Once more into the park the Jurassic franchise ventures, Jurassic World: Dominion is the same old ride with the same old characters and a whole lot less innovation. But, hey, the gang is all here!
The best or perhaps the worst way to describe Jurassic World: Dominion is that it’s a reunion special. It celebrates the past but more through pandering to what you love than expanding upon it. The result is yet another sequel that unearths the familiar in a manner more nostalgic than anything else.
Jurassic World: Dominion — Dinosaurs Unleashed
In the last Jurassic World film, Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs have become a common occurrence in human life. Sometimes they’re just nuisances who wander around mountain ranges. Other times they are major causes of disasters.
As humanity struggles to adjust, there’s a new billionaire on the block taking advantage of the chaos. Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) is the CEO of Biosyn, a new science corporation, and has all the trappings of an overly ambitious tech scientist. He wants to study dinosaurs but also use them for greedy means.
With dinosaurs running rampant, it’s hard enough to keep track of the dirty dealings of Biosyn. Further complicating the investigation is a new dinosaur division of the government, black market dealings of dinos, and kidnappings in the name of genetics. All of this complicates not only the Biosyn investigation but the movie itself.
Getting The Gang Back Together in Jurassic World: Dominion
The overly complex staging leaves little room for the returning characters to grow in Jurassic World: Dominion. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is still trying to wrangle some dinosaurs and Clare Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) is still being a revolutionary trying to free dinosaurs from captivity. The only thing that’s changed is that they’re now on the lam for protecting the returning teen clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) from Biosyn.
Also present in Jurassic World: Dominion are the old Jurassic Park crew but still doing more of the same. Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is still leading investigations into genetics, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is still digging up fossils, and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is still lecturing on evolution. They all return to more or less have a reunion and remark how old they’ve gotten.
There are a few new faces added into the mix. DeWanda Wise adds some swashbuckling charm as the bounty hunter/pilot Kayla Watts and Mamoudou Athie bring some charm and morality to the role of Biosyn communications head Ramsay Cole. There’s also BD Wong present as Dr. Henry Wu, more or less so he can become one of the longest-running and most frequent characters in the Jurassic Park movies.
Globetrotting Rescues — WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
There is simply too much going on in the first act of Jurassic World: Dominion that there’s nearly no room for character development. At first, the plot with Owen and Clare seems simple enough. They need to rescue Maisie from a city of black-market dinosaur dealers, including a well-dressed buyer who has no qualms using raptors as her hitmen.
But then we also get Ellie and Alan’s plot of trying to decipher some weird breed of locusts. There’s a more intricate plot going on of manipulating people’s fears of the apocalypse and regulating genetic modification of resources. If this all sounds like way too much staging for a Jurassic World movie, that’s because it is.
Same Old Park
Despite how Jurassic World: Dominion tries to explore more of a world where dinosaurs have taken over, Dominion falls back on the old formula by the third act. Biosyn’s laboratory and dinosaur preserve become a fiery battleground for survival once the dinosaurs are loose. Power goes out, cars speed away from pursuing beasts, teamwork saves the day, all that prehistoric jazz.
What’s even worse is that there’s a remittance of tropes that really do test your patience. There are only so many times you can watch Clare daringly hide and flee from dinosaurs big and small that the terror wears off. By the time we’ve reached the third sequence of a dino breathing down her neck, you can’t help but feel this series has run out of ideas.
I really do want to stress how much a reunion special this feels like for finding so little to do with these legacy characters. When the original trio of Alan, Ellie, and Ian are all together again on the screen, there’s little charisma they find. Jurassic World: Dominion just seems to slap them on screen and hope that their presence will be enough.
There’s also a handful of callbacks that are meant to be amusing at face value. Remember the shaving creme can that was disguised to house dino DNA? That same item returns but more for the visual shorthand about what scene will transpire next.
All of the familiar aspects pretty much go on autopilot by the time the third act is reached. All the hallmarks of fleeing humans, clashing dinosaurs, and the John Williams theme are all presented and accounted for. The subversion of these aspects is minimal, where the most notable one is Goldblum briefly considering and then deciding not to undo his shift.
Decent Dinosaur Theatrics
Of course, most people will be coming to watch Jurassic World: Dominion to get an eye-full of the dinosaurs on display. To the film’s credit, there’s quite the variety. There are some classic creatures as well as the genetically modified titans and the smaller species that actually have feathers.
There’s perhaps a tad bit of poetics at play with how the climax involves the classic T-rex taking down the towering Giganotosaurus. It’s a not-so-subtle hammering home of how humans can triumph over science. Despite feeling a tad cliche, it’s the most visually pleasing portion of the film.
Conclusion: Jurassic World: Dominion
By the time Jurassic World: Dominion reaches its finale, Alan remarks that it’s not about them when the dinosaurs start to fight. It makes Dominion feel more like a Godzilla film, where the human characters are more like props devoid of greater appeal. That’s a sad revelation for a film franchise that has amassed so many characters who hardly have a chance to exude anything more than reactions to computer graphics.
Sure, Jurassic World: Dominion still has some thrilling sequences of dinosaur action. So did the previous pictures of Jurassic World and Jurassic Park. It’s just that those films had a bit more room for character and a lot more visual flair to proceed in different directions. By compression, Jurassic World: Dominion treads down a familiar and tiresome river it’s already stepped in at least twice.
Did you see Jurassic World: Dominion in theaters? How does it compare to the other Jurassic World movies in the trilogy? Was it better than the Jurassic Park movies? Let us know in the comments below.
Jurassic World: Dominion is currently playing in theaters.