MOVIE REVIEW – Sadly, it’s safe to say that the Jurassic Park franchise (and more specifically, the new Jurassic World trilogy) is absolutely “extinct”, unlike its dinosaur counterparts. While the first Jurassic World seemed to be a nostalgic “reboot” of the genre, with some elements that worked well and others that didn’t, the sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Empire was still a rather weak release but still a relatively decent piece thanks to JA Bayona’s stylish direction, Jurassic World: World Domination seems like a desperate attempt to generate interest in a franchise that has long since run out of stories to tell. Many people on the Internet have compared this film to Star Wars: Skywalker, and sadly that assessment is apt.
And I’m sure there is a lot that could be told in a dinosaur-infested world with a worthwhile scenario. Considering that the previous film ended with a massive group of prehistoric creatures loose in the world, the possibilities are endless: how would our planet and society change if we had to live with dinosaurs? What would be the impact on our fauna and flora? What should different governments do? Jurassic World: World Domination tries to answer all these questions, but it does so in the most superficial and boring way possible, forcing our protagonists to leave an environment so rich in possibilities to… well, you guessed it: to go to yet another “closed park” created by scientists.
In this case, however, it’s not a public amusement park, but a valley created by a company called “BioSyn” (yes, like “Bio-Sin”. Get it? “BioSin!” How original is that! ). When Maisie Lockwood ( Isabella Sermon ), her foster “daughter” Owen Grady ( Chris Pratt ) and Claire Dearing ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) are kidnapped by gangsters hired by said company, our protagonists are forced to travel to Malta to track down the criminals and befriend Kayla Watts ( DeWanda Wise ), a bootlegger who wants to clear her conscience. There they get involved in the most interesting (or perhaps the only really interesting) action scene in the film and then finally arrive in the valley of BioSyn.
At the same time, we have the main characters of the classic trilogy – because they couldn’t have finished the trilogy without appealing to the nostalgia of pre-millennium fans. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) convinces Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to work with her, as the BioSyn people have created giant sacs of prehistoric DNA that could wipe out the entire world’s food supply. This problem leads them to BioSyn Valley, where Ian Malcolm ( Jeff Goldblum ) teaches philosophy and chaos theory to the evil corporation (which he doesn’t know is evil). The two sets of characters will inevitably meet, of course, as they are all interested in the destruction of BioSyn and its nefarious goals.
Too much happens, nothing is really interesting
Like the Star Wars film I mentioned in my introduction, Jurassic World: World Domination is full of events: a lot happens, yet the plot felt redundant, almost non-existent. Generally speaking, the narrative is straightforward: there is an evil corporation (like InGen before it) that wants to use prehistoric animals in an unethical way, and our protagonists have to stop it. But the script unnecessarily convolutes the plot threads, all in order to justify the meeting between the two generations of characters and, incidentally, to link this new episode to the previous ones. In addition, the scriptwriters have made a terrible mistake, and no reasonable explanation is given for the appearance of the current main villain. He’s Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), an InGen agent who worked briefly with Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) in the very first Jurassic Park. Perhaps he’s remembered because a famous meme was made from the scene where Dodgson and Nedry meet, and Dodson is freaked out by being recognised, and Nedry shouts out, “Hey, it’s Lewis Dodgson! See? No one cares.” The sad thing is that we feel a bit like the meme about the events of this convoluted scenario – nostalgic characters or not…
It’s not that references to classic films should be banned; it’s that they seem incredibly forced in Jurassic World: World Domination. Just think of Ellie convincing Alan to work with her. Understandably, she misses him and is still attracted to her former partner (let’s add: the two actors, twenty years apart in age, have also “aged” quite a bit for each other, mostly because Sam Neill is still holding his own exceptionally well despite his 74 years, while Laura Dern less so). However, given the events of the first and especially the third film, they should have found a better way to bring Alan into the story. In the third episode, he was very clear that he never wanted to return to the island of dinosaurs again, fed up with his students asking him about Jurassic Park. Sam Neill is a brilliant actor, but in Jurassic World: World Domination, his character was utterly ruined by a lame script and made completely uninteresting and unbelievable in the light of what had gone before.
The film is full of both clichés and locusts
But apart from these forced details that are hard to fit in with the previous episodes – which are very typical of this franchise anyway – the biggest problem with Jurassic World: World Domination is that it’s something incredibly formulaic and full of clichés. The brilliantly crafted atmosphere and a plethora of creative ideas that are so characteristic of Spielberg-directed films, and even the originality of the world outlined in the first Jurassic World reboot, are utterly absent from this film – even though Trevorrow directed that too. The movie is full of new dinosaurs, but none of them are featured enough, and especially not enough, to stand out or be engaging in any way. In hindsight, the only thing I remember from the film are the aforementioned locusts, and this franchise is about dinosaurs, not insects.
Moreover, from a narrative point of view, not only would it have been good to include both new and classic characters in the story, but it would have made the story feel overcrowded. Admittedly, it has to be said that at least the film is not dull. In fact, the best that can be said about the new Jurassic World is that it moves at a good pace, some of the action sequences are quite exciting (the aforementioned chase in Malta is one of the best scenes in the film), and it’s nice to see some of the classic characters from the first trilogy, however clumsily they were used. Take the third act, where a team of SEVEN (!) main characters is running around, with the result that many of them practically disappear and fade into the background.
Classic characters vs new characters
Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm is once again the clown of the film: for that, he gets the funniest and most memorable dialogue. Despite the terrible script, the three veteran actors do their job with the necessary professionalism, which is why I enjoyed the scenes where Alan, Ellie and Malcolm were on screen. Yes, Alan looks very different from how we remembered him, but Sam Neill does his best to breathe life into his character and the same can be said of Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the main characters in the new trilogy. Chris Pratt is incredibly boring this time, his Owen Grady lacks the charisma and humour of the previous episodes, and this is Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy. Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire is still often treated as a damsel in distress, and Isabella Sermon’s Maisie Lockwood is the main character in the film as a whiny, annoying teenager. Really, just the kind of annoying character the franchise needed! The only one who really stands out is DeWanda Wise; her Kayla Watts has more personality and charisma than Owen and Claire’s corny characters combined.
Boring, clichéd conclusion
It’s a pity that the “Jurassic World” trilogy ends so boringly. Not that I was impressed by the previous two episodes, but at least they had a bit more character and style. Of course, it’s impossible to top the very first one: one of the most entertaining and memorable blockbusters of the 90s, the series has gone into a steady decline since then. Although Jurassic World: World Domination can be superficially entertaining due to the punchy visuals, the dinosaurs and a couple of exciting and well-constructed action sequences, it, unfortunately, ends up being a rather unimaginative, unnecessary and altogether rather disappointing Hollywood monster movie. I think it’s time for these dinosaurs to really die out.