Film Review: Jurassic World Dominion (2022)

“They bludgeon you with raises until you lose all critical thinking skill.”

It’s a line spoken by Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) as part of a much larger rant. The “they” about whom he monologues is his employer, the biogenetics company BioSyn, run by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Fans may recall BioSyn as the corporation that hired Denis Nedry to steal the embryos from the island in the first film, and Dodgson as the man who paid him.

So… what’s this previously-shady genetics organization up to nearly 30 years later? Some more shady stuff, it would seem. After the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, wherein the dinosaurs of Isla Nublar got transported and subsequently released onto the mainland to coexist with humans, BioSyn has (officially speaking) created a sanctuary for these creatures. But as Malcom quickly discovers, their real plans lie in controlling the world’s food supply using a previously-extinct species called locusts to destroy crops… because when you have dinosaurs roaming the earth once again, the thing the audience really needs is a good ol’ story about agricultural destruction. This nevertheless catches the attention of none other than Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill), who head out to the sanctuary to investigate.

Meanwhile, we catch up with Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who now live in secrecy to avoid the discovery of their unofficially adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who was revealed in the previous film to be a clone. But due to the actors’ contractual obligations, these characters aren’t done their dino adventures just yet: Maisie gets kidnapped under circumstances which will ultimately cross the paths of Owen and Claire with our beloved aforementioned trio.

The current Hollywood strategy for reboots/sequels works as something of a torch-passing event, both within the production of the film and the actual plot itself. In other words, the story brings back iconic legacy characters to guide those new to the franchise, and ultimately conclude their own story as these fresh faces take over as the leads. It’s a strategy we’ve seen in movies like The Force Awakens (2015) and, more recently, this year’s Scream. The Jurassic World trilogy, however, is only now deciding to cross the paths of the new and old characters in its conclusive feature. For this reason, we have MANY characters who are in the midst of their respective stories and arcs within the franchise… and it makes the film feel exhaustingly bloated.

There are so many characters, loose ends, plots, subplots, and subplots within subplots here… and not ONE of them feels like it receives the appropriate amount of attention. We have the stories of Grant and Sattler, both in their mission to investigate SynTech and in their relationship to one another; the story of Malcolm and his employment at SynTech; SynTech’s preoccupation with control over food production AND their preoccupation with Maisie; Claire and Owen trying to be good foster-parents to Maisie and also trying to rescue Maisie; Maisie coming to terms with her existence as a cloned human; human/dinosaur coexistence; and, maybe most surprisingly, Jimmy Woo’s sudden shift in his moral code — THERE’S SO MUCH. And yet, instead of adequately or satisfyingly resolving, they’re all just eventually stopped.

Pouring gasoline on the already blazing dumpster fire of empty nostalgia is the exacerbation of the film’s more-is-less complex. One aspect perfected by the original Jurassic Park was how sparingly it used its dinosaurs; it took its time, and, despite using a fair amount of CGI and practical effects, never over-relied on them to tell a gripping story. In Dominion, it seems like the filmmakers were under the naive impression that more dinosaurs equals a better movie, when all it realistically does is make an already-bloated movie burst at the seams.

Despite this, I did really enjoy the majority of the action scenes. Colin Trevorrow has a very gripping way of shooting these scenes using tight camera movement without the shots ever feeling disorienting. Where his direction (and the writing) stumbles is in pretty much every exposition scene. The dialogue was so tremendously predictable that not even this star-studded cast could make it sound half decent (save Jeff Goldblum, who is hilarious and EASILY the best part of the film). This made all the lines seem wooden and lifeless — like the actors were reading right from a script — and, quite frankly, it was appalling to have to watch these very talented cast members struggle through.

Even with the fleeting moments of entertainment the film squeezes from its action sequences, the stakes never really feel high. Sure, these moments are fun, but you never feel the characters are actually in danger at any given time, and there’s minimal tension. Also, we were promised that the Giganotosaurus — the newest, biggest, baddest, most antagonistic dino — was going to be like the Joker (of all comparisons); in an interview, Trevorrow said, “[The Giganotosaurus] just wants to watch the world burn.” I’m not sure which is more concerning… the absurdity of the claim itself or the distinct possibility that Trevorrow has never actually seen The Dark Knight (it’s a good movie, Colin… you’d like it).

The unique look at greed, creationism, and scientific advancement we got in the first film has been reused and watered down so much that this reiteration feels wholly banal. Unfortunately, Jurassic World Dominion is the direct result of those who were so preoccupied with whether or not they COULD make another film, they never stopped to think if they SHOULD. Really, the creators behind this film could take some of their own medicine: bludgeoning your audiences with empty nostalgia and overuse of “thrills” does NOT devoid them of critical thinking. This is the textbook definition of a cash grab… at least John Hammond wanted to make money AND create something unique.

Overall rating: 3/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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