Jurassic World Dominion

Jurassic World Dominion SPOILER review – Let It Be Extinct

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At what cost do we consume?

This could be any person’s perceived theme of a film like Jurassic World Dominion or indeed the entire franchise, both Park and World trilogies. The idea of consumerism run wild, breaking apart all natural laws in favour of fame and riches is something that drives most of the Jurassic films, but this idea is a double-edge sword. For as much as the films want to point out how greed corrupts beauty, the longer this franchise has gone on the more it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A quote, overused by this point but still apt, from Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm in the first Jurassic Park can so easily be applied to this latest film and indeed the entire franchise beyond Steven Spielberg’s 1993 masterful film:

You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and, before you even knew what you had, you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox…[They] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

Some context: if you are new to movies, Jurassic Park was and still is a big deal. We’re talking Star Wars big deal, which it beat (as well as E.T.) to become the unadjusted highest-grossing film of all time back in 1993. It connected with audiences in the kind of profound, lightning-in-a-bottle way that only Steven Spielberg could pull off more than once. The visual effects technology, less than a hundred shots planned out meticulously for two years of production, was revolutionary in its epic scale and technical precision, still holding up to modern scrutiny. The characters were instantly recognisable and interesting, Spielberg choosing to cast personalities and interesting faces over established A-list stars. John Williams’ score can so easily be rated with Star Wars, Jaws and E.T. for being some of the most exciting and emotionally nostalgic film music one could hear. Try watching helicopter footage of Kaua’i and not hum just a few notes. It changed blockbuster filmmaking, driving newer films towards relying on computer-generated images to realise massive scopes and scales (to mostly mixed effect), and defined a new generation of moviegoers. It is an effortlessly rewatchable masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time.

In much the same way as Terminator, Alien, Jaws, RoboCop, Halloween, Superman, Ice Age, Saw, and The Mummy, we have had a good first (two in the first two former cases) film in the franchise, followed by a deluge of progressively disappointing sequels, prequels and/or reboots, some basing themselves entirely on one interesting idea and nothing more. The Jurassic franchise already disappointed audiences once with The Lost World, moreso because Spielberg was at the helm and thought it would be a walk in the park (ahem). Jurassic Park III was a laborious effort that saw no shooting script completed while filming, and most of the movie’s best ideas being recycled elements from the previous two. 14 years pass, dozens of false-starts for a fourth entry are attempted, including one notorious idea of dino-human hybrids. Jurassic World was finally upon us in 2015 to the fanfare of $1.6 billion globally and still one of the Top 10 highest-grossing films of all time. But, for as entertaining as the fully-operational park setting and the 3-on-1 mega dinosaur finale are, the script and characters barely hold up to the slightest ounce of scrutiny. The cracks were already there with haphazard and all-too-convenient plotting (how is phone service so bad when the theme park is owned by a communications billionaire?), unmemorable characterisations, and hollow effects that do not show off the monstrous budget associated. One could make the argument that director Colin Trevorrow, whose only previous credit was 2012 indie Safety Not Guaranteed, was relegated to a yes-man for the studio, someone who could comfortably say action and cut, but have every other decision made for him. We’ll get to that.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a dramatic nose-dive that rivals Alien: Resurrection, Terminator: Genisys, Jaws: The Revenge and Halloween 6 for unrelenting stupidity. Trevorrow didn’t return as director, instead it’s the admirable and talented Spanish director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls, The Impossible, The Orphanage), but Trevorrow is still the on-set writer and credited co-screenwriter. Bayona’s trademark style of intense drama coupled with flights of fantasy or supernatural horror barely make an impression on this bi-polar story, half of it being a race to save dinosaurs from a volcanic eruption, the other half a lacklustre chase around a spooky mansion whilst a dino-auction goes on in the basement. We are still stuck with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard trying to inject some life and personality into the events, but their characters were already tired stereotypes to begin with, and all new additions become rapid annoyances. We know that Jurassic Park is already made on the shakiest of ground when it comes to scientific accuracy, but the point of the first movie is that it kind of doesn’t matter because the majesty and terror are so effective, and the point of the story is how that kind of meddling with nature leads to disaster. Fallen Kingdom takes that majesty and terror, dilutes it for the widest audience possible, then throws the ball in the opposite direction by introducing Maisie Lockwood, the secret clone of the daughter of one of John Hammond’s friends who was never mentioned before. She was cloned using the same kind of technology as the dinosaurs, which basically makes her a kindred spirit with them, a dino-human hybrid if you will. They eventually got to it. The twist is so baffling that you barely have time to process it before all the dinosaurs are released into our world, ending just when things started getting interesting.

Are you still there? Don’t worry, I’m getting to it.

Colin Trevorrow is back in the director’s chair, after making a movie so bad with The Book of Henry that he lost the directorial job on Star Wars: Episode IX. Dominion picks up 4 years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, and instead of showing us how humans are dealing with the global crisis of giant extinct creatures roaming the planet, we get a “Now This” report on what’s happened, complete with dodgy effects clearly finished at the last minute. Already, the movie feels wrong as it starts with a lousy news report (if one is to call “Now This” news) instead of the teased “Prologue” showing dinosaurs 65 million years ago and using a mosquito as a match-cut to the present day, 2001 style. Owen and Claire (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, if you can remember) are caring for and protecting Maisie from the outside world, seeing as word is already out in the open that she is a human clone and some key to unlock a science MacGuffin or something. Randomly, Blue the raptor (who is supposed to be important, I think) shows up out of the blue (ahem) with a baby raptor she conceived and birthed asexually. The baby raptor (Beta) and Maisie are stolen by armed thugs and taken away to parts unknown. Owen and Claire give chase to Malta where they interrupt the sale of Maisie and Beta to interested parties who want both sets of DNA for vague science-y stuff. Also Omar Sy from Jurassic World returns to be stuck in exactly the same action scene he was in from 2015, trapped in a small space fighting off a raptor from above. A big idiotic Bourne-style chase scene erupts with some of the worst effects in the franchise, but the heroes are too late to save those other two, then hitching a ride with pilot Kayla (I had to look up her name but she’s played by DeWanda Wise). They find themselves at the villains lair in Italy, but also run into more random dinosaurs, like the flying Quetzacoatlus, the feathered Pyroraptor, and the Therizinosaurus which is some chicken-looking monstrosity with giant nails. Yes, it’s a thing. Everyone regroups for a big reunion and saves the day with more screaming, running, and dinosaur fighting. The end.

