Jurassic Park (1993) is one of my favorite movies of all time. While I have issues with every other film in the series, I’m generally on the positive side of reviews. I shrug off the bad parts – or can at least pinpoint the good moments that allow me to enjoy them to varying degrees. I never expected to walk out of Jurassic World Dominion (2022) angry and insulted at what I’d just witnessed.
Nostalgia grabs have become the well to which Hollywood keeps returning to, and I’ve been drinking it up with few complaints. See my love of Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) as a prime example of my acceptance of such clear nostalgia-laced moments – but the way in which this device is used by director Colin Trevorrow in this film felt so insincere. It’s also an issue with the packaging and plotting that this film attempts to support the nostalgia with that really makes this a prime example of how not to use this style.
The film opens with a news report-style exposition dump to set up the current state of the world, and all the dinosaurs that are running amok. We see Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) breaking into an illegal dinosaur breeding facility, Owen (Chris Pratt) herding dinosaurs like he’s a regular cowboy, and Blue living as a mother. Owen and Claire have to go after some smugglers while old favorites, Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are summoned to Biosyn for a dinosaur-related issue.
This film feels like Trevorrow and his co-writers, Derek Connolly and Emily Carmichael, sat in a room and brainstormed what it would be cool to see in a dinosaur movie. What if raptors were chasing Owen on a motorcycle? What if there was a dinosaur swimming under the ice? What if there were…you get it. It’s as if they generated a series of “cool” ideas, and once they had a wall of concepts, they just pasted them together in random order. Next, throw in a MacGuffin to move the plot forward, and give little to no explanation as to why things occur outside of sheer coincidence. Then, stitch in a bunch of direct references to films like Jaws, The Shining, Apocalypse Now, and the Bond franchise for good measure, and you’ve got a general idea of Jurassic World Dominion.
The one positive is that most of the actors are doing things. However, some of those things feel a little extraneous from the established film character and more aligned with the actor’s persona…Goldblum specifically. He and Trevorrow seem to have decided that Ian Malcolm would poke fun at the entirety of the franchise. While some of the nostalgia is giving fans what they want, much of it in this film feels like it is immediately followed up with a middle finger to the fans. There are references that didn’t feel like they were lovingly placed by a fan of the franchise, but rather put there by a director bitter with the way his career has gone. In fact, there are a few shoehorned messages that the audience can’t miss – but I think there may be some commentary on the only acceptable type of films to the industry, and the audiences who pay to see them are clones of the ones that came before.
In the end, Jurassic World Dominion was a movie I had so much excitement for but walked out feeling totally deflated. For someone who grew up loving the original and its characters, this should have been a fun trip back to my youth. I got no joy from this film, and even the few parts that weren’t terrible were overshadowed by the parts that were. Jurassic World Dominion earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.