Of All the Dinosaur Worlds We Could’ve Gotten In ‘Jurassic World Dominion,’ We Got Giant Locusts ( Movie )


When it comes to summer blockbusters, it is hard to think of a more memorable film than Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park. Both inventive and imaginative, it crafted a gripping story of humanity’s folly while also making use of incredible special effects that had never been seen before and still hold up to this day. Of course, in setting such a high bar, the film ensured that any work that follows it will inevitably have to operate in its shadow. We saw this in the first attempt at restarting the series with 2015’s sporadically entertaining Jurassic World. Then, at the conclusion of 2018’s haphazard yet occasionally interesting Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the series both literally and figuratively opened its doors to the potential of a brand new world. After years of being confined to isolated islands away from humanity, dinosaurs were now finally released on the globe. It offered a hint of a different, more intriguing premise that was more than just a retread of familiar elements. While no one expected a masterpiece, there was interest in potentially more expansive possibilities ahead. We saw it in the short Battle at Big Rock where a family is unexpectedly attacked by dinosaurs while camping. While imperfect, it offered a encouraging glimpse of what could be coming.

That all brings us to Jurassic World Dominion, a film that spits in the eye of its promising premise with such vigor that it would be impressive if it wasn’t so disappointing. While not without merit in regards to its technical aspects and the best efforts from some of its cast, it is doomed by the persistent sense that it is holding itself back from fully letting loose where it should have. If you were expecting a story that actually grappled with what the impact of the dinosaurs would be on the world, then you are in for a big letdown as this film doesn’t even seem to try. While there are a few occasional moments of seeing dinosaurs truly out among us in our day-to-day lives, much of this is confined to an early montage and a rather cartoonish action sequence that lacks any sort of actual investment. Adding insult to injury is that almost all of these key moments were seen in the trailers, leaving little of anything new in the full feature itself. What the story is mostly about, for reasons that never crystalize into anything engaging, is bugs. Specifically, giant locusts that have been genetically modified and are wreaking havoc upon the world. What initially seemed like a subplot meant to bring characters together for the real story to kick in becomes far more horrifying: it is the main plot.

Is there an End credit Scene in ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’

Making it even more disappointing is that the majority of the characters from the original film are saddled with this hackneyed and banal storyline that seems to mostly exist to give them something to do. While the always great Laura Dern and Sam Neill have a rather charming dynamic in returning as Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant, they just get perpetually caught up in the sideshow of a story that actually ends up being the main story. Every moment they are on screen you can’t help thinking that bringing them back for this feels like a waste. They were clearly brought back to try to inject some of the old magic into the story that the new cast of characters was never able to capture. However, all their charisma and wit can’t lift up the dead weight that is the film’s narrative that just keeps plodding along. It is a story that can be most generously described as a winged MacGuffin, flitting around without anywhere engaging for the characters to go. From the moment we see Ellie get called out to investigate the enormous insects you start to wonder why we are spending so much time on something so tiresome when this is a world that now has dinosaurs roaming around in it on a mass scale. By the time they actually are in scenes with the creatures that one would expect to be the main attraction, it comes far too late to salvage anything actually meaningful. Instead, they are confined to what is the equivalent of another island which makes it all into a rote retread once again.

Even when we think the bugs are behind us, we suddenly find them quite literally falling from the sky into wherever the story needs them to be to remind us of their drab existence. It not only doesn’t deliver on the potential of its premise, but it also seems entirely uninterested in trying in the first place. As it all grows increasingly preoccupied with the apocalyptic insects, it feels like the story is trying to force in end-of-the-world stakes that still falls completely flat. While complexity is not always bad, the convoluted manner in which this is all established makes the entire experience become increasingly burdensome. The longer it beats us over the head with these bugs, the more we feel like Ellie and Alan when they are trapped inside a room with them. The scene becomes an unintentional metaphor for the film’s greatest problem in how it both constrains the characters and restrains the potential of the premise it set out with. It is hard to think of a summer blockbuster that more thoroughly sets itself up for such vast disappointment. If there are to be any further sequels, as there always seems to be when there is money to be made, they’ll need to do far more to embrace the creative heights of the world and avoid falling into the creative bankruptcy that is this meandering attempt at a story.

When nearly every development in the film plays as a distraction from the dinosaurs themselves, you soon tune out. With scene after scene centered around enormous bugs, both in literal size as well as the narrative emphasis they’re given, you wonder if this was all actually a film about insects disguised as one about dinosaurs. Attempts to engage with the locusts as being metaphorical or even biblical could provide some interest though not enough to justify their outsize role. The dinosaurs themselves already are that, a creation that threatens to bring destruction to the world as we know it. That seemed to be the direction the film was going in its opening sequence, though that is where it ends. Rather than get to see dinosaurs in communities across the world or impacting the very fabric of our lives, we get to learn a whole lot about insects. It is a misguided misdirect as we don’t really see how the world has been changed all that much by the prehistoric creatures as the film gets narrower and narrower in focus the more it goes on. All the potential awe and terror of dinosaurs taking over the planet is lost in the shuffle, making for a massively missed opportunity. It is utterly misguided from the outset, doomed by its own inexplicable unwillingness to embrace its potential as it all descends into a dawdling disaster. Life couldn’t find a way out of this mess.

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