Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow, and Derek Connolly
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neil, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Omar Sy, and Campbell Scott
Review: Oh, the Jurassic Park franchise. How I wish you were only one movie. To semi-quote the first movie, “Your finance team was so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The first movie was perfection. Absolutely all around a blockbuster work of art. There is not a single dull or cringeworthy moment in that entire movie. I’ve watched it dozens of times at this point and it still holds my interest as if I’m watching it for the first time. Every other movie since then has gotten drastically worse. And, honestly, Dominion might be the lowest point yet. It’s definitely the one that has made me most angry. So, let’s pour one out for the franchise and get on with the complaining.
Ok, let’s start off with my biggest complaint of all. This is, without a doubt, an action franchise now. And that kinda sucks. The charm of the original (and, honestly, the original trilogy) was seeing normal people running away from dinosaurs. You could see yourself in the shoes of these characters. It was terrifying because it felt real. That changed back in 2015 when they added Chris Pratt to the equation. He was a badass. He wasn’t afraid of the dinos because he’d worked with them. And, for a while, it didn’t throw off the groove too much because there were still mostly normal people around him. Well, that doesn’t feel like it’s the case anymore. Because, now, it feels like everyone is a superhero. They’re all constantly doing stunts out of the Jason Bourne or Bond movies dodging these dinosaurs. It’s hard to feel any sense of dread when you know that these people can (somehow) outrun a velociraptor on foot! That and/or just wrestle them, with little more than a knife as support. I try my hardest to be courteous to those around me at the theater. I almost never make an audible sound. But, there was one moment in this movie that made me loudly say “are you fucking kidding me?” Out loud. For everyone around to hear. I couldn’t help it. It was a reflex to the stupidity I was seeing on screen. And, don’t even get me started on how cartoony all of the new characters in this movie were. Especially the villains. They didn’t feel like real people. Just caricatures. God. How far this franchise has fallen. It’s been a joke for years, but they might as well crossover with the Fast & Furious franchise at this point because I think they may have them out-dumbed.
And, speaking of dumb, do you remember the human cloning subplot of the last movie? Well, I hope you liked it. Because they double down on it in Dominion. Oh yeah. I thought maybe they’d have her in it, but stray away from talking about her origin. Nope. It’s a main focus of the movie. Oh, but don’t worry. They actually do explain the situation more thoroughly. And it gets 1000% worse. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it’s legitimately terrible. There are moments in this movie that feel like they are taken from a SyFy original movie. The worst part though is that they don’t ever really explain how anything ACTUALLY WORKS. Remember Mr. DNA from the original and how simple he made the cloning technology sound. How, even though it was outlandish, it felt realistic because they explained it to you so thoroughly. This throws even more bonkers shit at you and just expects you to believe it. This franchise apparently has left the realm of science fiction and fully embraced a more fantasy/action narrative and I am not here for it.
Now, let’s talk about the original cast. A big part of the marketing was that Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum were back. This, obviously, was just to play on our nostalgia because I can not think of a logical in-universe reason for these characters to be here. They don’t have these characters do anything that any other character couldn’t have done. There’s nothing that takes advantage of their skill sets or, even, their strengths as actors. It feels almost like it’s exclusively for ticket sales. Like, they saw Star Wars, Spider-Man, Scream, and all of the other requels bringing make established characters and some executive said “Back up a pile of money to Jeff Goldblum’s house. Who cares if it makes sense story-wise? My wallet needs him there.” I must admit. It worked on me. I was very excited to see these people back on screen together. But, honestly, in practice, it didn’t feel nearly as special as I was expecting.
While I didn’t like Jurassic World: Dominion, at all really. I do understand why some people might. Especially those unfamiliar with the franchise. After all, it wasn’t lacking in spectacle. However, it’s all stuff we’ve seen before. New dinosaur that’s the “apex” predator terrorizing our humans until a final climatic battle with the original T-Rex? Check. Vehicle hanging off a cliff with killer animals all around. Check. Evil corporation that seems like they have the dinosaurs’ best interests at heart but will secretly turn out to be greedy bastards? Check. Flying dinos terrorizing aircraft? Yep. Saw that in Jurassic Park III. There were so many moments of deja vu. I understand that you could call these homages or call-backs but it felt more like “been there, done that” than anything else. If you thought The Force Awakens played it too safe, it’s got nothing on Dominion. It’s like Colin Trevorrow couldn’t decide what he wanted to do for this last entry, so he spent half the runtime remaking iconic scenes from the previous movies. I get why that wouldn’t be the worst thing for some, but to me it just felt safe and boring. After all, we’ve seen all of that stuff. Show us something new. Like the ice sequence! That was actually pretty cool if I’m being honest. Or Claire hiding under the water. That was neat too. But, honestly, there wasn’t nearly enough cool and/or new sequences to balance out the old and/or boring ones.
Overall, I cannot recommend Jurassic World: Dominion, as I kinda sorta hated it. Are there fun moments? Certainly. I listed a couple above. And, I’ll admit that a lot of the jokes actually had me laughing out loud. But, it’s just such a stupid movie. Nothing makes sense. Nothing feels fresh. And, honestly, it’s not even a tenth of the quality the franchise started off at. My friends asked me as we were leaving the theater if I thought this was the worst one. I honestly don’t know. Fallen Kingdom was pretty freaking stupid too. But, this is up there. If anyone were to ever ask me about getting into this series, I’d suggest the first one and maaaaybe the first World. And that’s it. Nothing else is worth watching. Sure. There are a couple of cool moments, but it’s not worth it to suffer through the rest of the movies. It’s just a shame. Because I really, really, really love that first movie. And I’d love to see more dinosaur movies of that quality. The franchise just hasn’t delivered though. And, Dominion is probably the furthest away from that original goal yet.
TL;DR: When at it’s best, Jurassic World: Dominion feels very “been there, done that” and, at it’s worst, feels like an infuriatingly dumb, low quality, action movie.
Score: 3/10 (Awful)