Home Feature news 'Jurassic World: Dominion' review: A big, dumb animal that deserves extinction

‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ review: A big, dumb animal that deserves extinction

With Jurassic World: Dominion, it’s clear: Colin Trevorrow is the worst thing that’s happened to dinosaurs since that asteroid knocked them all into the past tense. The writer/director/producer who’s had a hand in each Jurassic World movie has repeatedly failed to recapture the magic of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster, Jurassic Park. Instead of wonder, terror, and captivating characters, Trevorrow has given audiences cynicism and clichés that make for murky action movies devoid of soul. 

Trevorrow directs Jurassic World: Dominion, with a script penned by himself and Pacific Rim: Uprising writer Emily Carmichael. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen or don’t remember Jurassic World or its sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, because an opening news montage lays the groundwork: After another failed attempt at building Jurassic Park, dinosaurs are on the loose worldwide, threatening life as we know it. Also, a clone girl named Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) has gone missing. But fret not, this new(ish) character — whose role is chiefly sulking and running in terror — is being cared for by dino activist Claire Dearing (a wide-eyed Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor whisperer Owen Grady (a brow-furrowed Chris Pratt) (aka the least compelling romantic couple of all time). Well, that is until a bunch of poachers kidnap Maisie and raptor Blue’s baby Beta for evil science reasons.

To explain all this and much, much, much more, Trevorrow inundates his audience with an array of exposition dumps that fling about science phrases and buzzwords about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), animal rights, ethics in science, and their global impact. But Jurassic World: Dominion has nothing to add to these debates, treating them simply as hooks to lure in the trio of classic Jurassic Park characters. 

Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum are back, but wasted 


Credit: Universal Pictures

Yes! Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern are back as Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Alan Grant, and Dr. Ellie Sattler. And while each of these stars is as dazzling as ever, they’re given criminally little do for the first two hours of this sixth instalment in the franchise. Dern is beguiling as the blithe and beautiful Ellie, who has never met mischief that didn’t intrigue. Neill is a reliably lovable grump, but his Grant is treated like a loser who never made a life for himself out of the excavation pits. Meanwhile, Goldblum swaggers onto the screen in Ian’s signature skinny black jeans and an unbuttoned shirt, but his Malcolm has lost that spark that made this chaotician wild fun. Now, when he lectures about how humankind is bringing on our own end, it doesn’t feel daring. It feels like, well, duh. 

Jurassic World: Dominion falls short in awe-inspiring spectacle

Three humans hold up their hands to stop a raptor.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Trevorrow’s lack of vision is achingly clear from the OG trio’s introductions. What should be big moments, reuniting us with these beloved heroes, is treated with a matter-of-factness that undercuts this stunt casting. Unfortunately, this lack of flare continues through the action sequences. It should be fun to watch dinosaurs running amok in the human world. There are plenty of action setpieces that sound entertaining on paper, from a massive sea beast toppling a fishing trawler to Owen motorcycle racing away from rampaging atrociraptors to Claire crawling from the reach of a ferociously clawed creature. But in execution, much of the action scenes are a murky mess.

Where Jurassic Park used its masterful special effects to indulge our lingering gaze at the miracle of dinosaurs resurrected millions of years later, Jurassic World: Dominion is constantly obscuring its marvelous monsters. Snow, water, darkness, and quick cuts are all employed to cover the finer details of these CGI beasties, perhaps to obscure the seams and cut down post-production costs. Combined with a dull color palette of sickly browns and grays, the effect is dinosaurs that don’t evoke the majesty and terror of those from the ’90s, accuracy be damned.


‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ earnestly expects audiences to believe a megalomaniac billionaire’s remote dinosaur research facility has security less stringent than that of your local bar. 

Further marring these action sequences is coverage that cuts together crudely, bungling geography, readability, and flow. Perhaps Trevorrow hopes to cover these raw edges with a bullying sound design because this movie is atrociously noisy. Engines roar. Humans scream. Dinosaurs bellow. Metal bends and breaks. This movie is not interesting or exciting, but sure, it’s loud. Maybe its helmer thought that if something — be it man, beast, or machine — is squealing in our ears, we won’t notice the numerous plotholes that the garrulous but vacuous dialogue creates. No such luck. Jurassic World: Dominion earnestly expects audiences to believe a megalomaniac billionaire’s remote dinosaur research facility has security less stringent than that of your local bar. 

Trevorrow embraces his worst impulses. Again. 

DeWanda Wise, Chris Pratt, and Bryce Dallas Howard in "Jurassic World: Dominion."

Credit: Universal Pictures

One of the loudest criticisms of Trevorrow’s first Jurassic World was the cruel violence enacted on minor characters, as he thought audiences would relish the graphic death of a so-called “bridezilla.” That mean streak persists in Jurassic World: Dominion, where human casualties suffer grisly fates that are practically mocked in video montages that chalk them up to silly social media fodder. It’s like watching a sloppy slasher sequel, where the assumption is audiences turned up for a high body count, not any kind of character development. As an avid horror fan, you can do both!

Little wonder then that franchise newcomers Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise, as Biosyn head of communications Ramsay Cole and pilot Kayla Watts, are given little backstory and thin character development and exist chiefly to mirror pre-established characters and sidekick the leads out of trouble. Still, props to Athie and Wise for bringing resilient charisma that makes their roles far more fascinating than the screenplay deserves. Even poor Sam Neill is damned by drivel dialogue like, “Paleontology is science. Science is truth. Truth is in the rocks.”

Truly, what is any actor supposed to do with lines like that? 

Jurassic World: Dominion is a ruthless retread of Jurassic Park

Two women trapped in a toppled truck by a T-Rex.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Colin Trevorrow just can’t help himself. Just as he did in the first two films of this rebooted sequel series, he full-on steals action sequences, beats, and even props from the first film. Ellie will pet a dino with unchecked awe. Alan will lecture about the deadliness of raptors. But also a Dilophosaurus will track a devious villain into a broken down conveyance for a carnivorous comeuppance and a dropped can of shaving cream. Don’t call it a callback when you’re beat-for-beat repeating dinosaur attack sequences to the point where the finale feels like you’re tracing the original with a broken crayon. When it gets to the point where Trevorrow actually re-enacting the franchise’s roaring logo, I was groaning and rooting for the dinosaurs to just finish us off. All of humankind. Just make this stop. 

There’s a caustic lack of curiosity in Jurassic World: Dominion. Trevorrow bandies about buzzwords, big stars, and costly CGI dinosaurs, but with little interest in showing audiences something new. He’s cruising on nostalgia, even when he introduces species that audiences might not know. Instead of giving us something to sink our teeth into and savor, he slaps monster meat down for battles, races, and destruction, like a toddler rampaging through their block-built village. Hilariously, the villain of this film is a pretentious “big ideas” man, who dehumanizes Maisie by calling her the “most valuable piece of intellectual property in the world.” Yet Trevorrow rebuilds this IP with a similar attitude, cherry-picking its DNA to create something without concern for character or what such a project might actually mean. To paraphrase a prophetic chaotician, perhaps he was so preoccupied with whether or not he could, he didn’t stop to think if he should.

Jurassic World: Dominion opens in theaters on June 10.

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