“Jurassic World: Dominion” – Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Following the game changing cliffhanger that saw dinosaurs released into the human world, Jurassic World: Dominion certainly had its work cut out for it.  It had to take the series into this new territory, while also balancing legacy characters with new ones, while also serving as a finale to both the Jurassic World trilogy, and the overall franchise as a whole.

And for the most part, it actually works…

Brave New World
The film opens with a series of news clips about dinosaurs interacting with humans and the modern world, and all the issues that come with that.  Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are hiding out with Maisie (Isabella Sermon), as both governments and shady corporations seek her out, for being the first human clone.

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Honestly, you could do a whole movie just about people adjusting to everyday life with dinosaurs.

To the movie’s credit, it’s the first of the Jurassic World trilogy to actually deliver on its title by showing a world inhabited by dinosaurs.  It’s uncharted territory this franchise hasn’t really gone to before (save for the third act of The Lost World).  The idea itself opens up a myriad of scenarios and plotlines that could fill countless other movies and TV series.  And when the movie is exploring this, it’s at its best.

Unfortunately however, most of this is just a backdrop as this movie has quite a few plotlines running concurrently, and honestly feels like a spy thriller at times.  The original trinity of legacy characters return for their own plotline that at first has nothing to do with Claire or Owen, but eventually converges with them.

In a weird way, much of this movie doesn’t feel like a Jurassic Park film at all, which is both a good and bad thing.  To its credit, it stands out tonally and doesn’t follow all the same beats as any previous movie.  But you do sometimes feel like you’re watching a Jason Bourne film, especially when Claire and Owen are jumping around rooftops in Malta (albeit with dinosaurs chasing them).

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It is genuinely cool to see the dinosaurs in snowy backgrounds, something we’ve never seen before.

Past and Present
The entire third act feels like an Avengers style crossover between legacy characters we grew up loving and newer ones we’ve only known a few years.  Sam Neill and Laura Dern haven’t played their respective characters in over 20 years, but they fit right back into them like no time has passed at all.

And while we got a brief glimpse of current Ian Malcolm in his cameo in Fallen Kingdom, here he’s in full Jeff Goldblum mode.  He’s still very much the cautionary chaotician, but there’s a sarcastic nihilism to him that’s definitely the result of decades of always being right but no one listening to him.

You can tell the whole cast had a lot of fun combining their two generations of characters, and while the fan service is a bit on the nose at times, you forgive it because absolutely everyone is bringing their A-game to it.  There’s a particularly entertaining exchange between a skeptical Dr. Grant who’s always feared raptors and Owen as he tells Grant how he trained them.

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The group works brilliantly when they’re all together.

Concluding a Franchise
As previously mentioned, Dominion has perhaps the largest task of trying to wrap everything up, while satisfying old and young fans alike.  It takes ideas that go back to the original, and feels like a natural evolution of the series, no pun intended.  At first, Maisie’s clone storyline felt like it came out of nowhere in Fallen Kingdom, but it pays off here because you see it as the natural progression of the genetic discoveries made in the first film.

Ian Malcolm warned of scientists not having the respect for the power they wielded, and he’s very much vindicated here as some of those scientists use genetic power for nefarious purposes.  But ultimately the movie shows us that life can find a way, while also trying to improve itself.

Without getting too much into spoilers, there is a genuinely poignant redemptive arc related to those genetic ideas.  And in doing so, Dominion strangely feels like it’s paying tribute to another Michael Crichton novel, “Next”.  Released in 2006, “Next” was Crichton’s last novel published while he was still alive and it outlines a world in which corporations get into genetics for profit, and the Pandora’s Box that winds up opening.

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The Malta chase scene definitely feels like something out of “Next”, where a young boy is hunted because his grandfather sold his body to science and a company claims to “own” the boy’s unique DNA.

It’s a fascinating read, and in a series that had gotten so far away from Crichton’s source novels, it was really heartwarming to see it spiritually adapt one of his later works that dealt with similar subject matter.

Overall, Jurassic World: Dominion has a mammoth task, and while some of its fan service feels contrived, it’s generally successful in its task.  The franchise’s two previous films felt very much like soft remakes of previous movies in the series, but this one felt the most original and unique of any Jurassic Park sequel.  It’s not a perfect film, and will still never top the original, but it gives us a few dinosaurs we haven’t seen before and serves as a decent finale.

What did you think of Jurassic World: Dominion?  How did it compare to the other Jurassic Park movies for you? Let us know in the comments!

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