The real problem with Jurassic World Dominion isn’t that it’s a terrible film – it actually isn’t – but that it’s not the film that we were expecting. It’s not the film that the ending of 2018’s divisive Fallen Kingdom seemed to promise us. The conclusion of J A Bayona’s fudged attempt to blend typical Jurassic thrills with something a bit more Gothic and creepy teases a scenario in which dinosaurs spread across the world unchecked setting up a sequel in which Man battles Monster in the ultimate tussle for – wait for it, dominion – over the Earth. Instead, returning director (and co-writer) Colin Trevorrow delivers an overlong film that pushes the dinos onto the backburner for the most part and focuses on an Evil Corporation Run By An Evil Billionaire (it’s subtly called BioSyn) that has developed a new breed of giant super locust by introducing dinosaur DNA into their genes. Luckily former chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldbum) is working for BioSyn and, suspicious of the organisation’s locust-related activities, invites Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) to help investigate their dastardly doings. Even more tediously, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are simultaneously trying to protect dinosaurs from illegal breeding organisations and covertly looking after Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the unlikely cloned daughter of Jurassic Park creator John Hammond’s previously-unmentioned business partner introduced in the previous film. When Maisie is kidnapped by BioSyn goons, Owen and Claire set off to rescue her even as Alan and Ellie work to collect a sample of locust DNA from Biosyn’s secret (and oddly unguarded) laboratories.
Jurassic World Dominion is fatally overstuffed with plots, subplots, characters, characters with no character and some random bits of action nonsense that we’ve seen time and again. The film is derivative not only of the entire six-film franchise – some scenes are just rehashes of “classics” from the past including virtually the entire final act – but at one point it goes full James Bond/Mission Impossible in a frankly rather silly extended action scene set in Malta. Some lazy beats are repeated again and again – characters saved from certain death by the sudden intervention of someone else who pulls them/lifts them/drag them out of harm’s way, dinosaurs that just turn and walk or fly away from human prey hiding virtually in plain sight. Traditional plot structure is thrown out of the window as the film stumbles drunkenly between storylines, none of which are really of any great interest (the first forty minutes are murderously tedious) and, with Chris Pratt clearly just working his way through his contract and Bruce Dallas Howard still struggling with an underwritten character, the film really only earns its spurs when the legacy trio of Grant, Stattler, and Malcolm are on screen, even if the latter now exists purely as an exaggerated comic relief version of the urbane theorist we met back in 1993.
But it’s not all bad news. When the dinosaurs do show up they’re good value, stunningly animated, and full of primal power even if no one really seems in any danger from them apart from one poor sod in the Malta sequence who gets swallowed by a T-rex. It’s a slick, well-made but soulless concoction that never really engages its audience with its meandering storylines but it does at least offer a fairly neat wrap-up to the entire series, even if it leaves enough room for a return trip to the well when the inevitable box office profits have been totted up. But Jurassic World Dominion reeks of a series that has run out of steam and has nothing left but the fumes of its past triumphs to keep it on the road. Sadly it seems that it’s time for this particular franchise to go extinct.
Jurassic World Dominion is in cinemas now