Hi friends! Let me take you back to 1993. I was 12 and I stepped into a theater to see a Spielberg movie called Jurassic Park. The theater grows dark, the John Williams score begins and I get introduced to an island with special creatures. “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” John Hammond says and my mouth is agape right along with Dr Ellie Sattler and Dr Grant. I’ll never forget that moment. It’s when I realized movies could wow me in a way no other artform could. I saw the movie 7 times that summer and have adored it every time I’ve watched it throughout my life.
Now let’s move to 1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park opens and I eagerly make my way to the theater. “This is going to be great!” I say to myself. But it wasn’t… I admit I haven’t rewatched this film in a long while but at the time it was the first movie to truly disappoint me. The characters were stupid and shrieky, the story wasn’t compelling. It broke my young movie-loving heart.
Unfortunately this pattern of disappointment would continue with each entry in this franchise. Each film somehow built up my anticipation- ‘maybe this is the one that will recapture the magic?’ only to be then stuffed with stupid characters, few scares and terrible dialogue. Maybe my expectations were too high but I have a low bar when it comes to creature scares movies- I liked 47 Meters Down, The Shallows, and Crawl. These movies are simple and create tension between man and beast- like the original Jurassic Park did. Is it too much to ask for this from the Jurassic Park sequels? Is it too much to ask for characters I care about facing off with beasts that are unpredictable and scary?
The latest entry in this franchise to disappoint me is Jurassic World Dominion. It’s supposedly the last of the Jurassic World trilogy but if it makes a billion dollars I’m sure we will see more from the Jurassic brand at a theater near you.
Spoiler warning for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom:
In the last film we are left with an intriguing idea for a movie (how they get there is stupid but these are Jurassic movies after all…). Clone little girl Maisie lets the dinosaurs out of their cages and into the human world. This could be fun! Then we got a short film in 2019 Battle at Big Rock that features humans dealing with dinosaurs as they are camping and living their lives. Yes! This has potential for a return to form for this franchise.
You can imagine my disappointment then when this new movie Jurassic World Dominion barely touches on this dynamic. Instead we get the convoluted story of an evil biotech firm creating giant locust to control the world’s agriculture production. This was so boring not even the return of our legacy characters of Grant, Sattler and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm could save it.
Chris Pratt is charming as always as Owen but he’s not given much to do and he still has no chemistry with Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire (who continues to be such a frustratingly poorly written character). DeWanda Wise’s Kayla is charismatic but not given enough dialogue to get to know well or be invested in. And then we have Campbell Scott as a bit player from the original film Dr Lewis Dodgson (he even has the shaving cream can from the OG film…) now the evil head of the locust/dinosaur loving company.
There are some enjoyable sequences. My favorite was when Owen is racing through the streets of Malta with raptors chasing him. That was great and what was promised in the trailers and the short. But too quickly it moves to a research facility where we go long stretches with only a few dinosaurs and far too many locusts.. Everything becomes dull with scenes that are supposed to have tension that don’t. It’s always clear our characters aren’t in any real jeopardy especially if Owen can put out his hand and make any dinosaur do his bidding…
Of course it is fun for me to see Dr Sattler, Grant and Malcolm back but I would honestly rather see an interview of them all talking about the original film than what they get here to do. It’s so bland and not the least bit scary (or romantic).
Maybe some of the scores of people who loved the last 2 entries in this franchise will enjoy this but it didn’t even look that great? There are some impressive CGI sequences but some, like a scene where Claire parachutes to the ground, look cheap and sloppy. Another example is when Owen has a dinosaur strapped to his back that looks like a plastic toy. In my opinion, it can’t even be saved by awe and spectacle.
When you get to see Jurassic World Dominion let me know what you think. As for me, I’ll just watch the original and remember what it was like to be 12 and in love with the movies.
4 out of 10