Fan favourite characters return as dinosaurs go global in Jurassic World Dominion.
There's no denying the massive footprint that the Jurassic series has left on film and pop culture over the last 3 decades. With its debut entry, Jurassic Park, from veteran director Steven Spielberg premiering in 1993, the thrilling dinosaur adventure immediately became an icon of '90s popular film. Starring widely-respected actors including Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and even the late Richard Attenborough, alongside a stellar soundtrack from legendary composer John Williams, the original film's influence still ripples throughout popular culture. Spawning multiple sequels, numerous videogames, and even theme park rides, the series has only seemed to grow in popularity since its inception.
Jumping back on the Jurassic hype train in 2015 was a brand new cinematic entry titled Jurassic World, which was a direct continuation of the original trilogy with brand new characters set in yet another ill-fated dinosaur theme park: Isla Nubar. This was soon followed by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom which saw the once revered island descend into ruin and unleash its powerful inhabitants across the world. With our planet now overrun by colossal creatures from eons past, the final film in the reboot trilogy, Jurassic World Dominion, explores humanity's fractured relationship with and manipulation of dinosaurs. But has it bitten off more than it could chew? Read on to find out about the end of the Jurassic World.
WARNING: some minor story spoilers.
Set several years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, Earth is ravaged by prehistoric beasts that have been unleashed across the planet, wreaking havoc not only upon humanity but ecosystems that simply cannot cope with such disruption. Making the most of the situation, a mysterious scientific organisation known as BioSyn see the dinosaurs as less of a threat and more of an opportunity, harnessing their genetic potential to understand more about humanity. Led by CEO Dr. Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), BioSyn have constructed a sanctuary for the recently-escaped dinosaurs and established this refuge as headquarters nestled in remote Italy. But are they truly the philanthropists they claim to be?
Thrown back into the fray are returning lead characters Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) who are now living secluded in the Southern US in an attempt to protect their angsty teenage "daughter", Maisie, a clone of one of Jurassic Park's most brilliant scientists. Though immediately failing as parents, Ellie is kidnapped along with the young offspring of Blue, Owen's part-pet-part-killing-machine Velociraptor. Through a dramatic turn of events, the two end up travelling to the other side of the world to reclaim Maisie from the clutches of her kidnappers.
To tie together the Jurassic World trilogy with fan-favourite returning characters from the original films, Dr. Ellie Sadler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) reunite not through their devotion for dinosaurs, but to investigate another threat that plagues humanity: locusts. Giant swarms of colossal locusts begin decimating crops across the US and the pair must pursue the cause behind this plague and a potential cure before mankind's food sources become depleted entirely. Through a chance of fate, the brilliant scientists cross paths with an old friend and colleague: Dr Ian Malcolm (the fabulous Jeff Goldblum). Working together once again, the trio of brilliant scientists uncover the mysteries behind the locust plague.
Strangely enough, many of the film's key plot points have very little to do with dinosaurs. In fact, dinosaurs play a very minor role in many aspects of the film, which is an odd choice for a film series that has been so heavily invested in these fascinating creatures. While they do naturally make many appearances across the film's entirety, the story centres primarily around humans and genetic engineering in what feels a bit like a social commentary as opposed to a thrilling dinosaur epic.
Acting & Direction
From the initial opening sequence through to the film's climax, Dominion takes an incredibly action-oriented approach to the Jurassic World. While this may appeal to newer fans who revel in chase sequences, fight scenes and thrilling dinosaur fights, it dismisses the slow and methodical pacing that made the earlier films so engaging. This is especially prominent during the first half of the film, which feels like more of a generic American action film than a part of the beloved Jurassic series. Thankfully, the film's pacing changes dramatically in its final third, where series fans will appreciate scenes that are darker and far more thrilling than the drawn-out chase sequences scattered throughout the film.
