Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
If You Love Dinosaurs, Check Out This Soap Opera Instead!
Four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs now roam free and are a part of everyday life. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) have been taking care of Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) while living in a cabin deep within the Sierra Nevada mountains. Biosyn Genetics now utilizes the dinosaurs as a means to try to cure the world’s most devastating diseases.
Maisie’s unique clone DNA is suddenly the world’s only hope for surviving against a swarm of de-extinct giant locusts that is growing in number, spreading from continent to continent, and attacking the source of the world’s food supply. Biosyn kidnaps Maisie along with Beta; the offspring of Blue, the velociraptor Owen trained, who reproduced Beta asexually. Meanwhile, with the help of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) recruits Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to break into Biosyn in an attempt to prove that they are the ones responsible for the giant locusts.
The big drawing point of Jurassic World Dominion is that not only is it the first time Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill have been together in a Jurassic Park film since the original, but you get to see them interact with the main characters of the Jurassic World films. The problem is that it wasn’t worth the wait. The highlight of the Jurassic Park films are the dinosaurs and it seems like Dominion purposely keeps its audience away from what they came to see for the majority of the film. To make matters worse, all of the human interactions fall flat. What little comedic humor the film tries to provide is met with blank stares and there seems to be more time spent talking about relationships between characters, teenager woes, and villainous characters who have suddenly turned a new leaf over actual dinosaur goodness.
Why anyone decided that Owen’s trademark pose of his arm being extended with his palm being the only defense between them and a wild dinosaur mauling them to death is beyond anyone’s comprehension. It’s done so often here and what’s even more frustrating is that it works every time. The film throws in these sappy and melodramatic excursions that simply aren’t worth the hassle. Claire and Owen attempting to be parents is excruciating and the way this film has decided to force Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant into an awkward, romantic fling is more uncomfortable than it is satisfying.
Old School Meets New School For a Rendezvous in Raptor Stool
The film does offer a few highlights, but not nearly enough amongst its close to 150-minute runtime. The motorcycle chase in Malta is the film’s most entertaining action sequence and the pyroraptor scene on top of the ice is also incredibly thrilling. The three-way dinosaur battle during the finale of the film is cool, but it feels like it’s been done previously. As the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films progressed, they seemed to always try to be topping the T. Rex and yet were never really able to.
Dominion includes the Giganotosaurus; an apex predator that is bigger and meaner than the T. Rex. The finale sees the T.Rex battling the Giganotosaurus with the help of a Therizinosaurus. Earlier in the film, the Therizinosaurus and its long, sharp, finger-like appendages provide the only nod to horror and classic monster movies Dominion provides as it stalks Claire in the jungle near the main Biosyn facility.
The film spends a lot of time focusing on human drama that you don’t care about. Claire and Owen bounce around the world as they try to find Maisie. They’re taken to an underground dinosaur fighting ring by Barry Sembène (Omar Sy), who now works for the CIA. They go on a wild goose chase as they trail behind Rainn Delacourt (Scott Haze), the man who kidnapped Maisie, and then Soyona Santos (Dichen Lachman), a dinosaur smuggler that has a direct line to Biosyn.
What’s disappointing is more of the film could have been devoted to Santos and the dinosaur black market since they are two of the most interesting aspects of the film. Dominion tries to make up for it by making pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) the most intriguing new character, but her inclusion feels like it’s too little too late.
With Jurassic World Dominion, a Jurassic World film where dinosaurs are now free and interacting with the modern world shouldn’t feel this long-winded or this tiresome. There are a few action sequences that are worthwhile and Jeff Goldblum has a few great one-liners (“You made a promise to a dinosaur?”), but the film is a monumental disappointment overall.
The film has already made over $415 million at the worldwide box office, so the interest in the franchise is still there. But the chemistry between the cast is almost non-existent and it feels like the film is running on fumes as it tries to offer something new from what is otherwise dried up fossil fuel. If the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World franchise is to continue, it desperately needs to go in a refreshing and unseen direction. Now that all of the nostalgia is out of the way, fans deserve a refreshing and unique adventure over what is otherwise a glorified rehash.
© 2022 Chris Sawin