Before I get started, let me give you a bit of context: I love Jurassic Park. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time and like so many others, Ian Malcolm is my spirit animal. While none of the other films in the franchise have matched the original, and some of them (*cough* Jurassic Park III *cough*) were just flat-out bad, I still enjoyed them for what they were: fun, dinosaur action-adventure movies.
I really wish I could say the same about Jurassic World Dominion.
It brings me no joy at all to say that this film was a complete and utter disappointment. This movie was poorly written, rushed, dreadfully long, and most importantly, not about dinosaurs (more on that later). I really, REALLY, wanted to like this movie. While I have a few positives, they can’t save this mess of a movie. Dominion is the only proof you need to realize that after The Lost World, or even after Jurassic Park, they should have never touched this franchise again.
Let’s get into the best part of this movie: the cast. They save this movie from being worse than it already is. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are fun to watch on screen but it’s the iconic trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum who really make this movie fun at times. It’s great to see these 3 together again after all these years and they’re tons of fun to watch (Goldblum is the standout as per usual). Franchise newcomer, DeWanda Wise, is a great addition to the cast with her performance being one of the better parts of the movie. While her character didn’t fit in with the narrative at times, she is a talented actress and great to watch and I hope to see Wise in some upcoming projects.
From a technological standpoint, the film is very impressive. A lot of it was clearly shot on location and the cinematography was honestly beautiful at times. The lighting and colours are also beautiful. The animatronics used for the dinosaurs in the film are very impressive and probably the best the dinosaurs have looked in the franchise. For a movie made at the height of the pandemic, I was very impressed, to say the least.
Michael Giacchino’s score is magnificent. I’m a sucker for a good score and I think that Gicchinno did a fine job with the film. Hearing newly composed music blended with the classic Jurassic Park themes worked on so many levels and I think this is my favourite score he’s done for the Jurassic World trilogy.
The sequence in Malta was also something I thoroughly enjoyed. I felt that it truly embraced the idea of humans and dinosaurs co-existing and really showed that Fallen Kingdom set up a great storyline for Dominion to continue with. It’s a shame there weren’t more sequences like this because I felt it was one of the few times where I can truly say I had a ton of fun with this movie.
Unfortunately, that’s it with the niceties. Let’s get into why I didn’t like this film.
The worst thing about this movie is undoubtedly the plot. There’s a saying in hockey: if you’re a goaltender, tend the goal. Well, if you’re making a Jurassic movie, make it about dinosaurs. This movie’s plot, or should I say many plots, have nearly nothing at all to do with dinosaurs but rather crop-destroying locusts and saving a kidnapped Maisie Lockwood. The dinosaurs are practically an afterthought in this film. They show up here and there but they’re barely the focus of the film. I’ve said before that I feel like the franchise has run its course because every Jurassic film was always “A science experiment goes wrong and a group of people being chased in the wild by a big dinosaur who eventually gets scared off”. While it’s repetitive, it at least embraces the whole idea of the franchise and makes the movie somewhat fun. The plots of Dominion were extremely frustrating for me because despite the flaws of the other Jurassic films, they at least focused on the dinosaurs and it made for a fun experience. The number one rule when making a Jurassic movie is to make it about dinosaurs and for some reason, that rule was broken.
The writing in this film is also a bit messy. The cast does the best with what they’re given and Jeff Goldblum is once again, the standout and gets the best lines, but there’s some really bad dialogue that’s clearly meant to be a form of exposition but just sounds really corny. It felt unnatural to hear Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler re-introduce themselves by their full names considering they’ve been friends for so long. There’s a line in the third act where Alan Grant says “You’re Owen Grady. I know you, you trained Raptors!” and honestly, it made me cringe a little bit. It felt like needless dialogue that was just there to remind us what Owen used to do.
The CGI was also a big issue for me at times. When we see the animatronic dinosaurs up close, they looked fantastic. However, when we see the dinosaurs in quick flashes or when they are running, the CGI looks terrible. They had plenty of time to fix these images and for a big-budget movie, they should have, but they didn’t, and it shows.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of continuity from the last film. There are gaps that don’t make sense. I am told by die-hard Jurassic fans that in order to understand what happened between the Fallen Kingdom and Dominion, you would have had to play a web game called DinoTracker, watch the short film Battle at Big Rock, watch the Dominion Prologue as well as the fourth and fifth seasons of Camp Cretaceous. I can assure you that the general audience will not likely do all that and I think that makes it a bit confusing for people who’ve only seen the films. While other franchises like Star Wars have cartoon shows and games that you can watch and play to fill in the gaps, they’ve never been essential to understanding the movies. You can watch just the movies and still understand everything just fine. I will get around to watching Camp Cretaceous at some point and maybe it will fill in the gaps for me, but it’s annoying that I have to sit through all that content to understand one movie.
This movie is also ridiculously long. Coming in at two hours, twenty-six minutes and fifty-seven seconds (thanks again to Collider for stealing our scoop), Dominion is the longest entry in the Jurassic franchise and this isn’t a good thing. This story just drags on and they could have easily cut 15-20 minutes from the film and it probably would have been better.
Overall, the movie just doesn’t work, and I think that’s in part due to the production timeline. Dominion completed postproduction on November 6, 2021. This movie was finished 216 days before release and instead of using that time to fine-tune it, they did nothing. From the rushed pacing to the atrocious plot to the bad CGI, this movie clearly needed more time and it shows. It also didn’t help that director Colin Trevorrow chose to test screen this movie for people who were already major fans of the Jurassic franchise. Clearly, their feedback was biased and that is never a good thing because they are going to tell you exactly what you want to hear. If you are a Jurassic fan, you are going to see this movie anyway and it doesn’t matter what I say. If you are a general movie goer and are thinking about seeing this movie, save your time and money, you will be disappointed.