‘Jurassic World Dominion’ – Bloated Blockbuster Wraps Trilogy on Weak Note

Generic sequel squanders killer cast, overloads on slick CGI dinosaurs

Remember the water-ripple scene from “Jurassic Park?”

That image of a shuddering cup – stark and terrifying – captured the awe of seeing dinosaurs in a way no previous film could deliver.

Gone are the days when CGI raptors can fill us with awe. Still, 2015’s “Jurassic World” brought dinosaurs back as a sizable menace. The reboot has aged remarkably well, even if the immediate sequel, “Fallen Kingdom,” squandered that goodwill.

“Jurassic World Dominion,” the third film in the second trilogy, thinks “more is better” in almost every way.

  • More heroes!
  • More cool dinosaurs!
  • More subplots!

It leaves us woozy and eager for the saga to take a knee. Even the return of the three heroes from the 1993 original can’t make “Dominion” anything more than a busy franchise extension.

Jurassic World Dominion | Trailer 2 [HD]

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back as Owen and Claire, the mismatched heroes from “World” now settled in as a happy couple.

Except now the dinosaurs who brought them together in “Jurassic World” are … everywhere. They’ve transcended oceans and country borders like a certain virus, and you can see a prehistoric beast in your neighborhood if the timing is just right.

That’s assuming you live through the encounter.

It’s a fascinating setup that might be better served by a serialized format. Instead, “Dominion” drills down on a single, meandering menace. Oversized locusts are ravaging farms across the globe, and a massive food shortage is inevitable.

Joe Biden … the Movie!

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Enter Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), the heroine from “Jurassic Park” whose background as a soil expert overlaps with the locust threat. She corrals her old beau and research partner Alan Grant (Sam Neill, who looks puzzled to be here from start to finish) to learn more about the invasion.

That leads them back to Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), the third member of their dino troupe. He’s part of a Big Pharma company called Biosyn with possible ties to the food crisis. Campbell Scott, channeling Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, is the visionary behind the group, and we’re told in near-record time he can’t be trusted.

Why bother with a mystery when we’re here for raptors, right?

This critic is exhausted just setting the plot in motion, and that isn’t everything we need to know from the jump.

Owen and Claire are the surrogate parents to a sullen teen (Isabella Sermon) from “Fallen Kingdom” whose DNA holds its own secrets.

All the various plot threads do intertwine, but only in ways that give director/co-writer Colin Trevorrow (who helmed the excellent “Jurassic World”) a chance to show off his CGI treasures.

“Dominion” doesn’t go five minutes without a dinosaur scampering across the screen. More often than not, they’re chasing one of our collection of heroes, a group including newcomer DeWanda Wise as a Han Solo clone.

There’s an undeniable nostalgia boost seeing Dern, Neill and Goldblum again, and each has aged as gracefully as Mother Nature allows. It’s still filled with, “oh, aren’t you the famous so-and-so” dialogue and other meta moments that stop the story cold.

Grab a reunion brew off screen, team. 

And the third time we hear a variation of the moldiest action trope, a hero barking, “HOLD ON!” to his or her mates it felt like a parody.

The script, credited to Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael, teeters between pedestrian and pure cringe. The challenging themes riffed on in past “Jurassic” films get name checked here, but don’t expect anything fresh or revelatory. This is Sequel 101, and dang if they don’t stick closely to that formula.

Dern is the liveliest of the bunch, while Goldblum isn’t given enough weighty riffs to merit his screen time.

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Trevorrow keeps the pace at breakneck speed, which reaps one bravura sequence mid-movie that’s almost worth the price of admission. Our heroes are on the run, again, but the exhilarating pace and sharp edits give the sequence a jolt.

It’s why we pay good money for summer blockbusters.

That intensity never lets up, even if the ingenuity flags. The novelty of seeing humans outrun dinosaurs again, and again, lets us know the dramatic stakes are minimal, at best.

By the time the third act, arrives, exhaustion has set in. Let’s wrap it up, folks. You’ll struggle to remember why the heroes are running hither and yon, and that’s never a good sign. This story can’t sustain that bloated running time modern blockbusters require.

