Jurasic World: Dominion is the most disappointing but not the worst of the Jurassic films.
2 out of 5
“Humans and dinosaurs are now gonna be forced to coexist. These creatures were here before us. And if we’re not careful, they’re gonna be here after. We’re gonna have to adjust to new threats that we can’t imagine. We’ve entered a new era. Welcome to Jurassic World.”
This is the haunting message that Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) states at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Four years after that film, we have a continuation of that story in Jurassic World Dominion. This film sees Colin Trevorrow return to the director’s chair after directing the first film in the Jurassic World trilogy.
With a franchise that has been running for nearly three decades and has created an unforgettable legacy, this sixth and final installment had the potential to provide an action-packed, astounding conclusion to what Steven Spielberg began in 1993. Unfortunately, Jurassic World Dominion disappoints on many levels, losing sight of what a film like this should be and going down a confusing, uninteresting route that can’t be saved by its occasional fun moments.
Right from the opening scene, it’s never a good sign when we have people on a boat, only to have a dinosaur simply pop out of nowhere to mess up their day. When you think back to the suspenseful opening scenes of Spielberg’s original two Jurassic movies, this opening feels remarkably rushed in comparison, building no suspense and throwing a dinosaur in before the audience has time to process the setting. The film then goes into a very lazily written exposition dump in the form of a news report, where the writers tell the audience everything they need to know in the easiest way possible.
Set four years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this film sees a world ravaged by dinosaurs, with BioSyn Genetics studying these creatures. The CEO, Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), is a character who briefly appeared in the original Jurassic Park as Hammond’s rival — the guy who wants to steal InGen’s dinosaur embryos. Dodgson was a primary antagonist in the Jurassic Park novels, and the idea of bringing his character back as the antagonist in this film was excellent on paper. However, Dominion cannot even seem to take him seriously, as Scott delivers an off-kilter performance that feels cartoonish in all the worst ways.
The main story features Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) living together as they raise a teenage girl named Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). Maisie appeared in the previous film as a young child created as a clone of Charlotte Lockwood. This subplot surrounding a cloned human was one of the more idiotic elements of this trilogy. Yet, for some reason, this movie dared to double down and give this storyline an even greater focus. Unfortunately, not only does this film spend too much time on a human cloning subplot rather than on dinosaurs, but the lacklustre writing entirely fails the subplot.
The Jurassic World trilogy has always suffered in one critical department: characters. The romance between Owen and Claire has always been forced, and the film expects the audience to care about the two of them raising a teenager together. Furthermore, after Maisie pressed a button that unleashed many dangerous, bloodthirsty dinosaurs onto the United States mainland in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the writers somehow managed to make her an even less likeable character by writing her as a disobedient brat — it’s an impressive feat in the worst way possible. After barely doing any work to make the audience care about the supposed loving relationship between Maisie and the two leads who adopted her, Maisie gets kidnapped. It’s challenging to pity a character who never does anything to get the audience to like her.
Once our inciting event kicks in, the film becomes something unrecognisable. Barely a Jurassic film anymore, this film puts the dinosaurs in the backseat and focuses instead on a spy thriller storyline where Owen and Claire must work with the CIA to track down Maisie and the people who took her. Who watches a movie called Jurassic World Dominion to see an espionage thriller with shootouts and hand-to-hand fights? How has this series gone from a dinosaur theme park to a kidnapped human clone? And why does a film that promised to feature the dinosaurs running loose put the prehistoric titans on the sidelines to focus on a poor quality storyline about a kidnapped girl?
The novelty of this film is that they bring back the characters from the original Jurassic Park. We have the return of Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and it is nice to see these two reunite for the first time on screen since Jurassic Park III. It’s even better to see them back with Malcolm, though the movie does them a disservice by putting their focus on an entirely new subplot surrounding giant locusts. For some reason, Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael decided that dinosaurs would no longer be the main event in a movie called Jurassic World Dominion, putting a mind-numbing amount of attention on human cloning and massive locusts.
While the original Jurassic Park trilogy was mainly a mature look at man’s interference with nature, the new Jurassic World trilogy sacrifices everything thought-provoking for a giant action blockbuster experience. It worked in Jurassic World, it worked sporadically in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and now, it’s the only thing Trevorrow uses to keep this series alive. There are captivating action set pieces, from the motorcycle chase to the plane sequence, and these scenes deliver the popcorn-munching entertainment you want to see in this movie.
What’s nowhere to be found in this film are the magic and childlike wonder of seeing dinosaurs on the big screen. It’s great to have Dr. Alan Grant share the scene with Owen Grady, but when the movie zeroes in on subplots that have nothing to do with dinosaurs, the result is a disappointing mess. Throwing in one-dimensional characters such as Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) does the film no favours, as Jurassic World Dominion features the fun scenes you’d expect, but does nothing interesting from a writing standpoint. There are a few good ideas here and there, such as illegal dinosaur breeding, but for the most part, this movie is a shining example of an extension to a franchise that has long run its course.