Jurassic World Dominion Review
In 2015, Jurassic World debuted to the world and helped reinvent the standard Hollywood sequel into something new: the "requel". A requel is a sequel to a beloved Hollywood franchise that often ignores the lesser loved installments and instead is a direct sequel to whatever fans loved most. It also functions as a reboot and wipes the slate clean for a brand new story, with new characters while still respecting the legacy of what has come before. While the original Jurassic Park was a masterpiece, its two sequels never could match its heights and brought some embarrassing lows to the franchise.
Jurassic World was a fun revamp that finally showed the audience what an actual theme park with dinosaurs might look like, wrapped in nostalgia as it replayed some of the first film's greatest hits beat for beat. It was no masterpiece, but it certainly was a fun popcorn thrill ride that honored the original. Then came its sequel Fallen Kingdom, which made some of the most utterly absurd story choices in any of the films of the franchise. Meanwhile, legacy sequels and requels continued their popularity and a new ingredient became key to their success: legacy characters. It's not enough to have iconic imagery back, or callbacks to specific moments. Audiences now need the characters that made these films great together again. Getting the band back together, so to speak. All of that brings us to Jurassic World Dominion and its attempts to reconcile all of these moving pieces.
Jurassic World Dominion picks up a few years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, and we're given a nice video summation via news report at the beginning of the film to fill in the gaps. Remember how worried everyone was about dinosaurs and humans having to share the earth together? Turns out it wasn't THAT big of a deal and everyone is finding ways to coexist. Meanwhile, Owen (Chis Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) have taken it upon themselves to be the parents (or kidnappers?) of the clone girl we met in the last film, Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Elsewhere in the country, Dr. Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) discovers a problem with locusts that may doom mankind, so she seeks the help of Dr. Alan Grant to help her find proof of who is behind this. If it sounds like these iconic characters from the original Jurassic Park are shoehorned into this story and have nothing to do with anyone else, it's because they are.
Dominion suffers from a number of storytelling problems of trying to cram a lot of storylines together that just don't mesh. The clone girl storyline from Fallen Kingdom was so stupid, it is frankly stunning that they decided to carry it through here rather than pretending like it never happened. The inclusion of the big three characters from Jurassic Park (Ellie, Dr. Grant, and Ian Malcolm) feels unnatural and unearned so late in the Jurassic World game. The interactions between the World and Park characters feel truly like the actors meeting each other and bonding over being in these films, rather than the characters themselves having any kind of familiarity. Plus, there are just too many characters in the action here that it almost feels comical when you watch action scenes of more than half a dozen people trying to hide from a single dinosaur. Surely he can catch one of you! The action is clumsy and worse it takes too long to really get the audience invested in the first place. Usually, in these films, the formula has always gotten one thing right, and that's a really great introduction to the dinosaurs and the threat they pose. Here it was like midway through the movie you're reminded that oh yeah you came to see a dinosaur movie, better have them actually be a factor.
Still, Dominion isn't entirely without its moments once it gets going. Credit to whoever had the idea to bring back the Dilophosaurus, which is one of the underrated terrifying dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and gets a few nice moments to shine here. Dominion also got to highlight some other great dinosaurs we had not yet the pleasure of seeing yet in the franchise. As for the human cast, Laura Dern was probably the highlight here having a grand old time while Sam Neill weirdly did not slip right back into the role like I expected him to. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard both seemed a little less interested this go around than in previous installments. I get it, they're saddled with the burden of having to sell some pretty ludicrous storylines. Ultimately, Jurassic World Dominion is a step up from Fallen Kingdom, but not as tidily packaged as Jurassic World--and of course, none can hold a candle to Jurassic Park.