The Plot: Dinosaurs are freely roaming the Earth once again, but have to contend with something new – the pesky existence of human beings. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are protective towards teenager Maisie (Isabella Sermon), whose DNA might hold the key to restoring ecological balance. When Owen’s pet raptor Blue has a baby, it’s taken by genetic engineering firm Biosyn – run by Lewis (Campbell Scott). While they investigate further, old Jurassic Park friends Ellie (Laura Dern) and Alan (Sam Neill) head to Biosyn where Ian (Jeff Goldblum) is lording it over with his latest theory…
The Verdict: Sometimes you can tell a lot from a preview screening, watching the film with a popcorn-munching audience rather than a quiet morning with a small circle of film reviewers. A polite round of applause usually follows a preview of a blockbuster, louder still if it’s a superhero film. For ‘Jurassic World Dominion’, there was precisely… nothing from the audience at the full preview screening. Not even the muted sound of a handful of Jurassic Park/World fans clapping/screaming like a velociraptor in the background. That tells you something when the collective experience of this sixth film in the franchise lands with the thud of a dying dinosaur gasping out its last breath while trying to stay relevant to Steven Spielberg and late author Michael Crichton’s landmark filmmaking legacy. For that is what is ultimately wrong with ‘Jurassic World Dominion’, in that it tries too hard to please everyone by drawing together the past and the present to find some sort of future between humans and dinosaurs. Who is the apex predator now?
It admittedly starts promisingly, with director Colin Trevorrow and co-writers Emily Carmichael and Derek Connolly exploring the potential for humans and the toothy prehistoric creatures to find some sort of balance in co-existence. There’s an intriguing sub-plot involving Blue and Maisie’s shared DNA, hinting at how the way forward may be found through science rather than force and containment. That sub-plot keeps the main plot ticking over and becomes a welcome driving force, but it can only do so much. The rest of the film is composed of connect-the-dot plotting and corresponding pedestrian direction from Trevorrow. Connect Plot A (Owen and Claire) to Plot B (Ellie, Alan and Ian) for a friendly meeting of minds, then throw them together into Plot C (Biosyn’s nefarious meddling with genetic engineering at a remote Italian mountain retreat). That’s your lot really. By the time the gang’s all here, it’s like a compilation of Jurassic Park/World’s greatest hits but without that sprinkle of magic Spielberg dust to breathe roaring life into it.
We’re back to basics here – snappy and unpredictable predators, small cute dinosaurs for the kids in the audience, tight corners for our heroes to navigate, corporate villains getting their comeuppance and the inevitable T-Rex showdown with an even bigger threat. There’s little sense of wonder here about the sheer enormity of the concept – that humans might no longer be the dominant species on the planet. A lot of it is drowned out by the cast running for their lives, one scene and a gobble away from being a light snack for a dinosaur. The cast do try hard though to lend some relevance to the proceedings.
There’s a warm glow in seeing the full legacy cast return, recalling the gobsmacking amazement of seeing the original Jurassic Park way back when in the cinema. There’s good rapport too with the new trilogy cast, while DeWanda Wise impresses as feisty pilot Kayla.
Still, it’s hard to shake off the overall impression that Jurassic World Dominion has squandered its potential to go for broke and tell us what co-existence between humans and dinosaurs really looks like. The genie is not only out of the bottle, but the bottle has been smashed beyond repair. The film lands more on the optimistic side of this, which is not really in tune with Crichton’s original novel (more of a gory horror than anything else) or Spielberg’s adaptation. Chaos Theory is there for a reason, but Trevorrow conveniently sidesteps it to put his characters in yet another perilous situation. It soon becomes tiring as the film pushes past the 2-hour mark. He’s trying too hard to please kids and their parents who grew up with Jurassic Park and plays it safe as a result. Safe is OK though, if you’re not expecting much from it. But for a film that is capping off an earlier trilogy as well as its own, this could have been so much better. Jurassic World Dominion? More like Jurassic World: The Lost Potential.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
Jurassic World Dominion
Jurassic World Dominion (USA / Malta / 12A / 147 mins)
In short: Lost potential
Directed by Colin Trevorrow.
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Isabella Sermon, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Campbell Scott.