Jurassic World Dominion. 2022
Directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mamoudou Athie, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, Daniella Pineda, Caleb Hearon, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Omar Sy, DeWanda Wise, Campbell Scott, BD Wong, Joel Elferink, Jake Johnson, Kristoffer Polaha, and Elva Trill.
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.
Humans and dinosaurs now coexist. That’s more than enough of a jumping-off point for Jurassic World Dominion director Colin Trevorrow (who also directed Jurassic World) to shake up the Jurassic formula and do something different that’s captivating. Well, Jurassic World Dominion is certainly not your standard dino-romp, but it’s also half-committed to several unfolding plot points that, once they converge, ultimately devolve into more of the same anyway. Worst of all, the tantalizing prospect of observing humans and dinosaurs eke out an existence together is shoved aside, amounting to nothing more than an amusing opening montage suggesting what something more fun would have resembled.
No, Jurassic World Dominion screenwriters Emily Carmichael and Colin Trevorrow have decided to place returning dinosaur trainer Owen Grady (a Chris Pratt who looks a combination of bored to be there without much opportunity to flex his comedic chops amid all the chaos) and his on-off girlfriend/Dinosaur Protection Group activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, once again with not much interesting to do) functioning as surrogate parents for Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), a clone of original Jurassic Park creator John Hammond’s deceased daughter that was rescued from experiments and isolation at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (an absolute mess from J.A. Bayona that nonetheless ended on the aforementioned promising note of humans and dinosaurs sharing a planet).
Countless groups want young Maisie as she is a one-of-a-kind being who could be studied scientifically for good and bad purposes. It’s also hard to hide, considering she is entering her teenage phase and rebelling against Owen and Claire, especially wanting to venture out beyond the snowy mountains to interact with smaller dinosaurs and society. Meanwhile, Owen still looks after his mutually respected velociraptor Blue, who has also become a prized target considering her ability to reproduce on her own
However, Jurassic World: Dominion sidelines these characters almost as fast as setting them up as the protagonists. That’s because this is also a legacy sequel reintroducing beloved characters such as paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Laura Dern’s paleobotanist Ellie Sattler. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is also present, although he technically returned making a cameo in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Moving past the specifics, Jurassic World Dominion also focuses on these reunited three attempting to infiltrate Biosyn Genetics, which seemingly has something to do with a global crisis involving locusts.
Jurassic World Dominion also makes a critical mistake by not splitting these stories equally. Instead, there is an onslaught of subplots involving past characters from this series and new introductions that severely bog down a considerable portion of the storytelling. This narrative whiplash is most evident by the fact that Jurassic World Dominion can’t stay in the same location for more than five minutes. I genuinely had no idea what story the movie wanted to tell for roughly the first hour. Much weirder, there’s a stretch in the middle involving black-market dinosaur areas and cute critters that feels like Colin Trevorrow is still trying to make a Star Wars movie (he was taken off of The Rise of Skywalker with creative differences as the cited reason). At least this segment concludes with a motorcycle chase involving dinosaurs and a hurried drive to an airplane in the process of taking off, which is probably the only exciting set piece here.
That’s a shame considering one would presume that there would be numerous nail-biting and suspenseful sequences of dinosaurs terrorizing characters, but aside from one bit involving Claire swimming and submerging herself underwater, slowly getting away from a new apex predator, there’s nothing here that feels dangerous. Regardless, it’s difficult to feel peril for characters when the entire story is an excessive slop of nonsense that contains no emotional undercurrent or reason to care. Shockingly, even the legacy characters suffer this same fate; as someone that has seen Jurassic Park plenty of times as a child, I honestly wouldn’t have given a damn if anything terrible happened to them here. They are trotted out by the writers and given fan service storylines (not to mention an embarrassing amount of dialogue and cinematography references to Jurassic Park) as both a desperate hope to spark some narrative engagement and for a cynical cash-grab.
Expectedly, classic characters team up with current heroes, generating little reaction. Chris Pratt and Jeff Goldblum show solid comedic chemistry, but again, there’s just so much going on that they also really only get one chance to have a highlighted interaction. Even when the movie tries to manipulate the audience emotionally, there is emptiness. Giving credit where credit is due, yes, Jurassic World Dominion is a tolerable watch due to the detailed CGI, a magical score from Michael Giacchino, and the sheer amount of action on the screen (whether any of it is compelling or not is another discussion), but not a single thing narratively registers. It’s a soulless blockbuster, praying and praying the audience pops for fanfiction level writing and weightless, brainless dino-carnage. For a trilogy capper, it lands unbelievably flat; Jurassic World Dominion begins and ends with a whimper.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com