Halfway through Jurassic World Dominion, Dr Ian Malcolm exclaims, in an ironic way, “Jurassic World? Not a fan!” Sadly, this seems to be a critique of the film the character is in, as this third instalment of the new franchise, which promised so much, manages to deliver so little. A film that ticks every box in the blockbuster playbook but forgets the most important, to be entertaining.
Four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs now live side-by-side with humans. Yet a science company, BioSyn, run by Lewis Dodgson, needs the dinosaurs to create a strain of locusts who will destroy crops that don’t belong to the company. They particularly need a genetically created child creature as well as Maisie Lockwood, a genetically created child who lives in hiding with Owen Grady and Clarie Dearing. When Maisie and Velociraptor Blue’s child are kidnapped, the couple heads off to get them back, while some old favourites return to stop the new plague of locusts.
The huge selling point of this third movie and sixth in the overall series is the return of the three leading players in the original 1993 film, Jurassic Park: Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm. Combining them with Owen and Claire from this Jurassic World series seems to be a no-brainer, especially as this is supposed to be the final film. While it is a joy to see these characters return, co-writer and producing director Colin Trevorrow finds that he has a juggling act to give the leading players plenty of screen time. In the process, Trevorrow cannot find a tone for the film, hence the considerable level of confusion throughout.
Trevorrow seems to have borrowed from every genre or past blockbusters, so we get one part of Mission: Impossible, a dash of Bond and even a piece of The Swarm, the disastrous disaster movie with Michael Caine from 1978. Throw in moments borrowed from the past films and stir in the loudest soundtrack that manages to out deafen Top Gun and hopes it sticks. It doesn’t.
What made Jurassic Park such an awe-inspiring experience was the high-quality special effects that made you believe these dinosaurs were roaming the theme park. After years of upping the effects, you would have expected great effects here, yet they seem to be lacking. Some of the dinosaurs look like something created by a computer. Steven Spielberg’s original was a master class in tension and terror. Yet, Trevorrow fails to inject any peril, just a series of set pieces that, while impressive, never come close to the kitchen scene or even the water in the cup as the T-Rex approaches.
The plot also lacks any punch. You leave the cinema wondering what that was about apart from scenes of dino action and actors you like and respect doing their best with a poorly created script. It also is dragged out at a bum-numbing 2 and a half hours; there are plenty of moments where scenes could have been trimmed.
The cast does a valiant job, with Chris Pratt trying to audition for the new Bond, while Bryce Dallas Howard wonders if her career is now behind the camera making Star Wars TV series (she directed a few episodes of The Mandalorian). DeWanda wise steals the film from the leads as pilot Kaykla Watts and it’s nice to see Campbell Scott back on the big screen as the villain, Lewis Dodgson.
Where the film scores highly are seeing the old cast, and they don’t disappoint. Sam Neill and Laura Dern still have that class they possess as Grant and Ellie, and even though they may be older, they still can outact any of their younger counterparts. Thankfully, Jeff Goldblum, returning as Ian Malcolm, carries the movie with his wonderfully dry delivery where every line is pitched perfectly. He brings some well-needed humour to the film.
Jurassic World Dominion will do well at the box office, but it’s not a film that will stay long in the memory. It’s contrived, messy, loud and sometimes dull. It also feels like a negative way to say goodbye to the franchise. It also makes you want to return to the original Jurassic Park and watch a genius filmmaker at work.
2 out of 5
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, BD Wong
Written by: Emily Carmichael, (also story) Colin Trevorrow, (story) Derek Connolly and (based on the character created) Michael Crichton
Running Time: 146 mins
Release date: 10th June 2022