'Jurassic World Dominion' Delivers Loud Dino Action but Not Much Else - Knotfest

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Delivers Loud Dino Action but Not Much Else

Posted by Nicolás Delgadillo in Culture on June 13, 2022

The finale to the Jurassic franchise doesn’t embrace its world as much it should but does offer some cool new dinos

Back at the start of 2015, Universal decided to bring Jurassic Park back from the dead and give indie filmmaker Colin Trevorrow full reigns over a new trilogy. Trevorrow only had one feature film under his belt at this point, a modest but solid sci-fi rom-com called Safety Not Guaranteed. Nevertheless, that inexperience (and lukewarm reviews) couldn’t stop Jurassic World from becoming a massive global success. 

The film became a linchpin for the current age of legacy sequels as well as the studio practice of hiring on fresh indie directors to helm blockbuster franchises. Seven years later and the Jurassic franchise has reached a momentary end once again with Jurassic World Dominion, the finale to Trevorrow’s promised trilogy. Those looking for the usual dinosaur action will get it – over and over again – but anyone looking for even just a modicum more of anything else will have to look elsewhere.

For all of its flaws, Jurassic World still took advantage of tickling the right nostalgic points and delivering on the premise of a full-fledged operational dinosaur theme park gone awry. With Fallen Kingdom, Trevorrow still wrote the script alongside his creative partner Derek Connolly but handed directing duties over to J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible). Bayona, along with his frequent cinematographer Óscar Faura, craft some of the best action sequences and imagery of the franchise since the Spielberg days.

DeWanda Wise and Laura Dern star in ‘Jurassic World Dominion’
Courtesy of Universal

Even so, Fallen Kingdom is where Trevorrow’s weaknesses became all the more glaring. Great visuals can’t save the movie from an inept screenplay that’s as dumb as the franchise has ever been, and not even in a fun way. At the same time, the middle chapter of the Jurassic World trilogy does at least finally rid the series of its familiar island setup (literally blowing it up via volcano) and opens the gates (also literally) to any number of story possibilities by permanently unleashing dinosaurs out into the human world.

Jurassic World Dominion does next to nothing with what it has nor does it feel like any kind of real finale to what began with the 1993 original or even Trevorrow’s own 2015 reboot. It’s a bizarre collection of choices that makes for an unwieldy Frankenstein-esque movie, one that wastes both its promised dinosaur world setup and the onscreen reunion of its original stars. 

Set four years after the events of the previous film, Dominion catches us up with Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) living out in a mountain cabin to keep the now teenage Maisie (Isabella Semon) safe and away from the public. As the world’s first and only real human clone, Maisie is wanted by any number of organizations, but is successfully kidnapped by a company called BioSyn, led by nefarious CEO Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). They also kidnap Blue’s recently born baby. Owen and Claire quickly follow and enlist the help of a skilled pilot named Kayla (DeWanda Wise).

The Gigantosaurus is the new big bad of ‘Jurassic World Dominion’
Courtesy of Universal

At the same time, BioSyn attracts the attention of Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) when an outbreak of formerly extinct giant locusts begins devastating crops around the planet. She suspects that the company is behind it and brings her former partner Alan Grant (Sam Neill) with her to BioSyn’s headquarters, thanks to an invitation from fellow Jurassic Park survivor Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who works for the company. That just so happens to be…on a remote island…filled with dinosaurs…again.

Yes, Dominion decides to do a strange backtracking of what came before in order to presumably hammer home the nostalgia yet again. Outside of the first fifteen minutes of establishing Owen as a dino herder and Claire as a dino rights activist, the film only sets one scene out in the dino world: A motorcycle / raptor chase through the streets of Malta. Empty platitudes about the ramifications of living alongside dinosaurs and co-existence are spoken throughout the film despite its story having little if anything to do with it. It’s a disappointment, to say the least.

The original trio seem wholly disengaged by the material but do inject a genuine liveliness into the movie whenever they’re together. Their energy makes it all the more apparent just how weak Owen and Claire really are as characters, Owen in particular. Much like Fallen Kingdom, Pratt sleepwalks through the entire two and a half hours and doesn’t have an ounce of chemistry with his co-star. Howard does her best with what she’s given but it isn’t nearly enough; her performance in the previous film is much more noteworthy.

Bryce Dallas Howard stars as Claire in ‘Jurassic World Dominion’
Courtesy of Universal

The plot and characters become irrelevant either way since Dominion quickly establishes a formula of having someone enter a scene, having a dinosaur enter it only a few seconds later, and a chase ensues. Rinse and repeat. I’m aware that this is pretty much the point nowadays of seeing a new entry in this particular franchise, but Dominion decides that none of its characters – old or new – are actually expendable. So whoever the dino is chasing always gets away and we know they will. Where are the stakes? Where is the tension?

The dinosaurs themselves thankfully look great and the film at the very least gets creative with the variety of species it lets loose on the heroes this time around. Almost all of the dinos in Dominion are new to the franchise, with the standout being the long-clawed Therizinosaurus. Like everything else, they’re mostly wasted in a overlong and convoluted movie that doesn’t seem to know what to do with all that it has. If this was as streamlined as Jurassic Park III’s tight runtime and / or actually taken advantage of its actual dinosaur world, it could’ve had the chance to be good dumb fun. Instead, it’s bloated and worse, just plain boring, a true sin for a big-budget dinosaur blockbuster. Not that any of this will hurt it at the box office.

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ is now playing in theaters.

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