If there are three things that the original Jurassic Park franchise has taught us, it’s that mankind is filled with hubris, that the third chapter will mark the end, and it will be a series low.
Now, guess the three things that the new Jurassic World franchise teaches us?
The audacity to try to do better but ultimately repeat an earlier mistake was what drove the fourth instalment of the dinosaur franchise, and Jurassic World (2015) did just that, rethreading some familiar ground in a new vehicle but as we come to the end of this sequel trilogy, audiences will be left enraged at how the entire series is about the powers that be not learning from an earlier mistake, and giving audiences a poorly executed conclusion, much like how Jurassic Park III buried the franchise back in 2001.
Jurassic World: Dominion picks up where Fallen Kingdom (2018) left off, of a world now invaded by dinosaurs, and humans and dinosaurs have little choice but to co-exist or at least, attempt to. But as logic suggests, two predominantly dominant species cannot possibly exist, and as news of dinosaur attacks spreads across the globe, dinosaur conservationists are working to save the prehistoric creatures from illegal farms, underground markets and more.
What could have been a different approach to the new narrative foundation takes a few steps forward, but ultimately backtracks as audiences follow Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who rocks the same bangs as she did in the 2015 film but thankfully, not the same heels as she saves endangered dinosaurs from poachers. After the events of Fallen Kingdom, she and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) have gone into hiding and are guardians to teenager Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the granddaughter of John Hammond’s business partner, Benjamin Lockwood, and as previously revealed, is a clone.
Claire, Owen and Maisie have a little family situation going on as their off-the-map living conditions do not sit well with the troubled teen, who has an affinity toward dinosaurs. She has strict parents who want to protect her, but because they don’t explain the danger she faces, the kid rebels and apparently likes the dad more because he’s seemingly cooler and more understanding. It’s really not that groundbreaking.
And neither is the new setting of the film, so stop us if you’ve heard it before. There’s a new genetics company, Biosyn, working to take the wonders of dinosaur DNA to save human lives, and they have established a dinosaur sanctuary to save the majestic monsters, and the audacity is in director Colin Trevorrow thinking that audiences have not seen the same premise repeat itself again and again, and expecting us to sit back to simply enjoy the carnage.
Right from the get-go, Dominion makes it obvious that the company has a lot of secrets to hide, behind eager interns, hermetically-sealed labs behind glass walls, and hipster coffee served hot at pop-up carts. Now, the film does try to focus on human issues like environmentalism, what a healthy family unit looks like, and modern-day capitalism but it feels too tacked on. A big chunk of the introduction alone is focused on making viewers buy into the idea that humans and dinosaurs can exist together, and that Biosyn has that answer to how, but apparently, audiences are smarter than the dinosaurs and apparently, the screenwriters here.
The biggest draw that this movie promises is the long-awaited reunion of Laura Dern’s Doctor Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum’s Doctor Ian Malcolm and Sam Neill’s Doctor Alan Grant, who last shared the screen in the 1993 Steven Spielberg original. While a combination of them have participated in the sequels, this reunion, and meeting of OG and new cast members have been highly anticipated, but unlike the gathering of forces in Ghostbuster: Afterlife, it leaves much to be desired.
Don’t get us wrong – seeing Sattler, Malcolm and Grant together is amazing and it brings a warm feeling to the heart, but by the time the legacy cast gets re-introduced, you can’t help but wonder about the amazing coincidence that got them all in the same room. And when the three catch up with Grady and Dearing, how small can this massive sanctuary meant to house hundreds of dinosaurs be, for all of them to meet via sheer coincidence?
And audiences can’t help but wonder, “Where the hell are all the dinosaurs?”.
The first peek of dinosaur action comes close to the halfway mark where Grady is being chased by a bunch of raptors whilst on a motorbike in Malta, trying to locate Maisie, as well as Blue’s offspring, Beta. Don’t get us started on how the family were spotted, and how both the younglings were taken, but the only way Owen and Claire can get her back is to follow the trail to… you guessed it, Biosyn.
Just like all the Jurassic films, the action tends to be focused on one area, and honestly, it’s repetitive and we’re tired of it. The dinosaurs are roaming the planet, so why bring us back to another compound? Perhaps Trevorrow is working with a template that has proven to work but the trailers seemed to suggest that Dominion might actually look into how humans and dinosaurs could co-exist in a free-roaming world, but nope. We are back to having humans face-off against dinosaurs, again and again, and we can’t help but feel cheated somehow.
Dominion suffers from the same problems that Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has: the lack of a cohesive story, but given the massive box-office takings of those movies, we have no doubt that audiences don’t care about the story, and simply want some prehistoric action. By the time the combination of characters face off their next dinosaur again and again, as if the characters are in a video game trying to escape dinos of different skills and types, the movie gets rather tedious because audiences just want the film to end.
The topics of conservation, environmentalism and family are big themes in this movie but when mixed haphazardly with the large cast, and dinosaurs to the mix, it is a lot to handle. Running for almost 2 hours 30 minutes too, the big bold dinosaur action doesn’t take place till the very tail end of the movie.
The inevitable moment where all the main cast, old and new, cross paths and work together is also pretty lacklustre in its execution and lacks the bite that the premise presented.
The big difference between Dominion and previous movies in the Jurassic World franchise is that for the first time, the movie doesn’t try to introduce a new dinosaur just for the sake of it. Instead, Dominion brings the Giganotosaurus to life and has it fight against the beloved T-Rex and plenty of other creatures. The decision to go back into history and pick a formidable foe for the T-Rex rather than concoct a new dino up is a little touch that dinosaur fans will definitely appreciate and enjoy.
Was the major fight scene worth waiting over 2 hours for? We’d argue yes but we prefer not having to wait that long to catch the spectacle.
Ultimately, Jurassic World: Dominion is still a film that fans of the long-standing franchise will still enjoy – flaws and all. For what it lacks in story, it gives fans something even more unimaginable: a big reunion. Whilst we had hopes that Trevorrow will do something different and break out from a template we’ve seen being reused time and time again, is there even a point to it? Man and pride, and being defeated by their own creations is the premise of many movies so why change it? Dominion wraps up a new trilogy with a big banging fight, but even seated in the cinemas, we’re tired from the running.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Jurassic World: Dominion is not as bad as Jurassic Park III, but maybe it’s time the franchise rests in peace. Enough with the resurrections already.
Story - 6/10
Direction - 6/10
Characterisation - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 6/10