Review: 'Jurassic World Dominion' is a Prehistoric Disappointment
by Manuel São Bento
June 14, 2022
I've never dedicated time to write about my all-time favorite movies, nor have I made any lists. However, it would be nearly impossible for Jurassic Park to be left off of such a list. A masterpiece that quickly turned into a classic, and even though The Lost World and Jurassic World are decent enough, the saga gave rise to drastically inferior sequels on every level. Despite the tremendous disappointment that Fallen Kingdom caused most viewers, its cliffhanger finale created a terrific premise for the next installment. How could anyone fail to succeed with a story involving dinosaurs scattered around the world again while humanity learns to coexist with them? Unfortunately, Jurassic World Dominion achieves this "feat" of failure.
With much anticipation, Colin Trevorrow stated that this was the film he always wanted to make within the famous saga, but the truth is that the most interesting and exciting part of this premise is reduced to a mere, short, exposition-heavy illustration. Dominion picks up a few years after the end of the previous flick, which means all the chaos, terror, war, natural conflicts, and much more goes unseen. Instead, viewers are placed in a moment in time where humans are already used to living with dinosaurs and these with other animals & nature itself. So, what narrative did Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael come up with?
A generic, predictable screenplay without a single surprise throughout its 146-minute runtime focused on espionage and Taken-inspired subplots, completely shifting all attention to human characters and setting dinosaurs as mere extras with occasional appearances on the big screen. In fact, Trevorrow fits two movies into one, which makes its length unnecessarily long. From a cliche antagonistic CEO with futile motivations to the terrible decision of splitting the cast – the OG actors only meet the new ones after the beginning of the third act – Dominion commits the biggest crime a summer blockbuster can make: being boring.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard find themselves involved in a kidnapping-rescue narrative that goes through the most intolerable points of logical absurdity, but the major issue is really the lack of impact or importance to the overall story. All attempts to recover what they lost do little to change the course of the main plot. The hand off and subsequent chase sequence in Malta could be removed entirely from the film, and only one new character would be lost – DeWanda Wise is phenomenal as Kayla Watts, but she doesn't stop being just another adventure companion with no personal arc or growth. In addition to this, Dominion fails to deliver even slightly riveting action scenes.
Whether it's due to the unbearable shaky cam or the extremely choppy editing, it's genuinely shocking that a 2022 blockbuster can't harness the technology that enables stunning visual effects to create jaw-dropping dinosaurs. Not only is the dinosaur action sparse over two-and-a-half-hours, but the vast majority of it lacks tension, suspense, and any energy. In fact, only the best sequence of Dominion escapes this monotonous feeling: a moment that lasts shorter than it seems, involving Claire and a very particular dinosaur species, will leave all viewers at the edge of their seats. I wish the rest had the same level of technical quality and entertainment value.
Far from these characters, Sam Neill and Laura Dern return to their iconic roles, interpreting Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. It's truly nostalgic to see the duo interacting again, but Dominion's script still ruins what could have been a brilliant, emotional conclusion to the Jurassic saga. Simply put, Grant and Sattler could be replaced by two random, unknown characters, and the plot wouldn't change a bit. The attributes of both the paleontologist and paleobotanist are insignificant to the almost offensive storyline in which they're inserted. An espionage quest with a questionable beginning-middle-end, where even a forever-captivating Jeff Goldblum struggles to get past the dull one-liners.
Dominion barely avoids being a complete catastrophe due to the positive factors inherent to the franchise: cast, visuals, and score. These three elements came from past movies and were built and developed year after year, creating a connection with the audience that would always improve any installment. However, despite some rare moments, even Steven Spielberg must be wondering how a saga could deteriorate so much over time. Even the climax of the third act is ultimately disappointing due to the awful decision to film the final battle between the massive dinosaurs – a moment that had close to no build-up – with the camera locked on the human characters while the massive, cool, amazing action is going on in the background.
Finally, putting the emotional weight of the entire story on Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) proves to be a total failure for Dominion. Obviously, the young actress does her best with what she gets, but the relationship between Owen and Blue, the "adopted" Velociraptor, holds much more potential which ends up being underexplored. Just like dinosaurs spreading out across the planet, the relationship between Maisie, Owen, and Claire grew and consolidated off-screen, forcing viewers to care about a character more than they were supposed to because there wasn't much to care about. Due to choices like this and many others, Dominion ends the saga in a deplorable manner… at least until a new trilogy arises sometime in the future.
Jurassic World Dominion is a massive disappointment on nearly every level. With an incredibly captivating premise, Colin Trevorrow ignores the fascinating idea of mankind trying to deal with the chaos of dinosaurs repopulating Earth, opting instead to write a generic, formulaic, surprisingly tedious screenplay. In addition to the lousy character treatment, the cast is divided into two storylines focused on nonsensical, bland rescue & espionage missions, placing dinosaurs on the back burner during the excessively long runtime. Action sequences reach drastically low entertainment levels, sometimes imperceptible due to erratic camera work and choppy editing. The cast, visuals, and score might save this from being a complete trainwreck, but not from miserably failing to deliver an epic conclusion to a saga that deserved nothing less than that.