EDITOR’S NOTE: The movies are back in theaters, and so is Drew, with reviews of some of the “blockbusters” of the summer.
by Andrew Jenk
There is a scene in the first Jurassic World where Clare from Bryce Dallas Howards comments that no one is impressed by dinosaurs and that they are considered stagnant. This is a comment on the series itself, as moviegoers are no longer as impressed seeing these creatures on film as they were in 1993; the series must now strive to stay relevant and impressive. Seven years later, in this latest entry, the franchise ignores its own comment and becomes exactly that. Jurassic World Dominion is not so much an unwatchable movie as it is tedious and mediocre. It’s not a movie to get mad at, just because Dominion can’t keep up the energy for it.
Re-introducing dinosaurs into the ecosystem after the series warned about their ramifications is a strong enough continuation of the story and provides a good reason to bring back the original cast. The characters of Park and World could clash in their different ideologies regarding this new status quo. There is potential for exciting settings in more populated areas and coming to terms with the consequences that the series has been warning about since its inception. Unfortunately, such themes are forgotten after the first act. As the movie goes on various tangents, it introduces a story where the dinosaurs are almost inconsequential.
Colin Trevorrow has written the entire World series, lacking strong narrative cohesion. Here these problems are multiplied by ten. There are essentially five opening scenes at the beginning, broadening the focus of genetics without relating to Jurassic Park or the work of John Hammonds, naturally. This might explain why they brought Dobson back from the original, to give the illusion of a thematic arc without intertwining it. Filmed in 2020, production on Dominion had to shut down and restart due to COVID, which could explain some of the film’s shortcomings. The scale is smaller, so there aren’t too many actors together and most of the characters have little time to interact. The composition of the shot is very strange and lacks cohesive framing.
Chris Pratt doesn’t function as a straightforward action hero; Bryce Howard does the best he can, but he can’t elevate a relegated character to a one-note mother character. The original cast has a screen presence. The movie feels like two separate stories tied together and only intersecting for convenience. If anything, the sequel shows just how vital the dialogue exchanges were in the original classic. Where are the scenes with differentiation discussions? Ideas combined with Spielberg’s visual storytelling to move the story along in a compelling way. Here, everything is shot up close with exposure scenes following one another.
The SFX and sound team shines with their work here. The more practical effects are shown up close where CGI is used for wide shots to make things more realistic. The voices of the dinosaurs are excellent, especially in surround sound. One scene uses these elements with intensity and atmosphere that was missing from the rest of the image.
By trying so desperately to invoke the past, the film unintentionally elevates the first film by showing how easily this 1993 premise could have failed if it weren’t for Steven Spielberg and his team. The writing and directing were dynamic, portraying more information in a shorter time than any of Dominion’s exposition-laden scenes. The dinosaurs were more vivid enhancing the fallout story occupied by real characters. Now, the dinosaurs just walk into the frame whenever the audience gets bored. Jurassic Park is a movie that never needed to be a franchise, and Jurassic World Dominion is the fifth such example, creating a pretty poor excuse for a movie franchise. It’s a legacy sequel with none of the legacy.