Friday, June 10, 2022


 by Rob DiCristino

God creates man. Man destroys god. Man franchises a licensed intellectual property.

There’s an argument to be made that 2015’s Jurassic World had the best pitch — and almost certainly the best tagline — of any recent legacy sequel: “The park is open.” It almost sells itself, doesn’t it? A generation after Jurassic Park, a new flock of scientists, engineers, and opportunistic hucksters have taken John Hammond’s ill-advised dream to its natural conclusion. Brimming with hubris and unburdened by the ethical concerns of yesteryear, they’ve hurtled over safeguards and introduced attractions so astounding that — at long last — they’ve captured the imagination of the entire world. The quantum leap in genetic manipulation has even given our friend Dr. Wu (BD Wong) carte blanche to mix up new dinosaur breeds like cocktails, while animal behaviorists like Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) have forged bonds with the pack’s most intelligent specimens. That the film itself turned out to be a noisy, hollow retread of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original was oddly fitting: People — be they genetic engineers or development executives — never learn.
It’s hard to argue with $1.7 billion in box office, though, so one sequel later (J.A. Bayona’s bizarre, almost baroque Fallen Kingdom), it’s time to bring an end to what Universal insists we refer to as “the Jurassic Era (era).” Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs have spread across the globe, creating traffic jams, disrupting ecosystems, and settling in densely populated urban areas. Reformed corporate stooge Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) continues to fight for their conservation, but world governments have abdicated responsibility and — imagine this — given private corporations free reign over the animals’ collective future. The largest of these is BioSyn, led by Campbell Scott’s Lewis Dodgson. Last seen attempting industrial espionage in Jurassic Park, Dodgson now presents as a Cupertino tech mogul whose interest in dinosaur research is, he claims, purely altruistic. But when his goons kidnap Claire and Owen’s surrogate daughter/InGen clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the more insidious truth becomes clear.

Meanwhile, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) discovers that a new breed of locust is devouring any and all crops not grown with exclusive BioSyn seed. Sensing a conspiracy, she enlists the help of Alan Grant (Sam Neill) — whom she describes as the world’s most trustworthy scientist — to help her find proof. The pair fly to BioSyn’s sprawling dinosaur preserve, where raconteur mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is giving lectures in support of his newest book. While our favorite trio scours the campus for clues, Claire and Owen dive into the seedy dino black market, reuniting with old pal Barry (Omar Sy) in pursuit of the trafficker responsible for Maisie’s abduction (Dichen Lachman as Sonoya). One Bond-esque motorcycle chase later — featuring yet another pack of “bred-to-kill” raptor soldiers — Owen and Claire hitch a ride to BioSyn with smuggler Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise). All roads converge on Maisie, who discovers that her mother, an original Jurassic Park scientist, may have coded her with the keys to a massive genetic discovery.
If your eyes glazed over midway through those last paragraphs, don’t worry: Dominion presents plenty of perfunctory dinosaur action to dilute all the corporate intrigue and wide-eyed revelation. Our old velociraptor friend Blue is back — with a cute baby! — as are the T-rex, the aptly-named Giganotosaurus, and even a herd of venom-spitting Dilophosauruses. Few of them do much for the film’s dramatics, of course — we’re miles from Spielberg’s masterful, terrifying set pieces — but it’s nice to know they’re still stomping around in the background somewhere, ready to be called upon whenever the dialogue loses steam. Director Colin Trevorrow (who co-writes the screenplay with Emily Carmichael) has a ton of fun integrating the ancient beasts into the modern world: Triceratopses tread through grasslands alongside buffalo, Pterodactyls make nests in New York skyscrapers, and Rexes face off with bellowing lions. Save for a few rubber puppets, however, they all have that weightless, CGI gloss that animators just can’t seem to solve.

