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Jurassic World Dominion review: Dino epic is a fun but frustrating beast

The final trip to the park is packed with inventive action but a very messy plot.

Jurassic World Dominion review
Universal Pictures
Published: Wednesday, 8th June 2022 at 8:00 pm
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A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World: Dominion picks up four years after the events of Fallen Kingdom, where young clone Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) released dinosaurs into Northern California to save them from being auctioned off to the highest bidder.

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Now, she lives in a remote cabin with adopted parents Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) who keep her hidden from a nefarious genetics company, BioSyn. But when mercenaries kidnap Maisie and baby Velociraptor Beta, Claire and Owen race across the world to find them.

After the disappointing reception to 2018’s Fallen Kingdom, it's understandable why audiences might be a little cautious about Jurassic World Dominion. Annoyingly, the story never quite hits the redemptive high bar that it's aiming for, as a handful of half-baked storylines clash together in a paint-by-numbers adventure.

A large amount of time is spent looking at the corrupt ethics at BioSyn as well as its Zuckerbergian villain, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), but it never manages to say anything meaningful about corporate corruption aside from it being, you know, bad.

It’s more of an afterthought excuse to tie the villain to the original 1993 movie – and to be fair, the scheming CEO has come a long way from his early days of spying on Jurassic Park itself.

Read more: Jurassic World: Dominion is different to predecessors in a crucial way

The script leaves plenty to be desired too, with exposition dumps written solely to move characters from one place to the next, as well as explaining BioSyn’s plot to get control of a vital global market. They should just be honest and call themselves BioSinister at this point – it’s about as subtle as a T-Rex.

But let’s face it, although the Jurassic Park/World franchises have always revolved around the dangers of corporations and messing with genetics, the real draw is seeing dinosaurs cause havoc on the big screen. And Jurassic World Dominion dishes out plenty of exhilarating dino-mayhem.

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Dominion
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World Dominion Universal Pictures

Claire and Owen’s hunt for Maisie takes them to Malta and when their investigation predictably goes south, it leads to a thrilling chase with raptors hurtling after Pratt’s hero through the narrow streets at break-neck speed.

It even briefly borrows from the Bourne movies in an inventive piece of stuntwork that works a treat. Moments like this really make Dominion worth seeing, because it’s incredibly fun when it just lets itself be in the moment, rather than getting bogged down with the plot.

Another stand-out moment sees Owen and DeWanda Wise’s pilot, Kayla, go up against a mean-spirited Pyroraptor which just won’t leave them alone - as Wise delivers a scene-stealing performance with her sarcastically brilliant energy.

The She’s Gotta Have It star holds her own against the rest of the cast, and proves that she should be getting much more attention from Hollywood. If Universal really feels the need to make more Jurassic World movies after this, a Kayla spin-off movie wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Chris Pratt and DeWanda-Wise in Jurassic World: Dominion
Chris Pratt and DeWanda-Wise in Jurassic World Dominion Universal Pictures

Claire also nabs the spotlight for a quietly tense moment as she carefully flees from a new dinosaur - adding some welcome horror-tinged action into the mix. The original trilogy was never afraid to get a little scary at times, and Trevorrow leans into that hard thanks to some well-placed jump scares and roaring dinos.

But does it deliver on its promise of dinosaur-chaos in the real world? It’s the idea that’s always been at the heart of the franchise as a whole, and Trevorrow briefly shows how society would adapt to the arrival of Jurassic beasts. From black markets and smugglers, to the effect on the economy, there’s an interesting approach to dinosaurs living amongst us.

Sadly, it’s not used to its full effect outside of a couple of key scenes and some montage clips. What do cities look like with giant Brachiosaurus’ lumbering through the streets and Pterodactyls soaring between the skyscrapers? There’s also an entire horror movie that could have been played out for the Mosasaur’s attack on a fishing trawler in the film’s opening minutes.

This is all to say that there’s so much potential with the concept of dinos roaming free, and the sequel doesn’t always make the most of it – which is a shame. Thankfully, the return of the original cast is a welcome salve, as Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) instantly settle back into their lovable dynamic, while Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is aptly more chaotic than usual.

Goldblum seems to be acting in a completely different movie to everyone else, which gets a little irritating during a tense moment towards the finale, but the original trio are still a welcome dose of nostalgia, and the film uses them without overstepping the mark.

So, while Dominion does make a few missteps with its middling plots and cloning shenanigans, it also has plenty of enjoyable action sequences, fun comedic beats and an imaginative flair. Could it do with a shorter runtime? Sure. But who cares when there’s an intimidating Pyroraptor, a beastly Giganotosaurus, and a horde of venom-spitting Dilophosaurus’ causing chaos at every turn?

It’s definitely a fitting end to the franchise, so maybe the studio should leave it encased in amber for now.

Jurassic World Dominion arrives in UK cinemas on Friday 10th June 2022. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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