[Review] Jurassic World Dominion (2022) by Marcus Wilturner

There’s minimal debate that Jurassic Park (1993) is one of the most historic, culturally impactful films of all-time. A timeless adventure with thick tension, compelling characters, and one big pile of engrossment and heart. It also seems to be getting better with age. A true landmark in cinema never to be replaced or forgotten. And while The Lost World (1997) isn’t viewed upon as favorably as its predecessor, it nevertheless remains a flawed but hugely underrated sequel with great scares, addictive thrills, and charming levity. Lastly, Jurassic Park III (2001) is even MORE flawed with its narrative and tonal decisions (Plus a velociraptor saying “Allen!” didn’t do it any favors, even in a dream sequence), yet surprisingly features quite a few violent and suspenseful moments that hold it together. Plus despite a bad reputation, it’s relatively harmless and doesn’t hurt or disparage what’s been built before. When all is said and done, the JP trilogy is essentially what made the whole franchise such a household name across the globe, and what made countless fall back in love with dinosaurs. In both a recreational and historical sense. For better or worse, its ironclad endurance through the years is unmistakable next to the other genre trilogies that have died out due to damaging sequels, audience disinterest, and time’s savage arrow. You know the ones.

Undoubtedly, the JP trilogy receives a shot of perpetuity when Jurassic WORLD (2015) and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (2018) surfaced. Which unironically seems to be this sequel/reboot duology’s unwritten purpose. Now before anyone states the claim, this humble schmoe has given these films plenty of legitimate chances for years. With growing theories nearly every time I watched them on why they just didn’t click. Though one thing remains abundantly clear — these films are just not on the original trilogy’s level, in every way that matters. They’re soulless, derivative, comically dissociative, monstrously uneventful, and flat out boring. At best, they’re chasing the cinematic high and glory of the originals that’ll never be achieved while at worst are simply an expensive representation of a dino-faceplant. Completely unknowing of its own putrid impertinence.

 

Remarkably, Jurassic World Dominion (2022) does a bang up job of not only showcasing more of the sequel trilogy’s failings and the original’s successes, but actually presents quite a few wonderful background ideas without the relative dinosaur balls to flesh them out. I mean, we get de-extinct dinos freely multiplying and roaming the Earth, causing general calamity and other ecological disasters. We get more of the “Dinosaur Protection Group” who investigate illegal breeding sites and rescue captured, trafficked animals. We even get a division of the CIA called “Dangerous Species Unit” that literally investigated and infiltrated an underground black market where criminals and other unsavory characters are using dinos for all kinds of nefarious activities. All of these ideas and more are oddly yet awesomely presented in the main “story” but as stated before…not explored in the slightest, when quite frankly they would’ve made far superior and creative tales to follow than what we get.

And what we do receive as far as plot (And I use that term loosely) is overflowing with inconsistencies, suspensions of disbelief that are too preposterous even for THIS trilogy, and insipid ideas involving more parks, more big corporation megalomania/sponsorship, more technologically manipulated atmospheres/ecosystems, mutated locusts simply because, and last but certainly least….that repulsive extended open hand gesture thing which apparently works for nearly every dinosaur because the script says so. Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong, seeing Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum reprise their legendary roles as Dr. Allen Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm was a stupendous delight. The trio haven’t lost a beat in their chemistry and the union was a nostalgic homecoming. Plus another highlight was two additions to the cast in Mamoudou Athie as honorable whistleblower Ramsey Cole and DeWanda Wise as sassy badass pilot Kayla Watts. Despite being new to the chaos and not being legacy or sequel characters, this duo effectively progressed what little story there was and even saved ALL of the other characters quite a few times. Sadly, I don’t believe they’ll get the credit they deserve when honestly, the two of them could’ve easily been the main stars of this with the legacy trio and the whole feature would’ve been exponentially better. And lastly, the effects on display with our dinos are stunning, especially integrated into these sweeping shots to showcase how the animals have assimilated into different forms of wildlife across the globe, and in a bunch of towns and metropolitan areas.

Which of course leads to Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as Owen Grady and Clare Dearing…who are still the epitome of meh if there ever was one. These two, even after three freaking movies, just don’t work. Their chemistry, personalities, purposes? Non-existent. It’s difficult to even remember their goddamn names most of the time. Just so wooden and devoid of anything substantial. Their only contributons in this is to be a part of ONE excellent action sequence (Equal parts Indiana Jones shenanigans, dino rampaging, and Bond style chase that was wildly fun and enjoyable) and FAIL in just about everything else. I don’t blame Pratt or Howard as actors, these two were simply NOT the ones to try and build an entire trilogy around, and that’s made even more abundantly clear in this.

So yeah, an uneven and frustrating experience through and through. I’m aware many people enjoyed this entry which I irrevocably commend, not to mention it ended up being a huge financial success (Nearly a billion dollars made at the box office around the world), proving that Jurassic can still bring in the big bucks. Hell, even netflix’ Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous (2020) series is going strong after about five seasons and gaining quite a bit of positive buzz from kids and adults who took a chance on it. Which just proves that taking more chances on distinct concepts with dinosaurs as a base could be beneficial towards the continued longevity of the brand than anything else.

The studios just need to leave this particular trilogy alone because while Dominion’s effects were incredible, the new blood fantastic as well as the nostalgic jolt of the classic characters exceptional, the overall film’s dull tone, unexplored ideas, consistent missteps, preposterous antics, regurtiative themes, and annoying focus on the crappy sequel characters keeps it from being anything remotely solid in the franchise. Maybe this entry will settle into something serviceable after some time has passed with a few more watches under the belt but since that was NOT the case with the last two films after multiple viewings, it’s doubtful this’ll shift in any manner in the future.

So might as well bring on the new and fresh ideas going forward….because this particular dominion is just fallen territory.

Rating:

Review by Marcus Wilturner

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