Oh wait. There’s more.

At the same time as this tedious plot following characters we never cared about drags on, we also have the big return of Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) who are on the hunt for an explanation why giant locusts are destroying crops across the planet and how it ties in with shady InGen-lite corporation BioSyn, headed by Lewis Dodgson, the guy who gave Wayne Knight a shaving cream bottle to steal dinosaur embryos with in 1993. It’s all disguises and evading security as Alan and Ellie learn more about the ravenous locusts who are engineered by BioSyn accidentally or on purpose. It’s never made quite clear even though it’s meant to be the big threat of the whole movie. The classic heroes mess around for far too long, Alan and Ellie play into some silly “will they won’t they” subplot, and run into Maisie who’s trapped in the facility, but not before yet another horrifically absurd twist appears. BD Wong’s Henry Wu explains to Maisie that she’s not really a clone of her mother that her grandfather made to settle his guilt, but she’s actually a half-clone half-biological daughter that her mother had made while she was a scientist working at the original Jurassic Park. Maisie’s DNA was designed in utero to be rid of the unnamed biological condition that her mother had and later died from, and Dodgson’s idea is to use Maisie’s DNA to kill off all the locusts and cover his tracks, but Dr. Wu’s idea is that Maisie is the key to ending all human diseases forever. Colin Trevorrow and his co-writer Emily Carmichael take the ludicrous “dino-human hybrid” from Fallen Kingdom and turn her into a dino-human hybrid clone Jesus, born from immaculate conception, by way of eugenics. And it’s supposed to be a good thing.

The big finale reunion of both the original trio of characters mixed with the new World crew is at first fun, a few jabs at the absurdity of the functional dino park from Goldblum and Neill, and some lighter moments with Bryce Dallas Howard and Laura Dern. Then the “biggest carnivore the world has ever seen” appears in the Giganotosaurus, the film’s new villain and what the director described as a dinosaur like the Joker. The villain is rendered with some of the best effects of the film, it’s head being a giant animatronic that probably does the best job in this whole trilogy to honour the work of the Stan Winston studio that brought the dinosaurs to life in the first place. However, the action scenes that follow are so poorly edited it wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility if the characters could teleport like Rick and Morty. We are 2 hours in, have spent all this time with two competing storylines of equal tedium and now we are relegated to a third act that feels like a seventh. Everything works out, the heroes escape in a helicopter after saving dinosaurs from a burning forest, leaving behind the Giganotosaurus to battle it out with the chicken-nail thing and the good ‘ol original T-rex, a fight that has no dramatic or emotional weight and only exists because people like dinosaurs fighting.

Jurassic World Dominion suffers under the weight of itself and all that came before. It lingers in the shadow of one great movie, basing all of its dramatic weight on the strengths of better filmmaking from 30 years ago, instead of carving out its own identity. You would expect a movie set in a world where dinosaurs run amok to engage your mind creatively and interrogate our place in the natural world, but it is only ever an excuse to become loud and inconsequential nonsense. Colin Trevorrow and Kelly Carmichael’s screenplay is a fractured nightmare of confusing plot points, weak characterisation, and baffling twists that make the worst of this franchise pale in comparison. All of these actors are wasted, most egregiously with the returning Jurassic Park trio, Goldblum feeling like the only one to have some fun with the material. Some characters just have a natural presence more because of their actors, Mamoudou Athie and Dichen Lachman in particular, but others behave so strangely that they tend to feel over-directed, such is the case with by-the-numbers villain Dodgson.

When all is over, you leave feeling so underwhelmed you wonder if anything was ever worth it. Jurassic Park should never have become a franchise, as every single movie since the first has been made out of recycled ideas from previous scripts stitched around blind nostalgia that twists the majesty and technical precision into something bland, broadly commercial and thoroughly unmemorable. Jurassic World Dominion is one of the worst films of the year because of how boring it is, 146 minutes of inexcusable absurdity that drains the series of any relevance beyond the ability to generate billions. At what cost do we consume? Where does it end? Hopefully, this truly is the “conclusion to the Jurassic era”, because this franchise deserves to be extinct.

Jurassic World Dominion
I hope I never have to see this stupid hand thing again.

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Writers: Colin Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael (story by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, based on characters created by Michael Crichton)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill

Cinematography: John Schwartzman

Editing: Mark Sanger

Music: Michael Giacchino (original themes by John Williams)

Read Nadine Witney’s review for Jurassic World: Dominion also on The Curb below:


Christopher John

Christopher John is an emerging flim critic based in Perth and primarily writes for The Curb. He is a double-degree graduate of Edith Cowan University in Communications and Arts, and creates various flim reviews and video essays on his YouTube channel "Christopher John". Christopher has published online work with ECU's Dircksey magazine, Taste of Cinema, Pelican Magazine and Heroic Hollywood. His first love in flim is Star Wars, his newest love is Akira Kurosawa, and hopes his future love will be Tarkovsky and Studio Ghibli (he's getting to it).

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