Jurassic World Dominion Spoiler Review: What Was The Point Of All This?

Warning: major spoilers ahead for "Jurassic World Dominion." Proceed with caution.

"Jurassic World" hit theaters in 2015 following a 14-year absence of the "Jurassic Park" franchise on our screens, and it was met with open arms by moviegoers across the world. While certain critics at the time were a bit harsh on the film, the general vibe was not all that negative critically and general audiences went nuts for the film's "the park is open" concept. But where does one go from there? This franchise has struggled to find an answer to that dating back to "Jurassic Park III," but in 2018's "Fallen Kingdom," a messy answer was found by literally blowing up Isla Nublar and holding some totally ill-advised dinosaur auction so that the dinosaurs could be out on the mainland with people. Dinosaurs and humans were forced to truly co-exist for the first time in history. What a concept!

This was the promise of "Jurassic World Dominion." This was seemingly where all of this was headed. Six movies and billions of dollars, decades in the making, all so that we could see a vision of a world where species separated by millions of years are suddenly forced into an uneasy co-existence. Yet, amazingly enough, director Colin Trevorrow's third entry in the "Jurassic" series turns its biggest magic trick into window dressing, opting instead for a truly baffling, splintered plotline involving, amongst many other things, gigantic locusts. And not as a little thing, mind you — those locusts are the central driving force behind this movie.

Even as someone who loves almost every movie in this franchise on some level, I would be hard-pressed to think of a single person who went to see the sixth movie in a series of movies about dinosaurs who was excited about the prospect of swarms of giant locusts and a storyline about control of the global food supply. You know, as opposed to actually seeing a great deal of the dinosaurs living in and amongst humans. Just look at the "Battle at Big Rock" short. Imagine that but stretched out to a feature. That was the very concept this movie was sold on. It was the thing that "Fallen Kingdom" worked incredibly hard to justify — a film that very much seemed like a means to an end. One assumed there was a good reason to go that far off the rails. Were locusts really the reason? And yet, this is "Dominion" and this is how we reach the apex of one of cinema's biggest franchises.

Reunited and it doesn't feel as good

It's downright remarkable how much the dinosaurs are pushed into the background in this film. Yes, there are plenty of dinosaurs in it, but the focus is really not nearly as much about them being part of our world now. We get news reports about them, we see some very neat shots involving the chaos they bring, but once the movie truly kicks into gear, the dinosaurs very much take a backseat to the muddy, multi-pronged plot and the human characters. The plot involves Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) having to save Blue's baby as well as Maisie Lockwood (Isabelle Sermon), the clone girl from "Fallen Kingdom" who they've since adopted, from corporate overlords who wish to use them for financial gain. Owen and Claire have made a makeshift family in the woods in an attempt to keep Maisie safe. They are finally together. This relationship is a big thing within the scope of the overall narrative of this trilogy, and yet them truly being together doesn't feel nearly as big as it should. The aimless nature of the movie doesn't do that narrative any favors. 

But the biggest of the big things in this movie involves reuniting the original trio of Ellie (Laure Dern), Alan (Sam Neill), and Ian (Jeff Goldblum) for the first time since "Jurassic Park." This was the biggest hand that Trevorrow had to play and it was a tantalizing hand indeed. Their storyline involves figuring out how to prove that the locusts were created by genetics corporation Biosyn, a rival to InGen. Ultimately, this rescue mission and the corporate espionage our *checks notes* dinosaur experts are involved in end up at Biosyn's isolated plot of land where most of the world's dinosaurs are now being kept. Yes, despite all of the hullabaloo in "Fallen Kingdom," there is now another isolated location housing dinosaurs that humans can safely avoid. 

Unfortunately, the natural chemistry that existed between these characters in the original 1993 blockbuster classic can't be recreated. When these characters show up there are glimmers of those wonderful feelings that Steven Spielberg's timeless film brings, but "Dominion" simply can't get there. The magic is gone and even the kind of forced, not-at-all-subtle "Will they? Won't they?" between Alan and Ellie falls pretty flat. Between the dinosaurs taking a back seat in their own movie, and the long-awaited character reunion not living up to its promise, it's hard not to wonder what could have been. Was this really the big plan from the beginning? Was this the big crescendo everyone had in mind? Was this truly the envisioned endgame?

Well, there it is

Granted, it's difficult to blame Trevorrow wholly when it comes to the original trio problem. Audience members bring a lot of baggage to this kind of reunion, and if it fails to activate those delightful nostalgia muscles, maybe that's an internal problem more than it is strictly a movie problem. Then again, the movie at hand, complicated as it is, doesn't do the reunion any favors. "Dominion" is too busy setting hoards of locusts on fire, briefly bringing back characters we met before in glorified cameos, and attempting to deal with the ramifications of "Fallen Kingdom" as best it can. All due respect to Sermon as an actress, but the Maisie storyline really muddied the waters in a big, bad way. This movie would have been much better off without having to contend with that character or the head-scratching nonsense she brings with it. Her mom is suddenly an important character in the history of the genetic science that makes all of this possible? Axing all of that extra fat from the film might have helped but, again, "Dominion" was anchored to what came before.

There's also the matter of bringing back Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) as a major character, our primary villain as the head of Biosyn, and hardly addressing the fact that this was someone who was deeply connected to the original film. Dodgson was the man who gave Dennis Nedry the briefcase full of money and the Barbasol can to seal the dinosaur embryos from InGen. He, in many ways, kicked all of this into motion. And yet, I'd wager a great many audience members wouldn't even realize this was meant to be the same character, which would have been a fun bit of full circle, connective tissue. Instead, he's just another mustache-twirling corporate bad guy with a silly plan: controlling the food supply using locusts in a movie that is supposed to be about dinosaurs.

This movie consistently seems to take a left where there should have been a right. Dinosaurs running loose all over the planet? Where 30 seconds of well-thought-out action might have been good, 45 seconds worth of nonsensical plot or meandering is weaved in instead. You finally bring back the damn Barbasol can that was buried in the mud on Isla Nublar, one of the biggest mysteries in the history of these films, and for what? To have Dodgson throw it in his bag before he's killed by a pack of Dilophosaurus on a train while never really explain how he got it or what has happened to it in the last three decades? Baffling and frustrating.

In the end, whereas John Hammond spared no expense to make "Jurassic Park" something special, "Jurassic World Dominion" feels like dinosaurs by way of "Fast & Furious" (yet not really as delightful as that might sound on paper). That is to say, yes, there is fun to be had and man, some of the dinosaurs truly do look fantastic. Heck, the Giganotosaurus may be one of the best-looking dinos in the history of the series. But it's all undercut by the lingering presence of averageness of needless complication. Cheap thrills and nothing more but empty calories will have to do.