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Review: 'Jurassic World: Dominion' (2022) Dir. Colin Trevorrow

Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott, Omar Sy, Justice Smith and BD Wong

 

The third of the 'Jurassic World' trilogy and final entry into the over-arching 'Jurassic Park' saga that started in 1993, bringing new and old faces together to prevent a global disaster...


With dinosaurs now living among humans across the world following the Isla Nublar incident, former dinosaur keeper Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) live in a remote mountain cabin helping keep dinosaurs safe from the hands of poachers and hunters.


They also protect young clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabelle Sermon) who holds secret DNA that the powerful Biosyn Genetics are hunting for use in their continued experiments into exploiting and rebuilding dinosaur DNA for their own gain.


As a new global threat emerges from Biosyn, palaeontologist expert Dr Alan Grant (Neill) and paleobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler (Dern) are called in to help seek out the truth. New and old faces soon unite under one goal; stop Biosyn from causing global chaos on a scale like never before...

When Jurassic Park came to screens in 1993, it changed the monster movie forever. With revolutionary CGI, a story that was thrilling, exciting and fully original, it was a true summer spectacle. Two sequels later, the trilogy ended in 2001 and paved the way for many films to come that invested in dinosaur thrills and spills. Fast forward to 2015 and a new generation was introduced to a similar, if not underwhelming, spectacle in 2015s Jurassic World. However, after a lukewarm sequel in 2018s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, all bets were hedged for a final adventure into the new Jurassic era to wrap up both new trilogy and tie up the six-part series. Jurassic World: Dominion brings back old and new faces, story threads long forgotten and a host of CGI action to show how it would be if dinosaurs finally lived among humans. The result? A very mixed bag.


Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire now live in a remote mountain space, helping keep dinosaurs out of poacher’s hands and ensuring they are safe in the wild. But InGen rival Biosyn Genetics still want to research, experiment and fuse dinosaur DNA for genetical excellence, and will go to any steps needed to get what they want. Only our dashingly handsome heroes can stop Biosyn from plunging the world into chaos, and contend with those pesky dinosaurs, before it’s too late. Yet we have the true palaeontology experts along for the ride to lend a hand in the guise of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. Except now it’s full-on battling corporate sleaze and scandal – something we’ve seen before – businessmen in dangerous positions of power – something we’ve seen before - and dinosaurs running amok – something we’ve seen before. And if you count how many times people stare into the distance in disbelief, it slowly becomes a pastiche of the genre itself. There’s nothing new here under the surface of fast action, dramatic landscape shots and bombastic score by Michael Giacchino.

Pratt is rather forgettable in this, not doing much bar smouldering in shots and playing the action hero and constantly holding his hand up to calm dinosaurs. He has little charisma from what we saw in 2015. Maybe Pratt just wants to do more Marvel films now?

It’s Howard here who gives her all, conveying more emotion and drama, lending to a couple of moments that remind you how the franchise should have been. Evading the blind Therizinosaurus who hunts by sound has her do anything she must to stay quiet and stay hidden. It’s a great moment that harkens the original spirt of survival. We have newcomer DeWanda Wise as the token pilot who helps get the team in and out, and she has enough spark in her to contend with the old faces. Familiar faces return also such asBD Wong’s Dr Wu (who probably is the “Emperor Palpatine” of the franchise and orchestrates the whole bloody thing), Campbell Scott’s Dr. Lewis Dodgson, who first appeared in Jurassic Park, and Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood who carries on the rather pointless and shoe-horned clone side story.


Nearly two hours in, we have another rousing fanfare of the original John Williams theme as faces old and new meet from both trilogies, finally coming together in their shared film to get on with preventing a global disaster. It’s such a shame it takes so long to get to this point, as there is some genuine nostalgia points won for having Niell, Dern and Goldblum back together and playing their characters ever faithfully. This was the crux of marketing this film and making it something special, but the cross-movie cooperation comes a little too late in the game. We have two stories (at times three) that are all loosely linked and so we zip back and forth to each set of characters and their relative mission. When they unite, it’s a lacklustre affair of finger pointing to the bad guy, the motive behind it all, and escaping a location that is filled with fire and dinosaurs lending to those “epic” lumbering landscape shots we all see in the trailers.

The original trilogy didn’t need revisiting or bringing back to audiences. It did the job and left a comfortable impression with audiences and fans of the genre. So when Jurassic World burst onto screens, it was full of subtle nods and winks to the past while driving new themes, characters and plot-points for the future. However now we are at the third and final stage, there really is nothing new or original about the series of the trilogy – practical and CGI dinosaurs can wreak havoc as much as they want and be the main selling point of these films, but there comes a time when it’s the same old thing and audiences need more to sustain a brand. CGI dinosaurs do look impressive, the first few times, but when the same notion of monster v monster is presented, especially here in the climax, it does feel stale. The T-Rex is the staple of these movies, and has been since 1993 since his iconic introduction, so now it appears almost like a returning hero that brings every movie to an end. The franchise ties the fate of our remaining characters up in a few bookends, and the fate of the dinosaurs is revealed who live among us. It’s sadly underwhelming, rushed and not very exciting. This should have been the sequel Fallen Kingdom was, but it seems films need trilogies now, and this ran out of originality two films ago.


We have pockets of action, mostly chases with bad guys bearing machine guns and rampaging raptors, and they are good enough to stand out amidst the slow-burning creeping around laboratories or ruined buildings. The style of these action films really hits home how different they are now in comparison to the latter trilogy of man vs beast in fish out of water scenarios that relied on hunting, stealth and wits. Here it’s about loud action, guns and explosions., with some dinos chucked into remind you this is trying to be a Jurassic Park film.

It's a shame, to be honest. The heart of what made Jurassic Park so endearing is there, somewhere, amidst the lazy narrative, boring plot-points and host of new characters. This is a better film than its predecessor, but with nothing new to really add it just feels too little, too late and suffers from having nothing new to say. Do we really need new strands of plot that factors in locust DNA as the main MacGuffin? Not really. We’re here for the cohabitation of humans and dinosaurs, but we don’t even get that bar a few CGI shots at the start and end of the film which, again, feels a huge let-down on a potentially exciting exploration.

Better than 'Fallen Kingdom', but too little to late now for the Jurassic era. Pointless stories take too long getting us to what we are here for - new and old faces uniting to battle dinosaurs! But even that is pretty much lacklustre. It's partially entertaining, but is a sure sign the originality of these films is now...extinct.





'Jurassic World: Dominion' is a co-production between Amblin Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.


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