Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and original film trio Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill star in Jurassic World: Dominion. This film is the sixth entry in the Jurassic Park franchise and was directed by Colin Trevorrow. I had an opportunity to see this film early, and this is my spoiler-free review.
Jurassic World: Dominion deals with the premise “what would happen if dinosaurs and humans coexisted in the modern world?” and the answer to that question takes us on a thrilling journey.
Unlike the two previous movies, the main focus is the human characters. Through some of the most sincere moments in the series and a couple of franchise-best performances from the cast, the stakes don’t have to be high to be important. After all, dinosaur attacks are more thrilling if you care about the people being chased. The world of the film feels inhabited and a natural evolution from where the previous entry left off. Dinosaurs are way past being a novelty in this environment, and it shows. It’s not about them being brought back to life, but how their being back affects the human communities around them.
The action sequences are fast, dynamic, explosive, and thrilling with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor that reminds you why you like seeing dinosaurs going after motorcycles in the first place. There are plenty of new dinosaur species to put the main characters in danger as well as to viciously feast on random bystanders.
Performances by Bryce Dallas Howard and newcomer DeWanda Wise especially stood out to me. Wise was definitely a highlight in this new dino adventure. She plays Kayla Watts, a former Air Force pilot whose story entangles with Owen and Claire’s during the first act of the movie. Her charisma and delivery place her as the most interesting character in this entry, effortlessly bantering with franchise veteran Chris Pratt. Her character is compelling as well as being the center of some of the funniest moments in the film.
The cast is divided into two plots. Grant, Sattler, Malcolm, and Maisie (the young girl from the last movie played by Isabella Sermon) spend the first half of the movie in a corporative science complex. Meanwhile, Owen, Claire, and Kayla go on an exciting rescue mission. Neither plot overshadows the other during the middle of the movie, so it was very refreshing not to feel as if we were leaving an A plot to spend time with a less compelling B plot.
Speaking about overshadowing, there was certainly a danger for that with the original film’s “big three” reuniting for this. I was glad to see that the cast from the original Jurassic Park mixed organically with the “new” cast. Meaning that the characters work together instead of the veterans making the second generation look useless in comparison, as is common with multi-generational narratives.
It was really fun seeing Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum back together and interacting with the new generation of characters. The nostalgic elements are not nearly as overdone as what other legacy franchises have thrown our way during recent years. There are clearly plenty of references to previous installments. Some of them drive the story forward, while the rest may only be noticed if you’ve watched the original film dozens of times. It is also important to mention that the characters have enjoyable chemistry and any “nostalgia pandering” isn’t at the front of the stage.
Overall, this movie does have a few flaws. Dominion remembered you have to care about the human characters so you can be worried when they’re in danger, as a good summer blockbuster should. But there is still a lot of make-believe required for this plot to work even when this is a world filled with dinosaurs we are talking about.
The film’s pacing can be slow at times, and there’s definitely the burden of this being the six evil revived dinosaur movie. The film also suffers from a few visual effects issues clearly related to the pandemic getting in the way of production, as well as introducing some interesting ideas (like modern animals living alongside dinosaurs) and not really exploring them.
That being said, everyone who has ever loved this series should still have a good time. It has plenty going for it, such as going back to focusing more on the human characters and the brutal, fast-paced action similar to what we saw in Jurassic World back in 2015. While Jurassic World: Dominion might not be the blockbuster of the season, I felt it was a satisfying conclusion to this story.
My rating for this film:
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