The latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise is itself a mutant as strange and incoherent as some of the dinosaurs in it
It’s fair enough for a film to strike you as both enjoyable and crappy at the same time. In fact, that paradox no doubt applies to quite a few of the movies that you grew up with. After all, how many times have you re-watched a film that you considered a masterpiece when you first saw it and that now seems to suck? It doesn’t stop you loving it, but your tastes have changed, and you simply no longer see it the same way. Jurassic World: Dominion comes under the same category, with the “deserving” (the inverted commas are important here) of doing so in real time. As you watch it you are entertained and occasionally even applaud some of its wisecracks, but the overall product does not stand up to an in-depth analysis because it is fundamentally flawed, clumsy and careless. Just like some of the dinosaurs that populate it (in line with plot twists that are, frankly, rather hilarious), it is a godforsaken mutation in an artificial environment whose keepers have no idea what to do with the creature and its powers. It lurches here and there haphazardly, with unconvincing dialogues in improbable contexts, introducing good ideas (it does indeed have some, which gives it a little more charm) but killing them off before they can develop. It wants to cover a lot of ground fast, with the aim of fulfilling the story arcs of not one but two trilogies, but none of them gel because as the narrative progresses, the need for a realistic dramatic conflict is overlooked. At first, the characters are seen in various parts of the world trying to solve seemingly very serious problems, but when they finally come together in one place, you realize that their encounter was the only real driving force behind all that turmoil. What they had supposedly come to do ends up being the least of their worries.
Another of the fundamental flaws of Jurassic World: Dominion is that the installment immediately preceding it, Fallen Kingdom, managed to be a bold addition to the franchise while staying true to its original spirit. There were dinosaurs in a mansion, twists that even included human cloning, and auctions of beasts capable of acting as hitmen But it worked as a movie. Dominion, however, never strikes quite the right tone because director Colin Trevorrow has decided to make it the closest thing to those badly cropped photos from an old high school project book. The best thing to do is leave your expectations at home and enjoy it as you did the B-grade movies (that you applauded all the same) of the double features of your childhood. In fact, the best bits are when it’s at its craziest.
A clear example is the chase scene set in Malta, which is reminiscent of the Roger Moore era James Bond. It’s completely out of place – it even makes it seem like you’re watching another film – but that doesn’t stop it being utterly exhilarating and uncomplicated fun! Or the scene with some of the characters in caves, which is like a revival of the monster movies of the 50s and the way they played with shadows and perspective. As was to be expected, the icing on the cake ends up being the return of veterans Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, who share an intimate, tongue-in-cheek like moment, capturing the essence of what the movie should be about infinitely better than Trevorrow himself ever could have. If what the filmmaker intended was to make Jurassic Park III (considered the weakest of the first trilogy) look like a marvel of creativity, mission accomplished. But the real pity is that Dominion marks the extinction of the genetic code of the original Jurassic Park – that thing called a sense of wonder and that is what ends up determining the soul (and quality) of a movie such as this.