Several years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, dinosaurs have spread throughout the world. Clashes between mankind, modern wildlife, and prehistoric beasts have escalated. Black markets dealing in dinosaurs begin to thrive. Governments and environmental groups do their best to intervene and relocate the beasts to sanctuaries, but it is a difficult task.
Further complicating things is the mysterious appearance of new extinct species from the Cretaceous – massive locusts. The locusts begin consuming crops at an alarming rate and threaten the world’s food supply.
Ellie Sattler has a theory about the origin of the locusts, but she needs evidence before she can make her radical accusations. And to get that evidence, she’ll need the help of the one scientist she knows she can trust – her old flame, Alan Grant.
Meanwhile, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing have been laying low with Maisie Lockwood, Charlotte Lockwood’s human clone. Fearing the repercussions of revealing the world’s first human clone, Owen and Claire keep the young girl safe from the public while also tending to the velociraptor Blue and her new offspring.
But the teenager begins rebelling at her adopted parents’ rules and sneaks away from hiding. Soon enough, bounty hunters spot her and kidnap both Blue’s young raptor and Maisie. Owen and Claire are quickly in hot pursuit and use every resource at their disposal to save Maisie.
But who wants the young clone and the dinosaur, and what do they intend to do with them? Jurassic World Dominion is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, some violence, and language.
If you’re watching a Jurassic Park movie, there’s one thing you want to see more than anything else – dinosaurs chasing and eating people. Fortunately, Jurassic World Dominion is able to deliver on that front. But this time, it does so with the twist of dinosaurs clashing with people in the real world.
We see a mosasaur attacking a fishing vessel. We see a triceratops ramming a truck. We see pterodactyls roosting on skyscrapers. This clash between the old and the new is played up and is one of the highlights of the film.
The blending of dinosaurs into our world sets up some pretty impressive action scenes as well. We see raptors specially trained as targeted weapons and unleashed in Malta. A chase between the raptors, Owen and Claire, is the breathtaking highlight of the whole movie.
It also allows us to see the realization of fears presented in Jurassic World and the other previous films. Another intense scene features an airplane flown by our heroes attacked by a flying dinosaur. It’s a new threat and a new situation that grabs the audience’s attention.
That appeal of something new carries over to the dinosaurs as well. We get to see several other new species featuring characteristics recently discovered by paleontologists. There is a raptor covered in colorful feathers. It’s like being chased by Toucan Sam.
Then there is a massive new dinosaur with claws that would make Wolverine proud. Dinosaur fans will also be happy to see the Dimetrodon, a variety of new predators, and a whole flock of new flying dinos. If you had a wish list of dinosaurs to see, it’s probably granted here.
The new cast members also hold their own with the returning cast. DeWanda Wise is good as Han Solo…er… Kayla Watts. She’s a reckless pilot, a rogue with a heart of gold, and some of the main comic relief in the film. She has some good one-liners and memorable moments that endear her to audiences.
Mamoudou Athie is also as good as Ramsay Cole. He’s the mysterious protégé of Biosyn tech billionaire Lewis Dodgson, who has a secret agenda of his own.
But the thing Jurassic World Dominion will most be remembered for is the reunion of the returning cast from both trilogies. It’s fun to see Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler, Sam Neill as Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm on the screen again. I was worried about how they would be brought back together, but it is done so in a natural way.
The three are largely on their own adventure for most of the movie before they are eventually united with Chris Pratt as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing. When the two casts are merged, there are some fun team-ups between the characters that are entertaining. For example, you see Alan Grant, who battled raptors, paired with Owen Grady, who trained them. The contrast between the characters is played up well.
While there’s a lot to like in Jurassic World Dominion, there are an awful lot of missed opportunities and missteps as well. My best comparison is to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It tries its best to deliver fan service and an epic ending to a saga while retreading familiar territory, not breaking new ground, and ultimately being unsatisfying.
Each of the previous Jurassic Park films delivered memorable dinosaur moments. There was the T-Rex chase through San Diego in The Lost World. There was the Pterodactyl battle and Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park III. There was the mosasaur and Indominus Rex in Jurassic World. There is nothing here that really stands out as far as a major dinosaur moment. Even the new feathered raptor just repeats all of the action we’ve seen with raptors in previous films. When the big finale finally hits, and there’s a showdown between dinosaurs, it feels like it is lacking.
What I really wanted to see was more of the dinosaurs in our world causing problems. However, that’s relegated to a brief montage in the intro and the aforementioned motorcycle chase. It’s only maybe 1/3 of the film. I feel like there were more opportunities there that weren’t fully explored.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also teed up a plot point that was worthy of Michael Crichton – human cloning. It’s a huge ethical question and something that could have been explored in great depth, but it was not. It’s more touched on from the aspect of Maisie wrestling with her origin, not the catastrophic implications to the human race. They could have gone back to what Michael Crichton would have done if he were still alive, but it got left behind in favor of the fan service.
Fan service can be done well, as we saw in Spider-Man: No Way Home. But here, the fan service feels forced. Previous dinosaurs are brought back for little more than to please the audience. Callbacks to the previous films are dropped left and right with little relevance to the plot. The end result is you just start thinking about how much you liked the previous movies and would like to watch them again.
One final note – there’s no end credits scene, so feel free to depart for the restroom after the 2-hour 26-minute running time. Jurassic World Dominion is not the best Jurassic Park film, but it’s a perfectly adequate popcorn flick. Check it out if you liked the previous films, but keep your expectations in check.
JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION REVIEW SCORE: 6.5 OUT OF 10
Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Universal Pictures will release Jurassic World Dominion in theaters on the evening of Thursday, June 9.
Scott Chitwood has been writing about film online since 1995. He is a co-founder of TheForce.Net, IGN Movies, and the Houston Film Critics Society. Scott wrote for ComingSoon until joining Vital Thrills in 2020. Scott is also the publisher of Red 5 Comics and lives in Houston, TX.