Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Premise: Following the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Claire Dearing and Owen Grady (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt) come to the rescue of Masie (Isabella Sermon) and a young velociraptor who have been abducted. Meanwhile, Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) investigate a new species of locust that is decimating the world’s food supply.
What Works: Jurassic World: Dominion has a lot going on and the locust storyline, although far removed from the central conceit of this franchise, is a compelling concept. It addresses some of the core themes of this series, namely the danger of genetic technology and its potential for abuse, and dramatizes the idea in a way that would have made for an interesting movie in and of itself. Dominion introduces the new character Kayla Watts, played by DeWanda Wise. Watts is a Han Solo-type smuggler and the most compelling character in the film, largely due to Wise’s comic timing and charismatic screen presence.
What Doesn’t: The oddest quality of Jurassic World: Dominion is the lack of dinosaur action. The animals have been pushed to the margins of this story to the point of being incidental. It’s not hard to imagine a version of Dominion that cuts out the dinosaurs completely. To some degree the filmmakers emulate what George A. Romero did in his zombie pictures; the undead were an exterior threat and the main conflicts played out between the living. The filmmakers of Dominion attempt to do something similar but come up far short. Part of the problem is the lack of interest in the characters. These people don’t have defining characteristics and they don’t grow. They haven’t learned anything nor do they make meaningful choices. The story of Dominion plays like several scripts mashed together and the plot doesn’t make sense. An evil corporation (is there another kind in these movies?) has abducted Masie and a velociraptor, presumably to study their genetics. If all the company wants is their DNA, that’s easily gotten and doesn’t require kidnapping and trafficking. Dominion reintroduces the principal characters from the original Jurassic Park but their presence doesn’t make sense. Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant investigate the plague of locusts but she’s a paleobotanist and he’s a paleontologist specializing in dinosaurs. This is entirely out of their realm of expertise and the film does nothing with their characters. These people could be anybody. There’s no reason to bring these people back except the novelty of nostalgia. The story of Dominion also rejects the compelling lead of Fallen Kingdom. That film unleashed dinosaurs onto the world but Dominion resets the story, putting all the dinosaurs back in the equivalent of a park. The film is billed as the end of this series but it doesn’t come to a conclusion. The story just stops. The slipshod storytelling of Dominion might be passable if it delivered on the action, but the set pieces are sloppy. The framing and the editing of the action are so chaotic that a lot of the movie is unintelligible.
Bottom Line: Jurassic World: Dominion is a mess. The story is a slush of ideas populated by mostly uninteresting characters and cacophonous action. Its failures are reminiscent of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and like that film Dominion is a disappointing end of a series.
Episode: #906 (June 19, 2022)