Ever since Jurassic Park achieved a massive box office success in 1993, the dinosaur-centric movie franchise has been yearning to recapture a similar high. The various films in the series have tried and failed to replicate the iconic sci-fi action-adventure movie, and truth be told, the series’ trajectory is on the decline with each passing entry.
For Jurassic World: Dominion, so the pressure is really high. The sixth and seemingly final main entry in the franchise is tasked with simultaneously pulling down the curtain on a series that has lost its luster, putting a limit on its two film trilogies, and delivering more titanic, thrilling dino-on-dino action.
Much like the cataclysmic event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, Dominion is something of an extinction-level event for the Jurassic film franchise. A bland, ‘by the numbers’ movie, Dominion hammers the final nail into the coffin of the Jurassic film series with a story filled with a veneer of style but very little substance. And that’s a shame – there are some genuinely good moments that, if expanded upon, could have been more captivating. As it stands, even these can’t save Jurassic World: Dominion for what it is: a movie that’s too full, too long, and too predictable.
Life, uh, finds a way – unfortunately
Set four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Dominion finds humanity trying and failing to coexist with the dinosaurs unleashed by Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) during Fallen. . kingdom climax.
The trio now live in a remote location to keep Maisie safe – she is a clone of Charlotte Lockwood, aka her mother, and nefarious organizations and mercenaries are looking for her so they can uncover the secrets of her DNA. Despite Owen and Claire’s best efforts, the now teenager (and rebellious) Maisie is kidnapped alongside Beta – the baby of Blue, the velociraptor trained by Owen in Jurassic World. Like Maisie, Beta is an identical copy of Blue – who managed to reproduce without a mate – so her DNA is just as special as Maisie’s.
Meanwhile, the US is struggling to fight a giant swarm of genetically modified locusts that is voraciously destroying crops across the agricultural heartland – that is, beyond the modified crops owned by Biosyn, a villainous genetics company. Convinced that Biosyn is responsible for creating the locusts to control the world’s food supply, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) enlists the help of fellow paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to investigate further. .
As the groups race to rescue Maisie and Blue and stop Biosyn founder Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) from executing his master plan, respectively, it isn’t long before they collide and, by proxy, are forced to decide the fate of the… humanity. , its dinosaur brethren, and the world itself.
If the plot of Dominion seems a little convoluted, that’s because it is. It’s easy to follow – this is definitely a movie where you can disengage your brain – but it tries to do a lot narratively. Dominion is overloaded with plot exposition, unnecessary detours, and countless action sequences that don’t thrill or delight; factors that get in the way and offer nothing substantial to the scenarios that unfold. They’re included because of that and make Dominion feel like it’s just going through the motions.
Equally frustrating are the film’s simultaneous stories. Trailers show Owen and company joining forces with the film’s original trio much earlier, but it’s not until the film’s later stages that their plots intertwine. By the time we actually get to see the chemistry shine and crackle between the main actors in the film, it’s too little, too late. His desperation to survive and flee Biosyn’s main headquarters becomes the main engine of the plot, preventing meaningful interactions between the characters from taking place.
Dominion’s overarching plot is also unnecessarily formulaic and predictable. It’s simple to figure out where the story is going next – an aspect that isn’t helped by the amount of expository information delivered by the cast. And even though the best of the film are put in dangerous situations, you never get the feeling that any of them are actually in danger. It removes any semblance of tension from the film’s most suspenseful action scenes and you get the feeling that, in the end, all the main actors will be fine.
With so many superfluous additions, Dominion’s two-hour, 26-minute runtime seems like a chore. There’s a serious case to be made for eliminating 30 minutes of content here; a decision that would have made for a firmer and more cohesive narrative. As it stands, Dominion is a bummer that is largely lacking in cutting-edge moments and efficient character development.
Let’s get the gang together again…
Given how much-loved the original Jurassic Park movie is, it won’t be surprising to learn that the best parts of Dominion are the ones steeped in nostalgia.
The reintroductions of Neill, Dern and Goldblum are delightful, with each bringing their characters’ characteristic sarcasm, daring, charm and bravery to the proceedings in a satisfying way. It’s a genuinely crowd-pleasing moment when the three are reunited too, Dominion marking the first time they’ve shared considerable screen time since the 1993 film.
For a movie that wants to push the button on sentimentality as quickly as possible, Dominion is laced with nods, callbacks and references to Jurassic Park itself. Sure, the old dinosaur-based attraction is mentioned by name, but it’s other parts of the Dominion plot that are sure to make fans smile. Pampering them here would spoil the surprise, but rest assured, you’ll know them when you see them.
Interestingly, Jurassic World: Dominion is also a funny movie, sometimes unexpectedly. Yes, Goldblum’s trademark jokes and Neill’s sarcastic sensibility inevitably draw chuckles, but there are parts of Dominion that probably weren’t positioned as humorous subjects that turn out to be far more entertaining than intended. For a film as serious and dramatic as Dominion, its humor is an underrated but welcome addition.
Speaking of its heavy content, Dominion isn’t afraid to shove its thematic exploration in viewers’ faces. His environmental message is important, albeit a little on the nose, while his ‘humanity is bad, and here’s why’ agenda is easy to see. The latter is a theme that acts as a bottom line throughout the Jurassic series, and while it’s a little irritating to hear about it for the umpteenth time, at least it’s a consistent theme across an inconsistent film franchise.
And the action? Unsurprisingly, the best physical encounters in Dominion are the ones where two or more dinosaurs face off. We’re nearly 30 years into the Jurassic movie franchise, but it’s still as enjoyable as ever to see the series’ iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex brawling with another predator. It might not be to the taste of some movie buffs, but it’s the kind of big, silly fun Dominion needs.
It’s equally amusing to see these same dinosaurs take a chunk or two (or should it be several?) of their fleshy human prey, too. It shouldn’t be so pleasant to see these gigantic reptiles devouring people who get in their way, but it still is. Given the laborious nature of the film’s human-versus-human action, it’s pleasing that 29 years and six films later, the Jurassic series continues to offer either dino-on-dino or dino-on-human showdowns.
Jurassic World: Dominion feels like a fitting end to the dinosaur-based film series. The 1993 original aside, the franchise has been a mix of confusing, bloated narratives, slightly awkward dialogue, and a safe retelling of the same stereotypical narrative.
There are some redeeming features about Dominion. The return of Doctors Grant, Sattler and Malcolm is satisfying, it’s a funny and sometimes tender affair, and some action sequences – particularly those involving meat-eating dinosaurs – are suitably entertaining.
Unfortunately, though, there are too many mistakes with Dominion for it to be considered a good movie. Some fans don’t care if its Oscar-worthy story, its deeply significant themes, or its long runtime – they simply revel in the fact that Dominion produces more over-the-top dinosaur-based action. some humor and heartfelt moments along the way.
Still, Jurassic World: Dominion doesn’t even come close to capturing what made the first film in the series so special. It’s an unoriginal watch that doesn’t say anything worthwhile or novelty, nor does it make good use of its time. Much like the dinosaurs that have co-starred throughout the franchise, Dominion shows that, as of now, the Jurassic film series belongs to these gigantic and awe-inspiring reptiles: in the past.
Jurassic World: Dominion opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, June 10th.