Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Sam Neill, Laura, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise
Someone give me stakes. We are hungry for stakes. High quality stakes.
– Spoilers –
If you are fortunate enough to remember anything that happened in Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, then you’ll recall the movie left off with dinosaurs being let loose into the world by the little girl clone, the head of a company being eaten by a dinosaur, and a bunch of dinosaurs dying because of a volcano. Dominion takes place four years after, where Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are raising Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) as their daughter. There is a big underground market for dinosaurs and poachers are constantly buying and selling them illegally. To make matters worse, Bill Gates…I mean Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) is the head of BioSyn and has genetically engineered locusts to eat crops that aren’t BioSyn seeds because he’s evil. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) recruits her old friend Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to try and prove this by stealing some locust DNA, and thankfully they have someone on the inside – Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum).
It can be a bit painful to see a franchise so manufactured, so synthetic that the best thing I can say is this: the movie is good, harmless fun, which I don’t regret watching. It was fun to see the original cast back together, and to imagine a world where dinosaurs coexist with modern technology and human beings. But when you consider where we started, a classic like Jurassic Park, which yes IS fun, but is also a masterpiece of high stakes, tension, and thrills, you are left with something far inferior. I did enjoy this one better than its predecessor, but there are many problems with it if you look closely. That’s why on the surface I call it harmless fun. When you don’t think too hard, it’s a perfectly fine product.
I also have to give it credit for taking something from the book to add a bit more depth. The villain, Lewis Dodgson, is in fact the character from the first movie who pays Newman to steal dinosaur DNA. In the original book, this character worked for BioSyn, so in fact this is a plausible outcome. However, this movie character is so empty and one note, I find a hard time actually believing that he is in fact the same man from the first movie. They tried little things to make him his own person, to give him quirks and personality. But he’s not very threatening. The problem with this film, was that I was not afraid to see a single person die, because I somehow knew they wouldn’t. Not even Dodgson’s assistant Ramsay (Mamoudou Athie) is in danger as he walks right up to him and tells him how corrupt he is and what he’s doing is wrong. The big bad villain confirms this and then yeets off. Doesn’t even attempt to remove the threat in front of him.
I think that was my biggest problem with this movie, like I mentioned with lack of high stakes – where is the payoff, the threat, the consequences? Yes, the entire world is dealing with the consequences of the park from Jurassic World, which Claire feels responsible for. The first Jurassic Park movie is not dealing with potential mass extinction and food shortages, which is why it feels more personal. You feel stuck on the island with the cast, who just need to make it off alive. And many don’t make it off alive. Dominion was fine with killing off random citizens in other countries, but in no moment of the film did I think any character with a name was going to die, except the main villain. The funniest part is, when they expose BioSyn for what it’s been doing, the villain isn’t even there to deal with the fallback – he’s already dead. There’s no payoff. Not even a sense of urgency as flaming locusts fly all over the place. Ellie is devastated that he’s burning evidence when I believe she already has a piece of that evidence in her pocket already.
This movie shouldn’t let me feel calm. But I sure was.
Not to mention the crimes against God aspect with cloning humans. The books and previous films all talk about the ethics of cloning giant lizards but the legacy of a woman who managed to clone herself and create a human without sperm is left unchallenged, and this is somehow a beautiful thing to happen and sparks no such moral debate on the devastating outcome of creating human life with cloning. Sure, Jan.