“Sometimes I feel I’ve got to run away. I’ve got to get away. From the pain you drive into the heart of me… Once I ran to you (I ran). Now I run from you… I give you all a boy could give you, take my tears and that’s not nearly all. Tainted love.” Leave it to Colon Trevorrow to invoke tainted love for a beloved franchise and Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic, Jurassic Park. Neither a multi-million dollar budget nor the opportunity to bring back all three classic characters from the original film [Dr. Allan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sadler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum)] could prevent the failure that was 2022’s Jurassic World: Dominion.
Decent action sequences? Sure, it’s a summer blockbuster after all. Epic dinosaur CGI and breathtaking images? Yes, but we expected that. Dominion’s fall is strikingly resemblant of the money-hungry schemes of the fictional BioSyn company in the film, run by the lost, but not forgotten Jurassic Park character, Lewis Dodgson, portrayed this time around by Campbell Scott (See – nobody cares!). The idea to tie in this long-lost character (and central villain in the novels) was perhaps the crowning creative achievement of the film, which speaks volumes about its utter lack of creativity.
Like Dodgson and BioSyn, the creative team of Dominion (let’s not place it all on Trevorrow) seemingly disregards proper care of such rich and potent resources (Michael Crichton’s original novels) to further their own economic achievements. Let’s face it, people will pay simply to see the dinosaurs on screen and the reunion of Doctors Grant, Sadler, and Malcolm. It seems that this was something that they literally banked on without considering the cherished place that this series has in the hearts of so many kids growing up in the 90s.
One area that embodied this failure was the forced nostalgia to the original film. Sure, the opportunity was there with the reunion of Grant, Sadler, and Malcolm. But when nostalgia is so ridiculously forced into an even more outrageous plotline, tainted love results.
This occurred early in the film, where Sadler’s slow, iconic, removal of her sunglasses depicted her astonishment of overgrown locusts swarming on a Texas farm. Nostalgia works when it is subtle (a la The Mandalorian). But this was a literal reenactment of her removing her sunglasses the exact way she did in the first film, which contributed to Dominion’s ridiculous overall tone.
These choices fall mostly on Trevorrow, who makes the same mistake on several occasions in this film, including a nighttime scene in the rain, where all the characters are inside a car trying to avoid a massive dinosaur coming after them. A more subtle approach may have worked, but the nostalgia was too on the nose to appreciate it (I suppose he may have fooled the new generation).
Even in the end, Dominion’s creative team had to have the “Apex” predators square off, which was repeated in nearly identical fashion as 2015’s Jurassic World. This put the cherry on top of a film which reeked of, “Let’s give the people what (we think) they want!”
To expand on the outrageous plotline, the central failure was the choice of overgrown locusts as a threat to global extinction in a movie about dinosaurs living in the wild in the modern world. Sure, this could have been salvaged if it was somehow linked to the fact that unnatural dinosaur existence in the wild caused some type of biological mutation. However, the writers lazily connected the locusts to BioSyn, who created them in a plot to exert world domination.
The cartoonish, Pinky & the Brain approach here, disrupts any chance of establishing the more substantial themes at play such as human cloning and Maisie Lockwood (portrayed by Isabella Sermon), or further exploring the effects of dinosaurs in the wild in the modern world.
Converging in the chaos of far too many subplots, Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady (The Dino Whisperer) and Bryce Dallas-Howard’s Claire Dearing reprise their roles, perhaps successfully as a couple and “parents” of the Maisie Lockwood clone character. This may have even worked as the central plot, but Trevorrow’s Jurassic spin couldn’t possibly spend enough time on such necessary character development.
Grady and Dearing’s main convergence with Dr. Sadler, Dr. Grant, Dr. Malcolm, along with new characters Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie), creates a tangled web of old and new where the viewer cannot ascertain the hero they would like to root for. DeWanda Wise offers a more or less believable, streetwise, ex-Air Force pilot in her supporting role as Kayla Watts, while Athie helps move the story along as Ramsay Cole. The Cole character is important in dethroning Dodgson (Campbell Scott), which would have paid off more if Scott’s reaction didn’t remind the audience of an Austin Powers movie.
Another love story payoff is realized when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sadler finally pair up towards the end, although it’s unclear if Dr. Grant and/or Sam Neill are interested in anything that occurs in the Jurassic timeline. Dern seems to capture the return of Sadler with ease, reminding us of Sadler’s scientific focus, passion, and heroism. Meanwhile, actor Jeff Goldblum’s real-life ventures into disillusioned narcissism play decently well into the latest version of Dr. Malcolm, but one cannot always differentiate between the actor or the character in Dominion.
Ultimately, neither Dr. Neill nor Dr. Goldblum could rescue Trevorrow’s (and co.!) forced nostalgia and lazy storyline.