Jurassic World Dominion

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Chris Pratt in Jurassic World Dominion.
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World Dominion.
Photo: Universal Studios


Jurassic World Dominion


Sunday, 15 January at 20:05 on M-Net (DStv 101)


3/5 Stars


The future of mankind hangs in the balance as humans and dinosaurs coexist following the destruction of Isla Nublar.


One of the most iconic films in cinematic history, Jurassic Park spawned a franchise where almost none of its sequels could live up to the spirit of the original. The Jurassic World series promised to deliver a fresher, more modern take on the ethics of bringing dinosaurs back from extinction. While the first one in the trilogy was very much a repackaging of the original, it still delivered on new dinosaurs and a little bit of hope for the franchise until it all came crashing down with the mediocre trash that was Fallen Kingdom. Yet, it did set up something we haven't seen before in the franchise - a world where dinosaurs and humans have to learn to live together - and Dominion could have taken us on an entirely new journey.

Unfortunately, it never gets to its destination.

It's been four years since Fallen Kingdom and dinosaurs have spread worldwide, causing havoc with human enterprises as they struggle to adapt to man-made environments. Owen and Claire are doing what they can to help while keeping their adopted clone daughter Maisie Lockwood safe from opportunistic parties. Unfortunately, an ecological disaster and a biotech company threaten the safety of everyone and everything.

Dominion is a film plagued by too many story threads, some more interesting than others, and riding on the nostalgic appeal of the first Jurassic Park with the re-introduction of the original cast, including a million callbacks and easter eggs. Instead of focusing on how people and maybe governments are adapting to the dinosaurs, including their impact on the environment, we have another evil biotech company headed by a literal Steve Jobs/Tim Curry replica with insanely unclear motivations. The whole first half is pretty boring and uninspiring, and only starts grabbing your attention once they arrive in Jurassic Park 3.0, minus the failing electric fencing. Almost nothing of the main plot points, including the main threat to humankind, has anything really to do with dinosaurs, who are background characters that serve as scenery and fodder for the action.

Pratt's presence is also strangely diminished, with zero one-liners and disappearing in every scene with veterans Laura Dern, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum. The dinosaur wrangler was the face of the franchise alongside Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire, but he might as well not have been in the story at all. On the other hand, Claire's character has much improved, and her story arc from a high-strung operations manager to dinosaur activist to kick-ass mother shows a hint of good writing. Unfortunately, this wasn't applied to Owen, where Pratt was clearly just there for the paycheck. As for the new human characters, most were a little unmemorable, although I did enjoy the smuggler pilot with a heart of gold played by DeWanda Wise, although she had some terrible dialogue to work with.

As for the original cast, they brought back a glimmer of the original's charm and campness, and Goldblum's sharp wit was the only rare comedic relief in the entire film. His lectures on ethics and the impending doom of humankind were heartfelt and inspiring, while Dern made you care about these dangers to humanity. Neil was just his usual grumpy old man self, and we want nothing else from him. It might be rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, but between him, Dern and Goldblum, they did make the film much more enjoyable, albeit on a superficial popcorn level.

But outside of them, not everything in the film is a dud. There are smatterings of some amazing dinosaur sequences and more use of dino animatronics than in the previous Jurassic World films. Some of the shading on the CGI creatures felt a little too unreal, but it's quick to suspend your disbelief long enough to enjoy them. We are also introduced to more big carnivores that have to fight the OG T-rex for dominance. Ironically, the best parts were not out in the world but instead inside the park/sanctuary, where the film has more of that horror element of survival that made the franchise famous in the first place.

I didn't hate Dominion, and you might still find enjoyment in just watching dinosaurs roam and mess with humans, but if your focus is on the story, you'll be heavily disappointed. The filmmakers didn't take any risks, depending heavily on nostalgia and exhausted plot points. A disappointing end to something that could've been great, and hopefully the last we'll see of the franchise for a while - until they can come up with something really new.


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