Jurassic World: Dominion Review: A weak end to the Jurassic era
The Jurassic World trilogy has really followed the same path as the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Like The Force Awakens, Jurassic World mostly won everyone over with how it tried to recapture the magic of the film that started it all while its follow-up, Fallen Kingdom, largely left audiences divided with big story changes that rubbed them the wrong way like The Last Jedi did. Now, the final film in the trilogy, Dominion, follows the same trend as Rise of Skywalker bringing back Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow for a disappointing finale filled with botched nostalgia, baffling story choices, and half-baked ideas.
The end of Fallen Kingdom saw the franchise seemingly commit to an idea originally established in The Lost World with dinosaurs being let loose on the population. However, rather than have Dominion take place right in the middle of that madness, it takes place years later after the dust has already settled and it’s tough to understand why. With this idea being one of the biggest selling points for fans, it’s a real shame that the chaos is just quickly covered in a bland opening montage and then mostly swept under the rug. There are barely any moments showing the impact of dinosaurs and humans being forced to suddenly live together and the things that are shown are barely remarkable.
The idea of there being a black market for dinosaurs has some cool aspects but isn’t anything special since we just got that in Fallen Kingdom. Trevorrow also showcases some strong moments of horror and action, but these sequences just feel like standard fair for the series or don’t belong. Trevorrow shows plenty of times here that he can build good suspense, but these sequences often end in familiar ways and lack surprise. There’s a huge action sequence with Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) running through a city trying to escape dinosaurs that has good pacing but doesn’t feel like it belongs in this franchise. The overall feel of it is more akin to a Fast and Furious movie with raptors slapped in and frankly, Dominion has a constant problem of just forcibly shoving in dinosaur eye-candy with no care or thought behind it.
Dinosaur kills and fights are just lazily stuck into big parts of the film, but don’t come with any sort of meaningful stakes. Never, not once, in this movie do you genuinely feel like any character is in danger outside of the antagonist and there’s even an apex predator fight just shoved into the finale for no real reason other than to have dinosaurs be “involved” somehow. Truthfully, dinosaurs aren’t even a major part of this plot and are mostly traded out for genetically modified locust. So, they are truly just glorified cameos or secondary characters that nearly fade into the background at times and it’s genuinely disappointing to see. This lack of impact or care with making dinosaurs relevant makes the film’s bland message about co-existing at the end completely unearned and meaningless.
Sadly, that doesn’t even mean we get a better plot for the ensemble cast of human protagonists and both the heroes and villains are laughably bad. After briefly appearing in Jurassic Park in a scene with Dennis Nedry, genetics corporation Biosyn and leader Lewis Dodgson make a formal debut to the franchise, but it’s far from grand. Dodgson (Campbell Scott) might be the blandest, weirdest, and worst villain in the entire franchise as the lines he’s given feel awkward, and his presence is so unintimidating that all his freakouts and tough talk come off unintentionally hilarious. He’s an absolute joke of a villain with how clueless he is as to what’s happening around him and Biosyn as an entity makes an unmemorable impression.
The cult-like mentality instilled by Dodgson has some cool potential, but often gets lost in the overly philosophical and God-complex view of what they do, and they end up just coming off like a generic evil lab. Biosyn isn’t the only failed attempt at nostalgia in Dominion as the film’s attempt to bring back the heroic trio of the original trilogy doesn’t make things better. Because of how much this franchise has changed and how Dominion doesn’t care about dinosaurs, Ellie (Laura Dern), Grant, (Sam Neill) and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) feel totally lost in this plot. The sense of wit and charm that made these characters iconic is stripped for the goofiness and somewhat dimwitted nature of the Jurassic World trilogy and it’s trying way too hard to couple up Ellie and Grant for the sake of “appeasing fans.” None of the performances stand out in a good way and Goldblum is playing his interpretation of what his performance was in Jurassic Park rather than bringing back the best elements of Malcolm.
As for the Jurassic World mainstays, well, the film’s clear focus on Maisie’s (Isabella Sermon) story makes their part of the film a mess. If you came off Fallen Kingdom really disliking Maisie’s actions and impact the story and lore, you’re really going to have a problem with how Dominion handles this character. It’s admirable that this franchise stands by its choices and that it doesn’t cast Sermon into the background just because of backlash, but they do no favors for this character with the horrid writing she receives.
Every choice she makes has this huge lapse in judgement that just baffles you and it’s mind-blowing how she just gets away with things with little to no consequences. It’s crazy how no one wants to talk about her letting dinosaurs on the world and letting people die, which she does something similar here as well, and it’s a big part to what makes Owen and Claire parental personalities in this film totally bonkers and makes this finale for them so weak. Frankly, this film doesn’t even want to commit to Wu (BD Wong) being a villain and Dominion continually shows that there was no thought or ambition with this story.
Dominion is a strong contender for the worst entry in the Jurassic franchise as it fails to live up to its own expectations and instead tries to cover up its terrible characters, missed opportunities, and ridiculous story choices with botched nostalgia. Who knows what the future of the Jurassic franchise is, but it’s got to be better than this.