Jurassic World Dominion

Jurassic World Dominion

2022, PG-13, 146 min. Directed by Colin Trevorrow. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, DeWanda Wise.

REVIEWED By Matthew Monagle, Fri., June 10, 2022

History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes. These words – so often attributed to Mark Twain – might as well describe the current state of the Hollywood blockbuster. Jurassic World Dominion, the third and final film in the Jurassic World franchise, promises a reunion between new and old favorites in the Jurassic Park universe. And while our affection for actors like Laura Dern and Sam Neill has not waned in the least, this latest film proves that a good rhyme does not a work of art make.

Years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) are living their uniquely sexless relationship in the middle of the American Midwest. When their clone daughter – two words that will make more sense if you rewatch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – is kidnapped and a resurrected breed of locusts threatens world crops, the two must break into a high-tech nature preserve run by an eccentric billionaire. But this time, they are not alone – Ellie Sattler (Dern), Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), and Alan Grant (Neill) are on their own prowl for answers, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.

For a franchise that has spent the past few years hinting at an open-world adventure where man and dinosaurs coexist, Jurassic World Dominion sure looks a lot like another movie about a theme park. On paper, this is not necessarily an issue – we’re a dumb species and bringing back dinosaurs primarily as a fast-track to Fortune 500 status seems like the extent of our collective imagination – but the familiarity of the setting puts some serious blinders on the narrative. Most of the film is spent maneuvering the two casts to the dinosaur reserve; from there, the entire movie plays out sort of like the fence-hopping scene from Shaun of the Dead.

These reunions may satisfy the nostalgic, but they fail to find a new relevance for the Jurassic World movies all these years later. Love it or hate it, Fallen Kingdom gave us a third-act creature feature that felt unlike anything previously seen within the confines of the park. Here, though, the set-pieces are obvious retreads. A tense exploration of a server room to restore power to the park? A million shots of Chris Pratt holding up a single hand? Those who want only the familiar from their dinosaur movies may be happy, but it’s easy to wonder what happened to the boundary-pushing pseudoscience that once made Michael Crichton a national bestseller.

There’s an emptiness to Jurassic World Dominion that is made evident by the recent success of Top Gun: Maverick, another legacy sequel that used its narrative callbacks as an excuse for self-examination. In that film, Tom Cruise and company use familiar moments to call attention to how our relationship to the original film has evolved. But for as much as Trevorrow wants to remind us of the original Jurassic Park, this film makes it all too clear that he has absolutely nothing of substance to say. Three movies later, and the Jurassic World franchise has failed to find modern meaning in the fears of the original.

In the end, Dominion brings back likable characters and has the good grace to move at a fast clip. It is a testament to how low the bar has gotten that those two elements feel like enough to make it a passable summer movie. Let us end, then, by praising Campbell Scott for his portrayal of Lewis Dodgson, played to stammering perfection as every hapless startup CEO getting high on their own supply. This is a lesson for all the venerable character actors out there: When you take a swing in a movie otherwise devoid of creative decisions, you’re bound to stand out.

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More Colin Trevorrow Films
The Book of Henry
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Josh Kupecki, June 16, 2017

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Jurassic World Dominion, Colin Trevorrow, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, DeWanda Wise

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