If you’re going to turn Jurassic Park into a franchise, you have two choices. One is to follow the original film’s point of view that science should be bound by moral limits, and that man oughtn’t meddle in nature. The second Jurassic film, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, is a step down from the 1993 film, but it, at least, attempts to keep tugging on the thread of science and morality and the boundaries of exploration. The other way to go is “glorified Godzilla”, which is what every other Jurassic film has done, including the latest, Jurassic World Dominion, which STILL, maddeningly, skimps out on the dinosaurs-eating-people action. Oh, there are a few cool shots of dinosaurs mixing it up in the modern world, but for a two-hour-plus movie? Remarkably little chomp-chomp.
Dinosaurs eating people. How hard is that? It’s the whole assignment! If you’re not going to do anything interesting with the moral philosophy underpinning Jurassic Park, at least deliver on the dinosaurs eating people! But it’s like director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow learned all the wrong lessons from the reaction to that assistant’s death in Jurassic World and just decided to brush past the dinosaurs eating people, as if the problem was people not liking the chomp-chomp, and not that he wrote a horrific death scene for a character that didn’t deserve it (Jurassic Park is extremely canny in saving its gnarliest deaths for the worst characters). There is one (1) satisfying death by dino in Dominion, and it’s cribbed directly from Jurassic Park.
It’s just Jaws! They’re f-cking up Jaws! I can’t get over it. Ever since Jurassic World rebooted the franchise, we’ve been teetering on the brink of a movie about dinosaurs and humans battling it out for, well, dominion of the planet—I was promised woman inheriting the earth! Instead, we’ve got a whole ass summer blockbuster about LOCUSTS. And not even interesting locusts, not even some “life finds a way” genetic quirk that results in regular locusts morphing into dino-influenced super locusts, instead it’s some Big Ag bullsh-t that also doesn’t go anywhere. You want to make an anti-corporate agriculture movie? Great! This is not that film. It’s just giant locusts as a Macguffin because, somehow, the dinosaurs OR the human clone wasn’t enough of a plot driver. Jurassic World Dominion is really like being at the biggest, best buffet on the planet and choosing to eat nothing but plain lettuce.
All that said, Trevorrow comes from the school of Spielbergian baseball cap bros, he knows how to push nostalgia buttons as well as anyone, and he pushes them frequently in Dominion. Bringing back Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum injects some verve into the film, though Chris Pratt has become so utterly charmless throughout his tenure in this franchise he is like a carapace of his former self. The film might be morally incoherent and dumb as sh-t, but the “people fleeing from dinosaurs” action is solid. It’s no wonder the film made $145 million in its opening weekend. Between the nostalgia and the proficient if bland action, Dominion is a passable piece of summer entertainment. It’s mindless, it won’t challenge you, and a couple of times, the dinosaurs look cool. It’s brain-free, burden-free entertainment, exactly what people crave in summertime, with bonus nostalgia for the now-adults who grew up on Jurassic Park. I just wish the dinosaurs ate more people.
Jurassic World Dominion is now in theaters.