Jurassic World Dominion Is Pure Dumb Fun
There's good news and there's bad news. The good news is, this is the last Jurassic Park movie in an unplanned hexalogy that sprang from an adaptation of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park in 1993. The bad news is, this is the last Jurassic Park movie in an unplanned hexalogy that sprang from an adaptation of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park in 1993.
Fans who saw the original in theaters will remember the sense of awe and wonder seeing dinosaurs come to life on the big screen. Nothing quite compares to the first time one sees a brachiosaurus lumber into view. It was magical.
CGI has become so commonplace now that the experience has dulled somewhat, what with now six films in the franchise and numerous films and television shows with all sorts of fantastical monsters. Apple TV+ even has a terrific documentary called Prehistoric Planet that's narrated by no less than David Attenborough, the brother of John Hammond actor Richard Attenborough, with CGI rivaling Steve "Spaz" Williams' groundbreaking work in the original film.
The science also hasn't aged as well. Many dinosaurs such as the Velociraptor are now known to have feathers, an uncommon idea in 1993. Jurassic Park catapulted “velociraptor" into the pop culture lexicon, making it one of the most popular dinosaurs at a time when the only carnivorous dinosaur most people could name was the T-Rex. Jurassic Park's velociraptor is a featherless terror that's still terrifying (and in the case of Blue, also endearing) but scientifically inaccurate.
The film opens four years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, which unleashed dinosaurs into the world. It demands astronomical suspension of disbelief because people in Jurassic World Dominion still go about their daily lives, going to work, holding outdoor weddings, or walking in the park, despite the very real threat of being maimed or killed by a prehistoric beast.
It makes absolutely no sense when we all just froze with the rest of the world for two years trying not to die from a virus. Yet the film expects us to believe that people will keep going to offices and restaurants even when there are literal pterosaurs that swoop down from the sky and snatch people to feed to their young. It's so colossally stupid it's infuriating.
In fact, one of the main characters, Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), is a young teen allowed to roam around in a bicycle despite the fact that there are velociraptors and other predators larger and faster than wolves freely roaming about. Never mind that Maisie, being the only living human clone, is quite possibly the most important person on the planet.
It would be highly irresponsible for any parent to let their children frolic freely in the outdoors populated by a myriad of life-threatening bird lizards. But we see them in parks or on a farm without parental supervision. Unsupervised children are a hallmark of Spielberg cinema, an homage, and holdover from the first movie, but it's absurd to watch in a post-Covid world.
The film also introduces a new evil corporation, Biosyn, the Jurassic franchise's version of Apple (Biosyn's headquarters in the books is in Cupertino, California, just like Apple). Even Biosyn's CEO Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) is a caricature of Apple CEO Tim Cook with a dash of Sir James Dyson.
Biosyn has managed to secure exclusive retrieval rights to the dinosaurs, which means they get to take genetic samples from any and all dinosaurs they capture in the wild. And because they're an evil corporation, it means a lot of potentially world-ending shady stuff, which means we need our heroes to prevent the whole world-ending part.
Because this is the epic finale to a nearly thirty-year-old franchise, we get to see the heroes from the first trilogy, Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) meet the heroes of the second trilogy, Owen Grady (Christ Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) to form a superteam of dinosaur experts. They're joined by Lockwood and new girl boss, mercenary pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise). Of course, it wouldn't be a Jurassic film without Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong), who managed to get hired by Biosyn (because of course, right?).
It's wonderfully nostalgic and the original cast looks absolutely terrific, from the 55-year-old Dern to the 74-year-old Neill. They're no Tom Cruise, but the original trio aged extremely well and it's extremely satisfying to see them back in action. What Jurassic World Dominion lacks in plausibility, it definitely makes up for in action.
Dominion is a film that absolutely requires leaving your brain at the door. Otherwise, you'll be bothered by tiny details like Dodgson's character quirk of nibbling on something that never amounts to anything. Or weird things like Claire outrunning atrociraptors that can keep up with Owen on a high-speed motorcycle. Then again, Claire outran a T-Rex in high heels, so there's that.
Dominion is also saddled by a convoluted plot that ends up in absolute chaos, numerous deaths, and total destruction which could absolutely have been avoided had a certain whistleblower just gone straight to the authorities with data he easily could've gotten himself. But then that would've been a TikTok instead of a 146-minute blockbuster.
Director Colin Trevorrow missed a truly golden opportunity to worldbuild a dinosaur-dominated world. The Malta black market sequence held so much potential; it could've been as creative and fantastic as Guillermo del Toro's post-Kaiju Pacific Rim. Instead, we have dinosaurs freely picking off people in a world where everybody goes about their business like nothing happened.
That being said, it's a movie with dinosaurs.
Asking for a cohesive plot in a franchise where scientists repeatedly do what they aren't supposed to despite the fact that it goes wrong every single time is like asking T-Rex to touch its forehead. Once you turn off your brain, however, you'll absolutely, thoroughly enjoy Jurassic World Dominion.
There are movies that need to make sense to be enjoyed. Dominion is not one of those movies. Dominion is about therizinosaurus making audiences pee in their seats as it prepares to eviscerate Claire; Dominion is about quetzalcoatlus spiking everyone's adrenaline as it tears apart Kayla's plane; Dominion is about giant, prehistoric locusts giving everyone the heebie-jeebies as they swarm around Ellie and Alan; Dominion is about pyroraptor breaking the ice between Kayla and Owen. It's not about thinking. It's about our heroes taking turns slapping around Giganotosaurus while trying not to become dinosaur fodder.
The more you think, the less you'll enjoy. And Jurassic World Dominion should absolutely be enjoyed. It's a celebration of a return to the big screen and people need to watch it on the biggest screen available. IMAX is a great option but the 3D feature doesn't add much to the experience. Nearly thirty years later, our fascination with dinosaurs is as strong as ever.
Jurassic World Dominion is one of the dumbest movies of the year. But it's dumb fun. And in a world that feels completely dumb and overrun by returning, rapacious dinosaurs, we absolutely need the fun.