The Jurassic Park franchise doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to sequels. There seems to be a continued lapse in the mysticism and wonder that the original Steven Spielberg movie captured. However, the final entry to the Jurassic World trilogy, Jurassic World Dominion, at least ends things off with a bang. Granted, that bang may not be mind-blowing, but it is guaranteed to grab your attention.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow, the adventure movie is packed with everyone’s favourite dinosaurs, plenty of fan service, and despite its lengthy runtime and questionable script choices, proves to be a somewhat fun ride of a blockbuster. Picking up where Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom left off, dinosaurs and humans are struggling to co-exist, and the world is adapting to the new prehistoric dynamic. Supposedly leading this human and dinosaur co-habitation effort is the corporation Biosyn. But, surprise, Biosyn ends up having some skeletons, or should we say deadly bugs, locked in its closet.
After some genetically engineered locusts begin ravaging America and threatening the world’s food supply, Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) believes Biosyn is behind the outbreak and sets out to reunite with her old partner Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to gather proof of the company’s misdeeds. The two legendary actors from the original trilogy head off to meet up with Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) at Biosyn’s headquarters – an island packed with dinosaurs…what could go wrong?
While all this is happening, another plotline is playing out. This is the story of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen (Chris Pratt), and their adoptive daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) – remember she was that clone of Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter from the last movie. It turns out that Biosyn is indeed behind the locust outbreak and believes that Maisie is the key to solving all their problems.
The young girl is kidnapped, and Owen and Claire must head to the previously mentioned dinosaur island to save their child. While coming together eventually after a drawn-out first act, the two narratives struggle to synthesise, and, unfortunately, Jurassic World’s script proves to be its biggest downfall.
Written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael, Jurassic World’s narrative is an oddball situation, and almost feels as if two films have been haphazardly mashed together. Its first hour can be described as Liam Neeson’s Taken with a prehistoric twist, as Owen and Claire track down and face off against a band of mercenaries hired by Biosyn to save Maisie.
This globetrotting and kidnap thread, complete with a dino black market and assassin hybrid raptors, is a confusing take on Jurassic World that honestly brings up more continuity questions than it does fresh ideas.
As we focus on Claire and Owen’s new parent arc, you can’t help but wonder why we don’t see more of Claire’s dino protection organisation, especially as she wanders around the black market unfazed, or how Owen and her relationship had truly developed to their current point of being practically married.
However, all that being said, the second half of the film is where the flick picks up steam and where any fan will thrive. Once the whole gang is on Biosyn’s dinosaur island, away from underground black markets and foreign streets, the sequel finally feels like a classic Jurassic Park movie.
The chase scenes make more sense, the thrilling dinosaur encounters get our blood racing, and it is a joy to see the legacy actors reunited and back in the dangerous fold together again.
Neill, Dern, and Goldblum are a delight to watch, as the three fully lean back into their old roles, and bring a sense of charm and humour to the film. Their light-hearted and almost self-aware demeanours balance the overly dramatic and serious take of Pratt and Howard’s characters, making them the driving force and stand out performers of Dominion’s cast ensemble.
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It is easy to see that the trio had heaps of fun on set, and their enjoyment is infectious every time they’re on screen. But unfortunately, even their enthusiasm, can’t make up for the sluggish pace of Dominion, courtesy of its first hour.
For every good point of Dominion, there seems to be an equally valid criticism preventing viewers from leaning back and just enjoying the prehistoric ride. While the legacy actors are a joy to watch, Pratt and Howard’s acting fumbles, and their dynamic as a couple feels unbelievable and, at points, even uncomfortable.
Most of the action scenes with the toothy monsters in Dominion are exciting. However, these fun and well-crafted sequences also highlight the faults in the film’s script, as the sharp adrenaline pick-me-ups of the dinosaur moments are countered by lengthy expositional dialogue.
Similarly, though I praised the flick’s second half, there is a feeling of ‘been there and done that’, and the film struggles to shake off its predictability.
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Even as a long-time Jurassic Park fan and Jurassic World apologist, I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps the franchise has finally played out all its avenues, as the thrills on-screen never truly hit hard or ignite that feeling of childlike wonder.
There is no denying that I had a blast during certain moments in Dominion. But those moments were sadly few and far between. Even nostalgia struggled to keep me captivated with this entry but saying all that, Trevorrow did manage to keep me entertained by the time the credits started to roll, and unquestionably ready to say goodbye to this trilogy.
Jurassic World Dominion is out in cinemas now
Jurassic World Dominion review
Dominion has its fun moments, but feels as if it’s resting too much on nostalgia as it attempts to mask its lacking script.