Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, Justice Smith, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, Daniella Pineda
Runtime: 2 hrs 27 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 9 June 2022
Synopsis: This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are joined by Oscar®-winner Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe. From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live-and hunt-alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history's most fearsome creatures. Jurassic World Dominion, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, propels the more than $5 billion franchise into daring, uncharted territory, featuring never-seen dinosaurs, breakneck action and astonishing new visual effects.
Two generations of ‘Jurassic Park’ unite in the concluding chapter of the latter trilogy, but ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ squanders both potential and goodwill accumulated over the course of the past three decades. In almost every respect, be it plotting, character work or just plain spectacle, this latest entry from director and co-writer Clin Trevorrow is an utter letdown; in fact, it is all the more disappointing considering how its immediate predecessor had handed a rich set-up – that having been released from captivity, all of these recreated prehistoric creatures are now free to roam our world, for better and for worse.
Picking up four years after the events of ‘Fallen Kingdom’, ‘Dominion’ starts off intriguingly enough with a Monosaurus upending a fishing boat in the Baltic sea, followed by an internet news documentary about how dinosaurs have upended our world, including with nesting Pteranodons on the roof of the tallest skyscraper. Yet Trevorrow and his co-writer Emily Carmichael seem oddly fearful of expanding on this dystopian reality; instead, they quickly reduce their movie down to two parallel tracks that conveniently wind their way to another park-like sanctuary for the obligatory dino-versus-dino showdown.
One of these has former ‘Jurassic World’ trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and operations manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark on a globe-trotting chase to rescue 14-year-old Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), who at the end of ‘Fallen Kingdom’ was revealed to be a clone whose genetic code we are now told may hold the key to human survival. The other has former ‘Jurassic Park’ paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) teaming up with paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to investigate the rise of oversized, genetically altered locusts, and joining forces yet again with a former ally Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) along the way.
Both these tracks lead to the new tech conglomerate Biosyn, whose lead geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) had created these locusts in a bid to control the world’s food supply and who now needs Maisie to stop them from causing an impending food shortage. The company is also run by the eccentric megalomaniac Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), whom ‘Jurassic Park’ fans may recall was the guy who paid Dennis Nedry to smuggle embryos in the very first Steven Spielberg movie; here, as played by Scott, he is a sociopathic Steve Jobs-type clearly more concerned with breakthroughs and profits than about the consequences on humanity and civilization.
That Biosyn should also own a vast compound somewhere in the Dolomites where international governments have agreed to relocate the prehistoric behemoths is little more than narrative simplicity, allowing Trevorrow to simply rehash the ‘Jurassic’ playbook without the need for deeper imagination or any measure of inventiveness. As realistic as the blend of practical, animatronic critters with state-of-the-art CGI is, Trevorrow fails to recapture the sense of awe, thrill and wonder of the earlier movies: not only do too many scenes follow the same narrow-escape template, there is no build-up or wit to the sequences, most of them unfolding with little tension or menace. Even the callbacks – including a duel between the apex predator Giganotosarus and the legendary T. rex – inspire little joy, serving only as reminder of how it was done much better before.
To be fair, the best scenes occur midway in the movie and not within the dinosaur sanctuary itself. The highlight here is undoubtedly a foot chase and motorcycle pursuit through the ancient streets of the Maltese capital Valetta, preceded by a delightfully curious scene in and around an underground black market filled with raptor fights, seedy poachers and stalls selling dino kebabs. There is also a short but nail-biting scene of a winged serpent taking down a cargo plane in midflight, and another equally brief one of Owen and his pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) playing cat-and-mouse with a feathered dinosaur slithering under ice.
Yet at almost two-and-a-half-hours long, these occasional pleasures are not sufficient to sustain a movie with too many unwieldy story parts and too little character work. Besides surviving the peril from scene to scene, there is little that Pratt or Howard is given to do. Their vacuity is even more apparent next to the original trio, with at least the dynamic of Neill, Dern and Goldblum adding levity and swagger to their otherwise equally underwritten roles. Oh yes, sadly for Pratt and Howard, it is the reunion of the old crew that give this movie its victory lap, and in the process exposing just how colourless the ‘Jurassic World’ additions have been.
But seeing where ‘Fallen Kingdom’ had left off, ‘Dominion’ hardly lives up to its potential as ‘the epic conclusion of the Jurassic era’. Not only does it squander the mouth-watering promise handed down from its predecessor, it fails to recapture the excitement, humour and wonderment of what made the series so memorable in the first place, so much so that once you get past the nostalgia of seeing Neill, Dern and Goldblum back together, you’ll find yourself drawn into a weary slog of rampaging mayhem with little flair or distinction. We’re not ready to call extinction on this franchise yet, but this exercise in overstuffed mediocrity just confirms that the magic of the Jurassic era has all but run dry.
(Squandering a rich set-up left by its predecessor, this conclusion to two generations of 'Jurassic Park' fails to recapture the sense of awe, thrill and wonder of the earlier movies)
Review by Gabriel Chong