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jurassic world dominion review
Something something dinosaurs.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Campbell Scott, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman

jurassic world dominion poster

If a zombie film franchise or TV series is given enough time it will inevitably pivot to a point where it argues that humans pose a bigger threat than zombies. I guess an argument could be made that living humans are scarier than dead humans, but are humans really scarier than dinosaurs? I don’t think so. Yet here we are, five sequels into the Jurassic Park franchise and the series' antagonists – giant carnivorous monsters – have become so emasculated that they no longer pose a threat. The dinosaurs of Spielberg's original film were genuinely scary. The dinosaurs of Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World Dominion are like collapsing skyscrapers in a Roland Emmerich disaster movie, mere obstacles for our heroes to drive around as they flee the real villains – other humans.

An opening news report serves as a catch-up for those of us who didn't want to suffer through the previous two instalments of this rebooted series. Dinosaurs are now living among humans and we're told that the previous year only saw 39 people lose their lives at the hands of dinosaurs. What? More people are mauled by pitbulls in an average year. And there we have the major issue of this sequel. It starts off by telling us that dinosaurs are cuddly actually, which means when our heroes face them roughly seven hours later in this 37 hour long movie, they've lost any sense of threat. These sequels keep telling us there's a new species that's bigger and scarier than any we've seen before, yet they never appear any bigger, and certainly no more imposing, than the T-Rex of Spielberg's series opener. You can't just tell us something is bigger – you need to show us. In the Jurassic World movies a dinosaur is constantly pissing down our backs and telling us it's raining.

jurassic world dominion review

Jurassic World Dominion is one of the more egregious examples of Hollywood desperately trying to appeal to the largest audience possible and losing sight of why people might be attracted to the movie in hand. We're here to see a Jurassic Park sequel, but Dominion insists on trying to compete with every other major franchise of the moment. There are moments straight out of Star Wars, with a cynical smuggler/pilot (DeWanda Wise) who may as well be called Han Solo and a couple of scenes that seem to take place aboard the Millennium Falcon. There's the going back for the hat moment from every Indiana Jones movie. There's the going back for the cat moment from Alien. There's the sprawling ensemble cast of the Fast & Furious movies. There's an extended segment in Malta that lifts scenes directly from the Jason Bourne, James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. Occasionally it even nods to Jurassic Park by throwing dinosaurs into the background, though the effect is a lot like that Twitter account where some bloke photoshops Paddington into other movies. The dinosaurs are just shambling around, because don’t you know it's the humans that are the real threat now?

That human threat is led by Lewis Dodgson (somehow they managed to get the elusive Campbell Scott into this thing), an evil CEO in the Musk/Bezos/Gates mould who runs BioSyn, a dodgy corporation creating giant locusts to destroy crops so Dodgson can control the world's grain supply (If you think it's a mere coincidence that we're getting a movie where the threat is a lack of wheat amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, then you might want to look into Hollywood's relationship with the Pentagon). Dodgson lives in Cloud City, above a park filled with dinosaurs (if only there were a name for such a thing). You might remember his brief appearance in the first Jurassic Park movie, when he was played by Cameron Thor, who is currently serving prison time for sexual assault.

jurassic world dominion review

Jeff Goldblum has yet to serve time for sexual assault and so he returns as Dr Malcolm, now a lackey of Dodgson who discovers what he's really up to and alerts his old buddies Ellie (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill). The three subsequently skulk around the Death Star looking for the switch to deactivate its shields, or something.

You might remember Owen Grady and Claire Dearing, the heroes of the previous two instalments. No? They're played by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard? No, still not ringing any bells? Anyway they're now the Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru to Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the cloned girl from the previous movie. Don't remember her either, huh? Anyway, Maisie gets kidnapped by Boba Fett and taken to Jabba's palace, with Owen and Claire teaming up with Han Solo to get her back. This movie is so derivative that at one point when Claire wakes up in the jungle your first thought will be "Are we about to get dinosaur fucking Ewoks?" Speaking of Claire, in the first movie she was struggling to run in high heels but now she's a parkour expert, jumping across Maltese rooftops like Jason Bourne.

jurassic world dominion review

It's hilarious how so much of Goldblum's dialogue sounds like a self-own from the series. At one point he literally says "Jurassic World? Not a fan." There's a real mask-dropping moment when his Dr. Malcolm accuses Dodgson of fast-tracking promotions for his employees to ensure their loyalty, and he might as well be talking about how Hollywood plucks filmmakers from indie obscurity to direct these movies.

Jurassic World Dominion may bear a title that sounds befitting of a ride at Universal Studios. It's far from a rollercoaster ride, more like being stuck atop a rollercoaster for two and a half hours during a power failure. The set-pieces are sloppily constructed knockoffs of memorable moments from other franchises, and even the site of three giant dinosaurs battling among themselves has no impact. Halfway through the movie a kid at my screening asked his dad if they could leave. What on Earth has gone wrong with blockbuster filmmaking that a kid is bored by a movie with dinosaurs? Watching Dominion in the slipstream of Top Gun: Maverick, a blockbuster that gets everything right that this film gets wrong, is like eating your mum's fish fingers the day after your cool aunt brought you to McDonalds.

Jurassic World Dominion is on UK/ROI VOD now.

2022 movie reviews