Let’s test the definition of insanity.
I wonder what will be more unpopular, my disliking Northman or enjoying Jurassic World: Dominion.
We have now concluded the second trilogy in the Jurassic World universe, which is an odd sentence to write. I’m not entirely sure this series had the idea of three film sequences in mind at any point. Anyway, I love the original Jurassic Park and think it is one of the best adventure films ever made. The use of practical effects still holds up well, and when you have Spielberg behind the camera, well, you know the rest.
Anyway, now we’re in 2022 and everything has to be CGI. In Dominion, the CGI ranges from pretty good to pretty bad, and there is a lot of it. The frequency of dinosaurs in this one simply means by ratio the dinos have a larger chance of not looking right. As dinosaurs are now once again present in the natural world, we see them everywhere. People are having to adjust to this new reality where there is a new threat, and a new thing to preserve.
Our film opens with reminding us who the characters are (such is their confidence in the audience). Chris Pratt is back as Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard is back as Claire. The two have hidden scientifically created Isabella (Maisie Lockwood) away to keep her safe from ne’er-do-wells. Although, Owen and Claire still get to go out and play activist or cowboy (seriously). Isabella, nope, she’s stuck at home, and pissed. And kidnapped.
But wait, there’s more! Our original trio of heroes is back. That’s right, Alan, Ellie, and Ian are all back and in a parallel story investigating Biosyn, a late introduced antagonist. But wait, there’s more! Biosyn is responsible for kidnapping Isabella–oh snap!
But wait, there’s more! We also have prehistoric locusts destroying the world’s crops (aside from Biosyn crops and no one seems to notice) and that becomes a whole thing.
The largest problem of this film is that we essentially have two narratives shoehorned together. It takes too long for the stories to get rolling and too long for them to converge. We end up ping-ponging back and forth between characters, motivations, and locations.
The issue of divergence in narrative is exacerbated by too many scenes that aren’t needed. However, once things get rolling the film becomes more enjoyable. A mid-film motorcycle chase is one of the highpoints and offers us some real excitement.
Dominion embraces the idea of creating an action/adventure film. It reminds me more of a sort of James Bond narrative rather than the original Jurassic Park, which was a horror film masked as an adventure. I think a lot of people forget that the reason the first film works is that the dinosaurs are incredibly dangerous. The T-Rex and the raptors work more akin to slasher killers than animals in the original, and relentlessly pursue our protagonists. Also, they were rarely seen.
Here, the dinosaurs are action villains that can be overcome. I prefer the setting of the original, but embracing this idea helps this one keep things interesting. The actiony moments generally work, and who doesn’t want to see the T-Rex prove once again he’s a bad dude?
The emotional stakes feel real this time as we have parents desperately searching for their missing daughter. We get good action, some good set-pieces, a stand-in Tim Cook villain (whether that’s good or bad is up to you), and an overall fun flick. It won’t be the best of the year for a lot of folks, but it knows what it wants to give the audience and is mostly successful.
I think this might be the second Jurassic film I have honestly enjoyed. I don’t think this one will end up a classic, but it makes for a decent evening viewing.