrial complex and the whole Reagan era. The movie worked on you, as slick as it was, but I knew “Top Gun” was a very expensive military recruitment ad, and it’s no accident that co-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott started their careers in advertising.
These movies keep their political details vague and fuzzy, and their bad guys literally as faceless as “Star Wars” storm troopers, and yet “Top Gun: Maverick”, held back almost three years due to COVID, really is what it’s meant to be : a rousing, well-made summer popcorn movie. Director Joseph Kosinski (“Oblivion”) and the film’s three credited writers really try to honor
Tony Scott’s original film – it’s dedicated to him – and connect the new story to the ’86 mythology, so much so that the opening of the film is a direct copy of the first, including the opening text, Han Zimmer’s score and jets taking off and landing to the tune of Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”. (Jennifer Connelly ably steps into the female romantic role, meaning that Kelly McGillis, never mentioned in the sequel, gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. A mute Val Kilmer gets a more loving cameo.)
I would have thought that Simpson and Bruckheimer would have made a cottage industry grinding out “Top Gun” sequels; shouldn’t we be up to “Top Gun 6” by now? It took them 35 years to get here, beating “Bill and Ted Face the Music” by six years. Then it hit me that, as much as the Simpson-Bruckheimer action-music video aesthetic took hold in the wake of “Top Gun”, none of their movies really spawned sequels. There’s no “The Rock 2” or “Con Air 2” or “Armageddon 2” or “Gone in 60 More Seconds” or “Pearl Harbor 2” (Okay, that one makes sense.).
(I was ranting about all this on Facebook, and Michael Kehoe pointed out that Simpson and Bruckheimer did produce three “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, a fourth one is in development at Netflix, and Bruckheimer has produced five “Pirates of the Caribbean” pictures , three “Bad Boys” and two “National Treasures.” So much for my theory.) Best of all, you can watch “Top Gun: Maverick” without feeling compelled to “join up”. Recommended: “Lightyear” at Regal Stadium 14.
RIP: Philip Baker Hall (“Secret Honor”, “Midnight Run”, “Kiss of Death”, “Hard Eight”, “The Rock”, “Air Force One”, “Boogie Nights”, “The Truman Show”, “ Rush Hour”, “Enemy of the State”, “Psycho”, “The Insider”, “Magnolia”, “Argo”)