The third Jurassic World film has now come out, and despite critics and reactions on social media being generally negative, I felt I should still go and see it to form my own opinion. And…yes, the consensus is correct with this one.
The ending of the previous film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, left us with a potentially interesting premise: following the destruction of Isla Nublar, the surviving dinosaurs from Jurassic World are now running wild on the mainland. Jurassic World: Dominion starts off by re-establishing this fact – while also having this rather small collection of dinosaurs establish sustainable populations and spread worldwide, which rather stretches credulity (no more than anything else in this franchise, I suppose). Clearly, there is plenty to explore in this dynamic; it’s a high-stakes situation with no easy solutions, worthy of the conclusion to a trilogy.
Yet, inexplicably, the film shrugs its shoulders and simply can’t be bothered with doing anything interesting with what’s been set up. The main conflict of the film doesn’t revolve around the dinosaurs: instead, it involves InGen’s rival genetics company, BioSyn, unleashing a plague of genetically modified locusts which eat any crops that aren’t BioSyn-produced. Oh, and there’s also some shenanigans involving Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the clone girl from Fallen Kingdom. (It’s worth noting that the film re-introduces BioSyn chief Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), who briefly appeared in the first Jurassic Park and has a role in the original Michael Crichton novels – and rather than a worthy villain, he is an ineffectual idiot; though that’s the least of this film’s problems.) Part of the reason I stopped watching the Netflix series Camp Cretaceous at Season 4 was that the conflict of evil corporations mistreating the dinosaurs and using them for their own ends felt like it had run its course – but at least that conflict still involved the dinosaurs themselves!
For the most part, the dinosaurs are just obstacles to be utilised in action scenes, like enemies in a video game. All those new prehistoric beasts that we saw in the trailers are just there to be used briefly in one or two scenes, and then they’re gone. When it comes down to it, Jurassic World: Dominion is little more than a standard action movie that happens to feature dinosaurs; there’s little to nothing in the way of deeper themes, interesting character journeys, or building on the franchise’s overarching story. To make matters worse, it’s one of those action movies where all tension gradually dissolves, as you realise that the characters never actually get hurt and you stop expecting that they might be. Even the special effects aren’t that good compared to the previous films: for example, there’s an early scene involving Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) riding a horse across a snowy plain, where the green screen effect is pretty obvious.
One of the big selling points of this film was that it brings back the three main characters from Jurassic Park – Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm (Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum respectively). This aspect certainly isn’t too bad: these three old hands get to interact with each other (unlike with another recent trilogy from a certain big film franchise), have a significant chunk of screentime, and make solid contributions to the plot. Yet having seen a far superior sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, so recently, I can’t help but compare this to how that film utilises established characters and their histories. As pleasant as it is to see the old gang of Alan, Ellie and Ian back together, interactions between them are either focussed on the plot or just small talk: there’s nothing comparable to Maverick’s scene with Iceman, or the tension between him and Goose’s son, to make us care for these characters in the here and now; there just isn’t any heart. Not to mention, nostalgic affection for Alan, Ellie and Ian easily usurps whatever feelings may exist for protagonists Owen Grady and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and re-emphasises what weak characters the latter are in comparison.
I would give Jurassic World: Dominion a lower score, but while it may be little more than an action movie with dinosaurs, it’s still an action movie with dinosaurs and therefore has some entertainment value. (I’d still rather watch this than Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.) Yet it’s sad that this is what the Jurassic Park franchise has been reduced to. It certainly doesn’t feel like an epic conclusion; but then, thanks to the power of money, the franchise probably won’t become extinct just yet. Rating: 2.5/5.