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Review: Jurassic World Dominion

June 12, 2022

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

Jurassic World Dominion is the sixth film in the Jurassic Park series, and it’s a pretty clear case of diminishing returns.

This is not to say that the franchise has ever fully lived up to the greatness of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original (even Spielberg’s own 1997 followup The Lost World was a rare misfire for the director), but Dominion is a big letdown that fails to even really deliver the basics of what we want from this sort of movie.

Instead of the dinosaurs rampaging through cities flick that was promised at the end of 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (another somewhat disappointing sequel that was at least more entertaining than this one), Dominion is mostly a bloated slog with characters we aren’t given reasons to care about and a meandering plot about bugs and crops.

Yes, you read that right; much of Jurassic World Dominion‘s story revolves around giant, genetically modified locusts that are destroying fields of grain and threatening to disrupt the food supply, with much of the action contained to a lab. The more promising setup, about a world where dinosaurs and humans are forced to co-exist, is mostly relegated to brief glimpses in an opening newsreel.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, returning to the series following 2015’s admittedly flawed but very enjoyable legacy sequel Jurassic World, the film begins with Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) rescuing a baby triceratops from an illegal breeding facility. Claire lives in the mountains with veloci-ranger Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), where they are raising Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the clone of Jurassic Park co-founder Benjamin Lockwood whom we first met in Fallen Kingdom.

Maisie is now a moody teenager who keeps running off, seemingly oblivious to the risk this puts her in, with bad actors after her genetic code. The trio is joined by raptor Blue, who has asexually reproduced her own offspring, Beta. When Maisie and Blue’s baby are kidnapped, Owen and Claire are sent on a journey to rescue them. The villain is Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott, taking over for convicted sex offender Cameron Thor who portrayed the character in the original), the CEO of BioSyn, the company that created the locusts to destroy crops that weren’t grown with their own genetically modified seeds.

The film is intended as a bridge between the Jurassic Park and World trilogies, but it struggles to offer a satisfying conclusion to both story arcs. This includes bringing back original trio of Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). But the film doesn’t really know what to do with them, assuming that their presence alone will be enough to please fans. They are mostly left fleshing out the secondary plot involving Alan and Ellie sneaking into the BioSyn lab where Ian works as a consultant to get proof they are behind the locusts, and it mostly feels like they are filling the roles of background supporting characters.

It feels like about three films in one, switching between globe-trotting spy movie, environmental thriller, and big, dumb dinosaur action movie. The problem is that the script, co-written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael, is undercooked in all three departments, with cheesy dialogue that doesn’t always seem aware of itself, new characters that feel underdeveloped, and a story that comes across as borderline non-sensical at times.

The film does deliver some decent moments of dino action, including a sequence at a black market in Malta that leads to a chase through the streets. It culminates with one of the more goofily entertaining moments involving Pratt’s character jumping a motorcycle into the back of a cargo plane while being pursued by raptors (I saw the film in a D-BOX seat, which added to the theme park feel of it all). It’s also nice to see some animatronics mixed in with the CG creatures.

But the set-pieces in Dominion are mostly uninspired in their direction (for all of its faults, Fallen Kingdom was at least better directed under the guidance of genre filmmaker J.A. Bayona, and did have some well-staged sequences), and the story just sort of lurches between contrived plot developments, with Trevorrow struggling to really build genuine suspense around them. Think back to any single one of the iconic moments from Spielberg’s original, and you can marvel at how skillfully crafted that film was in terms of building tension.

The most frustrating aspect of Jurassic World Dominion is that, despite some intriguing ideas and a handful of enjoyable moments, the story and characters simply aren’t that interesting, and fail to really keep us engaged through the film’s overlong, nearly two and a half hour running time. The action does pick up in the last act, but we are simply too exhausted and beaten down by everything that came before at this point. And for a film that purports to be the end of the Jurassic World trilogy, the finale finds them trapped in another park, and I can’t think of a better metaphor for the derivative nature of this nostalgia-fuelled sequel.

Jurassic World Dominion is now playing exclusively in theatres.

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