Directed: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Campbell Scott, Omar Sy, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Scott Haze, DeWanda Wise, Jake Johnson, Daniella Pineda, Isabella Sermon, Dichen Lachman, Justice Smith
Release: June 10, 2022 (U.K.)
After almost 30 years since the release of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Jurassic Park, we are finally in the endgame for this longstanding franchise. Directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, Jurassic World Dominion aims to tie up the loose ends of its more recent instalments while incorporating the nostalgic tones of a legacy sequel – but does it deliver?
Taking place several years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, mayhem ensues worldwide as dinosaurs are roaming freely around civilisation. As mankind struggles to adapt to coexistence with dinosaurs, former Jurassic World employees Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are living in solitude with Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who is being hunted for her unique genetic properties. Meanwhile, Drs Ian Grant (Sam Neill), Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) reunite to uncover the origin of a looming global ecological threat linked to dinosaur DNA.
After the lacklustre 2017 drama The Book of Henry and his departure from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Jurassic World Dominion is Trevorrow’s first directorial feature in five years. His return to the franchise that established him as a filmmaker allows him to finish what he started, but the pressure to deliver a fitting ending is palpable – and it ultimately causes the film to cave under such lofty expectations.
Ranging from the vast array of characters to its numerous plot elements, there is so much crammed into Jurassic World Dominion that it causes the narrative to be off-kilter throughout. It initially highlights the general calamity of a ‘life’ with dinosaurs roaming the streets and Owen’s uncertain relationships with rogue velociraptor Blue, Claire and Maisie amid a state of unsettled solitude. But this soon shifts when the plot turns its attention to the growing influence of Biosyn, a genetic company that is spearheaded by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), who is better known as the shady character who paid Nedry to steal DNA samples in Jurassic Park. It is the blatant corporate corruption driving Biosyn that attracts the attention of Sattler, who teams up with a reluctant Grant to unearth the truth with the help of Malcolm.
With so much going on, it is easy for Jurassic World Dominion’s plot lines and supporting characters to become disappointing lost in the melee – even new and interesting additions DeWanda Wise and Mamoudou Athie don’t get enough attention. This growing confusion has a knock-on effect on the screenplay and tone of the film, as the paths in the narrative develop with no clear outcome. Although the audience sees Dodgson’s intentions, they are never clarified because there is no ‘next step’, so the audience doesn’t see the extent of his ambition and subsequent corruption. In addition, Owen and Claire’s roles as Maisie’s adoptive parents aren’t fully realised through a rushed rescue mission, while the flirty relationship between Grant and Sattler is frustratingly teased. The overwhelming number of elements Jurassic World Dominion attempts to juggle also restricts the emotional investment from its nostalgic nods to the 1993 film, so even the return of the franchise’s trio of original heroes is not as joyous as it should be.
As for the dinosaurs? There is an incoherence in the quality of the animation that exacerbates Jurassic World Dominion’s erratic direction. There are thrilling chase scenes and some close encounters as expected, with species such as the Pyroraptor, Dilphosaurus and the Gigantonosaurus delivering some of the film’s more terrifying yet memorable scenes. But as the plot mostly focuses on the survival of the characters, the dinosaurs almost become an afterthought rather than a focal point of the film.
With the two cast ‘generations’ to accommodate, there is a stark contrast to their performances. Although Pratt and Howard are more involved in the action scenes, their impact suffers from the uninspiring dialogue. Same for our veterans, whose characters come across as scarred from their encounter on Isla Nublar, yet they manage to bring charisma to their performances, allowing their banter and chemistry to bring lighter moments during terrifying situations. The later act of Jurassic World Dominion is easily the most enjoyable as the cast finally comes together with a renewed sense of purpose, with a surprisingly poignant scene involving the capture of a young velociraptor.
It has taken nearly 30 years to get to the conclusion of the Jurassic Park saga, and despite the welcome return of Neill, Dern and Goldblum, it is not enough to really hide Jurassic World Dominion’s issues. With poor dialogue, inconsistent tone and performances, these issues cause the film to blur what it hopes to achieve. So instead of a fitting swansong to a successful franchise, it becomes a creative misfire.
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