Jurassic World Dominion is much better than its predecessor, Fallen Kingdom, and a satisfying conclusion to the much-loved dinosaur franchise.
Jurassic Park or Jurassic World – what do we call a franchise that’s two separate trilogies ultimately telling the same story? For the sake of avoiding confusion, let’s dub it the ‘Jurassic franchise’.
It’s been almost 30 years since Steven Spielberg’s seminal blockbuster Jurassic Park was released, and the latest instalment, Jurassic World Dominion, is the sixth movie in the overall series. It picks up four years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, depicting a world forewarned by Jeff Goldblum’s character in the original film. Nature has indeed found a way, and dinosaurs now coexist alongside humans.
The story of Dominion is both legacy and contemporarily driven, with a narrative structure divided into three concurrent stories, which all collide for a classic final act.
Legacy characters Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) are reunited here to investigate a Jurassic-sized locust plague that’s destroying crops and threatening the integrity of the food chain.
Meanwhile, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark on a global escapade to rescue their adopted daughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon), who has been kidnapped for her genetic make-up (you may recall her being a clone, created by James Cromwell in the previous flick).
Both stories lead to BioSyn, the evil rival corporation to the original InGen Corp, which is where we find Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who is working as an academic at their HQ.
There’s a lot of complexity to each of the subplots, and to dive into the intricate details would be to spoil most of the fun. Suffice to say that Dominion is a unique sequel in the Jurassic franchise and the first to properly explore the world beyond the coastlines of the five islands from previous instalments.
Perhaps the most perplexing of the stories is that of Grady and Claire’s globetrotting to exotic locations in search of Maisey. Presented like a James Bond-style espionage thriller, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine audiences checking their ticket to make sure they’re in the right cinema.
Admittedly, this portion of the film is jarring and so far removed from what is familiar in a Jurassic movie that it threatens to undermine the integrity of author Michael Crichton’s original vision. But it also brings a sense of relief and excitement that the series is finally moving beyond the basic premise of “There’s a dinosaur. Run!”
As the stories begin to verge towards their fusion, Neill finds himself as a bumbling klutz, providing comic relief to a realigned dynamic of female empowerment. The women are very much in charge of this adventure and both Neill and Pratt take on the lighter responsibilities. For the most part this works, and the blokes are given several Indiana Jones-style moments to relish.
The original cast return to the series as fresh and eager as ever, as though no time at all has passed. Dern has more authority and takes the lead with gusto, Neill and Goldblum remain bickering rivals whose end goal is the same, while Pratt and Dallas-Howard remain stoic and heroic, keeping the momentum of the second trilogy moving at a breakneck pace.
Many characters and cast members from the other Jurassic movies also return, including BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu, the scientist who is arguably responsible for everything that’s ever gone wrong. But perhaps the most exciting character in the whole film is new to the franchise – Kyla (DeWanda Wise), a classic ex-military pilot type who runs illegal charters for shady customers. She has a Han Solo thing going and a sense of longevity about her, as though she was created to appear in future chapters should Universal give another trilogy the green light (a strong possibility).
Jurassic World Dominion is a much better movie than its predecessor, Fallen Kingdom, but it also retrospectively gives that movie more weight. The events at the Lockwood Estate, where underground dinosaur auctions took place, are suddenly a lot more relevant and provide added context to the latest adventure.
Ultimately, and importantly, the new Jurassic movie is fun. It dishes up what fans want and indulges our Jurassic appetite for carnage with a final act that’s taken straight out of the Spielberg playbook. There are lots of dinosaurs and lots of chomping, people being munched on and others fleeing for their lives. And despite some preposterous moments along the way, Dominion is a satisfying conclusion (for now?) to one of the most beloved franchises in cinema history.
In cinemas: June 9, 2022
Starring: Chris Pratt, Sam Neill, Laura Dern
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow