This movie has not been loved by the critics, scoring the worst of the entire series with them on Rotten Tomatoes. However, I quite liked it. In fact, I daresay Jurassic World: Dominion may be the best Jurassic Park movie since the original. (And the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes supports that.) It’s not perfect, but it did a really good job of cleaning up the narrative mess the last movie got itself into.
My rating: 4 out of 5.
So, the first thing that struck me about this movie is that it’s actually an original story. This is a big deal to me. The first Jurassic World was a pretty obvious rehash of Jurassic Park. (Not a remake or a reboot; it’s still in the continuity of the original, but much like The Force Awakens, it was pretty much a retelling of the original story.) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was even worse—not just a blatant rip-off of The Lost World, but a ridiculous “darker and edgier” rip-off with the evil nephew selling the dinosaurs to Russian arms dealers and the like. Dominion avoids that problem. Instead of just retelling the original story (or worse, trying to retell Jurassic Park III), Dominion tells a completely new story.
Of course, Dominion kind of has to tell a different story from the earlier movies because the dinosaurs are out in the wild now, interacting with people around the world. (It’s surprising that they even managed to keep part of it in a park.) It’s not about a select group of people on an island, but about how society as a whole deals with prehistoric creatures being returned to life.
But it goes deeper than that, because there are still new dinosaurs being created. InGen, the creator of Jurassic World, wasn’t the end of the story.
One thing all the new movies have done right is showing the implications of letting the genetic genie out of the bottle, as Ian Malcolm says. InGen’s rival Biosyn is making new animals, both dinosaurs and designer creatures, and it’s implied that multiple companies are trying to weaponize them—and it makes sense instead of being a mustache-twirling plot because the technology is also out there “in the wild” for anyone to use. (Ditto for dinosaurs being bred and traded at underground markets.) I really appreciated that development.
The other great thing about Dominion is that despite being a new story, it ironically did a better job of paying homage to the original Jurassic Park that its predecessors. Conversely, it managed to be the most unique and different film in the series, despite being the only one to bring back the original cast (besides a few cameos).
There were a bunch of points where I could feel it. For one, you had Biosyn coming back, which was the main corporate villain in the original (more prominently so in the novel). Biosyn is now headed up by Lewis Dodgson, whom the audience know recruited Dennis Nedry to steal the dinosaur embryos in the original. And the whole sequence with the Barbasol can and the Dilophosaurs was a real blast from the past.
You had another big sequence with the original cast facing off against the Giganotosaurus (which is supposed to be pronounced “JIG”!), including flipping the jeep (or whatever model it was) and spinning it around on its roof, Grant and Grady both saying “Don’t move,” and Malcolm diving into the jeep and then distracting the dinosaur with a torch, without screwing it up this time. A sequence like that is great nostalgia fuel (in a weird action-horror way) without trying to force the movie into the mold of the original.
And the redemption of Henry Wu—who was never really a bad guy, but was trying to make the best of a bad situation—was also pretty satisfying (although it would have been funnier if he had been attacked by the locusts at the end).
Now, I admit the movie isn’t perfect. It’s a bit slow in places. The story kind of has a lot of moving parts, and it felt like it dragged a bit to get through all of them. But even so, it wasn’t that bad, and it was certainly better than another tedious rehash.
Also, where did Biosyn get Dimetrodon from? (Those were the sail-backed animals in the mines. When I saw them, I was hoping for a return of the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III instead.) Dimetrodon was from the Permian, over 250 million years ago! Were there even mosquitoes in the Permian? Wikipedia says the oldest known mosquitoes were only 100 million years old (so even the original Brachiosaurus wouldn’t fit). Their genetic markers suggest they go back about 200 million years, but not all the way to the Permian.
Anyway, it’s not without its issues by any means, but I found Jurassic World: Dominion to be a very enjoyable movie. It’s a refreshing change from the previous two and the worthiest addition to the series since The Lost World, so if you’re a fan of dinosaurs causing mayhem, you should be sure to check it out.