Jurassic World: Dominion
The capstone to the new Jurassic trilogy is a convoluted disappointment
Jurassic Park (1993) was a monumental hit not only because of its spectacular visual effects, but because of the way it translated the imagination and plausibility of Michael Crichton’s novel to the screen. Scientists and paleontologists adored the fact that a story would take their fields and spin imaginative and researched stories within them. However, as the series has devolved into just another visual effects franchise, the films have “dumbed down,” relying more on action and explosions than in the concept of dinosaurs being brought back to our times.
Jurassic World Dominion (2022) is the supposed cap to the Jurassic World trilogy that followed the original Jurassic Park trilogy. This film picks off from the last entry: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), where an array of dinosaurs was released into the world with potentially devastating consequences. In Dominion humanity seems to have accommodated themselves around the idea of cohabiting with dinosaurs, and our heroes Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are pulled out of their peaceful retreat when their sheltered clone girl Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is taken by a nefarious biotech corporation headed by the Tim Cook look-alike Lewis (Campbell Scott). Parallel to them the original trio from the first Jurassic Park, Allan (Sam Neil), Ellie (Laura Dern), and Ian (Jeff Goldblum) are also strung along to investigate Lewis and his company.
Colin Trevorrow returns to direct this sequel after previously helming the first Jurassic World (2015). However, just as with the newest Star Wars trilogy, this new Jurassic trio of films suffer from the similar lack of mapping out a core story. Both Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) directed the story in one direction, whilst the second entry in their respective franchises, headed by different creative teams, took on not only a whole different narrative, but tone as well. Finally in their concluding chapters the original director returns, J.J. Abrams in Star Wars, to salvage an amalgamation of so many conflicting views and confused character trajectories of the past two films. This is be evident in Dominion with the confused set up and whose convolution one can witness by reading the synopsis of the paragraph above, I didn’t even mention the new underworld dinosaur smuggling ring, a conspiracy of giant locusts devastating US crops, or the rescue mission of a baby raptor.
Albeit I have been willing to make my peace with getting an intellectually creative Jurassic film, Dominion also falters in the basic entertainment value of dinosaur action. Trevorrow is constantly bringing his camera too close to his characters and action scenes, utilizing a shaky cam that I’m astounded filmmakers still have the audacity of employing, so that supposed exciting scenes seem confusing and disorienting instead. Why not take advantage of your huge budget and revel in the splendor of a wide lens, where viewers can bask in the glory of dinosaur special effects much as Spielberg did in the original film. Trevorrow and the interminable subplots that are stuffed into Dominion also rob any of the characters or narratives from having room to breathe or to develop in any satisfactory way, so that every role feels more like a cameo by the times the credits roll.
It was great to see the original trio of actors that led the first Jurassic Park film return in this film, Neil and Dern get the most to do in Dominion, but even so their inclusion seems forced and unnecessary within the narrative, feeling increasingly like a cheap ploy to add nostalgia to this final entry instead of having a trajectory for their characters. Whilst the original trilogy of Jurassic Park explored the dangers of human hubris and of meddling with nature’s laws, the Jurassic World films have been more focused on the slippery slope of corporate. However instead of exploring this theme from multiple angles, like the original trilogy attempted, each Jurassic World film seems to simply repeat the same beat of “greedy millionaire wants to exploit dinosaurs for money,” with the trilogy’s villains repeating the same character arcs to the point that you can mix and match them in each of the three films and viewers would likely not notice.
The Jurassic World films have been a disappointing dilution of Michael Crichton’s original stories, relying on populist action film beats instead of the originality that made this IP so intriguing. The heroes of this new franchise have failed to charm us, despite Pratt and Dallas Howard’s best efforts. Not even the dinosaur action has been up to par, filmed dizzily and sloppily, and with the filmmakers desperately shoveling nostalgia to make their entries more palatable. If this truly is the end of the Jurassic World trilogy, one begs that either a new creative team take the reins next time, or to simply let this franchise remain extinct.