Jurassic World: Dominion (aka Jurassic World 3 / Arcadia) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
There are many moments within Jurassic World: Dominion where the characters would be warranted for being overwhelmed with Deja vu. Yet none of them spend much time remarking “wow, this seems familiar.” This is mostly because they’d spend the whole movie making nostalgic references and since the movie is already doing this, it’d be a bit tiresome for the characters to point this out.
Okay, so, let’s be fair here. Yes, this film has lots of dinosaurs terrorizing humans, perhaps more than any previous Jurassic movie. Following the events of Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs are now a species that are barely under control as they roam modern-day Earth. There are raptors in the woods, T-rexes in the jungles, and pterodactyls on skyscrapers. Sometimes they blend well with the environment and sometimes they engage in feuds with humans and other dinosaurs. Naturally, the computer graphics are of high quality to sell the illusion of dinosaurs are among us.
But shouldn’t they be? The many Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies have always relied on such theatrics and, sadly, there’s not as much innovation present here. Sure, there are neat sequences of motorcycle chases involving raptors and a lumberyard that encounters a towering quadruped. But those sequences are only reserved for the first act as the second goes straight into all the familiar adventure settings and obstacles we’ve seen time and time again.
It also doesn’t help that there’s a large ensemble that doesn’t have much room to breathe in this 2.5-hours-long adventure. Owen (Chris Pratt) is still the same old raptor-loving adventurer. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) still loves liberating dinos. Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is a new addition as the clone of the previous picture who now tries to be an angsty teenager but ends up becoming a kid in need of rescue. BD Wong is still present Doctor Henry Wu who reluctantly goes along with the new bad-guy corporation of Biosyn, using dinosaurs for genetic research in their secret lab and sanctuary.
Then you’ve got the old Jurassic Park ensemble. Ellie (Laura Dern) still loves cooing over dinosaurs, Alan (Sam Neill) still digs fossils (literally), and Ian (Jeff Goldblum) still loves to lecture and condemn those who wish to play God with science. They all find themselves back together again to investigate what is going on with Biosyn. They suspect more foul play and the potential for more dangerous dinosaurs to run wild with violence. They all stand around when reunited for the first time and just sort of stammer for something interesting to say. The sad truth is that not much has changed and not much character has developed in those many years. Don’t expect them to grow any further in this film either.
As the longest of these Jurassic movies, Dominion really tests your patience to see how long you can endure much of the same. How many times can you watch Claire flee from bloodthirsty characters? How many towering creatures need to roar before the sight becomes less impressive? How many humans need to be chomped in one film where the horror wears off? Considering how many times all of these tropes occur in the film, you’ll know your answer. Personally, the third time watching Bryce Dallas Howard cower amid a deep-breathing and vicious dino was enough for me, despite the fourth time it occurs.
Dominion is a downer of a trilogy closer that finds so very little to elaborate on than nostalgia. With so many reprisals, it’s dull enough to make one pine for any mere bit of subversions. It’s also depressing that the new additions of DeWanda Wise and Mamoudou Athie are so underutilized despite having the most charisma. There’s a joke that could be made about how this series needs to go extinct but that’d be too easy. I’ll just settle for saying this saga has lumbered around long enough that it needs more new blood than just reviving the old.