1993’s Jurassic Park is a cautionary tale of when man tries playing God. The film boasts revolutionary special effects and Jeff Goldblum’s bare chest, but it’s also a cautionary tale of science gone awry. The sequels are what happens when a studio tries to recapture the magic, but in the process, misses the point. Case in point, Jurassic World: Dominion. Billed as the closing chapter, the movie reunites the original film’s cast and teams them up with the heroes of the new movies. The result is about as delightful as a pile of dinosaur droppings.
Jurassic World: Dominion is now playing in theaters.
Story – Dinosaurs Ate My Neighbors
In Dominion, humans are trying to live with dinosaurs, who now live and thrive across Earth. Their presence leads to heated debates over if they should live or should be killed. Meanwhile, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) set out to save their adopted daughter (Isabella Sermon), who was kidnapped. Their journey crosses paths with Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). The trio discovers the Bio-Syn corporation is breeding locusts to wipe out Earth’s crops and sets out to stop the organization.
On paper, the movie has many interesting ideas. We see a world where aquatic dinosaurs attack fishing ships and Pteranodons make nests on the top of skyscrapers. There are black markets that trade and sell dinosaurs. To top it off, the adopted daughter that needs rescuing is a clone and struggles with identity issues. Unfortunately, Dominion fails to capitalize on its own potential. It settles for a pedestrian, safe adventure where the good guys need to stop the evil corporation from doing evil things. Out of all the schemes the writers could come up with, they picked locusts. This is a dinosaur movie, and the last thing one expects to see is locusts the size of small dogs.
Characters & Performances – Old Meets New
One of the movie’s selling points is it reunites the original trio of Dr. Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm. These three had appeared before in previous sequels, but haven’t been together since the original. They may be older, but they have not lost a beat.
Dr. Grant’s level-headedness mixes well with Ellie’s enthusiasm and Malcolm’s snarky skepticism. It’s a shame the rest of the cast isn’t as compelling. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are fine actors, but their characters have zero chemistry. The movie wants to care about them saving their daughter, but it’s hard to be invested when they are as appealing as a board of wood. Owen’s ability to communicate with dinosaurs reaches absurd levels as he escapes perilous encounters by simply extending his hand and moving slowly. Owen and Claire’s adopted daughter is equally uninteresting. Minor spoilers for Fallen Kingdom, but she is a clone of her mother, who died from a rare disease.
This leads to a dilemma of individuality vs. conformity. It sounds neat, but her character arc takes a predictable turn.
A Jurassic movie isn’t complete without villains. This time, it’s Bio-Syn. Those familiar with Michael Crichton’s book will remember Bio-Syn as In-Gen’s rival. They send Dennis Nedry to the island to swipe dinosaur embryos. This is the first time they have appeared in the film universe, and their debut also marks the return of Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Viewers may remember Dodgson as the man who sets Dennis Nedry up with the shaving cream to store the embryos with. He leads the company and is as cliché as it gets. His motivations are predictable and his dialogue is copy and paste villain talk. The only unique thing about him is his comeuppance.
Doctor Wu (B.D. Wong) returns and gets a half-baked redemption. Considering he was responsible for the hybrid dinosaurs that wreaked so much havoc in the previous two movies, him suddenly shifting from evil to good feels like a cop-out.
Cinematography & Sound – Well-Done
The story and characters fall flat, but the film boasts nice production values. It’s a globe-trotting adventure that takes the characters from the Colorado woods to the coastal city of Malta to the forests of Italy. The movie is well-shot and captures the sense of scale the dinosaurs have. Dinosaur enthusiasts will appreciate the appearances by more historically accurate dinosaurs, including a feathered velociraptor.
As for the sound, it’s good. Dinosaurs sound loud and powerful. Composer Michael Giacchino does a good job paying homage to John Williams’ original themes while creating his own compositions.
Editing & Pacing – Slow and Monotonous
Jurassic World: Dominion is almost two and a half hours. Saying it’s unnecessarily long is putting it lightly. So much is crammed into the runtime that it becomes hard to keep track of what’s going on, where the characters are, and what the current stakes are.
Action & Set-Pieces
One problem the sequels after Jurassic Park struggled with is the dinosaurs. Once awe-inspiring in their presence, the sequels turned them into simple thrill machines, giving them all the intensity of a theme-park attraction. Sadly, Jurassic World: Dominion falls into the same pitfall. There are a couple of thrilling sequences, including a motorbike chase through Malta, but all the other dinosaur sequences fall flat.
You never feel like the characters are in danger of being squashed or eaten. Even the new dinosaurs, including the heavily-promoted Gigantosaurus, are disappointing. They exist to sell toys and that’s it. At least the special effects look nice. It features a healthy mixture of practical and CG effects. In an age where films rely on digital effects, it’s nice to see a big-budget film like Dominion utilize old-school techniques.
I suppose you could say it Exstinkts!
It sounds like more of a tyrannosaurus-wreck tbh