Let me preface this review by saying that I never walk into a Jurassic Park sequel expecting cinema. Being a fan of the first film, I understand that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to capture the same thrills and wonder in a sequel – or rather, five sequels. I’m easy to please. All I want is some cool dinosaur sequences and quippy one-liners. To an extent Jurassic World Dominion provides both, but it still somehow ended up being unsatisfactory.
Set a few years after the events of 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the world is learning to co-exist with dinosaurs, though it’s not going all that well. Biosyn, run by Lewis Dodgson – remember that name? – has a dinosaur sanctuary in the middle of nowhere while also conducting genetic testing. Claire and Owen (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt) have become de facto parents to Maisie, a highly sought after clone. And unusually large locusts have begun to eat the crops of farmers who have not used Biosyn seed, threatening a global famine.
Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is suspicious of Biosyn and believes they’re responsible for the locusts. After receiving an invitation to tour Biosyn’s headquarters from Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), she convinces Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to travel with her to retrieve a sample to compare to one of the genetically altered locusts. Meanwhile, Maisie is kidnapped by dinosaur poachers and sent to Biosyn to be tested by Dodgson (Campbell Scott) and Henry Wu (BD Wong).
I’ve got to be honest, I was surprised that Universal pushed aside the reliable thrill of dinosaurs to tell a story about an ecological disaster featuring locusts. A very dull story about locusts. Yes, we get some creepy dinosaur encounters, yes we get some fun dino-based fights, but ultimately, the villain is Biosyn which is a real shame because dinosaurs are a heck of a lot more terrifying.
As with most movie billionaire scientists, Dodgson is quirky and awkward, but he lacks any calculating, antagonistic traits that make you believe our heroes are in real danger. The trio of Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm is still a joy to watch – Goldblum easily steals the show – but Claire and Owen are lacking chemistry and charisma, and their particular storyline brings the movie down quite significantly when they’re on screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate Jurassic World Dominion. It was entertaining enough and I had enough fun with it that I didn’t leave the theater feeling like I wasted 146 minutes of my life. The movie does reward the fans with a lot of homages to the original film and that’s honestly the best part of the movie, besides the performance of Jeff Goldblum. But it takes itself way too seriously and I found myself laughing at moments I wasn’t sure that I was supposed to be laughing at. I just think the movie would have benefited from focusing solely on the original cast. And a better script. And maybe a better director.
Jurassic World Dominion is probably going to make a lot of money this weekend, but I think it’s time to finally let this franchise go extinct. Please.