After focusing the first Jurassic World movie on a lab-concocted dinosaur called the Indominus rex and the follow-up Fallen Kingdom on the similarly species-splicing Indoraptor, saga shepherd Colin Trevorrow has a character in Jurassic World Dominion point out that such hybrids are a thing of the past.
In reality, though, Trevorrow has saved his most monstrous amalgamation for last: a bombastic movie that proves the timeless wonder and simmering suspense of 1993’s Jurassic Park have gone extinct in favor of an ungodly blockbuster blend. Although the return of that classic’s stars — Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, gamely giving it their all — offers some welcome nostalgia, there’s only so much they can do to salvage an ill-calculated, algorithmic misfire that clumsily evokes the superior Mission: Impossible, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Don’t Look Up all at once.
Unfortunately, that makes Dominion a fitting capper to the Jurassic World trilogy. Trevorrow, the co-writer of all three films and director of the first and third installments, doubles down on the traits that made 2015’s Jurassic World no more than a guilty pleasure and 2018’s J.A. Bayona-directed Fallen Kingdom a franchise-worst catastrophe. Remember the militarized raptor brigade? Or the black-market dinosaur auction? Dominion offers more of the same preposterous plotting.
That’s a shame, because Fallen Kingdom at least succeeded in teeing up a potential-laden premise for Dominion, in which dinosaurs have been unleashed on the world, leaving civilization to confront humanity’s hubris. But beyond painfully expository bookends, which show glimpses of dinosaurs roaming through traffic, galloping across the plains, and nesting atop a skyscraper, Dominion has little interest in exploring how these prehistoric creatures imbalance the ecosystem or recalibrate the food chain.
Instead, Trevorrow and co-writer Emily Carmichael (working off a story by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly) deliver an overstuffed spectacle about climate defeatism, big tech overreach, the morality of cloning, and, yep, more underground dinosaur trading. And much of the movie unfolds at a dinosaur sanctuary in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, restoring the status quo and allowing our heroes to once more strive for survival while navigating the dinos’ turf.
In addition to bringing back the Jurassic Park trio, Dominion forges ahead with Jurassic World’s decidedly less charismatic central duo: former velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and park manager-turned-dino rights activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). The movie picks up four years after Fallen Kingdom, in which the dinosaurs created for the doomed Jurassic Park and its successor, Jurassic World, were saved from a volcanic eruption, shipped to California, and set loose on the American mainland after the aforementioned dino bidding went awry.
Hiding in the Sierra Nevada, Owen and Claire are staying off the grid while looking after Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the on-the-lam teen who impulsively unleashed the dinosaurs in Fallen Kingdom after discovering she was a clone of her mother. But Maisie’s valuable DNA puts her in the crosshairs of Biosyn, a genetics behemoth . Meanwhile, paleontologist Alan Grant (Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Dern) and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (a scene-stealing Goldblum) are seeking to expose the same company for its unabashedly evil plot to control the world’s food supply through genetically enhanced locusts.
As the conclusion not just to this trilogy but to the six-film Jurassic saga, Dominion gives Neill, Dern, and Goldblum a satisfying enough victory lap. Before the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World generations collide, however, there are many more characters to cycle through. B.D. Wong is back as the genetic engineer whose repeated failure to learn from his mistakes borders on parody. Dichen Lachman plays a dinosaur smuggler who wields a laser pointer that commands dinos to attack its targets. Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise make for appealing additions — as Biosyn’s shadowy head of communications and a virtuous cargo pilot, respectively — but still get lost in the shuffle.
To give Trevorrow credit, he sure knows how to stage an action sequence and conjure evocative imagery. A motorcycle chase through dino-infested Malta makes for a rollicking ride, and a white-knuckle scene in which Howard’s Claire evades one beast by plunging underwater proves worthy of Steven Spielberg’s original film. And speaking of that movie, the Jurassic Park callbacks — which come thick and fast, especially in the final act — induce groans, cheers, and nothing in between. When Dominion’s final 20 minutes play as a beat-for-beat re-creation of previous films’ set pieces, it becomes clear that Trevorrow and Co. have nothing new to say. In a welcome sliver of self-aware shtick, the movie at least allows Goldblum to sum up the state of the franchise: “Jurassic World? Not a fan.”