JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION marks the end of an era with a fulfilling conclusion

Colin Trevorrow returns to the directors chair for the conclusion to the Jurassic World trilogy and the ultimate finale of the wider Jurassic Park franchise. Bringing together characters both new and old, this sequel is the culmination of 29 years of history in the world of Jurassic Park.

Set four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this narrative kicks off in a changed world where dinosaurs have infiltrated every corner of the globe – giving criminal organisations more opportunity to seize power and make money. Looking at the concept alone, Jurassic World Dominion sets itself up for a grand adventure that merges the best of the Park and World trilogies. On one hand, Colin Trevorrow delivers an action-packed ride that’s fun and fulfilling for long-time fans. On the other hand, he’s also put out a bloated and unnecessarily convoluted narrative that drags on and on.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way – the first half of the film, and especially the first 45 minutes, is bogged down by the countless subplots that are all progressing in different locations around the world. There’s so much hopping between locations and subplots that it’s genuinely difficult to keep track of characters and stay invested in the story. There’s one moment in which I was perplexed to see Chris Pratt in a certain location that I had no idea he was anywhere near. It’s like there’s two or three isolated movies all developing at once, and it’s a mess to try and wrangle some sense of where everything is going. For instance, there’s an entire sequence set in Malta that feels like it’s the furthest thing from a Jurassic film. It’s ripped straight out of a spy thriller like Mission Impossible, with the slight presence of dinosaurs. On top of that, these scenes feature Dichen Lachman as a mercenary who you think is going to play a recurring role – but she just disappears never to be seen again.

Part of this issue with the first half comes down to the fact that it’s just too damn long. The movie is creeping up to two-and-a-half hours and it really didn’t need to be anywhere near that. The convoluted narrative involving locusts and the cloned human from Fallen Kingdom is just too much. I get that a lot of it is to provide an excuse for why the likes of Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill) get involved, but so many elements could have been simplified and you’d have had the same end result. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good moments in this first half, but they’re bogged down by the poor story and dragging narrative. Cut out up to 30 minutes of this setup and you’ve got a tighter, simpler and potentially more entertaining film.

Now let’s get into the good – and that’s basically the entire latter third or latter half of the film. Once all of those branching narratives become unified towards a common goal, it turns into the movie I wanted to see from the outset. By that latter half, the story is a lot more straightforward and there’s plenty of awesome dinosaur-centric content to get excited about. It becomes this fast-paced, action-packed and genuinely fun thrill ride that feels like the fulfilling conclusion to a beloved franchise. It hits all these chilling moments and features some very neat visual callbacks to the original Jurassic Park films that not everyone will pick up on. If only the characters’ journeys were as unified in the first act as they were in the final act, it could have been something fantastic.

As everyone knows, this film combines Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s adventures with the return of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in sizeable roles. I like that they’re not used as trailer bait (much like Goldblum in Fallen Kingdom) and they actually feature as main characters throughout. They also aren’t treated too much like renowned heroes, like how legacy characters typically are in other franchises. Obviously their history is known, but I like that they just exist in this world rather than being god-like figures – it keeps everything a little more grounded. When it comes to Neill, Dern and Goldblum, I enjoyed all of their performances. They still display a great deal of chemistry when interacting with each other and all look like they were having a blast on set. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard cemented themselves as some of the stronger characters in the wider franchise. I enjoyed their arc as they bought some solid heart to the story, while also contributing to the tense action just as well.

Now that we’ve got through the returning cast, there are a couple of newcomers who I loved following. DeWanda Wise is a great addition as Kayla Watts – she’s not given great dialogue to work with, but I adored her character and what she brings to the story. She has this charm and charisma about her that makes me wish we had her for the entire trilogy. Then there’s Mamoudou Athie who plays BioSyn employee Ramsay Cole, and knocks it out of the park with a performance that’s unexpectedly layered. I enjoyed his performance in the recently cancelled Netflix series Archive 81, so it’s great to see him getting more work.

Lastly, I want to highlight the brilliant visual effects of the dinosaurs, which somehow seems to get even better with each passing film. Not only are the visual effects brilliant, but the clear use of practical effects is a fantastic touch. From what I could tell, almost all up-close shots are using practical effects and it really makes a difference. But yes, the visuals on the dinosaurs are so crisp and clean that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re actually real. It just works wonders for sucking you into the world and keeping you locked in.

In the end, Jurassic World Dominion is a fun ride and a good conclusion to Jurassic franchise. It’s weighed down heavily by a lengthy first half that’s a bit of a struggle to follow, but it pays off with an entertaining latter half that goes heavy on the dinosaur action. I should make it clear – there’s no comparing this movie to Jurassic Park, and it has nothing to do with quality. The franchise has changed so much that it’s more of an action blockbuster along the lines of Fast and Furious as opposed to the smaller, horror-focused roots of Spielberg’s classic. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, it’s just a reminder that perspective is important in enjoying this film. That being said, if you’re a fan of the franchise you should head out and witness the final appearance of these beloved characters.

6.6/10

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