blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Jurassic World Dominion (2022, Colin Trevorrow)

It’s not hard to pinpoint what’s wrong with Jurassic World Dominion, the inglorious (hopefully) end of a twenty-nine-year-old franchise. Director Trevorrow does a bad job directing, he and co-writer Emily Carmichael do a bottom-of-the-barrel job with the script, the actors all seem contractually bound and miserable (even the new additions, with one exception), and Michael Giacchino’s musical score is so terrible they should’ve stopped payment on the check. Otherwise, Dominion would be fine. Just needs a better director, an entirely different story and script, and—I don’t know—the music from the original Jurassic Park SEGA Genesis game instead of Giacchino.

The film opens with a news break, which Trevorrow and Carmichael are incapable of writing. Dominion’s what happens when blockbusters don’t even need to hire script doctors so they don’t embarrass themselves. Trevorrow’s only positive quality is his dogged determination in not letting each horrifyingly embarrassing moment of film slow him from reaching the next. Dominion’s third act is nowhere near as bad as it could be, but the first and second acts—all two endless hours of them—are crashing behind it and the debris distracts from the film at least not getting any worse. Except for Giacchino’s music. Giacchino’s music always gets worse, right into the credits.

Jasmine Chiu plays the newscaster. She wouldn’t be believable as a TikToker on “CSI: Sheboygan,” so introducing twenty-nine years of cloned dinosaur backstory is out of the question. Especially since her news report also sets up this movie’s villain—and the only person who seems like he’s having a good time—Campbell Scott. Scott’s playing a character from the first Jurassic Park, but the part’s recast (for good reasons). Now, Scott’s got a lousy part. He’s playing the not-so-smart head of a genetics company; they’re using prehistoric DNA to cure diseases and create monster bugs. The monster bugs are important. If Trevorrow were any good, there’d be a great Godzilla 1985 reference. But he’s not any good. Instead of an on-point Godzilla bug reference, there are desperate Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Jaws references like Trevorrow’s still sucking up to executive producer Steven Spielberg.

But Trevorrow directs Scott like he’s doing an incompetent, megalomaniac hipster Steve Jobs. It’s a string of terrible decisions and Scott’s willingness to commit to the bit and somehow get through. He’s never good; it’s impossible, with Carmichael and Trevorrow’s lousy script, for anyone to actually be good, but he’s never boring, bored, or defeated.

Everyone else goes through those emotions, though no one more despondently than Chris Pratt. He’s fifth fiddle in his own franchise, but he doesn’t even care. He’s got one good scene, and it’s from Congo. The rest of the time, he looks like he’s trying to disappear, similar to Bryce Dallas Howard.

Laura Dern and Sam Neill work pretty hard to make their parts work. Either Trevorrow didn’t direct them, or he told them to play their characters exactly the same as they did thirty years ago, only Neill doesn’t have the same American accent anymore. It’s a better accent, but it’s a different one. They get some genuinely terrible dialogue but get through all right.

Also back is Jeff Goldblum, who doesn’t get very much to do, even when he’s around. The second half of the movie is about putting the Jurassic World characters together with the Jurassic Park characters to they can fight the Thanosaurus at the end. Goldblum’s around, but it’s like Trevorrow and Carmichael are scared to write him. Goldblum seems ready to work but never gets asked to do any.

Isabella Sermon plays a cloned human who’s supposedly important to the monster bug plot. It’s all nonsense. Sermon’s fine, but fine in the way you’re being nice about a middling child actor. She was in the last movie.

Then BD Wong’s back, of course. He’s shockingly good in a silly role.

New characters this movie—besides Campbell (sort of)—are pilot DeWanda Wise and lackey Mamoudou Athie. The film would be an excellent showcase for both actors if Trevorrow weren’t terrible. But, instead, he flops with both. More with Wise because she’s got more to do—she and Pratt are chemistry-free action buddies. Athie’s just around for various exposition dumps and plot contrivances, but he’s not bad doing them.

Technically, Dominion’s fine. Good CGI. Good photography from John Schwartzman. Not good editing from Mark Sanger, but he’s working from Trevorrow’s footage, set to Giacchino’s music. There’s no way to edit Dominion into a good movie with those quality sinkholes.

Despite teaming up two generations of Jurassic adventurers, Dominion’s a bad, boring, anti-trip down memory lane. Even when Trevorrow’s aping old Park moments, they’re just so desperate they don’t get the nostalgia going; instead, they just further embarrass this entry.

All set to Giacchino’s godawful music, of course.

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