Dominion knows that we’re here for the legacy cast, though, all three of whom acquit themselves with the subtlety and gravitas of summer camp counselors getting hammered after lights out. Laura Dern and Sam Neill are given some of the worst expository dialogue in the franchise’s long, exposition-filled history, which would feel like a betrayal had their presence in Dominion been anything more than an exercise in empty nostalgia. Grant and Sattler don’t need to be here, but isn’t it fun to watch them make googly eyes at each other — Sattler’s marriage has recently ended — and remind us of all the movies we’d rather be watching? Jeff Goldblum gets his Jeff Goldblum on, sliding lithely through each moment like a salamander in heat. He makes a few nonsensical speeches, shoots a few metatextual barbs (“Jurassic World? Not a fan.”) and even gets caught unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a bit more pec. It’s all patently ridiculous, and one line about Malcolm sliding into Sattler’s DMs made me want to set the theater ablaze. But who the fuck cares? It’s Jurassic Park 6.
Still, Trevorrow and Carmichael deserve some measure of credit for crafting a sequel that at least tries to look to the future while it’s retreading the past. Dominion is a globe-trotting adventure with a diverse and charismatic cast (especially Sermon and Wise, who bring what qualifies as the film’s heart and wit), a departure from the usual secluded island drama. Clumsy though it may be, it takes care to resolve the series’ various plot threads — the implications of human cloning, ecological disaster, and conglomorate hegemony are all at least casually yada-yada’d — and closes on a note of hope that doesn’t feel overly saccharine. Had Top Gun: Maverick not just reinvigorated the public’s desire for tactile, character-based action, it may have slipped through a crowded tentpole season unscathed. The reality, though, is much less forgiving. Dominion is a stupid, guileless movie with palpable contempt for a generation of moviegoers whose senses have been so dulled by franchises that they wouldn’t know a compelling story if it came up and bit them on the ass.


  1. But it got dinosaurs. That should be enough, right? Considering the box office of previous 'World' movies, it looks like it is anyway. I actually feel dumber after watching this (i know, harsh).

    I hated Fallen Kingdom too, but at least it tried something. Now it's just about legacy, just like any other IPs

  2. I must have muttered, "god, this movie is stupid" at least three times. There was tons of action yet I was bored. 2 dinosaur turds out of 5.

  3. Not to be one to throw gas on a fire.....but here goes.

    Its almost commendable how badly they messed this movie up. Like someone had to dedicate a fair amount of time/energy/focus to make this so terrible.

    This movie has zero passion, humor, tension, character development, fun, creativity, or even the basest of low bar fan service. I think the entire thing was shot in a green screen room with not one actor within appearing to even try to care. And i dont blame them as the writing and direction is so beyon bland. I saw the flick less than 15 hours ago and id be hard pressed to even describe the plot or evil plan..if there even really was one. I can say that the premise of how humanity deals with the melding of dinos and humans was completely ignored and they went back to the well of some kind of contained evil lair..i think...i dont really remember.

    In the end, for me, this movie goes on a tall pile of IP revisits that just did not work....ghostbusters...matrix....etc.

    1. ive challenged myself to come up with a spec script for how i think Jurassic Park Dominion could have worked. lets do this...

      Opening scene is a huge scientific symposium in the base of the Grand Canyon. The premise is a global meeting of scientists that are embracing the new world of dinos amongst us. This is where our old cast and new cast meets and exchanges plesantries. JUST as goldblooms Malcom says some quirky schtick about "umm aaa oooh its nice that WE embrace it but what if THEY dont", two T-rexes come crashing in and kill several folks. Our heros work together to climb a ladder to safety but Pratt slips down a few rungs...Dern grabs him before he falls off...and both are snagged and eaten by the Trexs as a result.

      This sets off the main events of the movie. Sam Neils depression quickly turns to anger and vengeance. He becomes a "dino terrorist" and has the sole goal of sending them back to extinction.

      Goldbloom and Bryce align forces to find Sam and stop him before it goes to far.

      It goes to far. Neil joins up with a group of angry ex green berets who do help him take out alot of dinos but also are up to some kind of nefarious plan. Collateral damage ensues.

      Final act gives Neil some redemption as he helps dern/goldblom stop the green berets and ends up sacrificing himself to save a bunch of doomed dinos.

      Final shot is a shirtless goldbloom making out with bryce as they ride off into the sunset on a now-docile t-rex back.


      ok ok the last line if fan fictiony but otherwise im serious. we need loss and friction and change for this to work. also some legit carnage. (hard R rating). also Sam Neil as a baddie would just rock.