Hold on to your butts, because the Jurassic Park franchise is returning, and it’s bigger and badder than ever.
Dr. Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, remarks in one of the most iconic moments from 1993’s Jurassic Park that the scientists who brought dinosaurs back to life for an amusement park “were so consumed with whether or not they could that they didn’t pause to wonder if they should.” While the series has always spoken about how fans desire larger and more exciting creatures to draw them in, Jurassic has fallen into the same pitfalls over the last thirty years: getting bigger and wilder without ever recreating what made the original so spectacular. Even with reboots, reintroductions of old favorites, and the creation of wild new dinosaurs, Jurassic has failed to recapture the spark that made the first such a smash hit. The Jurassic series never took the time to consider whether or not they should continue.
But, to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm once again, life finds a way, and the Jurassic World trilogy has kept the series chugging ahead like a dino-filled freight train, whether we like it or not. Jurassic World Dominion, the sixth sequel in the Jurassic Series, is ostensibly winding off the series’ “Jurassic age,” but it merely serves to emphasize that the awe these films once possessed has long since dissipated. These films have never come close to matching the grandeur of Jurassic Park, but Dominion is without a doubt the worst picture in the genre and additional proof that it’s time for the Jurassic world to die out.
Dominion takes place four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in which Isla Nublar has been destroyed and dinosaurs now wander among humans owing to the heroes of Fallen Kingdom. Naturally, this has produced several issues, since stegosauruses are now roaming the interstates and velociraptors are also roaming the woodlands. From the end of Fallen Kingdom to the opening of Dominion, one would assume that this next film will continue to explore this new world where people and dinosaurs coexist—an intriguing concept that this series has only hinted at in prior films.
But that’s not the case! Dominion, on the other hand, spends most of its time in unremarkable woodlands and generic facilities. Why repair something that isn’t broken? Dominion makes an attempt to pay respect to fans of both the original trilogy and the new World trilogy but falls short on both counts. With the aid of Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) infiltrate the pharmaceutical corporation Biosyn in one narrative. Biosyn has been genetically engineering locusts that have decimated non-Biosyn crops, putting the world’s food supply in jeopardy. Dominion, instead of throwing these legendary three against dinosaurs, pits them against huge locusts, which is about as exciting as it sounds.
Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are seeking to locate their abducted, sort-of-adopted clone daughter Maisie in Dominion’s other plotline (Isabella Sermon). At the very least, this narrative hints at what this new world may be like, replete with a dinosaur black market and a sequence with dinosaurs in real-life settings that has one of the film’s greatest combat scenes. DeWanda Wise’s Kayla Watts, who offers a much-needed burst of enthusiasm to a generally dull affair, is one of Dominion’s better contributions during this plot.
However, both of these novels fall short of what fans formerly adored about the series. Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm are basically restricted to making as many references to the original as possible (including these characters wearing the same clothes thirty years later, and embracing the memes that have arisen from Jurassic Park). Meanwhile, even when it succeeds, Owen and Claire’s globetrotting escapades feel like they belong in a completely another film. Colin Trevorrow’s directing doesn’t help matters much, though, as these two storylines are hastily woven together, with action that is sometimes senseless. Even simple decisions, such as how a character moves from one circumstance to the next in order to bring all of these people together in one big conclusion, are inconsistent.
While there’s so much untapped promise surrounding these individuals at all times, the script by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael (with a scenario by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) looks to be straining to make itself fascinating. Not only is there a planet full of dinosaurs that is mostly neglected these days, but there are also some very intriguing concepts that are barely hinted at and entirely ignored. Dominion, for example, hints that Biosyn and its CEO Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott, who is having fun as an overly villainous tech boss) have a connection to the events of Jurassic Park—a parallel story that has existed for all these years that we’re only now seeing—but it relegates this to little more than yet another minor joke for fans of the franchise.
But, like the previous Jurassic Park sequels, Dominion’s biggest flaw is that it’s boring; however, this one pushes dullness to new heights. Dominion is the series’ longest feature, and every minute of it is felt in this dull adventure that doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. Almost every joke falls flat, every action sequence is devoid of stakes, and the balance of wonder and peril that made this series so captivating in the past is utterly gone today. Dominion, on the other hand, is a shell of a brand at its finest, anxious to cash in on the original’s popularity while avoiding the tonal standards.
Dominion isn’t only the worst picture in the franchise’s history; it’s also one of the worst big blockbusters in recent memory. Dominion demonstrates that it has no idea what to do with the previous generation of this series (other than where they should finish up and little else) and that the current generation was never that compelling, to begin with by combining the stars of these two trilogies. Dominion wants viewers to recall what they liked about the first picture while retaining none of the fun or spectacle that made the series so popular when it initially debuted in 1993.
Instead, Jurassic World Dominion is a laborious plod, a legacy sequel that doesn’t seem to understand where the heritage’s strength derives from, and a picture with underlying stupidity that pervades every scene. “That is a giant pile of crap,” Dr. Malcolm says once again.