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The only beast 'Jurassic World: Dominion' doesn't reference is a the-saurus

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The dinosaurs who were still trapped on an island in "Jurassic Park" back in 1993 are now roaming free in "Jurassic World: Dominion." Critic Bob Mondello says the screenplay roams pretty free, too.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Raptors romping in the snow, farms plagued by locusts the size of backpacks, corporate tech guys redesigning extinct theropods - not extinct iPods - and not one but two full casts of adventurers ready for some dino derring-do.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

JEFF GOLDBLUM: (As Dr. Ian Malcolm) Bigger - why do they always have to go bigger?

MONDELLO: Our recent "Jurassic World" regulars are roughing it in the Rockies in what I came to think of as the lumberjack cowboy portion of the film - Chris Pratt riding the range and roping herds of horse-like parasaurolophi while Bryce Dallas Howard plays frontier mom to Isabella Sermon's Maisie, with all three communing with their favorite raptors Blue and Baby Blue...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

ISABELLA SERMON: (As Maisie Lockwood) Blue had a baby. That's impossible.

(SOUNDBITE OF DINOSAUR SQUAWKING)

CHRIS PRATT: (As Owen Grady) Hey, girl.

SERMON: (As Maisie Lockwood) You look just like your mother.

MONDELLO: ...Until poachers show up and Baby Blue is kidnapped, setting a plot of sorts in motion.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

PRATT: (As Owen Grady) I promise you I am going to get her back.

MONDELLO: Meanwhile, those huge locusts have caught the attention of the first trilogy's "Jurassic Park" old-timers Laura Dern and Sam Neill, who, understandably caught up by the urgency of the situation, leap right in...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

SAM NEILL: (As Alan Grant) How are your kids?

MONDELLO: ...Sort of.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

LAURA DERN: (As Ellie Sattler) Amazing - grown. It's shocking. They're both in college. Can you believe that?

NEILL: (As Alan Grant) And Mark?

DERN: (As Ellie Sattler) It's over.

NEILL: (As Alan Grant) Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

DERN: (As Ellie Sattler) It's OK. I'm back to me and my work. You know, it's...

NEILL: (As Alan Grant) That's great.

DERN: (As Ellie Sattler) It's good. It is. I'm alone at last.

NEILL: (As Alan Grant) Exciting times.

MONDELLO: Indeed. It took three writers to come up with that. Anyway, while they're catching up, the others head off to Malta for a double-osaurus (ph) bit, where our heroes battle a Bond-style villain and her laser-controlled raptors. Their escape, which turns into "Indiana Pratt And The Flight Of The Pterodactyls"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

PRATT: (As Owen Grady) It's another plane, right?

DEWANDA WISE: (As Kayla Watts) Not exactly.

MONDELLO: ...Parachutes our heroine into the domain of a Tyrannosaurus Scissorhands. And there will soon be an underground sequence that plays like "Journey To The Center Of The Triassic" and even a Jurassic-on-ice bit...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

WISE: (As Kayla Watts) That can't be right.

MONDELLO: ...Featuring a feathered, pond-skating not-sure-what-a-saurus (ph) all on the way to a corporate dino preserve modeled so closely on the Cupertino headquarters of Apple computers that you won't bat an eye when Campbell Scott shows up looking like a clone of Apple CEO Tim Cook. I wondered briefly if this might be intended as a comment on corporate predators or institutional dinosaurs, but I suspect that's giving the screenwriters too much credit. Regardless, director Colin Trevorrow has pretty much run out of ideas by the time he gets everyone to the preserve and can't seem to direct the ideas he recycles, mostly apex predator versus apex predator throwdowns without variations or even dialogue to speak of.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION")

NEILL: (As Alan Grant) Don't move.

MONDELLO: About the only critter the script doesn't reference is a thesaurus. Two new characters - a pilot played by DeWanda Wise and a plot device played by Mamoudou Athie - are better than their material, something you can't say about most of the others, including the lumbering digital beast that once inspired so much awe. In "Jurassic World: Dominion," even they are just going through the motions - poor things. A few of them look as if they might almost welcome extinction.

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "THEME FROM JURASSIC PARK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.