What do you want to see when you go for a Jurassic Park, sorry, Jurassic World movie? More dinosaurs, right? Well, apparently the makers of Jurassic World Dominion thought that we were in it for the humans, since such a large chunk of the movie is devoted solely to its considerably large ensemble cast, some of whom were in the original Jurassic Park from way back in 1993.
Set four years after events in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom saw dinosaurs running free in the world and co-existing alongside humans, Dominion has former Jurassic World employees Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) living in hiding while raising Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), who is a clone of former Jurassic Park co-founder Benjamin Lockwood's daughter.
However, some Very Bad People from a bio-tech company called BioSyn are after Maisie for the secrets stored in her DNA, and will stop at nothing to get her.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, reprising her role from the first Jurassic Park movie) comes across a breed of giant locusts that is decimating crops across the world and traces it back to BioSyn. To get proof that the company is behind it, she rounds up her old pal Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and hops on a plane to meet another old friend, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) at BioSyn's headquarters and dinosaur sanctuary in the middle of some remote mountains.
So, our heroes are all headed to a dinosaur sanctuary in the middle of nowhere. Sounds familiar?
Yeah, for a movie that offers us a 'Jurassic World', it just can't seem to leave the park behind. The trailers and promos promised us a world overrun by dinosaurs, but what we get are fleeting glimpses of some dino-human interaction, and surprisingly very little chaos.
A giant Apatosaurus walks through a town and doesn't even wreck a single building or car (maybe the dinosaurs have learnt not to mess with our stuff). One scene even has a guy rides nonchalantly by on a scooter past a rampaging T-Rex in a city square like it was a stray puppy (though he did get swallowed up eventually).
Apparently, humans and dinosaurs have learnt to co-exist so well over the past four years that dinosaurs are now seen as pests rather than the wonders of nature that we were led to believe they were in the first Jurassic Park.
You know what would have been great? If the movie had been set WITHIN those four years when we were still learning to live with dinosaurs in our world. Imagine the chaos and panic, the number of clueless humans being eaten, the poachers learning to catch dinosaurs on their own, airports having to warn planes about nearby Pterodactyls ... the possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, that is not the film we get with Dominion, because the filmmakers decided that their expensively assembled cast should be getting the limelight. Instead of getting a world overrun by rampaging dinosaurs, we get to see a group of people trying to escape from a park full of rampaging dinosaurs. Again.
The greatest appeal of Spielberg's original Jurassic Park movie wasn't just the ground-breaking visual effects that brought the dinosaurs to life – it was how he managed to turn a simple 'escape from the park' plot into a thrilling ride with numerous twists and surprises along the way. Neill, Dern and Goldblum's characters became icons in that movie, not because they were heroes, but because they survived.
That sort of thing never happened for Pratt or Howard. Pratt was an action hero from the start of the Jurassic World trilogy, and alongside Howard, their characters shoulder most of the action sequences in Dominion.
Anyway, Dominion makes the mistake of assuming that we are in it to watch that original crew mingle with the new generation. But when they do eventually assemble the whole group, the nostalgic or uplifting effect that the filmmakers were hoping for doesn't quite materialise, because you just don't care as much about them as the filmmakers think you do. The Dino Avengers this ain't, that's for sure.
The large cast also means that most of the first half of this two-and-a-half hour movie is spent setting up the circumstances for them to meet up at BioSyn, and, one entertaining dino/car chase through the streets of a picturesque seaport town aside, a lot of it is tedious and meandering. Even when the 'real' action starts, so much of it feels like it's been done before that you can pretty much predict what is going to happen next every step of the way.
By the end of this supposed final – FINAL – movie of the franchise, you can't help but think that this was a missed oppurtunity to really revitalise the franchise and make it roar, instead of merely ending it with such a whimper. There was so much potential for this to finally go big on giving us an actual Jurassic WORLD, but ultimately, Dominion just couldn't break free from the franchise's small 'Park' mentality. Maybe it's time that this franchsie was fossilized once and for all.
A finale that can't break free from its small 'Park' mentality.