Still of Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Varada Sethu in Jurassic World Dominion

Film Review: Jurassic World Dominion

Film Reviews

Jurassic World Dominion
Director: Colin Trevorrow

Amblin Entertainment and Perfect World Pictures
In Theaters 06.10

The original Jurassic Park is one of those films that I don’t just love—it’s part of who I am. I have every frame memorized, and June 11, 1993 will always be the day that I saw real, living dinosaurs for the first time. Since then, the sequels have taught us that dinosaurs actually went extinct because film studios couldn’t find a good enough plot to sustain them, and Jurassic World Dominion is a prime example. 

Jurassic World Dominion takes place four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar. Dinosaurs and humankind are mixed together all over the world, though to say that they “coexist” would imply that it’s working well for either species. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen are living a rustic, secluded life in a forest cabin. They keep close tabs on Blue, Owen’s beloved velociraptor, and are raising the human clone Maise Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) as their daughter. Meanwhile, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is investigating a plague of giant locusts that have been ravaging the ecosystem and world agriculture. Ellie enlists her old friend, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), to help her and Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) uncover the truth. The two plot threads begin to converge when young Maise—and Blue’s child, Beta—are kidnapped by dinosaur poachers,. All roads for both mysteries lead back to Biosyn, a monolithic genetics corporation run by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott, The Amazing Spider-Man).

Jurassic World Dominion is severely hampered by plotting that can be charitably described as convoluted and by trying to pack far too many central characters into the story. BD Wong is back as Dr. Henry Wu, and Omar Sy returns as Barry Sembène, Owen’s raptor-training colleague from the first Jurassic World. Zia and Franklin (Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith, respectively) from Fallen Kingdom each make an appearance, and a slew of new characters are introduced. With this many humans on screen, the movie struggles to give the dinosaurs their due. The first half of the film is intriguing and new, if uneven, as Trevorrow and Co-writer Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim: Uprising) take an ambitious (if not particularly successful) approach to the story. The precarious plotting largely collapses into mayhem in the second half, with just enough silly fun to keep it moving.

Director Colin Trevorrow does know how to stage action, and there are some spectacularly fun sequences, even if they seem more like they belong in a James Bond or Fast & Furious movie. Trevorrow also gets a lot of mileage out of bringing Dern, Neill and Goldblum on screen together again. While they were admittedly always meant to play second fiddle to the dinosaurs, for many of us, Sattler, Grant and Malcolm reached beloved icon status on par with Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker. Given the prevalence of CGI in modern blockbusters, the sight of these three standing next to each other is almost more exciting than seeing dinosaurs. 

That’s not to say there aren’t some stunning dinosaur moments, including new genetic hybrids such as the hilariously named “Atrociraptors” and some creatures that hardcore paleontology nerds will geek out to for being far more accurate to what we’ve learned in the last three decades about just how right Alan Grant was about dinosaurs being more closely related to birds than reptiles. 

Jurassic World Dominion is a bit of a mess, and while I enjoyed it a lot, I simply can’t call it a genuinely good film and keep any credibility as a critic. What I can call it is a guilty pleasure that took me on an entertaining ride and gave me enough of a nostalgia fix to go easier on it than I probably should be. If you’re going in with expectations firmly in check, resigned to the fact that none of the sequels to Jurassic Park have truly worked in terms of storytelling, there’s a lot of silly summer fun to enjoy. –Patrick Gibbs

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