Remember when this franchise was about dinosaurs?
As my review will tell you – check it out, here – I absolutely adore Jurassic Park (1993) with all my heart. I enjoy the first two sequels mostly based on nostalgia and while there are SOME elements of the Jurassic World movies (2015 – 2022) that are admittedly cool, ultimately no sequel has come close to capturing the magic, wonder and sheer awesomeness of the original movie. In short, the task for the newest entry in the long-running franchise, Jurassic World: Dominion (2022), to satisfy fans and critics was an uphill battle from the start. This movie serves as the supposed conclusion to the Jurassic era and if that’s the case, than this franchise went out not with a roar, but more like the splat of someone being trampled by a T-Rex.
After the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live among humans all over the world. As humans and dinosaurs wrestle to see who will become the Earth’s apex species, a dangerous new ecological disaster threatens the fate of the planet. Original survivors of Jurassic Park, Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Ian Malcolm reunite to combat this new threat, crossing paths with Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, former employees of Jurassic World who are on a mission to save their adopted daughter.
The Jurassic World movies and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years. I remember being SO EXCITED for Jurassic World (2015), going to see it in theatres, loving it and then never watching it again but believing it to be awesome. A second viewing determined that I actually didn’t give a hoot about that movie. Still, I went into Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) with more subdued hopes. I wasn’t super into the movie but then I RAGE QUIT the franchise and lost any excitement for further instalments when they killed off the original brachiosaurus in a truly heartbreaking way! Plus, that movie gave screen time to annoying new characters and introduced all the unnecessary nonsense with the clone girl. Also, my enthusiasm for Chris Pratt has severely dwindled as of late so there really wasn’t much about Jurassic World: Dominion that made me look forward to it. But y’know what? Before I went into the theatre I thought positively and said to myself, “hey! It looks like they’ve doubled down on the dinosaurs which is always fun (hello, why we like this franchise to begin with) and they got the original trio of stars back! Maybe this will be okay!”
Oh, how wrong I was…
Okay, disclaimer: I truly didn’t think this movie was awful and admittedly, I was fairly entertained through most of the movie. Yes, I’m going to be hard on this movie but I have every right to be. This was supposed to be the epic conclusion of a powerhouse of a franchise and the movie Universal Pictures and director Colin Trevorrow delivered was simply not worthy of the legacy the first movie built. I would be far less critical of Jurassic World: Dominion if it weren’t a generic action-thriller in which dinosaurs, which the movie largely treat as an afterthought, happen to appear. Jurassic World: Dominion is masquerading as a Jurassic Park movie when in actuality, like the dinosaurs themselves, it is a pale imitation of something far superior from a different time.
Where do I even begin? From the HEAVILY expositional opening, to frantically directed action sequences, to inexplicable and lazy plot resolutions, to an overall plot that is more about the threat of genetically-modified locusts and the scientific applications of a cloned girl’s DNA in a JURASSIC PARK movie, Jurassic World: Dominion is one confused mess. Which is sad for me to admit because you can tell this movie has good intentions. Somewhere in this mess of a movie a decent Jurassic Park movie is struggling to break free but it’s buried underneath a cumbersome two and a half hour runtime devoted mostly to Maisie the clone girl, absolutely no one’s favourite part of the last movie and the central plot of this one. The runtime is split between Maisie’s storyline which features Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, the stars of this sequel series, and the locust storyline that features the glorious return (I squealed so loud internally) of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. These are two very different storylines that are disjointed for most of the movie until they clumsily stumble into each other during the movie’s third act, creating a clusterfuck of ideas that make Jurassic World: Dominion all the more tiresome. Seriously, this might be the most ridiculous Jurassic Park movie in a series that once featured a dream sequence with a talking velociraptor.
I truly don’t understand why the movie would spend so much time on Maisie and the nonsense regarding her when the storyline concerning the original trio and the shady dealings of Biosyn, the new big genetic company, was infinitely more compelling. Every time the movie would cut back to Owen, Claire and / or Maisie, it felt like someone had changed the channel to a different movie. Ugh, the most egregious part of Jurassic World: Dominion is the entire action / chase scene in Malta. What is this James Bond knockoff? Make a cohesive, well-paced story and cut it! Find some other way to introduce Kayla AKA the best thing to happen to the franchise in decades.
The character of Kayla, played by the phenomenal DeWanda Wise, is so fucking cool and I was instantly obsessed with her. Wise is the breath of fresh air this franchise needs. If there are ever going to be more Jurassic Park movies (and I hope there aren’t) one absolutely needs to be a spin-off all about Kayla. Cool new characters like this are happy additions to the franchise. Pratt and co. have worn out their welcome. The “character” of Owen, put in quotes because this bland archetype is the furthest thing from a fully-realized character I’ve ever seen, has really only existed in these movies to exude masculinity. He started as an ex-Navy man who was a velociraptor trainer, then became a marine again and now he’s a literal cowboy. Nothing else is ever really explored about him, not that Pratt has the acting chops to make the character intriguing. Claire at least has had an interesting character arc over the course of these movies. There are references to her guilt regarding her involvement with the dinosaurs and how she’s become a mother to Maisie but none of that is ever explored. Three movies in and she is still not a character at all. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom should have been a wrap on the new characters and this movie should have just starred the returning original cast. It would have been what we as an audience would have loved and would have made much more sense.
I’m thrilled to say that the original cast of Neill, Dern and Goldblum look phenomenal and haven’t lost their charm or sense of character at all! Pratt has been playing Owen for the last seven years and still is boring as all get out. Meanwhile, Neill hasn’t played Alan in 20 years and steps back into his dino-loving shoes like it’s nothing. These are characters! Characters with intrigue and personalities! Being played by talented actors! My God…my heart SOARED when Dr. Ellie Sattler returned to the big screen. Seeing this cast again is the warmest of welcomes and without question the best part about Jurassic World: Dominion. Their storyline is far more interesting and should have been the only one the movie focused on. For me, the original cast carries and sells the shit out of this movie. Even in the smallest of capacities they are fucking amazing and giving me everything! I would internally sigh every time the movie cut back to the new cast. Except for Wise, that is.
Jurassic World: Dominion may have been entertaining from time to time, but overall it just bummed me out. Partly because it hit too close to home in regards to how poorly we treat the incredibly fragile planet we live on, but also because it was a lacklustre finale to the beloved franchise. So, is it a fitting conclusion? I’m not sure about that but for better or for worse the series has come to an end. I think the finale in this franchise should stick with you but it hasn’t. Like, I’m not obsessed with this movie after leaving the theatre. The movie spends more time on thrills and Maisie than actually trying to answer questions that we inevitably had before this movie or wrap up any loose ends. Hopefully Jurassic World: Dominion is a sign to Universal Pictures to leave their dinosaur-related property extinct. Sigh…I think I’m gonna go watch Jurassic Park again.
Have you seen Jurassic World: Dominion? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media?