After Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1993 adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, the Jurassic Park franchise has slowly been eroding into extinction. This is not to say that the movies that succeed in the initial installment are terrible. Indeed, some of them (The Lost World and the original Jurassic World, for example) are good. However, the magic of JP1 is tough to emulate. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse in 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Here, with the latest installment of the Jurassic World: Dominion review, the franchise has followed that turn down into a creek of tired clichés, wooden, uninteresting characters, and a nonsensical plot. What on Earth happened?
Jurassic Park Without the Heart
The plot is split between two separate narratives – both of which have BioSyn as their primary antagonist. In the first, we have our ‘new generation’ heroes, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Clare Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), trying to rescue their surrogate daughter, Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), from the evil conglomerate. Elsewhere, ‘legacy heroes,’ Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (by the silver fox Sam Neill) join forces to investigate BioSyn’s link to a once-extinct swarm of locusts threatening the world’s plant and food supply.
Now, the basic plot on paper sounds bananas. But to nail down the crazy depths, the movie sinks would venture us into spoiler territory. If only to give you a vague idea of what to expect, there are human clonings, corrupt scientists, and an evil company with a comedically sinister plan to turn a profit. In other words, par for the course in terms of a Jurassic Park/World movie. The movie’s terrible attempts to create good plot twists make Jurassic World: Dominion even more silly than it initially appears. You’ll be left numb towards it all.
Riding on Chris Pratt’s Bike
Sadly, in our review of Jurassic World: Dominion the haphazard plot is not helped by its lack of compelling characters. Chris Pratt is again wasted as dino-trainer-turned-action-hero Owen Grady, who feels like a suppressed version of Peter Quill. Here, Pratt is forced to act as the ‘solemn action hero,’ but his charisma is so beyond this yawn-inducing role that he ends up being terrible at playing it. Pratt is more at home playing quirky heroes with memorable quips (i.e., Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord).
But regardless of his character, Pratt is both muscular and handsome enough to be a Hollywood action star. Indeed, some of the movie’s tensest scenes have Pratt’s boring hunk flee from escaped dinosaurs on a motorbike through Malta. Previous JW installments have established Grady to be a talented biker, so it’s undoubtedly consistent and credible. There is a sense of threat and urgency in these scenes that deliver thrills when the writing fails. If you watch this movie, you must watch it on a cinema screen.
Sadly, some action scenes are ‘meh,’ especially when the dinos are fully involved. As in previous movies, there are a few scenes where characters are cautiously slowly backing off from dinosaurs with their hands held out. However, these scenes carry no weight nor threat because we’ve seen the same scenario occur in previous movies. In multiple better movies, I might add. As such, the conclusion of these scenes is far-gone and predictable.
The Powers-That-Be have also brought back characters from the original Jurassic Park movies as if subconsciously aware their uninspiring premise wasn’t enough. And while seeing Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler return to share the screen with Jeff Goldblum’s quirkily brilliant Dr. Ian Malcolm is pleasing somewhat for your nostalgic heart, it also disappoints you. The main reason for the latter is that their material is simply subpar in Jurassic World: Dominion and our review.
The biggest problem is that all three legacy characters willingly involve themselves in the plot. It’s hard to fathom why our heroes would throw themselves into danger again rather than call the authorities. They experienced the original Jurassic Park‘s events and – like us – learned the hard lesson that humans shouldn’t meddle carelessly with genetics and that dinos can never truly be tamed. Yet, it doesn’t take long for either Grant or Sattler to join their old friend, Malcolm, back in the ‘dino trenches’ again.
Admittedly, this is an issue existent in previous films as well. But this could have been overlooked had the old-timers been given interesting things to do – or say. Sadly, they got neither. Sure, they make occasional nods and references to the original film (Grant rehashes the scary story about dinos going for the throat as he does in JP1 – albeit in a context that doesn’t make sense this time around). But they have no real character development and share no chemistry with the ‘new gen’ cast during the short time they unite.
The New ‘New’ Guys
But alongside the old-timers, we also have a few ‘new timers.’ DeWanda Wise’s action heroine Kayla Watts is cool, confident, and able to deliver the humor that Owen Grady lacks. However, she also has an uninteresting backstory and shares her new friend’s inability to die (a plane crash, for example, barely fazes our heroes).
Meanwhile, Dichen Lachman portrays the impossibly beautiful and pernicious dino-smuggler, Soyona Santos. However, as hammy and evil as her villainess is, she seems incredibly out of place here. The only upside is that she’s more memorable than evil, conspiratorial scientist Dr. Lewis Dodgson (now played by Campbell Scott) instead of JP1‘s Cameron Thor – the latter’s status as a proven sex offender likely inspired the recasting). Dodgson is a character so one-note and boring that he feels more at home working in a tax office than leading a secretive scientific plot.
Verdict: Jurassic World: Dominion is an uninspired, brain-numbing film, only offering the occasional good thrill. Don’t waste your money on this mess of a movie. You’re better off using it to watch Top Gun: Maverick instead.
Have you watched Jurassic World: Dominion – and, if so, do you think it’s a good or bad addition to the franchise?
- There are some thrills in the action scenes
- The dinos still look cool
- Nice to see Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum together again
- Nonsensical, boring plot
- Wooden, undeveloped characters
- Some of the characters feel too invincible
- The score isn’t memorable