At one point in Jurassic World: Dominion, there’s a scene where Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Ian Malcolm supposedly (it was shown in the trailer but sadly not in the movie itself) mumbled his words, “Bigger. Why do they always have to go bigger?” That dialogue alone pretty much sums up the third and (purportedly) final chapter of the Jurassic World trilogy, where Colin Trevorrow mirrored that moment with his go-big-or-go-home approach.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Trevorrow embraced the aforementioned route akin to a theme-park style of Hollywood blockbuster cinema. He has successfully done it before in Jurassic World seven years ago, bringing the long-dormant franchise out of its extinction and as Dr Ian Malcolm used to famously quote in the first Jurassic Park, “life finds a way“.
And so, I was hoping Trevorrow would capture the same moviemaking magic that made Jurassic World such an engaging popcorn blockbuster in the first place. But after spending nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes watching Jurassic World: Dominion, the result is rather… a mixed bag.
This time, the story — credited to Emily Carmichael and Colin Trevorrow — chooses to focus on the two sides of the characters. The first one, of course, involved Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and his girlfriend, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) as they lay low deep in the woods taking care of Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). The latter is a clone of Sir Benjamin Lockwood’s dead daughter — a twist which was first revealed in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. When Maisie ends up being kidnapped by a group of poachers working for a shady billionaire and CEO of Biosyn, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), Owen and Claire set out on a globe-trotting adventure to locate her whereabouts.
The second side of the story follows the OG trio of Jurassic Park, where Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) enlists the help of her old friend, Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to investigate the mysterious swarms of giant locusts that have been feeding the crops. Ellie believes the locusts have to do with Dodgson’s part of an elaborate scheme. In order to garner the evidence, she already has Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who is now working for Dodgson in a research facility located on the island, to back her up.
Jurassic World: Dominion gets off to a promising start, beginning with the movie addressing the ecological impact of the human-and-dinosaur co-existence and the subsequent both-side-of-the-stories structures focusing on Owen and Claire and the Jurassic Park‘s OG trio’s respective aforementioned missions. The set-up features some entertaining set-pieces, notably the whole Malta-set chase sequence. It was easily the most thrilling and action-packed moment in Jurassic World: Dominion, where both scenes — Owen’s motorcycle pursuit along the narrow streets of Malta and Claire’s rooftop chase — strangely remind me of No Time to Die and Quantum of Solace respectively. It was as if Trevorrow wanted to show us what he can do emulating a Bond-style chase sequence except for the pursuer(s) turn out to be Atrociraptors.
While I enjoyed the first half of the movie, it was in the second half that Jurassic World: Dominion starts to wobble and at times, ran out of steam with all-too-familiar scenarios of the characters trapped in a remote island/research facility full of dinosaurs. Well, you know the drill — all hell breaks loose with the dinosaurs attacking left and right. The 146-minute running time could have used some trimmings too in favour of a leaner pace.
Bringing back the OG trio is a nice touch. It sure feels nostalgic seeing the (now-older) Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum (still never lost his character’s signature sardonic remarks) back together for one last time, even though I was expecting more from them. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard did a decent, though could-have-been-a-better job reprising their respective roles as Owen and Claire. Isabella Sermon, in the meantime, fares reasonably well in her sympathetic role as Maisie Lockwood. Franchise newcomers include Mamoudou Athie’s adequate supporting turn as Biosyn’s Head of Communications Ramsay Cole while DeWanda Wise steals the show with her spunky portrayal of a former Air Force pilot, Kayla Watts.
Given the reportedly huge budget of US$165 million, it’s kind of surprising that the special effects look weirdly inconsistent. The combination of animatronics and CGI isn’t as seamless as I would expect this time around since Trevorrow and his team used to do a great job in Jurassic World.
Personally, I still enjoyed the first two Jurassic World movies better than this one in the sequel trilogy. It’s far from the worst (that (dis)honour still goes to Jurassic Park III) as Jurassic World: Dominion remains a decent crowd-pleasing entertainment.