- Jurassic World Dominion
- Classification: PG; 146 minutes
- Directed by Colin Trevorrow
- Written by Colin Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael
- Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Neill
- Opens in theatres June 10
The new entry in the un-extinctable Jurassic Park franchise answers a lot of questions that you probably never dreamed of asking. Such as: What if the Jason Bourne movies swapped out their international assassins for velociraptors? And: Ever wonder what director Colin Trevorrow’s abandoned Star Wars Episode IX script would have looked like if he and Lucasfilm hadn’t “mutually chose to part ways”? Also: Exactly how many dump-trucks loaded with cash and/or cryptocurrency keys would it possibly take to lure original series stars Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern (not to mention BD Wong!) back for one more dino-chore?
All these questions and a few more even-more-ridiculous ones will be asked and answered throughout Jurassic World Dominion, a movie that is as fun as it is stupid, as expensive as it is overlong and as completely unnecessary as its title is in desperate need of a colon.
First, a refresher on what went down during the previous five Jurassic movies, because Dominion asks an awful lot of audiences’ memories given that the entire three-decade-long enterprise boils down to: Stop. Making. Dinosaurs.
With the aid of a faux-documentary that opens the new film, we’re reminded that, after the fatal failures of two separate theme parks, dinosaurs are now out in the real world, amusing and terrifying humans at every turn. They’re roaming forests, inspiring awe from random hikers, but also eating our crops and colonizing our skyscrapers. (Dominion’s early trailers also depicted T. Rexes running amok at our drive-in cinemas, a witty summer-movie visual gag that for some reason didn’t make the final cut of Trevorrow’s film.)
But also: Do you remember how 2018′s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (co-written by Trevorrow, but directed by J.A. Bayona) contained a subplot about a young British girl named Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), who might be the world’s first human clone? How about the fact that Steven Spielberg’s very first film from 1993 included a character named Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Cameron Thor then, recast as Campbell Scott here), who set the whole chain of chaos in motion when he recruited Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) to smuggle out dinosaur embryos in a can of shaving cream? Well, both those things come into heavy play in Dominion. And while you can certainly enjoy the new film’s on-screen mayhem without caring a whit about the story’s canonical specifics, the film expects a weirdly intense amount of Jurassic continuity scholarship given that the movie’s brain is best described as dino-sized.
Like its attention span, Dominion’s narrative is split in two: The first follows Jurassic World heroes Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who are now living off the grid, protecting Maisie and also sometimes making nice with raptor Blue and her cute new baby, who are happily munching on foxes in the nearby forest. After both Maisie and Lil Unnamed Baby Raptor are kidnapped by thugs working for Dr. Dodgson, Owen and Claire are set off on a globe-trotting adventure that involves both vaguely familiar faces (remember how Omar Sy was briefly in 2015′s Jurassic World? This movie sure hopes you do!) and leaps of logic larger than a brontosaurus’s neck.
Meanwhile, a parallel plot focuses on original Jurassic Park character Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), whose investigation into a new plague of prehistoric-y locusts requires the help of both ever-grumpy paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). If you guessed that their mission also directly involves Dr. Dodgson then congratulations, you win a co-writing credit on Trevorrow’s script with Emily Carmichael, which is truly a work of paradoxical smart-dumb nonsense.
In the film’s sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frantic and frequently exhausting attempt to tie together every thread of the series’ first five films into one giant double-helix of fan-service acid, there are glimpses of what Trevorrow’s Star Wars capper might have looked like were it not taken over by J.J. Abrams. Which isn’t an insult, exactly – Dominion is powered by a committed, impressively manic desire to constantly thrill audiences that further cements Abrams’s The Rise of Skywalker as a misstep of intergalactic proportions.
Does this make Dominion a good movie – or even a good Jurassic Park/World movie? Measured against Spielberg’s classic, oh my, no no no. It is genuinely remarkable to think that back in ‘93, the filmmaker assumed (correctly!) that audiences could handle up to 45 minutes of delicate world-building before offering them their first juicy chomp of dinosaur action. Dominion, on the other hand, operates in a persistent state of disaster, all spit-spewing cries and roar-blasted terror.
Partly, this is just Trevorrow fulfilling contemporary blockbuster demands. And along the way, the filmmaker delivers more than a few genuine wonders. There is a Guillermo del Toro-esque sequence that takes place inside an underground market for illegal dinosaur goods that is set-designed to freeze-frame its various oddities. There is also an intensely entertaining chase through a downtown in Malta that delivers the aforementioned Bourne movie vibes. Each member of the cast acquits themselves well, especially the O.G. trio of Dern, Neill and Goldblum, who just seem tickled to be invited to the party.
But after almost two and a half hours of running and screaming, all of it glued together with plot-vomiting dialogue and new characters that fail to register as anything beyond annoyances, Dominion becomes its very own Jurassic Park: Designed to thrill and enchant, it instead becomes a ride to survive.
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