Jurassic World Dominion: Review
*Contains some Spoilers!* I'm going to be completely honest at the start of this review. I am a massive Jurassic Park fan. The original 1993 movie is, in my opinion, a masterpiece and possibly the greatest Hollywood blockbuster that there has ever been.
My current room is decorated with tastefully framed Jurassic Park posters, I own an original prop of the park brochure, I've got a Jurassic Park tattoo. But, that does not make me biased. I am aware of the faults of the films that came after it. I see the joy in them, but I also see the missteps and the simple repeats of the first movie. There are Jurassic sequels that I feel are more criticised than they should be (The Lost World: Jurassic Park is only a few steps away from being phenomenal,) and some that are more deserving of the critique they get (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, yes I know, it's not the best.) As I write this review I have seen Jurassic World: Dominion twice over opening weekend. It is fresh in my mind, and I am ready to review this thing.
Whilst the original Jurassic Park gave as an amazing lesson in the power of the slow burn, Dominion gets straight into the action right out of the gate. Shots of dinosaurs living with humans all over the world (leading on from the events of Fallen Kingdom), a daring dino rescue, and a spot of dinosaur cattle herding. From here, two plot lines appear for us. The Jurassic World characters are on a rescue mission to find their adopted clone daughter, and the original characters from Jurassic Park are taking part in some daring corporate espionage, with both stories sharing the same link of villain Lewis Dodgson.
Now, viewers of the original Jurassic Park may remember the character of Lewis Dodgson, pictured above in the red shirt. He was in just one scene, giving Dennis Nedry the shaving can that he would use to attempt to steal dinosaur embryos from Jurassic Park, we all know that didn't go as planned. In this film, Dodgson has far more screen time to play with and his company, Biosyn, are onto far bigger things than shady dealings in costa rican cafes. Dodgson wants Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire's (Bryce Dallas Howard) adopted clone daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), as well as a baby velociraptor named Beta for something, while he and Biosyn are also using genetically altered locusts to cause a worldwide food shortage.
The kidnapped Maisie story is where all the action lies. A raptor chase sequence through the streets of Malta was a particular highlight, feeling like Mission Jurassic: Impossible. We also get a plane attack from a flying Pterosaur and a feathered dinosaur chasing Owen whilst slithering under ice. However, the greatest without a doubt, is a sequence featuring Claire. The action is put on pause in favour of a tense sneak into the muddy forest as Claire dives under water in an attempt to escape one scary looking new dinosaur with some seriously long claws.
The locust plot is where the narrative really shines though. Spearheaded by our legacy characters from the original Jurassic Park, Ellies Satler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) head to Biosyn headquarters to investigate swarms of locusts causing a global famine. There they meet the companies resident philosopher and old friend Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who is on hand to help them gather the evidence that they need to prove Biosyn is responsible. This narrative felt extremely Michael Crichton-esque which is definitely something this franchise needed to go back to, I feel the author would be proud of this particular development.
It is delightful seeing the original trio share the screen together again, and the chemistry that was present in the first film is still here. Jeff Goldblum in particular steals every scene that he's in. Hearing that he slid into Ellie's DM's at some point over the years got a big laugh from the audience I was in. Alan and Ellie's relationship is the beating heart of not only this plot line, but of the film itself at times. Their relationship reaches a satisfying conclusion in this film and they pepper moments throughout the movie which really make it feel earned by the time the credits roll by.
The film is not without its flaws, however. The film suffers from some choppy editing at points. There is a particular bit that stood out for me when we are first introduced to Alan. He is giving a speech to someone at a dig site, but due to the editing, we aren't shown who he's talking to and then it's cut quickly to him heading to his tent. It felt disjointed and that's not the only instance. These led to a pacing issue in parts. The film is going a mile a minute and you find yourself having to keep up. Some scenes definitely needed some moments to breath and for us as the viewer to be able to linger, let our eyes wander the shots and take everything in.
The villain was not the greatest. Lewis Dodsgon was played by Campbell Scott this time around (I'm not gonna even begin to get into why the original actor is not in this, don't ask). Scott gives a unique performance as the villain. He is seen slurring words or not being able to finish sentences at points throughout the film which, while an interesting performance, isn't explained at all and comes off strange. The character is not given any backstory or depth either which makes him very one note. Director Colin Trevorrow recently gave an interview detailing a deleted scene from the film that involved Campbell Scott's character. The interview suggests that it would have delved into Dodgson's motivations in this film and perhaps a genetic disorder that would have been the reason for his speech problems and would've given us, the audience, a humanising reason into why he is doing the things he's doing. If this is true I am honestly shocked that a scene as crucial as this, had been left out of the film. This scene, as well as the prologue that was released on Youtube earlier this year, would've helped with both the pacing issues and the villain if they were included in the final cut.
There were nods to some of the franchises greatest moments throughout that appeared naturally, subtle at times, and were thoroughly enjoyable. From the reappearance of that Barbasol can, to Ian and Ellie bickering over the walkie talkie. I think my favourite moment of the whole film was the reappearance of the Dilophosaurus. Not seen since the original in 1993, the unique sounds of those little creatures echoing in the night as they creep up on Claire had me smiling in my seat on both viewings.
I feel that the female characters were handled the best in this film. Claire has had the best character arc over the Jurassic World films and is given good closure to that here. Ellie is all intelligence, action and wisdom in this film, which is what Dern deserves. And Isabella Sermon gives a surprisingly good performance as Maisie, given that she only has two film credits to her name and this is one of them.
I do not understand the critics reaction to this film. And judging by the audience score of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and a Cinemascore of A-, the audience doesn't seem to either. The film is not without its flaws but it certainly isn't the heaping pile of garbage that it's being made out to be by certified reviewers. This film is no Morbius. As a franchise ender it is miles ahead of Rise of Skywalker, and personally I think it is the best Jurassic World film in the trilogy.
Closing Statements: While some choppy editing and pacing issues stop this film from reaching it's full potential, an original storyline, great chemistry from the original cast and some unique Dinosaur action sequences make this the best film in the Jurassic World franchise and a solid end to the Dino franchise.
Verdict: 4/5 Popcorns
As a bonus, co-host Sweet Tee saw this film with me. I asked her to give her quick thoughts and verdict below. While certainly not as big a film fan as I, she loves a good trip to the cinema which I think provides a great insight from a general audience member:
"I thought the film was really good. It was really lovely to see all the characters get together at the end. The storyline was really interesting as well because it was different to all the other ones. Most of the time it's obviously dinosaurs chasing after people. This one had a bit of that, but also dinosaurs chasing each other as they were fighting over territory. They are everywhere so it's like 'What the fuck is going on? This is a free for all.' It was nice to see Chris Pratt with his blue raptor, Maisie is doing amazing, really good, she's developed as an actress since the last one.
It was funny because we didn't see too much of Jeff Goldblum but he stole the show when he did appear. It reminded me of that new Ghostbusters film when they all met, it was very nostalgic.
The only negative thing I will say is that I did feel that the movie was too short. It was very fast paced. There was a point in the movie where there was a character talking to another character and then it cuts to another group and this guy is now there, and we didn't see how he got there. And both places were quite a fat distance away from each other. It gave me 'Greatest Showman' vibes with how it was jumping from scene to scene.
But really good all in all! I would give it 4.5 popcorns out of 5! I'm not going to give it a 5. Because as James says, "Nothings a 5". It's not my favourite film I've seen this year but I can appreciate that they've done a good job."
Sweet Tee's Verdict: 4.5/5 Popcorns