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Rant and Rave: Dinosaurs take a back seat in franchise closer ‘Jurassic World Dominion’

The doomsday clock really was out of time. 

When Jurassic World Dominion premiered worldwide last June 10—almost 30 years after the Steven Spielberg masterpiece made movie history—it marked the close of the man-meets-dinosaur movie sextuplet, which stemmed from Michael Crichton’s novels, Jurassic Park and The Lost World

No doubt, the movie had a big buildup as eager fans were teased through shorts like the Battle at Big Rock in 2019 and social media promotions for the Winter Olympics earlier this year. It also eventually revealed that the original trio of Sam Neill’s Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm would be coming back—leaving audiences with high hopes for the film.

And while they say that all good things come to an end, this film doesn’t promise the best one. 

One big pile of [redacted]

Many expected the film to pick up where Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom had left off. However, it was nothing short of misleading. 

Building off of the idea of cohabitation between dinosaurs and mankind in various environments, audiences were probably anticipating Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady and Bryce Howard Dallas’ Claire Dearing at the forefront. Instead, the movie uses this plot merely as a way to keep the dinosaur storyline relevant and intact. This gave an impression that the focus of Dominion would not so much be the dinosaurs themselves. Instead, human endeavors and the ethics of toying with science were front and center, particularly gene editing and the clone that is Isabella Sermon’s Maisie Lockwood. 

Because of this shift in focus, it was a greatly missed opportunity to deep dive into what is probably mankind’s still unanswered curiosities: cohabitation with the prehistoric giants. While there were scenes that showed pterosaurs laying nests on top of skyscrapers and the mosasaurus ruling the seas, it did not touch enough on what happens on the daily. If the attempt was via a montage of amateur videos shown on a report, that did not suffice. It also did not help that for such a massive change in and effect on people’s lifestyles and routines, major news channels and media were not shown to be swarming to pick up these stories. Simply put, it was not realistic.

And in terms of human characters, the movie introduced yet another batch of new faces, the most notable ones being DeWanda Wise’s Kayla Watts and Campbell Scott’s Lewis Dodgson. Watts tries to be Grady’s adventurous and comic female counterpart, while Dodgson fills in the rich, spoiled, and inhumane capitalist that superficially promotes innovation as a façade for attaining personal agendas. While they both were instrumental to the lackluster plot, it was clear from the start that they would be nothing more than futile attempts to fill in the role that would promote diversity and the villain.

Moreover, the film spent an unnecessary lot of time catching up with all the main characters. While this could have been understandable to get audiences up to speed, the minutes could have been used to develop the many plots they attempted to explore. Even the original trio of Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm seemed to be present just for nostalgia. 

We need more feathers—and we got it

While the movie had insurmountable cons, it did offer some good scenes and elements that would delight the fans. 

One noticeable positive difference in the film, as compared to its predecessors, was its heightened scare factor. While the debate of whether or not mainstream media should continue to portray dinosaurs as fierce, horrifying monsters is still up in the air, this development is a welcome one. Apart from the still inaccurate portrayal of some species—which enabled them to be scarier than they should be—most of the dinosaurs in the film were portrayed to be what they would be as untamed creatures. In a way, this portrayal and framing resonated with Malcolm’s quote wherein he mentioned mankind being subordinate to nature; dinosaurs seemingly were gods we feared and could not touch. 

Moreover, there were references to the original 1993 film. The Jurassic Park logo, the original trio being chased by dinosaurs in the same getups, mentions of other dinosaur islands from the previous films, high-voltage fences, Dodgson’s character and BioSyn, and even Dennis Nedry’s Barbasol can were all present. These derived hints from the connectedness of the story with earlier films and even Crichton’s source material and was nothing short of satisfying especially for fans. It was sort of a full-circle moment.

Another notable introduction to the film were the new dinosaurs. Back in 1993, dinosaurs’ appearances were based on then-current research and findings—most of which have now been updated. And when Jurassic World came out in 2015, audiences expected updated portrayals of the prehistoric creatures and were disappointed that even the velociraptors, like Blue, remained scientifically inaccurate. But Dominion tried its best to correct what was long overdue and featured dinosaurs depicted in the latest research. The feathered therizinosaurus, quetzalcoatlus, and the pyroraptor were among those who appeared in their modern prehistoric appearances—species that audiences have not spotted in previous movies.  

Life found a way? 

Overall, the film is predictable and underwhelming. For a franchise closer, it had enough momentum to finish off the series on a high note. But with an underdeveloped plot that was also all over the place—along with the seemingly not-reflective-of-the-budget CGI and graphics—there was not much direction to go to. 

Nevertheless, it was satisfying to see dinosaurs back on the big screen. With many people having been fascinated with these prehistoric giants even at a young age, it was a great opportunity to see them brought back to life and in action. Thus, people still should consider watching the film, at least for the dinosaurs.

The Jurassic franchise had to end, maybe just not with this movie.

And while the film never really satisfied one’s imagination of living alongside dinosaurs or at least gave a glimpse of what that is like, at least some other film or franchise will be given the opportunity to explore that in their own way. 

Rating: 2.5/4.0

By Ramon Castañeda

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