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JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION (2022) Review

Neil reviews Universal Pictures’ JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION, the film hits UK cinemas on Friday 10 June, 2022.

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Jurassic World: Dominion (Universal Pictures)

Universal Pictures releases Jurassic World Dominion in UK cinemas on June 10, 2022.

Synopsis

Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.

Review

Almost three decades have passed since the first Jurassic Park movie hit screen across the world. That film introduced cinema goers to a whole new world of practical and visual effects. Steven Spielberg and his team quite literally brought dinosaurs to life in the minds of millions of fans, birthing a franchise which now spans 6 movies, an animated TV series and several computer games.

This week the franchise comes full circle with the release of Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World Dominion. The sixth (and final?) film in the franchise boldly sets out to break new ground. Introducing new elements of espionage and conspiracy to the formula, Dominion attempts to construct something new. In addition, Derek Connolly and Trevorrow’s story, sets to connect Dominion to all five of its predecessors through plenty of nostalgia and Easter eggs.

Considering the enormity of its premise, Dominion starts out as a slow burn. Its first act, the shakiest of the three, starts out with some not-so-subtle catch up on recent events. Essentially dinosaurs now live alongside man as per the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Additionally, humanity now finds itself in a battle for supremacy which we are rapidly losing. As soon as the audience is up to date it’s time to catch up with our heroes. Only this time around the cast has doubled.

Dominion does a stellar job of balancing both the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World casts. Under the banner of a global catastrophe, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is drawn in to a conspiracy surrounding Biosyn, a shady company run by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). If the name Dodgson doesn’t sound familiar to you, it should. It’s just one of the many connections which span the franchise. Ellie is secretly working with old friend Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) to uncover the truth and ropes in fellow former-dino-victim Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill).

Surprisingly Dominion keeps the original trio separate from Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas-Howard) for much of its 146 minute runtime. Instead the two casts sit in individual silos, building anticipation for their eventual convergence.

Owen and Claire have been living off-grid since Fallen Kingdom. Inhabiting a remote cabin in the woods with Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). With plenty of shady types hunting for Maisie – a human clone birthed from similar science to the dinos – it’s the job of our World heroes to keep her safe. Of course, in the first of many plot contrivances they fail to do so and Maisie is captured alongside the miracle child of Velociraptor, Blue.

From here Emily Carmichael and Trevorrow’s screenplay begins a globetrotting countdown to the end. For Owen and Claire this means a trip to Malta and reuniting with Jurassic World’s Barry (Omar Sy) in another franchise nod. From there it’s on to Biosyn’s secret island base where Ellie, Alan and I’m have already made their way.

Along the way all of the pieces fall in to place remarkably easily. Claire just happens to meet the pilot (Kayla – DeWanda Wise) who was involved with transporting Maisie and Beta (aka Baby Blue). Kayla also happens to know the location of Biosyn. On the island, Malcolm just so happens to have access to the lab Ellie needs to gain evidence of Biosyn’s wrongdoing. Then, whilst in the lab, Ellie and Alan happen to run in to Maisie. The opportunities for development just keep falling in to the characters laps. But this isn’t unusual in a popcorn blockbuster franchise.

Tonally, Dominion just isn’t sure what it wants to be. We start out with family drama before transitioning in to a Bourne-style globe-trotting thriller. Then, once our casts coalesce, it shifts gears again to the more familiar cat-and-mouse game of man-versus-dinoasur. The lack of a consistent identity is frustrating at times when jumping between plot threads. But running throughout all of this are some impressive action sequences.

A chase sequence set in Malta (and glimpsed in the trailers) is a standout moment. Dominion is able to ramp up the adrenaline, leaving the audience on the edge of our seats. Later in the film Claire finds herself the prey of one of the film’s new dinos, Gigantosaurus. Though much smaller in scale, the scene is equally as tense as Claire quietly seeks shelter. Both sequences lean in to the franchise’s most successful elements of suspense an action with satisfying payoffs.

For much of its second act Dominion totters from set piece to set piece. At times it even splits itself between multiple concurrent set pieces. For example, as Ellie and Alan steal a genetic sample from a gigantic locust we’re following Claire in the aforementioned jungle sequence. Whilst at the same time Owen and Kayla fight a Pyroraptor on an ice. For some, this level of action will be tiring. The film is nothing if relentless as it picks up the pace towards its finale. But there is a lot to enjoy for those who can sit back and engage with the ride.

Dominion would be nothing without its charismatic cast. Stand alongside the legacy characters it’s clear that Owen and Claire and less developed. Trevorrow and team do their best to inject as much as possible before the two casts go toe-to-toe but it isn’t quite enough. Ellie, Alan and Ian stand head-and-shoulders above their newer counterparts. But they also have great chemistry when sharing the screen with them.

That being said, Bryce Dallas-Howard gives her best turn as Claire since her debut in 2015’s Jurassic World. Claire has the biggest character arc of all the cast. Going from a reluctant mother figure repenting her crimes against humanity, to a champion for human and dinosaur rights. Dallas-Howard shares a number of scenes with Laura Dern and the chemistry between the two female leads is electric on screen.

Claire gets the kind of development which should have been afforded to BD Wong’s Dr. Henry Wu. Wu features in only sporadic scenes, appearing to be suffering under the weight of his scientific discoveries. Wong does an admirable job of tackling the material he’s given but it feels like there was another layer of depth that is missing from the character.

Stylistically Dominion looks and sounds great. John Schwartzman brings a frenetic visual style to proceedings, often shooting around multiple practical and visual effects. Practical dinosaur models are typically top notch, as any fan would expect from a Jurassic franchise movie. The visual effects vary with some sequences looking more polished than others. But the film packs a punch where it counts.

Michael Giacchino also brings a delicious soundscape to the film’s score. There are moments where Giacchino is indistinguishable from the legendary John Williams, particularly with the iconic theme. But at other times he flexes his muscles and proves, once again, why he is one of the most exciting composers currently working in Hollywood.

Verdict

Jurassic World Dominion is not without issue. The sprawling global adventure story stretches the premise to its limit but cannot detract from incredible dino-action and an immensely charismatic cast. The final product is an undeniably pulse-pounding cinematic experience made for the big screen.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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