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Jurassic World Dominion Review: Fan Service Isn’t Enough

Jurassic World Dominion sees the return of beloved characters, but fan service isn’t enough to save a poorly written film, which only manages to get a few laughs.

Jurassic World Dominion was undoubtedly one of the most anticipated films of the year, especially by fans who were anxious to see not only their beloved dinosaurs, but also the protagonists of the first Jurassic Park film, which was released in the distant 1993. But what was supposed to act as an epic conclusion to one of the most successful cinematic sagas of all time turns out to be a mediocre action movie, with spectacular visual effects but also a screenplay that feels cobbled together, mingling the new with the old without ever managing to give real dignity to its story.

Jurassic World Dominion takes place four years after the events of dopo le vicende de Fallen Kingdom, in a world where forced cohabitation between humans and dinosaurs is complicated, but, at this point, inevitable. From poaching to illegal breeding to food, human beings are learning to “use” dinosaurs for their own purposes. Just like Byosin, a leader company in the field of genetics, which built its own personal “research centre” in the heart of the Dolomites, Italy, to study dinosaurs and use their DNA to cure human illnesses. Byosin’s main target is the young Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the first human clone, who was kept hidden and raised like a daughter by Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) in a desolate heathland in Sierra Nevada. When Byosin uses a ploy and kidnaps the girl, together with Blue’s (the Velociraptor Owen trained) puppy, her parents set off on a journey to find her, and ultimately save her.

Meanwhile, Ellie Sutter (Laura Dern) is called upon, as an expert on the subject, to investigate a mysterious invasion of giant di locusts, also of prehistoric origin, who are destroying the crops. Having rightly guessed that Byosin is invoved, Ellie decides to sneak into their research centre to collect samples of live animals that she plans to use as proof to expose the company. To do so, she enlists the help of ex-partner Allan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum); once reached the Dolomites, their adventures intersect with Claire, Owen, and Maisie’s.

loud and clear reviews Jurassic World Dominion 2022 film review fan service
(from left) Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow. (© 2022 Universal Studios & Amblin Entertainment.)

Judging by Jurassic World Dominion ‘s plot alone, it’s evident that the film is structured around two main storylines, each absolutely distinct from the other were it not from the fact that Byosin is involved and that the two groups of characters, once arrived at the same place, happen to meet and decide to help one another. It’s a meeting that appears completely forced, created as a pretext, and dictated by the sole need of having two storyling converge into one, but without any real narrative requirement.

Jurassic Park ‘s three protagonists, all in excellent shape, feel, at times, like they’re playing a caricature of their own “past” personas, constantly preoccupied with staging dialogues and situations from the saga’s first chapter, among other films (a scene icomes to mind that sees Grant take part in what is an obvious reference to Indiana Jones), in a constant stream of fan service that does indeed entertain but would have been much more appreciated had it been placed within a narrative frame worthy of the conclusion of such an important saga.

In a world in turmoil, marked by important questions on environmental ethics and on the cost of human survival, it would have perhaps made more sense to focus on a more structured, affecting ending, rather than on a film whose one and only aim is getting audiences to “relive the past” – and in a superficial way, at that.

The passion for dinosaurs defined a generation of children who “grew up” with Jurassic Park, and giving us a film that sees the same heroes of our youth back as protagonists means setting off at an advantage. It’s hard not to rejoyce when Ellie and Alan meet again after so many years, or when Ian Malcolm reappears with his irresistible impudence (and unbuttoned shirt!), even when “stiffened” by clumsy, inconsistent writing. But even if one accepts to enter the suspension of disbelief mechanism that makes it possible for a Velociraptor, a bike, and Claire to run and jump around Malta’s roads at the exact same speed, it’s not easy to conceal disappointment when facing a product that’s simply the result of confused and (literally) inconclusive choices, and that pierces together various pieces of the puzzle to get its extremities to match (but only by applying significant pressure on them with one’s hand).

Speaking as an Italian, I also cannot avoid devoting a line to the film’s location: the Dolomites.
Dinosaurs on the Dolomites.
Even just writing it calls for a moment of reflection. When the title card showed up at the cinema, the entire room burst into laughter – laughter that, as the film progresses, becomes riotous when facing unrealistic Dolomites that are completely inhabited, with ecosystems that vary from forests, to swamps, to jungles. Perplexity, thy name is “T-Rex on Mount Marmolada”.

loud and clear reviews Jurassic World Dominion 2022 film review fan service
(from left) A Pyroraptor, Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow. (© 2022 Universal Studios & Amblin Entertainment.)

I get it that, to non-Italian audiences, all these settings are pretty much the same, and we’re the only audiences that can pay attention to these things in the end, but next time, even if it’s just to stay humble, it might be worth considering having the crazy scientists build their headquarters in Yellowstone (or, even better, in the Sierra Nevada heathland where Claire and Owen actually live, which would actually feel more appropriate).

In short, much disappointment, lessened only by the presence of one of my childhood crushes: Ian Malcolm and his shirt’s mischievous button.

Jurassic World Dominion is, overall, a film of pure entertainment, with well-crafted action scenes and superb digital effects, but that completely lacks structure and substance, ultimately leaving the hopeful fan dissatisfied. Pretty good proof of how fan service isn’t always enough to “save” the film. Pity.

Jurassic World Dominion: Trailer (Universal Pictures)

Jurassic World Dominion will be released globally in theaters on June 10, 2022. Read our review of Jurassic World Dominion in Italian!

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