Jurassic World Dominion, 2022
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, BD Wong, Caleb Hearon, Campbell Scott, Daniella Pineda, DeWanda Wise, Dichen Lachman, Elva Trill, Isabella Sermon, Joel Elferink, Kristoffer Polaha, Mamoudou Athie, Omar Sy, Scott Haze and Justice Smith
Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures in a new Era.
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park set a high bar which not even the tallest Brachiosaurus could reach, which is why 2015’s legacy sequel Jurassic World simply tapped into the theme park gone wrong nostalgic narrative that had worked so well back in 1993, and wound up stomping its way to almost $1.7 billion at the box-office, and probably that same amount in lunchbox sales.
J.A. Bayona’s Fallen Kingdom at least attempted to do something different with the follow-up, introducing a haunted house horror element to that film’s final third, before capsizing it all with the dinosaur auction and unnecessary human cloning strand.
Now Colin Trevorrow returns to the franchise to close this sequel trilogy with Dominion, a blockbuster with so much stacked in its favour following the way Fallen Kingdom evolved this world to the point at which dinosaurs really did roam the Earth. Combine that potential with the reunion of the Isla Nublar Three, with Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum reprising their iconic roles, and you could be forgiven for being as excited as Denis Nedry with a can of Barbasol.
Dominion quickly establishes a new world order in which Chris Pratt’s Owen is rounding up dinosaurs in a laughably silly sequence that sees him morph into Mick Dundee, minus the charm, while Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is a full blown animal activist on dawn raids with Justice Smith. The two of them are living in the wilderness in an attempt to protect Isabella Sermon’s Maisie, who is sick of being forced to be Clone Alone, despite the threat to her life from nefarious sorts peering through a telescopic lens. Guess what?
It’s here, very early on, that Dominion abandons the idea of exploring how man and beast can co-exist. There are no The Lost World San Diego style sequences of rampaging dinosaurs, or anything like what was teased during the T-Rex attack on the drive-in cinema from the prologue. Instead it turns into something more akin to Jurassic World Ghost Protocol, in which our two-dimensional heroes embark on a globe-trotting adventure in pursuit of their adopted daughter, occasionally stopping for a Mission Impossible style bike chase through Malta, or to get caught up in a convoluted bio-tech battle over giant bugs.
It results in a film with more unwanted strands than a Henry Wu test tube. You had the foundations for a movie that directly addressed the questions posed to John Hammond during that ill fated spin in the Ford Explorer about the dangers of dinosaurs living on the same planet as man. It’s a sandbox only briefly played in during the superb finale to Spielberg’s sloppy sequel. Instead the menagerie of beasts are magically summoned to yet another enclosure where they can be overseen by a boo-hiss bad-guy (Campbell Scott’s underwhelming Dodgson), while our assorted cast run around on missions of varying degrees of interest.
On a positive note, it was always going to be like the “they’re moving in herds” moment finally seeing Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm together again, and boy does Dominion need their presence. What the Jurassic World characters lack in chemistry, the OG actors make up for in a way that’s like putting on an old jumper at winter. The early exchanges between Dern and Neill are just lovely, both slipping into their skins with unforced ease, and while Goldblum draws the short straw in terms of screen time, he still gets enough moments to ooze that salubrious butterfly effect charm.
They’re not the only echo of 1993 that turns out to be a successful part of the Dominion DNA, because while the dinosaurs feel quite unthreatening this time around, so much so that at one stage you fully expect one of them to start speaking with Sean Connery’s voice, the use of practical Dino effects is nothing short of spectacular. Whether it’s the caged Centrosaurus animatronic that Dern interacts with in a wonderful call back to 93’s hatching velociraptor, or the giant head of a hunting Giganotosaurus during the throw everything and see what sticks finale, they’re testament to the legacy of the late great Stan Winston’s ground-breaking work.
At times Dominion lurches towards passable blockbuster fun, but there are no memorable moments to match even the best parts of some of the franchise’s lesser instalments; The Lost World had Julianne Moore on the cracking window pane, Jurassic Park III introduced the Pteranodon in a scene straight out of a horror movie, and Fallen Kingdom had that beautifully tragic shot of the stranded Brachiosaurus about to be engulfed in flames. While Dominion has action scenes befitting of a seen-it-all-before spy-franchise, there’s no magic, nothing that sticks with you, not even the Dilophosaurus spit.
Ultimately Ian Malcolm was correct in 1997’s The Lost World when he said “Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. And I’m gonna be there when you learn that”. He couldn’t have been more prescient.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★
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