Jurassic World Dominion offers brainless fun and breathless action, but it won’t withstand multiple viewings.
Remember the sense of wonder you probably experienced while watching the very first Jurassic Park in the 90s? Or maybe even during Jurassic World in 2015? Well, that sense of wonder is wearing very thin in Jurassic World Dominion which closes out the Jurassic World trilogy, after the rather uneven Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018.
Claire (Bruce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) are hiding out in the woods with clone girl Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Dinosaurs now run rampant in society after the events of Fallen Kingdom, including velociraptor Blue, who has somehow managed to make a baby, all on her own! Baby Blue and Maisie get kidnapped so, naturally, Owen and Claire must rescue both.
The above is only about a third of the film’s plot. It’s probably the most central part of the narrative, but Dominion is also disturbingly much about… bugs? Giant locusts are wreaking havoc and this is where Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum come in. Yes, the original Jurassic Park gang is back and even if it’s shameless fan service, it is exactly the kind of fan service that I go weak at the knees for.
There’s no subtle way to say this, but Dominion is a bit of a mess. It never really finds its pacing or the correct tone, it jumps from location to location and worst of all, there isn’t enough dinosaur action. The new saurus, Giganotosaurus, only has bare minutes of screentime and plays no significant part in the active narrative. Sure, there’s some fast-paced action sequences featuring dinosaurs with a lot of teeth, but they come and go without any real impact.
But what Dominion does have, in buckets, is cool dinosaur designs. It’s a shame we don’t see them quite as much as we yearn to, but there’s feathered dinos, flying dinos, teethy dinos and a few fan favourites return. The film features mostly animatronics and this really pays off. The CGI is pretty seamless for the dinosaurs, but this might be at the expense of other elements. The editing in particular is very choppy and almost disorienting.
Dominion is brainless summer fun. It lacks teeth, but it’s made for the masses and while it is frustrating, it’s still a relatively worthy addition to the Jurassic saga. Bryce Dallas Howard’s arc is by far the most affecting and impressive, over the trilogy, while Chris Pratt seems to just be on autopilot. Of the new recruits, Mamoudou Athie fares the best by giving his character a lot of warmth and the occasional injection of humour in a film that otherwise takes itself very seriously.
It’s all about the original trio, though. Everyone else pales next to them and Sam Neill’s infectious grin and grumpy-old-man -take on the character are a winning combination. Laura Dern kicks ass, as per usual and Jeff Goldblum is delightfully weird and wonderful. There are plenty of nods to the original film, but John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park theme never fails to bring a tear or two to my eyes.
Yes, Dominion isn’t great. It’s probably the weakest of the three, but it’s big, dumb and fun. It seriously overstays its welcome at 2 hours and 26 minutes, but the dinosaurs are still as irresistible as they were in 1993. Director Colin Trevorrow just about limps over the finishing line with Dominion and while the script probably needed another round of edits, he directs the film with enough passion towards the franchise that it’ll do just fine.
Jurassic World: Dominion is in cinemas June 10.