Jurassic World Dominion is directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow, and serves as the conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy. Four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs roam the Earth once more – but the massive lizards aren’t the only major concern. Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark on a rescue mission when their adoptive daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is kidnapped by the BioSyn conglomerate, alongside Beta – the daughter of Owen’s raptor companion Blue. Meanwhile, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is tracing the origins of an ecological catastrophe that links to BioSyn and winds up enlisting the help of her colleagues Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to put a stop to it.
The Jurassic World trilogy has had its ups and downs over the years. The first film, while a box office success, was met with mixed reactions. Fallen Kingdom was essentially two movies in one, with the second half of the movie proving to be more interesting than the first. Unsurprisingly, Jurassic World Dominion continues that trend as it attempts to be the biggest Jurassic World movie ever – from its supersized 2-hour+ runtime to yet another genetically engineered apex predator in the form of the Gigantosaurus. This is even lampshaded in a perfectly clever line of exasperated dialogue from Malcolm: “Why do they always have to go bigger?”
Jurassic World Dominion‘s screenplay, which Trevorrow co-wrote with Emily Carmichael, is perhaps the perfect encapsulation of how sprawling and unwieldy this movie is. Between the Grady/Claire plot and the Sattler/Grant/Malcolm plot, there’s enough story here for two films instead of one. And it’s the latter plot that proves to be the most interesting, thanks in no part to Dern, Neill and Goldblum’s performances. Goldblum once again brings his trademark kookiness to the proceedings, resulting in some delightfully chaotic energy and much better use of his time than Fallen Kingdom. Dern and Neill’s chemistry is just as palpable as it was in the first Jurassic Park, and Dern gets the lion’s share of standout moments. To paraphrase a quote from the first Jurassic Park: Dinosaurs might eat man, but women will save the world.
In contrast, Pratt and Howard constantly feel overshadowed – especially when they share scenes with the original Park trio. I’ve always found Grady to be the least interesting of the characters Pratt has played. Unlike Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy or Emmett from The LEGO Movie, there’s no sense of playfulness or human qualities that make Grady an interesting character – he’s always felt like scraps from the 1980’s table of action heroes. This is amplified when Pratt and Neill share scenes: Neill feels more commanding and capable. Other legacy sequels like Top Gun: Maverick and Star Wars: The Force Awakens managed to find a perfect balance between old and new characters. Jurassic World Dominioncould have taken a page out of their book.
Thankfully, the dinosaurs are still amazing thanks to a mix of practical effects and visual effects from the legendary Industrial Light and Magic. And Trevorrow knows how to stage some visually stunning scenes featuring the giant lizards. A Mosasaurus erupts from the sea in Jurassic World Dominion‘s opening sequence, capturing a crab trap in between its massive jaws. A Brontosaurus is shown stomping through the snow. And scenes featuring Blue and Beta feel just as engaging as those with the human characters – there’s a real mother and daughter bond there. It only makes the final fight between the Gigantosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex all the more perplexing, as it’s poorly lit and focuses more on the humans darting in and out of danger than the battle between the predators.
And there’s a mix of new and returning characters to look forward to, as well. As BioSyn CEO Lewis Dodgson, Campbell Scott plays what I can only describe as “Evil Tim Cook”. His assistant Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie) serves as the perfect foil to Dodgson’s clear lack of morality – Athie’s performance made me weep for the short-lived Archive 81. And the highlights of the movie are DeWanda Wise as ace pilot Kayla Watts and Omar Sy as Grady’s fellow raptor trainer Barry Sembène. There were times I wished that the movie would follow Kayla and Barry, as they seemed like infinitely more interesting characters.
Jurassic World Dominion feels overstuffed and overindulgent, resulting in a shaky ending to the Jurassic World trilogy. While there’s plenty of dinosaur action and it’s nice to see the original Jurassic Park alums, Dominion could have used a bit more polish before hitting theaters. If you crave more Jurassic action, I highly suggest checking out Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous on Netflix as it has many of the elements that this film is missing.
Jurassic World: Dominion is in theaters nationwide.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.