Jurassic World: Dominion feels like it was created by a subreddit.
Imagine if you took a bunch of random nostalgia-addled dino dorks, gave them carte blanche with the Jurassic Park IP, rustled up $165 million, crossed your fingers and hoped for the best. Shy of having the disembodied arm of Ray Arnold return from the grave to give someone a helping hand, the latest Jurassic movie, for better or worse, does everything it can to spelunk to depths of fan service previously thought unreachable.
Filmmaker Colin Trevorrow’s second installment in the series feels overstuffed and a bit incomprehensible. It’s a film that tries very hard to both pander to its core audience with obvious references and infuse a largely unconvincing new mythology into its narrative. Despite all that, it’s still pretty fun as far as contemporary summer blockbusters go. Man watches dinosaur movie, man notices glaring flaws in dinosaur movie, man still enjoys dinosaur movie.
Rather than try to build a third park (that’s probably coming in 2040), Jurassic World: Dominion incorporates dinosaurs into Indiana Jones/Jason Bourne-style chases. The scientists offer sci-fi gibberish that fans of Syfy original programming will enjoy (or at least be familiar with), and the legacy characters are worked into a plot involving a kidnapped clone, the last possible villain to mine from the past and disgustingly big hordes of locusts that are gobbling up the world’s food supply. If that doesn’t sound appealing, the film’s dino-heavy third act should tide you over. While it takes an eternity to get there, you get your ticket’s worth of dinosaur chases and jump-scares by the end credits. Six movies in, it’s not a bad tradeoff.
Even though the film often feels like pointless summer popcorn content, the power of the brand is still palpable. There’s still something endearing about watching the film’s central characters continue to recognize the grace and terror of hungry dinosaurs living among them set to John Williams’ iconic musical cues. Sure, it’s an easy score, but points are points.
For his faults, Trevorrow has a reverence for Jurassic Park that works as a guiding light in the series' latter-day installments. It coasts along on nostalgic magnetism — something that prevents us from getting movies as good and original as Jurassic Park amid a pile of never-ending cinematic hand-me-downs and sequels and remakes. While Jurassic World: Dominion isn’t amazing, it’s also not that bad. It barely gets off the island in time, but as a famous doctor one said, life, even still, finds a way.