We are now six films into the Jurassic Park franchise and Jurassic World Dominion tries to tie everything together for a final send-off. It fails miserably. While it may not be as dull as Fallen Kingdom, the film is a jumbled mess of too many subplots and distractions from what is at the core of this franchise. People go to these films to see our heroes escape from dinosaurs. The simple joy of this shouldn't be complicated so much but Dominion fills itself with new characters, old characters, empty callbacks and dino-free action.
The first 40 minutes of Dominion are spent on catching up with every character still around in the franchise. We learn from a Vice news-style report that the world is now populated with dinosaurs, many of whom are wreaking havoc. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is keeping busy busting dinos out of captivity from illegal breeding farms. Owen is busy herding dinos. They both are hiding out after taking Maisie Lockwood into their care. Maisie was revealed to be a human clone at the end of the last film. Meanwhile, a plague of prehistoric locusts are wiping out crops, causing a possible food crisis. Dr. Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) is following them and enlists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to come with her to BioSyn headquarters where Ian Malcolm is now working. BioSyn is collecting dinosaurs to study them for genetic research. We also catch up with Blue, who is now Owen's pet velociraptor, who miraculously has a baby.
Oddly, the plotline involving the bugs gets the most attention. For a film about dinosaurs, we spend too much time stopping a plague of bugs. The movie kicks into gear a bit when Blue's baby and Maisie are kidnapped by hooligans hired by Lewis Dogson (Campbell Scott). This results, an hour into the movie, in the first big dinosaur moment that involves a motorcycle chase and some raptors. It is a well-constructed scene that borrows heavily from the Jason Bourne films and lacks any real stakes but does deliver the dino-mayhem.
The real issue here is the film's screenplay, which routinely insults its characters' intelligence and has dinosaurs act in ways they don't behave. Blue, for example, seems to understand English. All dinosaurs seem to respond to a hand being held up to suggest they stop. Claire, a celebrated science, has to be told how planes work. In the silliest example of this disregard for its characters, Dodgson removes incriminating evidence from his computer by dragging files to the trash. He doesn't even empty it. Such moments make the audience question why we should be invested in anything happening. Writer and director Colin Trevorrow has made a soulless film as a result.
The movie does get some mileage out of seeing the legacy characters come together. Goldblum can still deliver as Ian and his presence is welcomed as he provides the film's only comic relief. Pratt has those chops but the film keeps him in generic "dude-mode" the entire time. He and Howard still struggle to have any chemistry together. Dern and Neill have chemistry together and fans of the original Jurassic Park will be excited to see their relationship get closure.
Jurassic World Dominion is overstuffed, dull, and often forgets why people still want to see dinosaurs and humans interact. This is an empty spectacle designed to sell toys and theme park rides. It cares little about why it brings characters back. It introduces new dinosaurs but teaches us nothing about them. Speilberg genuinely loves dinosaurs and it shows in the original film. Trevorrow must be more of a bug guy.