June 2022 Roundup

Jurassic World Dominion

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Universal Pictures // Directed by Colin Trevorrow // Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Campbell Scott

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Universal Pictures has said that Jurassic World Dominion represents the end of the Park/World franchise that graced our screens since 1993. With ‘new’ trilogy helmer Colin Trevorrow back to direct (he previously directed 2015’s Jurassic World and co-wrote its follow-up, Fallen Kingdom), and the combined return of Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, fans could realistically hope for a satisfyingly emotional and impactful send-off for the franchise. Hope can drive a man insane, and that’s just what Dominion did. Jurassic World Dominion is frankly awful. It pains me to say it, but it’s true. Feeling like a mashup of greatest hits moments, uninspired action, and creative bankruptcy, Dominion lumbers along through its monstrous one hundred and forty-seven-minute runtime like a brachiosaurus waiting to die. Whilst Fallen Kingdom set up the intriguing idea of dinosaurs roaming freely (and somehow across the world…?), it also introduced human cloning (sigh) and it’s the latter that gets the focus in Dominion in the form of the exhausting Maisie Lockwood (Sermon) who lives in hiding with Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Howard) due to her status. The EVIL CORPORATION Biosyn is after her and they have also engineered massive locusts that will bring an end to agriculture, the natural hierarchy, and LIFE because THEY’RE EVIL. That’s Dominion, a nauseating clone kid and doomsday locusts. How did we end up here? Alas, we did and the story of the movie suffers hugely thanks to these interweaving and poorly connected narratives. Dominion does have a handful of positives. The return of the OG trio would never be unwelcome (especially Neill and Dern who still have that fun chemistry) and their return also allowed for some blasts of the classic Jurassic Park theme. The scenes of Claire slowly escaping a Therizinosaurus in a swamp and the two dinosaurs fighting it out in the centre of Valletta were highlights, however, both scenes featured prominently in trailers (having been to Valletta, I had more fun identifying the places I had seen). The reintroduction of Dilophosaurus was a nice touch but that’s about it. Everything else was a bust, including the returning World characters who either add nothing or feel as if they are going through the motions. The new character Kayla (Wise) was just bad and Campbell Scott’s Dodgson was even worse - the writing for both was dreadful, as it was across the board. Throughout, there were lots of quippy one-liners or impact statements designed to empower characters or pump the crowd up that just felt unnatural, forced, and, well, lazy. Though I will always applaud the use of practical animal effects which Dominion employed in parts, the overuse of noticeable CGI took away any fear factor from the creatures - especially during a laboured motorbike chase through the streets of Valletta…the action wasn’t a strong point for the movie. 1993’s Jurassic Park is one of cinema’s greatest achievements and stands up still to this day, and whilst the sequels haven’t always hit the heights, Dominion feels like the lowest of lows for a franchise struggling with innovation and imagination. What could have been a soaring conclusion to a (mostly) beloved IP ends up being one of the worst blockbuster experiences I’ve had in many, many years. It’s not just disappointing, it’s lacklustre and a mess. Gone are the days of awe and genuine spectacle, the only wonder I felt was wondering when this would put me out of my misery and end. What did Ian Malcolm say about the dino droppings in Jurassic Park? It’s relevant here too.