Although Jurassic World Dominion boasts a glittering cast, a superb composer, and a visionary director, the movie fails to stick the landing.
It’s time for our final stroll through the Jurassic era in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World Dominion. The saga, originated by Hollywood titan Steven Spielberg has cemented its legacy as one of the finest in cinema history. And although the subsequent sequels have failed to live up to the original, the franchise is as beloved now as it was in 1993. But now, Trevorrow has been given the unenviable task of bookending Michael Crichton’s thought-provoking story once and for all. But with over three decades of adventures to culminate, can he stick the landing and deliver the conclusive send-off for Rexy and her dino pals?
Sadly, the answer isn’t as conclusive as you might think. Now, before we get into the crux of the review, let me say that the movie isn’t a complete letdown. Far from it. In fact, it isn’t that bad. It delivers a huge spectacle packed full to the brim of new dinosaurs, but with its utterly convenient plot and paint by numbers set pieces, Jurassic World Dominion fails to stick the landing; all the while cramming in as much nostalgia it possibly can. To its detriment.
JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION
The plot of the JW threequel centers on a turning point for the planet. After the release of several species at the end of Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs are claiming more territory and encroaching on the human habitat. This has paved the way for dinosaurs to be traded on the black market and used and abused for all their worth. But when a sudden biological disaster threatens to derail the global food supply; a group of intrepid scientists led by the legendary Dr. Ellie Sattler soon discovers that the disaster appears to be man-made. And all roads lead to BioSyn Bioengineering and its infamous founder, Jurassic Park villain Lewis Dodgson.
After a convenient newsreel brings us up to date with the events following Fallen Kingdom, we are reunited with Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard); Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), and Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). The trio has retreated to an isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere determined to keep Maisie out of sight and protected from BioSyn’s greedy gaze. But the rebellious teenager longs to discover who she is. And routinely sneaks away to the local town to enjoy some much-needed freedom. Much to the dismay of Owen and Claire, the latter of which has dedicated herself to some under-the-radar dino prison breaking! But the sudden appearance of a baby Velociraptor sporting the same markings as Owen’s beloved Blue propels the trio on a new adventure. One packed to the brim with kidnapping, espionage, and death-defying dino escapes.
Ordinarily, this would be a recipe for success. But this is a Jurassic World movie. One tasked with culminating the saga that began with a touch of Speilberg magic. And it is here where the problems begin. What follows is a gradual unraveling of Michael Crichton’s characters. And all to facilitate Dominion’s audacious plot. At the forefront of these issues is Dr. Ellie Sattler played once again by the irreplaceable Laura Dern. For no apparent reason, Ellie has abandoned her career as a Paleobotanist and has instead, devoted her talents to a new agricultural task force. One entrusted with studying a sudden plague of locusts that is obliterating worldwide crops.
With all roads leading to BioSyn, Ellie enlists the help of her former lover and longtime friend Dr. Alan Grant; once again portrayed by franchise stalwart Sam Neill. And together, the pair sets off on an adventure that will lead them to the very heart of the mystery and a long-awaited reunion with fellow Jurassic Park alum Ian Malcolm; played amazingly by Jeff Goldblum.
What follows is an adventure on two fronts. Ellie, Grant, and Malcolm begin to unravel the BioSyn mystery, while Owen and Claire are thrust into a string of overly convenient death-defying capers as they hunt down the kidnappers of Blue’s baby; aptly named Beta. Director Colin Trevorrow certainly isn’t playing it safe in this adventure and throws caution to the wind to deliver some bold twists and turns. But with the franchise remit of human meddling with nature and nature fighting back still ringing in our ears; Trevorrow’s attempt to harness the gravitas of Steven Speilberg’s work backfires spectacularly. And this is due to the mindless string of dino capers that Owen and Claire clumsily fall into at every turn. And I mean every turn.
Unfortunately, the movie becomes one accidental confrontation after another with none of them serving to push the story forwards. In fact, several new species of dinosaurs have been engineered to feature in this adventure, but they are all frivolously shoe-horned in at random because they look cool and give us a new creature to marvel at. And sadly, none of them have the screen presence of the classic Velociraptors, or our beloved Rexy the T-Rex, who I am sorry to confirm is reduced to a glorified cameo in this unsuitable series finale. Even the new additions are limited to a one-scene wonder except for the Giganotosaurus and the Therizinosaurus. These new apex predators are noteworthy additions to the franchise, but at times their involvement will leave viewers baffled and wondering what all the fuss was about. And that is criminal.
Like any movie, the success of Jurassic World Dominion rests on the back of its cast. And I am pleased to report that every one of its all-star cast deliver solid performances. Jeff Goldblum steals every scene and cuts through the tension with his perfectly placed quips. Laura Dern turns in a typically energetic performance as Ellie Sattler (despite her uncharacteristic career change); Sam Neill delivers another great performance as Alan Grant, albeit a somewhat subdued runout. Series newcomer DeWanda Wise quickly becomes an unmissable screen presence, and Chris Pratt brings out the best in his action-prone Owen Grady.
But for me, the standout performance rests with Bryce Dallas Howard. Her poignant performance as Claire Dearing truly comes full circle in this outing and as the credits roll, her story arc holds the most emotional weight. And that is all down to the brilliance of a truly talented actor. It’s a classic tale of growing into parenthood, but Howard embraces it with such gusto that we truly feel for her. And the motives behind her need to succeed won’t be lost on anyone.
After the previous installment, my expectations were extremely low for Dominion. But the casting of the legacy characters gave me assurances that the series will end on a high. And for all intents and purposes, it does. Resisting the urge to overly lean into nostalgia, Colin Trevorrow has delivered a serviceable climax to the Jurassic era. Albeit an unfulfilling one. The movie is packed to the brim with pointless dinosaur chases and regular moments where the threat feels forced. Especially when Owen Grady is involved. On too many occasions the action hero stops to relay instructions through his spyware, while dinos attack all around him. Even to the point where two colossal predators are unleashed upon the unsuspecting inhabitants of a black-market dinosaur bazaar, who all just sit there and wait their turn to be eaten. It’s baffling stuff. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Michael Giacchino returns to deliver another robust score that harnesses the best of his previous scores. And a few new themes serve to inject a sense of urgency that works hand in hand with the musical nuances of John Williams’s iconic themes. Some of which, sadly don’t get enough time to seem relevant or impactful. And that is a real shame. A few more well-placed injections of Willaims’ masterwork would have helped to tie the sequels together. But sadly, we are left to chalk it up as another missed opportunity.
THE PARK IS CLOSED
Although Jurassic World Dominion boasts a glittering cast, a superb composer, and a visionary director; the movie fails to stick the landing. Any franchise climax following in the footsteps of Avengers Endgame has its work cut out. And despite the best efforts of Colin Trevorrow, Dominion sorely lacks the gravitas and quality of Steven Speilberg’s guiding hands. And it shows. With Rexy and Blue restricted to glorified cameos and a plot that fails to live up to the hype, Dominion can only be described as a disappointment. And that is the biggest letdown of them all.
For a franchise that spared no expense and made us believe that dinosaurs were real, we have all been denied the reward of a deserving send-off. The dinosaurs of Jurassic World evolved and took us to places cinema never had, but on this occasion, the plot left them behind. Farewell Jurassic Park.
Jurassic World Dominion releases in cinemas on Friday
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!