Title: Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Emily Carmichael (screenplay), Colin Trevorrow (screenplay), Derek Connolly (story)
Stars: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie
I remember the first time I watched the first Jurassic Park in 1993. It was in the United International Pictures screening room in Oslo, and I was a wide-eyed teenager staring in wonder at what Steven Spielberg had given us. Based on Micheal Crichton’s original novel, the film was something out of this world. Sequels would come.
Five sequels, in fact. And a whole heap of spin-offs, comic books, novels, computer games, cheap knock-offs and merch. Lots and lots of merch! And now we’re here at the sixth and (supposedly) final film in the Jurassic franchise: Jurassic World: Dominion. Can it recreate the same wonder that the first film in the franchise gave us so many years ago? In a word: no.
I had hopes for Jurassic World: Dominion. But it must be a hard fight for any director to follow up on the original film, especially so far into the franchise’s history. The film has problems, to be sure. It is not a bad film by any means, but we’re so far into the franchise now that the wonder, the amazement, is gone. And like the jaded people in the world of the Jurassic franchise, the excitement of seeing a dinosaur is gone. In this alternate history, the creatures have been a part of the world since the 90s, and Hammond’s quote from the first film seems especially far off: “I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real. Something that they could see and touch.”
Speaking of what is real and what is an illusion, the special effects are always a central part of a Jurassic movie. Or at least, they should be. There are many great special effects in Jurassic World: Dominion. The Computer Generated Imagery is on point, and there are many scenes where the use of such CGI with practical animatronic effects is quite impressive. But it is bewildering, then, that some of the effects, especially the animatronics, seem decades old. You will see dinosaur puppets that are clearly just that: puppets. It breaks the illusion when you can almost see where the puppets’ operators are just out of frame, controlling them with sticks or even just shaking them by their tails to make them look alive – something they don’t.
As a first in the franchise, the story in Jurassic World: Dominion takes place away from parks and public spectacle. Owen (played by Chris Pratt) and Claire (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) are living hidden away from most of society, raiding Maisie (played by Isabella Sermon) as their daughter. As we learned in the previous film, Maisie is special; in fact, she is the first human to be created out of the genetic technology that recreated the dinosaurs. And now a big (and bad, of course!) pharmaceutical company wants her and the velociraptor Blue’s offspring. Honestly, I can’t remember why, but they’re the films McGuffin of sorts.
Meanwhile, giant grasshoppers are swarming out of control, eating the world’s food supply, only leaving the genetically modified crops produced by that same big, bad company. Of course, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re hearing Doctor Evil laugh right about now, as the powers of Big Pharma and GMOs spread their shadows across the world! But it is enough to get the old gang back together: Alan Grant (played by Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (played by Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (played by the always brilliant Jeff Goldblum). They’re off to steal genetic samples so that they can stop the swarms.
There are some strange (yeah, let’s call them strange…) scenes in this film. There is one in particular that stood out. Dinosaurs are running amok in Malta, and it is here I noticed one major problem: The film can’t seem to decide on its own urgency. In the Malta scene, if you look in the background in a shot where our heroes are racing over a city plaza, there’s a guy on a small kick scooter. He casually kicks his small vehicle towards the camera and between two giant carnivorous dinosaurs – and then he gets eaten. It’s a small background event, but it all seemed too casual. The same goes when a dinosaur is chasing Owen through the streets. Did you ever watch the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Remember the guard who just goes “Hey!” when Lancelot storms the castle? It felt a bit like that.
Jurassic World: Dominion ups the ecological message that the franchise has always strived for but loses sight of it within the first 30 minutes. After a promising start that explores the dinosaurs’ impact on the planet’s ecosystem, the film moves into a standard but confusing globetrotting dino-thriller, with action set pieces that seem to have been lifted straight out of James Bond or Mission Impossible.
Jurassic World: Dominion is not exactly bad. It is just painfully mediocre, and even the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern didn’t change that. Of course, these are excellent actors who bring with them a whole heap of nostalgia, but it won’t change what Jurassic World: Dominion is: a forgettable and messy action-adventure film with dinosaurs. As I said at the start of this review: the wonder and amazement are long gone.
I’ll end this review with a quote from Jurassic World: Dominion:
“Jurassic World? Not a fan.”-Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum)