Film Review: Jurassic World Dominion

One of the most hotly anticipated films post-pandemic except for the many Marvel films, Jurassic World Dominion stomps its way back onto the big screen to conclude the second trilogy and come full circle with the first three films. After the slight disappointment of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, whose ending immediately opened up the premise of Dominion, the sixth and final film really needed to impress to claw back interest. In other words, go bigger with more teeth. But after some of the creatures in Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom already exceeded expectations, how much bigger could they go?

Well, to be fair, even though they didn’t quite excite on the dino side of things, the reappearance and reunion of cast members from the first film almost 30 years later will have certainly been a selling point for most of the cinema goers. However, in contrast to Marvel, who like to keep people guessing and theorising about old characters or cast members appearing or having a cameo, Dominion doesn’t offer any brand new surprises.

What it does offer though, is heaps of nostalgia in the form of now classic one-liners, reminiscing dialogues, reignited chemistry – or dislike for some, camera angles and actions or setups within scenes where these recycled or familiar motifs may appear tired and repetitive to some but the corniness is still loved by many.

(from left) Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

In Jurassic World Dominion, the story revolves around two intertwining subplots and the idea that dinosaurs have now spread across the globe living alongside humans to of course often deadly consequences – the life of Maisie Lockwood who lives a remote and restricted life with Claire Dearing and Owen Grady and is desperate to discover who she really is, and the curious new phenomenon of giant and genetically enhanced locusts that are swarming and ruining crops everywhere. The locusts are being investigated by Dr Ellie Sattler and old “friend” Dr Alan Grant with the help of Sattler’s other former admirer and Grant’s supposed competitor, Dr Ian Malcom. When Maisie is kidnapped by dinosaur poachers alongside Blue’s miracle baby Beta and Sattler and Grant go off to find Malcolm who is employed by the new generation’s version of InGen, Biosyn (run by Dr Lewis Dodgson and accused by some as an ethically immoral drugs company testing on, exploiting and harvesting dinosaurs), it brings all six characters together to bring down the newest threat to the existence of dinosaurs and their co-existence with humans.

Along the way, Claire and Owen are joined by pilot Kayla Watts who decides to help them when she realises she had a hand in the smuggling of Blue and witnessed Maisie being handed over to Biosyn. Franklin Webb and Zia Rodriguez who were in Fallen Kingdom also make a short appearance, the latter of which is just in one early scene. Why they had diminished roles this time is uncertain, but not a bad thing since they weren’t pivotal or brilliant characters before (and Franklin was annoying, but seemed less so this time). Owen’s fellow raptor trainer Barry returns as well but again is not featured heavily, with no scenes in the second half. The Drs on the other hand, are aided by Biosyn insider Ramsay Cole to help them get the evidence they need.

Meanwhile, Dr Henry Wu (with what can be assumed to be uncut lockdown hair), is back too, this time as a scientist for Biosyn who is responsible for the locusts, now wanting to make amends for his past mistakes and desire to only create dinosaurs without caring much about the consequences. He, alongside Neighbours actress Dichen Lachman as glamorous stony-faced dinosaur smuggler Santos and Jasmine Chiu as news reporter Gemma Zhao in the film’s opening scene, mark the first time more than one East Asian character appears in all six films. And it’s nice to see his character be given some growth after only having quite a minor role in the past.

Familiar scenes from previous films are brought back for Jurassic World Dominion.

In Jurassic World Dominion, the focus shifts slightly from the threat dinosaurs pose on the world to the hand Biosyn plays in destroying dinosaurs and meddling with science, whilst also allowing characters’ stories to tie up loose ends. In terms of dinosaur appearances, new ones include the Atrociraptor – the new “thoroughbred” designed (although actually once real) dinosaurs that chase Owen, Claire, Kayla and Barry through Malta, the Therizinosaurus (whose claws made it seem like a carnivore but its apparent lack of sharp teeth and its feeding on foliage in once scene point it towards being a herbivore), the Pyroraptor (despite its name alluding to being fire-related it does not breathe fire), and the Giganotosaurus (the main dino antagonist). The Mosasaurus once again makes a short, early appearance like it did in the last film and the Dilophosaurus, which people may fondly (or not) remember killed Dennis in the very first film, makes a comeback to repeat the same deed. And of course the same classic T-Rex is still alive after all her scrapes, still acting the dino heroine rather than the the villain she was once portrayed as.

Dominion closes the chapter on Jurassic Park and Jurassic World without quite answering or solving the biggest dilemma of how dinosaurs that are not in a “safe” sanctuary can live alongside humans without conflict. And although for the main characters featured in the film their story arcs round off nicely (except Dr Malcolm, whose current life is not explored), other characters and creatures sporadically placed across the film are left hanging. What happens to Barry or Zia? The atrociraptors feature in one major scene but are never spoken of again.

Then there’s the question of whataboutisms – for me personally I’d have also liked to have seen Sarah Harding and Nick Van Owen from The Lost World return as well but of course too many dino-nerds can spoil the broth. There are also no mentions, let alone appearances, of Hammond’s grandchildren or Claire’s nephews, all four of whom played big parts in their respective films. And apart from Kayla being there because of her flying expertise and to diversify the majority White main cast, she could have easily been replaced by another familiar face instead – perhaps Dr Malcom’s grown-up “daughter” Kelly who could now be a pilot? I won’t even entertain the idea of bringing back anyone from Jurassic Park III though…

Jurassic Malta.

All that aside, Jurassic World Dominion is – as expected – a visually stunning film with beautiful landscape and aerial shots. The standout scenes were the thrilling dinosaur chase through the gorgeous relic sights of Malta that made James Bond’s car chases seem tame in comparison, the many shots depicting dinosaurs, current wildlife and humans cohabiting, as well as the sheer wonder of Biosyn’s “sanctuary” in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. There are thankfully more animatronic dinosaurs used than in previous films, which fans usually love, and even the CGI dinosaurs looked even better this time.

It may be a rehash made up of many little pieces of the past films to help end this era, feature a mad scientist whose mindset as the villain is never fully explained and miss quite a few things that could have made it an even better ending, but Jurassic World Dominion ends with more heart than the other films (for the humans at least). It goes out by going all out with the wow factor and takes most hardcore fans on a trip down memory lane, filled with a lot more suspense, a few scary jumps and plenty of nods to its predecessors.

In summary, Jurassic World Dominion of course slashes Jurassic Park III’s throat easily and shoves Fallen Kingdom aside to battle it out with The Lost World for third place among all six films, similar to the Giganotosaurus/Indominus Rex vs. the T-Rex fights, only just about emerging victorious.

Rating: 3.5/5

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