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The film opens with promise, showcasing a thrilling water attack and, later, Owen roping dinos like so many restless Mustangs. That sense of adventure slowly seeps from the film as the various plots emerge.


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The film’s creative team attempted to paint “Dominion” as another woke affair in the press. The results are mixed on screen, although the progressive content doesn’t drag down the adventure.

It’s clear, though, that the stars’ hunger to send a message outweighed telling a story for the ages.

Wise’s wisecracking pilot meanders into Mary Sue territory, and the script rushes her story arc in a way that does her a disservice. Still, she’s not lecturing her fellow heroes and Wise packs enough screen presents to make her addition a net plus.

Sadly, the franchise’s signature humor is in short supply, as is the notion that female characters don’t have to be as uniformly brave as the fellas. One sequence finds Dern and Howard recoiling at a locust swarm.


They quickly shrug it off to go back to Commando Mode.

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Howard and Pratt, the stars of the “World” trilogy, get much less screen time in “Dominion.” They still manage a few heartfelt moments together, making the reunion gimmick briefly feel like a mistake.

It’s odd to see the couple who spent three movies fleeing dinosaurs try so hard to save every last one. And can we retire Blue, the raptor who Owen trained in the first film? It’s a dinosaur, for crying out loud, not a scene-stealing puppy.

Owen’s training shtick is similarly tired. Every time he holds out his hand to control a raptor it gets sillier. Just don’t try his maneuver with your neighbor’s dog. It may not end well.

We’re at the point in the “Jurassic World” franchise where the snickers outweigh the intentional laughs.

HiT or Miss: “Jurassic World Dominion” is paint-by-numbers entertainment, and that’s a shame given the saga’s significant legacy.


  1. It’s not terrible. It’s not great. I think it’s a film that didn’t know what it was. Mission Impossible or Jurassic Park er uh World? It tries to be both. The debate on whether the dinosaurs should be alive was exhausted in the second installment of this trilogy. We dive back into it in the third. Here’s why that’s a problem. While I appreciate the dichotomy created by the cloned/genetically created human by Maisie Lockwood in contrast to the dinosaurs, it doesn’t entirely add up. Maisie won’t kill your children in the backyard while they innocently play jump rope. There’s no way as a society we would allow predatory animals like a velociraptor just roam wild wreaking havoc and eating humans at will. Of course we would collectively decide to eradicate them or at minimum isolate them. At least the “meatasauruses” anyway. So for two films we struggle with this absurd debate.

    The second problem with this film is the insistence on making a big pharma discussion. Because it’s ironic why. Laura Dern’s character Dr Ellie Sattler is a political activist. Her character would certainly be pro-Covid vaccine, which is big pharma. I’m not making a case either way. But in this film she’s against big pharma. It’s a principle lacking argument this film is making.

    There are some great moments however. The Dr Grant Indiana Jones moments are a cool nod to another Spielberg series. I was initially confused by it. But that’s been a component of the Jurassic World trilogy. Chris Pratt has been given a few Indiana Jones moments too. So much so, after the first installment I thought they would reboot the Jones series with Pratt. I’m sure some find these moments corny, but I think it’s more about the Spielberg legacy and just a tip of the cap to a legend.

    I saw this in 4D/3D and highly recommend that. If you haven’t seen a 4D film yet you should. Choose Top Gun over this, but if you’re going to Jurassic Dominion choose 4D. There’s smoke and debris falling from the ceiling! Literally. The moving seats are sometimes overused but still really cool. As for the 3D aspect, the glasses are much better than a few years ago before Covid.

    Overall, this is worth a watch because there are plenty of nostalgia berries in this to make you remember at minimum the OG film that started this whole thing. There’s also a redemption story at the end that I won’t spoil, but a great component of the film.

  2. This was actually my favorite of the “World” trilogy! I had a lot of laughs, and I thought that the story worked to bring all these characters together in a way that didn’t feel forced. The older characters weren’t disrespected or “taken down a notch”, but were treated with respect and reverence. No real wokeness besides what might have been a rainbow patch in Wise’s character’s plane, and her (perhaps) lesbianism/bisexuality.
    Also, I always loved Ian Malcom’s table-hitting scene in Jurassic Park, and he is able to show the closest thing to that intense dialogue in this film.

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