Returning from the previous Jurassic World films, lead actors Chris Pratt and Claire Dearing portray their characters in an almost identical style to their prior roles with a headstrong approach and no hesitation to leap headfirst into danger at any given moment. While some emotional depth is added to their characters through their care for their clone/daughter Maisie Lockwood(Isabella Sermon), these two feel more like action flick characters than ever before, especially with Owen having the ability to solve almost any and all issues with either a combination of violence or holding his hand out toward a dinosaur. This pair directly contrast with the film's antagonist, Dr. Lewis Dodgson, who is clearly a Steve Jobs-esque CEO but completely lacking in any sort of physical acuity or social skills.
As a redeeming feature, fan favourite characters reprise their roles as some of the most beloved characters in the entire series. Those who grew up watching Jurassic Park will be delighted to see each of the main scientists from the original, now more mature and advanced in their careers. Interactions between these characters, while occasionally cheesy, are the highlight of the film, especially Dr. Ian Malcolm's constant dry humour and quips in even the most dire situations. Without these legacy characters, I can't imagine that Dominion would have been even half as entertaining.
Anyone watching a Jurassic film wants to know one thing about its visuals: how do the dinosaurs look? Thankfully, Dominion once again goes above and beyond through its use of CGI to bring a colony of convincing creatures into our world. For the most part, the detail and design of the wide range of terrifying dinosaurs is the visual highlight of the entire film, particularly in slow-paced sequences where they can be truly admired. This is juxtaposed against an incredibly sterile laboratory backdrop where much of the film takes place, or amidst the rustic underground markets of Malta where many of these creatures are being held captive.
Dinosaurs aside, the remainder of Dominion is fast-paced and dynamic, filled with bustling chase sequences and action scenes that some viewers may find hard to keep up with. The film is constantly on the move, not only to different locations, but visually as well, and leaves the viewer with little chance to admire its visuals before moving onto yet again more action. When the film is at its slowest is also when it's most visually impressive, though unfortunately this is few and far between.
Soundtrack & Audio
So does Dominion live up to the truly superb soundtrack established by master composer John Williams for its debut film? This mammoth task is given to Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Up, Spider-Man: No Way Home), who is certainly regarded as one of the most talented composers in modern film. Through use of large orchestral pieces interspersed with melodies and motifs borrowed directly from the earlier films, Giacchino has successfully crafted a Jurassic soundtrack that feels not only fresh, but pays tribute to the legendary music that has come before it.
Though it's not just the music of Jurassic World Dominion that will impress your ossicles - every single guttural roar, echoing cry, and bone-crunching bite can be heard in the greatest possible detail thanks to Dolby Atmos. This is a film with such a deep bass soundscape that it truly does have the most impact when viewed in a cinema with the best possible sound system for the greatest immersion. Sound effects and audio play a huge role in dinosaur films like this, and to watch it via streaming on a TV instead of a surround sound cinematic experience would be a disservice to your ears.
So 200 million years in the making, does Jurassic World Dominion provide an epic conclusion to the beloved series that is truly worth the wait? While long-time series fans will be delighted to see the return of their favourite characters and enjoy a wide cast of dinosaurs in unsurpassed detail, it instead emphasises our fondness for the original film and falls flat on any new additions. In adding plot points that feel almost completely irrelevant and action sequences that feel over-the-top or drawn out, Jurassic World Dominion misses the focus of what made the series so magical in the first place: the dinosaurs. Don't expect Dominion to live up to timelessness of the original, but instead be prepared for an action experience that feels more like the rush of a dinosaur stampede.
So, why should you watch it?
Returning fan favourite characters will please series veterans.
Impressive sound mix, with punchy bass best experienced in a cinema.
Dinosaurs in great visual detail in the moments you can appreciate them.
Dr Ian Malcolm's dry wit and banter, even if his shirt could do with some unbuttoning.
But why shouldn't you watch it?
Several strange plot points that feel almost completely irrelevant.
Less of a focus on dinosaurs than any previous Jurassic film.
Excessive amount of action and chase sequences.
A preview screening was kindly provided by Universal Pictures Australia for the purpose of this review. You can read more of our film reviews here.
Ben 'Qualbert' Schuster
Ben is a game reviewer and collector with a passion for the Australian games industry. His favourite game is Ōkami and he spends most of his time playing JRPGs and indie games. You can read more of his reviews and retrospective articles at qualbert.com