Forgive me, because I’m going to make far too many dinosaur allegories in this review, but Jurassic World Dominion is, quite frankly, a dinosaur of a movie. It’s big, it’s loud and it goes on a rampage of awe-inspiring destruction.
The final film in the Jurassic World trilogy has a lot to do. It promises to show us just how extinct creatures from millions of years ago can co-exist with our modern-day society.
It’s the first movie in the Jurassic World trilogy that is really able to go global. Yet, somehow, we find ourselves again in a private cordoned off portion of the world where dinosaurs roam within controlled walls.
At first, Jurassic World Dominion does try and show us the ramifications of this new reality. We see horse-riding humans herding Parasaurolophuses like they’re cattle, and the monstrous Mosasaur stealing a trawler’s haul of fish. We’re given a taste of the underground dealings of dinosaur smuggling and how these creatures could be manipulated for our own gain in everyday life.
But Jurassic World Dominion isn’t really interested in telling this story.
Instead, it takes us into yet another corporate conspiracy where the Tim Cook-like CEO of the new evil corp, Biosyn, has been using dino DNA to create all kinds of creatures that shouldn’t exist. A plague of giant locusts is now out there decimating the world’s crops, which is a problem for us and the dinosaurs I guess.
The plot of Jurassic World Dominion is far more convoluted than it has any right to be. But at least we have a few familiar faces to help us through it.
One thing Dominion delivers on is the union of cast members from both Jurassic World and Jurassic Park franchises. It’s the first time Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill have all reprised their Jurassic Park roles together since the original movie.
It’s a nostalgia trend we’re seeing more and more often – Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections, Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick –and admittedly, it’s one that pays off.
It’s undeniably cool to see Ellie Sattler, Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm together again. Unfortunately, they’re just a small portion of an overstuffed meal.
We also have our other main characters to think of. In the time since we saw them last, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) have been playing house in the snowy wilderness with their adopted daughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), who you may remember as being the first genetic human clone.
Their plot kicks off when Maisie is abducted, along with a baby velociraptor belonging to Owen’s long-term dinosaur friend, Blue, and Claire and Owen go on a cross-country journey to save her.
What follows is a movie that is undoubtedly a Jurassic film. It’s chock full of dinosaurs, big action set pieces and cheesy one-liners.
But at other times, it doesn’t feel like a Jurassic film at all.
For a large portion of the movie, it feels like you’re watching Fast and Furious with dinosaurs as Chris Pratt races raptors on a motorbike down city streets. Another portion feels like Mission Impossible as Ellie and Alan infiltrate the inner sanctum of Biosyn.
For the most part, it’s a pretty silly film. Sometimes to the point of being enjoyable, if you don’t take it too seriously. But Dominion just can’t capture the thrill that made Jurassic Park so great.
The franchise has always struggled to make anything scarier than a T-Rex. We’ve had the Indominus Rex, the Indoraptor and this time around we have the Giganotosaurus. But no matter how much bigger or deadlier the dinos get, nothing can quite live up to the tension entire theatres felt from seeing ripples in a cup of water in 1993.
Jurassic World Dominion takes a shot at replicating these thrills. There are moments with characters hiding in cars from a looming carnivore, or times when dinosaurs turn out to have a skill you weren’t expecting. But it all just feels like a re-tread of things we’ve seen before.
The film also feels hollow in terms of its characters. We’ve waited years to see Dern, Goldblum and Neill together on screen, but instead of an Avengers-worthy reunion, all their interactions lack depth.
It’s no secret you show up to a Jurassic World film to see the dinosaurs, but it still needs the humans to hold it together.
In this case, our lovable characters take a backseat to a ludicrous and often uninteresting plot. We deserve more than heroes uttering cringe-worthy one-liners and making incredibly questionable decisions in their pursuit of survival, but that’s what we get here.
One positive that should be pointed out is DeWanda Wise’s new character Kayla Watts. Kayla is a no-nonsense, ass-kicking heroine who well and truly steals all the scenes in this crowded cast, which is a testament to Wise’s performance.
When it comes to the conclusion of the film, Dominion delivers an appropriate level of spectacle. Dinosaur battles will never not be cool. Hiding them behind a genetic cloning, giant-locust-farming conspiracy plot is considerably less cool.
Jurassic World Dominion presents an incredibly interesting question: what happens if humans and dinosaurs were forced to co-exist? In the end, we’re still left wondering.
Jurassic World Dominion: Verdict
Pros: Plenty of dinosaurs, DeWanda Wise kicks ass.
Cons: Uninteresting plot, lack of character depth, real silly.
Watch it if you like: Jurassic films, The Meg, Fast and the Furious.
Jurassic World Dominion opens in cinemas on June 9.