There is a lot going on with Jurassic World: Dominion and yet so little is happening, at least from an intellectual standpoint.
This feels like three different movies slammed together with lackluster subplots all competing for screen time.
The concept of a world where humans are forced to co-exist with dinosaurs is a genuinely exciting starting point, and it’s a Jurassic movie fans want to see. It’s a shame that the most interesting part of this movie, the global acclimation of ancient creatures joining our ecosystem, is kept as literal background. Audience members laughed aloud at the overly long and absurd opening montage.
Why even bother setting up an exciting premise if it’s to be abandoned completely? The movie we do get is a lesson in diminished returns and accepting disappointment. This feels more like a giant locust movie for half, about a villainous corporation weaponizing genetically modified plagues to kill their competitors’ stock. It’s certainly something that seems plausible for a massive corporation, but what is this doing in my Jurassic World movie? Why did we need another blankly evil CEO, this time the guy who appeared in one scene in Jurassic Park, as if that mattered? Why do we need more extraneous characters taking away oxygen from the legacy characters returning especially when they seem too similar to the already established characters? Why should I care about three dinosaurs fighting at the end like I’m personally invested?
The wild swings and retcons is reminiscent of the newer Star Wars trilogy. In 2015, both The Force Awakens and Jurassic World are released to massive success and kickoff reboots of their respective franchises. Both of the movies purposely leaned into nostalgia, even repeating similar plot beats and reminders to trigger positive association.
Directors J.J. Abrams and Colin Treverrow then their franchises ahead of the second movies, 2017’s The Last Jedi and Fallen Kingdom, to try something different. Then for the concluding movie, both franchises had the original director return to essentially retcon the retcons, to bring the movies back to what was familiar and ultimately dull. It’s even more interesting when you take into account that Treverrow left the Jurassic series to spend a year of his life developing Star Wars Episode 9 before being fired and hastily replaced with Abrams.
I remember the meta-commentary in Jurassic World about modern audiences becoming jaded and complacent to scientific wonders mirroring movie audiences becoming blasé to what used to marvel us in the realm of special effects extravaganzas. As it leaned into its considerable nostalgia, it was doing so in a thinly veiled satirical criticism of, “Is this what you want?”
Now all the meta-commentary and irony have been stripped clean and it’s simply a big, dumb, lumbering beast awaiting its own creative extinction as it meets an end. The franchise is a colossal moneymaker and the return of Spielberg’s original cast members — Jeff Goldbum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill — will certainly drive up business. Unfortunatley, Dominion has a poor plot that hardly utilizes the original cast despite having them join Chris Pratt’s Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire.
None of the Jurassic movies have ever come close to capturing the magic from the first movie but they have all been, in some way, entertaining even at their worst. Dominion is the worst of the franchise and feels devoid of passion, logic, and competent writing. To paraphrase Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm, the studio execs were too busy thinking about whether they could make this script and less busy worrying about whether they should.