Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 27 minutes, Director – Colin Trevorrow
As dinosaurs and creatures with cretaceous DNA begin to wreak havoc across the world the risk of human extinction rapidly increases, with the cause linking back to a major genetic company Biosyn.
I recently read somewhere on the internet someone claiming that one of the reasons Jurassic Park works so well and creates such tension and fear in relation to the dinosaur attacks is the fact that Spielberg utilises a similar technique to Jaws in that we don’t see the creatures for a fair while, especially as threats, and even then they’re sparingly used. It’s an interesting and solid point. If this is the case then almost thirty years on in the case of Jurassic World Dominion we see so many dinosaurs roaming around the earth in the opening twenty to thirty minutes that we perhaps get so used to them that the threat level is diminished. There are only so many times that we can see characters ‘nearly’ be killed by dinosaurs, and in this case insects which have been spliced with cretaceous DNA, before all tension is removed from subsequent attacks and chases.
It makes for a slightly lacking feel when it comes to the globe-trotting adventure that Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark on in this film as their lives of taming dinosaurs and stopping them from falling into the hands of poachers is halted when their adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon – whose pronounced British accent brings Keira Knightley to mind) is kidnapped by just that group. Much of their hunt links back to genetics company Biosyn, headed by Campbell Scott’s Lewis Dodgson, a company working with dinosaurs and claiming to protect them and use their DNA to help humans. And it just so happens to be this, and increasing swarms of giant locusts in the southern states, that returning faces Doctors Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) investigate, after being called by old associate Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).
With so much going on over the nearly two and a half hour run-time – which only really begins to be felt in the closing stages – it’s almost a good thing that there’s a fair deal to follow due to the fact that the characters themselves are far from the most interesting thing in the film. There’s a lot of plot and narrative to get through, explanations and revelations crop up in most scenes and this helps to distract from the fairly bland nature of the characters. It doesn’t completely help that some – namely Pratt and Dallas Howard – don’t quite gain any chemistry with those around them, and indeed don’t have the most thrilling thread of the piece. However, as the feeling of a two film narrative begins to meld into one things generally even out and make for more consistent viewing.
This isn’t to say that what comes beforehand is in any way ‘bad’ viewing. Despite the various flaws that crop up there’s still an engaging enough nature to make things watchable. This shows during one particular chase as Pratt races down a runway via motorbike with two particularly deadly creatures right on his tail, trying to reach a plane flown by the welcome addition of DeWanda Wise’s Kayla Watts before it takes off. At this moment focus is on just that, the moment. The chase. It leans away from the characters and their conversations, and, yes, fairly bland personalities, and simply shows the race and fight to survive and reach a certain point. It’s during such moments where the focus is on what’s unfolding instead of what’s going to happen later that Dominion works best.
During such moments the big screen is well utilised. In general the visuals are, as is to be expected, great; with plenty of animatronics on display to bring the world to life and you that bit more into it – even if some scenes, once again, do feature one too many dinosaurs leading to a lowered impact, as if seeing them becomes standard and expected. Yet, there’s still some tension to be found when the film focuses on its sequences and scenes in the moment rather than what’s to come, and indeed the characters within them. There’s a lot going on within the film and that certainly helps to keep you engaged throughout the run-time, which generally passes by fairly well. This is definitely something very different, and perhaps unexpected – even after the conclusion of previous entry Fallen Kingdom – from the Jurassic series, and while it slightly stumbles trying to plot itself out there’s enough within the narrative to keep you engaged and interested in the piece and the unfolding events which make it up. Not quite closing things with a roar, but certainly having an interesting crack at something new within the final film in this new trilogy.
Jurassic World Dominion works best when acknowledging that its characters are not the most interesting elements. It helps itself by having a fair deal packed into the narrative to keep you engaged, alongside some occasionally tense dinosaur action, even if the impact is lowered by seeing too many too early on.