Jurassic World Dominion: Review
Jurassic World Dominion Synopsis: Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live–and hunt–alongside humans worldwide. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures in a New Era.
In a world where dinosaurs co-exist alongside humanity, dino experts Owen and Claire must reteam with a few familiar faces to save the world in Jurassic World Dominion. Dominion represents the third chapter of Universal’s reboot of the iconic Jurassic Park franchise. So far, the only aspect of these films that’s scarier than the flesh-eating dinosaurs is the studio’s oppressive embrace of mediocrity.
Jurassic World and Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom may have broken the bank financially, but neither film found a pulse from their brand of bland dinosaur carnage. World is about as formulaic as a blockbuster can get, repurposing the original Jurassic Park concept into a flat thrill ride from direct Colin Trevorrow. I respect A Monster’s Call director J.A. Bayona for infusing some horror aesthetics into Fallen Kingdom. However, there wasn’t much the director could do to save the film’s hilariously preposterous plotline.
With Dominion, Trevorrow returns to the director’s chair in a conclusion that unites the Jurassic World trilogy with its Jurassic Park origins. Trevorrow accomplishes an unlikely feat in his return. Despite helming a movie jam-packed with characters, settings, and action setpieces, Trevorrow’s Dominion is as lethargic as it gets for a big-budget tentpole.
Universal spent $165 million on a film that embodies the visual profile of a drab Honda commercial. Like with World, Trevorrow seems far too comfortable playing into a studio-mandated comfort zone. He and Cinematographer John Schwartzman craft a sterile visual look lacking in colorful vibrancy and dynamic movement. Standard conversations and tense action setpieces reflect the same blah aesthetics – a choice that is only made worse through the film’s inconsistent implementation of CGI effects (some of the setpieces look noticeably cheap).
Dominion generates very little excitement. Part of what made Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park so electric was its balance between thrills and genuine scares. While some dinosaurs reflected a sense of awe-inspiring majesty, other creatures were fittingly frighting as they tore limbs and threatened the park’s inhabitants. Dominion lacks any of that thrilling tension, often acting like an airless amusement park ride driven forward by its inherent artificiality. Desperate attempts to imbue some excitement with familiar music nods and visual throwbacks only reinforce the lack of ingenuity on display. I don’t know how a film about dinosaurs ravaging the entire globe can be so dull (the concept barely receives time for exploration).
It’s hard to blame Trevorrow entirely for a film – and franchise – failed by its studio. I understand Universal wants to create the most accessible product possible for fans and newcomers alike, but crafting the most middle-of-the-road vision imaginable isn’t the right avenue. None of these films take legitimate risks, propping up their movie star cast and high-concept premise in a soulless ploy for ticket sales. When all that matters is box office performance, it’s hard to hide lackluster effort on the screen.
Dominion might be the most shameless entry yet in its vying for audience interest. Like so many franchise films before it, the creative team dusts off the original Jurassic Park trio (Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum) in an attempt at conjuring nostalgia. The trio’s skills as actors, particularly Goldblum’s charm as the neurotic Dr. Ian Malcolm, help infuse some much-needed life into the narrative. That said, none of the characters receive proper purpose. The likable stars are sidelined by a narrative that only wants them around for audiences to remember their former glory days.
Instead, Jurassic World’s story base remains the main focus. I’ve never really jived with what this new trilogy established in its universe. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are competent yet uninteresting in their roles as generic leads, while the unremarkable side characters fail to generate much of an impression. There’s nothing to latch onto emotionally for audiences as the screenplay regurgitates a heaping of familiar cliches.
Jurassic World Dominion maintains a general sense of competence, but that’s probably the best quality on display. This modern Jurassic franchise continues suffering under its flavorless and uninteresting design. When Universal eventually tries to revive the dinosaur brand, let’s hope they bring a little more creativity to the table.