Jurassic World Dominion Proves The Original Never Needed Any Sequels

Sometimes, movie fans can get a little carried away by our love for an original, defining piece of media. There's nothing quite like the haze of nostalgia to color our memories and convince us that it simply can't be topped or that any further attempts to do so are doomed to fail. But a cursory look at some of the sequels we've received in recent years tell a slightly different story. "Mad Max: Fury Road" is commonly regarded as one of the all-time best action movies ever. "Blade Runner 2049," a legacy sequel that nobody thought was "necessary" or a good idea in the first place, almost singlehandedly raised the bar for how to approach these kinds of stories. Most recently, "Top Gun: Maverick" feels aptly-timed to underline the point that sequels can even exceed their predecessors.

Not so with "Jurassic Park," however. The impulse to crown it as an untouchable classic that never required any further follow-ups is an understandable one for a number of reasons. Steven Spielberg and David Koepp's story fully wraps up within its two-hour runtime, completely exhausts the full potential of its premise without "saving" any bold ideas for hypothetical sequels down the line, and says everything that needs to be said about humanity's relationship with nature and the limits of our ambitions. What more could possibly be added to perfection?

Here's why everyone would've been better off taking the original film's own advice and leaving well enough alone.

A prescient metaphor

Despite all the well-founded reasons to quit while ahead, hope still remained. Two middling sequels of varying degrees of entertainment value — some would disagree with any such notion to begin with, in fact — didn't inherently spell disaster. Even when 2015's messy "Jurassic World" and its sequel "Fallen Kingdom" arrived on the scene like unwelcome, genetically modified theme park monsters escaped from containment, at least they set up the trilogy-capper to deliver the biggest shake-up to the status quo yet and serve as a natural evolution of where the original left off. Instead, "Dominion" dropped the ball and left us with an entire new trilogy that, tellingly enough, reached the exact same conclusion that Spielberg did with just one movie back in 1993.

"Jurassic Park" contributed many invaluable accomplishments to the medium at large, but perhaps the most important one (for our purposes) singlehandedly rendered any and all future sequels in this franchise utterly obsolete ... or, at the very least, deeply ironic. A large part of the tension inherent in the premise of a dinosaur theme park comes from the sheer arrogance and greed necessary to exploit such a feat for cold, cynical franchising potential. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should — the film effectively serves as a prescient metaphor for studios strip-mining their own blockbuster IPs for as much money as they're worth.

Jurassic Park had a built-in sequel deterrent

For as much as director Colin Trevorrow's 2015 "Jurassic World" was essentially a commentary on itself, Steven Spielberg once again beat him to the punch by roughly three decades. Every criticism that characters like Ian Malcolm fling at wealthy owner John Hammond rings true on a metatextual level, with the latter's oft-repeated phrase of "Spared no excuse" eventually sounding more and more like a sad, stubborn self-justification of exorbitant $250-plus million blockbusters that have since become all too common. The park's poorly thought-out safety measures might as well be parallels for a shoddy screenplay cobbled together to please studio suits and audiences seeking fan-service galore, not fulfill narrative demands. And, yes, the idea of rich corporate stooges tossing around ideas like "Coupon Day" should feel more than a little uncomfortable to the rest of us.

By the time Hammond is forced to confront the harsh light of reality in the franchise's best scene, it's far too late to make amends. The damage has already been done, much like what has happened with the series overall in the wake of "Dominion." And "Jurassic Park" saw it coming all along.

Granted, it's not like Spielberg himself followed his own advice, either. Rushing headlong into production on "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" instantly watered down the themes of the original, paving the way for "Jurassic Park III" and the "Jurassic World" movies to come across like even more unnecessary additions to a story that had already run its course. But at least "The Lost World" reached a conclusion that works hand-in-hand with that of "Jurassic Park." The same can't be said of "Jurassic World Dominion."

The same thing, again

After all that, with "Jurassic Park" providing ample evidence of how humanity must reach an acceptable balance of coexistence with nature as opposed to (ahem) exercising dominion over it, "Jurassic World Dominion" reaches its ultimate conclusion by ... saying the exact same thing. The only difference is that this new trilogy took three entire movies to do so, whereas Spielberg and David Koepp's original script did the same with just one. If ever there were a more damning failure of sequels to justify their own existence, this is it.

It's bad enough that "Dominion" neglects to take the logical next step teased at the end of "Fallen Kingdom" by establishing a whole new "Planet of the Apes"-like status quo, with dinosaurs overrunning the globe much like they once did, but the threequel then proceeds to walk viewers through a microwavable retread of all the same major beats as the original movie. After finding the flimsiest reasons to reunite the original trio of "Jurassic Park" stars, "Dominion" lurches towards a third act that brings the franchise back to the same old stomping grounds of hapless heroes and corporate villains all trying to escape a closed-off facility with dinosaurs running loose on the grounds.

Ending with a whimper

Even 30 years later, Alan Grant, Ellie Satler, and Ian Malcolm have found themselves right back where they started. The Dilophosaurus is still giving the unlikable human antagonist of the story the ending he deserves, the T-Rex is still participating in obligatory final fights, and the grand finale builds to nothing but a rote montage preaching coexistence between dinosaurs and the natural order of nature — all of which we've seen before (and done better, might I add).

In spite of everything, hypothetically speaking, sequels to "Jurassic Park" weren't necessarily a non-starter. In the hands of the right storytellers, maybe we could've received a sequel trilogy that actually expanded on the original's ideas and brought us into genuinely new territory. Instead, we have to make do with "Jurassic World Dominion" and its misguided notions of what "Jurassic Park" actually represented. With "Dominion" in our rearview mirror and who knows how many more sequels on the horizon, never has "Life finds a way" sounded more like a threat.