Jurassic World Dominion won’t leave viewers with anything new to take away. The film packs plenty of CGI dino fuel for hardcore fans. But this third outing with a new and older cast stays buried in noise. Bits of nostalgia and decently stitched action scenes keep eyes barely glued across a bloated two-and-a-half runtime. But it’s high time director Colin Trevorrow buried the franchise for another restart.
Trevorrow has plenty of baggage being first and last in Jurassic World’s director seat. Two sequels in, a novelty for killer theme parks has disappeared. The first Jurassic World film managed to recapture the spirit of its 1993 original. Viewers got to see a brand-new park go haywire from another case of human-controls-dino. But the first film in the new trilogy feels like the only rewatchable one. Jurassic World Dominion is forced to make do, since much of Jurassic Park’s essence was literally destroyed in volcanic ash. Instead, viewers see most action without any immersion. Dominion simply fits the CGI dinosaurs across an otherwise bland spy film.
You read the genre right. Without spoilers, Jurassic World Dominion takes the series further off an electric Jeep Wrangler rail. Take the dinosaurs out and viewers are left with a lower budget No Time To Die. Dominion is even complete with an evil science lab, chases across Europe and earpieces (seriously Chris Pratt, stop touching your ear). The move to unleash dinosaurs out on Earth seems like a promising idea until it’s delivered uninspiringly. Viewers might roll their eyes at the frequent shots of iconic landmarks. But with a CGI dinosaur lingering like a cheesy museum ad.
Dominion’s story is largely burned by its own attempt to shake things up. As mentioned, dinos are roaming Earth after being released at the end of Fallen Kingdom. This leads to sweeping political change for managing the animals. From black markets, humanitarian groups and sustainability, Dominion tries to mimic what made Detective Pikachu work. Theme park exec-turned-dino activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives together with Navyman-turned-dino-tracker Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). Both are thrown back into the action after their adopted daughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) is kidnapped. Owen also makes a promise to bring a baby raptor back to companion Blue, who barely returns in the film.
The story spurs Jurassic World Dominion’s reluctant heroes back into another typical Tuesday. It’s simply a means to connect all the action this Jurassic World flick offers. Nothing helps audiences keep their eyes on Chris Pratt, who moulds into a more responsible and collected action hero. There’s nothing left of the wise-cracking, resourceful and sharp dino groundskeeper viewers saw in 2015’s Jurassic World. Pratt’s hollow performance for Dominion doesn’t help to develop chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard. As Claire, she goes through a better evolution from an inattentive aunt to selfless hero. It shows across the action scenes as Howard’s performance adds weight to every near-death encounter. Horror is almost nowhere to be found in Dominion. Fans craving that original sense of dread will be disappointed. The film loses sight of what made each dinosaur scary in favour of tossing them around across sequences.
“Without spoilers, Jurassic World Dominion takes the series further off an electric Jeep Wrangler rail.”
Dominion does deserve credit for making use of its main cast. The pacing develops from a Jurassic World film and slowly into Park territory once its classic characters are included. Here, the younger cast inject some new thrills with dinos. Jurassic World Dominion still manages to entertain with its brand of popcorn-munching action. These are impressively made with a cacophony of motorcycles and raptor screeches. Humans don’t really add anything much with their guns, but still check a Jurassic Park box quota for getting eaten. I’ll admit to keeping my eyes peeled in a particular chase scene across the streets of Malta. Jurassic World Dominion stays watchable by delivering some Fast and Furious style sequences it so desperately needs.
Dinosaurs are still the real attractors for viewers looking to spend two-and-a-half hours and $13 CAD to see them. Jurassic World Dominion keeps to its strengths for showing a menacing Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, and the frill-necked Dilophosaurus. They’re easter eggs for Jurassic Park veterans who missed seeing them do new things. Viewers will bask in the glory of CGI dinos, with a few practical parts to recapture the 1993 Spielberg feel.
Jurassic World Dominion’s newer highlights, like the Atrociraptor, are (dare I say) cleverly used in the trailer’s motorcycle chase. The Therizinosaurus comes with unsettling eyes, creepy movement, and long claws for attacking. This type brings back some tension in a special hide-and-seek sequence with Claire. Dominion does pack a few dino-vs-dino fights to scratch an itch. As humans start to take too much screen time, dinosaurs in Dominion offer some much-needed relief. Yes, feathered dinosaurs are featured to set the franchise’s record straight.
“Jurassic World Dominion keeps to its strengths for showing a menacing Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Brachiosaurus, and the frill-necked Dilophosaurus.”
Other set pieces start to damage Jurassic World Dominion even more. It gets points for braving the elements of icy tundras, rainforests and sketchy labs. But these come arbitrarily for a Jurassic movie to exist. Viewers won’t get that sense of depth which Steven Spielberg gave almost 30 years ago. Simply put, Dominion’s globe-trotting effect doesn’t stick for anyone who’s seen an action film. It’s not even a decent spy film as the characters track the kid (and dino) nappers. After that experimental first act, the movie starts to settle back into a slower survival romp.
The film did calm my worries about how Jurassic Park’s original characters were used. Laura Dern returns as the adventurous Dr. Ellie Sattler. Sam Neil is back to his palaeontology ways as Dr. Alan Grant. The charming, yet enigmatic Jeff Goldblum reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcom. I’m glad to say each character still carries their charm from previous films. Laura Dern still adds dread and a new level of wit under pressure. Sam Neil is finally addressed with some stoicism that hilariously collides with younger characters. Jeff Goldblum goes “full Goldblum” as the wise-cracking comic relief.
Dominion suffers horribly from arbitrary casting of its villain Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). He’s simply the enabler for dinosaurs to ruin another high-tech lab. After he makes a few corny monologues about evolution, his villainous role is quickly overshadowed by the CGI beasts. Omar Sy does make a welcome return from Jurassic World as Barry Sembène, but it’s quickly brushed aside after the film’s highlight action sequence. It’s a shame to see BD Wong regress into a less sinister version of Dr. Henry Wu, who was directly responsible for creating the franchise’s genetically modified dinos. He does share a decent chemistry with Maisie Lockwood, but this subplot is stomped on in the dino crisis. DeWanda Wise plays new addition Kayla Watts, who might impress viewers as a badass pilot and dino smuggler. She shares even better chemistry with Pratt than Howard, while Watts’ skills truly shine in the face of danger.
“Dominion is forced to make do, since much of Jurassic Park’s essence was literally destroyed in volcanic ash.”
While Dern and Neil both drive the action later on, viewers might start to miss Goldblum’s adventurous side from The Lost World. Nostalgic viewers will still gleefully enjoy seeing the three back in theatres together. Each blows past the cameo trap of casting with their own mission in Jurassic World Dominion. As intended, Colin Treverrow divides attention to the three evenly for a bit of mystery. But this effect weans as the new and classic characters meet. There’s an awkward chemistry in play as both groups don’t really know each other. Viewers might get a laugh from this self-aware bit. But Dominion fails to deeply connect both of its storylines for a rewarding meetup.
Jurassic World Dominion’s slog might tire viewers out. So much that its ending won’t leave any emotional impact. This anticlimactic push to the credits doesn’t come with any tribute after two whole trilogies. It simply falls into the Jurassic Park trap of ending abruptly. Ultimately, Dominion exists too by-the-numbers and takes little to no risks. Its last entry fails to make any lasting impact for the Jurassic World trilogy, which regressed into a messy CGI excuse.