For a franchise whose very inception is about genetically fusing different aspects together to create a being with more teeth than the entire Kardashian clan, the Jurassic World era sure has struggled to combine its own various plot threads together to form a cohesive whole. Yes, I personally hugely enjoyed the enthusiastic, throwback energy of Colin Tevorrow’s Jurassic World, some found some of the regressive character tropes tougher to swallow than T-Rex trying to neck down a triceratops’ head, while later on, the majority of J.B. Bayona’s stylish but somewhat empty Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom only seemed to be an excuse to get the status quo mauling last ten minutes on film. Still, regardless of this, the jurassic world of… well, Jurassic World finally seemed to be poised to finally go somewhere other than “people trapped on island with dinosaurs” – I mean, you you can’t be trapped with them if they’re everywhere, right? And yet, despite having a vastly expanded canvass to play with and flexing more dino-might than ever before (spared no expense, you could say) Jurassic World: Dominion is frustratingly guilty of making all the same old mistakes as before.
Four years after the table flipping the events of Dinosaur integration on a global scale, somehow the surviving Saurians of Fallen Kingdom have spread across the earth but are unsurprisingly struggling to find their place in this brand new political climate and while the vast company known as Biosyn (sic) has endeavored to keep any captured dinos under protection on their state of the art preserve, the smuggling and poaching of these proud, thunder lizards is still very much in effect.
Trying fight this injustice against genetically altered nature is Claire Dearing and Owen Grady who not only do everything they can to keep friendly(ish) Velociraptor Blue and her new baby safe, but are also secretly raising teenage clone, Maisie Lockwood as their own daughter.
Of course, nothing in this world of shifty corporations and snappy lizards remains stable for long and soon Maisie and the baby Raptor are spirited away by people working in the dinosaur black market trade in order to deliver them to Biosyn’s boss, Lewis Dodgson, but while Owen and Claire go on a ocean hopping rescue mission, a suspicious breed of prehistoric locust is stripping the world of its crops. Desperate to find out why this is happening, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler reconects with grumpy, old flame Alan Grant in order to follow their leads, which unsurprisingly also lead back to Biosyn and fellow dino-dodger, chaotician Ian Malcolm.
Soon, these two separate eras of the franchise will unsurprisingly merge to counter a threat that cause worldwide starvation, but to do so they’ll have to avoid the all-too familiar gauntlet of lunging teeth and swiping claws.
So Jurassic World: Dominion has been getting quite the beating in the reviews recently and while I’d have to say that some of the scores that threatened to descend upon the franchise like an extinction-level asteroid are somewhat harsh, this trilogy/franchise capping instalment ends up being one of the least of the series. It’s not that it’s especially bad or incompetent, but considering how desperate writer/director Tevorrow was to get us to a point where dinosaurs actually walk the earth, he never really stretches the rich concept any further than once again throwing heroes at evil corporations. Why going through the motions of cluttering up the already crowded runtime with a seemingly passive, Steve Jobs-style CEO pulling some Pierce Brosnan era, Bond villain shit with modified creepy crawlies when you literally have an entire world of dinosaurs to explore in brand new habitats. The movie repeatedly gives us tantalising concepts that spark the imagination so much that literally any one of them could be spun off into an interesting premise such as cowboys hearding Parasaurologphus through the snowy wastes or fishermen trying to play their trade in the face of the yawning maw of the Mosasaurus, but instead blows right by them in order to eventually lasso it’s franchise spanning cast together.
I won’t lie, seeing the original trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum together for the first time since they all hot gooted it out of the original Jurassic Park is a joy that’s almost comparable to the last fifteen minutes of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and it’s even nice to see various cameos of the side characters from the previous two movies too (everybody wave to Omar Sy!), but as a result, Chris Pratt’s Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire are seemingly leeches of any and all previous character traits to become determined action-parents while a kidnapped Isabella Sermon discoveres her character’s true (and highly weird origin). In fact, genuine kudos have to be given to DeWanda Wise’s take-no-shit smuggler who somehow manages to effortlessly squeeze her way through the crush and make more of an impact than some of the main cast – especially not an easy thing to do while Goldblum fantastically distracted performance consumes more of the surrounding area than the dinos do.
However, suffering more than anyone for the lack of space is, shockingly, the dinosaurs themselves as the majority of the new and varied dinos struggle to be even half as effective as any one of the original saurian cast of the first film. Sure, the varied species are impressive as we get such sights as a super-sized Giganotosaurus, a feathery Pyroraptor and even the startling Therizinosaurus, essentially a giant, razor-toothed ostrich that looks like it has it’s nails done in the same boutique the Babadook, but none of them are on screen or utilized well enough to match up to the instant? iconic effect of the T-Rex, the Raptors or even the Mosasaurus.
Still, despite the squeeze, Tevorrow does manage to pull off the odd banger with a central scene in Malta seeing the franchise going full spy-movie with Owen and Claire infiltrating the dinosaur black market and resulting in a frenzied chase all over the city as trained Raptors give chase at break neck speed (Jurassic Bourne, anyone?). The downside of this truly kickass sequence (apart from seeing someone on one of those bloody scooters get gobbled up like a chicken fillet) is that you quickly realise that maybe this should have been the movie instead of a yet another joyless slog featuring yet another corrupt billionaire.
While the nostalgia levels do indeed go a long way, Jurassic World: Dominion ultimately squanders its potentially mouthwatering premise in favour of simoly the same old thing with a greater scale but with less of the charm and while it’s not as disjointed as, say, Jurassic Park III (a Raptor doesn’t shout “Alan”, for a start), it’s not much better either.
Maybe it’s time for the denizens of Jurassic World to take a little time out… maybe not another 65 million years, but just enough to stop everything feeling a bit dino-sore…