Synopsis – Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures in a new Era.
My Take – It is hard to believe that it’s been nearly 30 years since the Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park (1993) released on the big screen and became not only one of the greatest action blockbusters of all time, but also went on to leave a deep, lasting imprint on pop culture. A film that was perfectly tailored for wide-eyed wonderment, but also offered a well showcased exploration into what would happen if dinosaurs and humans found themselves up against each other. Naturally, with great success came wavering sequels.
While the Steven Spielberg directed The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) was by default weaker in definition, it at-least offered a great final act that teetered on the edge of realism, but that wasn’t the case of the Joe Johnston directed Jurassic Park III (2001), which descended into a straight up monster survival thriller backed with some ham acting from the newer characters, and threw out all the wonder created by the first two films, sending the franchise into oblivion.
Only to revive years later with the Colin Trevorrow directed Jurassic World (2015), which realized and successfully hit most of the beats set up by the original. Though it’s immediate sequel, the J. A. Bayona directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), received a hugely divisive response for trying things differently, especially for adding in horror elements into the mix (which I personally loved), it at least set up a promising follow-up.
A spectacular swan song that would neatly tie up everything and give a grand sent off to the entire series. To add to the ballooning expectations, this Colin Trevorrow directed sixth installment sees the Jurassic World leads, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, joining forces with Jurassic Park alumni, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill, who appear together for the first time since the 1993 film.
Resulting in an entertaining modern-day blockbuster, that is at the least enjoyable on a very basic level on delivering thrilling spectacle, but is also unfortunately saddled with far more than it can handle. Making it certainly the most imperfect addition to the Jurassic Park franchise and reminding us how we are awfully long way from that spectacular first film in terms of creating true film magic. A tepid end to a series of films that definitely deserved better.
Sure, the film has its moments, especially dollops of dinosaur goodness, but they are just few and far between. Even the force fed nostalgia is mostly miss than hit and struggles to keep one captivated. Hereby, reaffirming the fact that, despite delivering fun and familiar set pieces, that it is unquestionably time to say goodbye.
Set four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which saw the surviving dinosaurs infiltrate human habitats, the story follows Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), who have now become adoptive parents to Maisie Lockwood (Isabelle Sermon), a human clone of Jurassic Park co-creator Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter a brilliant geneticist, and have been staying at a remote mountain cabin, keeping her hidden from the rest of the world, especially Biosyn, a corrupt engineering corporation led by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott).
Also staying close to the cabin is Blue, Owen’s trained Velociraptor, with her baby Beta. However, their worst fear comes true when Dodgson’s operatives successfully manage to kidnap Maisie and Beta, for their valuable disease-resistant DNA. Sending Claire and Owen on a rescue mission with a mysterious pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise).
Meanwhile, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) arrive at the Biosyn facility to meet their old ally Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and investigate a plague of giant locusts which they believe Lewis has bio-engineered with the help of Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) to control the already diminishing food market.
The whole film jumps back and forth between the adventures of the two groups. But once the two parallel plot lines kick off, it becomes quite apparent that the director-writer Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim: Uprising) aim to cover an awful lot of plot to fill its overly long 146 minute run time and sadly, it’s as generic and rote as it gets.
The two sets of characters find various reasons and ways to get in the path of Biosyn’s evil plans as well as ruffle with carnivorous dinosaurs. But rarely do they impart any real sense of energy and danger to the encounters they wade into. Yet again, global domination by power hungry men proves to be the uninteresting driver of the entire endeavor, with no real explanation about the nuggets of interesting points dropped here and there or introduced in its immediate predecessor.
Which ended with endless opportunity to explore the world with dinosaurs running amok and causing mayhem. But rather than focusing on what it might be like for humans to co-exist with dinosaurs, something that was teased and seemingly promised by the final shots of Fallen Kingdom, the short film, Battle at Big Rock, and the untitled five-minute prologue, that’s no longer part of the film, the bulk of the film once again takes place within an isolated dinosaur sanctuary that is run by a multinational corporation solely in it for the profit.
Yes, not every sequel can match up to original but even if you overlook the plot misses, director Trevorrow squanders too much time before getting to what you expect from the supposed finale, the nail biting survival action, fear and emotional bond of the human characters.
Thankfully, most of the dinosaur action is on point. While the jump scares and tension are not a patch on the original, a few scenes are jaw-dropping intense like the dinosaurs chasing Owen’s speeding bike and even performing parkour stunts. Even the latest antagonist, Giganototaurus, the largest carnivores ever to walk the earth, grabs a fair deal of the limelight.
However, these fun and well-crafted sequences also highlight the faults in the film’s script, as the sharp adrenaline dinosaur moments are countered by lengthy comparatively uninteresting human interactions about locusts. And what goes completely missing here is the prospect of a befitting parting shot for fans of the franchise.
The cast are largely fine. Sadly, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, despite delivering perfectly fine performances, have graduated into colorless faces of a diminishing trilogy, while Isabelle Sermon is bereft of a character trait you can grasp onto. It is great to see the original’s cast sharing the same frame. Laura Dern is excellent as the cheerful Ellie, Sam Neill is still the likable grump, and Jeff Goldblum’s trademark snappy wisecracks are once again the highlight.
Among the newer cast, Campbell Scott, Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise are both better than they need to be in cookie-cutter parts. In smaller roles, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Dichen Lachman and BD Wong are alright. On the whole, ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ is a fun but less triumphant send-off to a franchise that staggered our imagination.
Directed – Colin Trevorrow
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 146 minutes