There has been far too much splicing involved to keep this prehistoric franchise going…
Dinosaurs are freely roaming the Earth, and corporations are now using genetic power to affect the ecosystem. When mercenaries kidnap both Blue’s daughter and cloned human Maisie, it is up to Owen and Claire to get them back.
2015’s Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow returns for this final (?) instalment of the strangely buoyant franchise about dinosaur theme parks. But perhaps losing out on his opportunity to close the Star Wars sequel trilogy has left him a little sore, or co-writer Emily Carmichael (the “brains” behind Pacific Rim: Uprising) didn’t know what she was doing, because this film has proven there is little life left in this franchise.
To use a video game reference that admittedly not everyone will understand: comparing Dominion to the original Jurassic Park is like comparing Resident Evil 6 with the original. It is an avalanche of continuous action and a real sense of throwing everything at you to keep your attention…
For starters, Jurassic World: Dominion feels like (with a two hour and twenty-six minute run time) it is constantly setting up. By the fifty minute mark we are still being introduced to characters and motivations, as well as two disparate plots (one involving the original cast, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, and the other involving Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) sluggishly finding relevance to each other. If you are convincing yourself to see this film purely for the original crew from the 1993 film, don’t bother; they feel extremely tacked on, with perhaps just one scene of particular nostalgic resonance.
No need to bring these two casts together because they, you know, have similar histories and past agencies, no no. Let’s have the film start with Owen, Claire and Mairie be living in isolation, lassoing dinosaurs like they are living in a new age western, and have Ellie fighting mega-corporations that are breeding invincible giant locusts (wait what?) and go from there.
But don’t worry, we have an isolated, enclosed location full of dinosaurs to get to. But to get there we need to have: horrifying locusts killing children, a plane crash on an icy lake, a chase through Italy against laser-guided raptors, and an underground dinosaur fighting pit. All before the more common trappings of: dinosaurs in labs, dinosaurs in caves, dinosaurs in jungles… dinosaurs breathing fire.
It doesn’t end.
Otherwise we have maybe half a sentence about Dr Grant’s interest in palaeontology.
Why Jurassic Park, of all franchises, feels the need to wave its keys at our faces this much is baffling, and it leads to plenty of bad dialogue and perplexing scenes. Our characters are in a tight spot? Well, they get out of it easily, because the rest of the movie has to happen. Seriously, mega-corporation Biosyn has worse security than the Death Star.
The franchise also seems to forget itself at times. Ellie Sattler, who had the famous scene with the triceratops in 1993, meets a baby triceratops in 2022 and is filled with affection and helpless adoration, cooing that she will: “Never get used to it.” The literal premise of Jurassic World in 2015 is that people are desensitized and bored by dinosaurs now.
But, there has to be some fun to be had?
Sure. Once the dozen or so characters are introduced and the plot can continue, there are some moments of excitement towards the final act. Especially one involving an isolated Bryce Dallas Howard. Dilophosaurus reappear for a great couple of scenes (one of which is deflated by some moronic dialogue) and there are moments of concern for the characters.
“Moments of concern”, because it really feels like the film cannot bear the idea of actually killing any of the characters, or even injuring them. Despite having several character now, it is like watching people going through a literal theme park.
It felt like a noisy mess, lacking the confidence to sit and talk with its audience for very long, constantly resorting to big shiny spectacles to distract the absence of ideas. There are a couple of moments that resonated with the series and with the characters, but ultimately you can feel the magic has gone.
Is it better or worse than Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom? Well, it is hobbled by the fact that it has to follow the Lost Kingdom‘s plot threads, but generally yes, this is slightly better than its predecessor.