As the dinosaur blockbuster meanders to a close, Colin Trevorrow’s third film in the long-running monster series opts for safe.
In 2019, JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker delivered a series of uninteresting set pieces as it brought the final chapter in the new sequel trilogy to a close. Fans of the aggressively polarizing last installment, The Last Jedi, have argued that co-writer/director Colin Trevorrow did not depart due to “creative differences,” The Rise of Skywalker’s original writer/director, Colin Trevorrow, would have provided a far more exciting conclusion.
Trevorrow, the writer-director of Sundance’s prize-winning indie fantasy Safety Not Guaranteed to direct the huge Jurassic World in 2015, gets another chance to finish a blockbuster trilogy with an inventive flourish. Perhaps shocked by his negative experiences in Star Wars, Trevorrow has chosen the Abrams path, adopting a structure in which surprises are few and dullness is standard.
Jurassic World: Dominion picks up four years after the conclusion of JA Bayona’s visually unforgettable Fallen Kingdom (co-written by Trevorrow), which saw Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Ian Malcolm proclaiming the start of “a new era” – a neo-Jurassic age. In this strange new world, where monsters have been released from their island prisons and have spread across the planet, mankind and dinosaurs must coexist, an abnormal situation previously addressed in such diverse movies as One Million Years BC, which was notoriously ahistorical, and A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, which was apocalyptically stupid.
The original Park trilogy’s stars are also present (Sam Neill’s Dr Alan Grant holding a candle for Laura Dern’s conveniently single Dr Ellie Sattler), joined by the new World installments’ nuclear couple Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, all of whom have been reunited in variety-show format. Goldblum’s “chaotician,” he is now employed as an “in-house philosopher” at Biosyn, a swiftly confident yet charmingly sinister genetics firm (the name gives it away) whose Elon Musk-like founder (Campbell Scott) has been so consumed with the idea of utilizing bioengineered locusts to dominate the world food market that he didn’t bother to think if he should (plot spoiler: he shouldn’t).
After the inconceivable has occurred, nostalgia reigns as the planet face devastation, and beasties rampage, and our heroes must work together to preserve it — and perhaps discover their true selves in the process.
The original Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World, were both based on Michael Crichton novels and directed by Steven Spielberg, lending them a sense of inherent quality control. Since then, things have been less surefooted, with the original trilogy’s conclusion being a whimper in Joe Johnston’s Jurassic Park III. In Jurassic World Dr Malcolm says “Jurassic World?” I wasn’t a fan,” which isn’t entirely self-aware. When Dr Malcolm replies “No,” he seems to be saying that he was not familiar with the term “Jurassic World.”
The fact that Dominion is unsure of what narrative to tell and which genre (or country) to do it in doesn’t help matters. One minute, we’re in a sub-James Bond chase down visually congested streets and markets; the next, Pratt is driving a motorbike into the back of a plane, reminding us how much better Tom Cruise did this stuff in Mission: Impossible films.
There’s also a subtle allusion to Larry Cohen’s Q: The Winged Serpent, some Indiana Jones caving nonsense involving Neill’s hat, and a considerable number of secret lair sets that appear to have been recently vacated by Austin Powers’ adversary, Dr Evil.
On the other hand, Goldblum excels at what he does best; manipulating his hair, face, and body in a hidden manner while turning even the most basic sentence into a voyage of linguistic discovery, diverting our attention away from the fact that his character (whose only role appears to be to inform his bosses that they are making a big mistake) makes no sense. The movie’s effects, which once again employ both animatronics and computer graphics, are adequate but unspectacular, lacking the awe (and indeed the heft) of Spielberg’s original. As for composer Michael Giacchino, he appears to be taking it easy on us with his bland “piano-says-sad/strings-say-exciting” motifs in thoroughly uninteresting routine work.
Cast Leads: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Producer: Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall
Written by: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Michael Crichton
Music: Michael Giacchino
Director Of Photography: John Schwartzman