As we approach 30 years of messing around with dinosaur DNA, it’s hard to imagine exactly who is getting excited about a return to the Jurassic Park franchise. The 1993 original was a game-changer in terms of using CGI to realise previously unimaginable visuals; the director of Jaws knew how to stage-manage the action with real showmanship, and as Gloria Hunniford wisely noted, audiences simply couldn’t tell which dinosaurs were fake and which ones were real. Fast forward thirty years and the second Jurassic World trilogy grinds to a halt, still making coin but beloved by no-one.
The advertising for the final film in the second trilogy puts the returning stars (Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill) front and centre, and that’s hardly surprising; all remarkably spruce and well preserved, they’re still a lot more interesting that the main storyline. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard stand around in front of green screens as the returning adventurers Claire Deering and Owen Grady, and it’s hard to imagine who is closely following their story arc. They used to work at the original Jurassic World theme park, but now seem to be global espionage agents or something, forming a runaway family with Maisie Lockwood, the cloned grand-daughter of Sir Benjamin Lockwood, as they seek to avoid the authorities…
In short, there’s nothing here narratively; we’re some way away from the idea of a theme park where nothing can go worng, as featured in Michael Crichton high-concepts Westworld and Jurassic Park. Colin Trevorrow’s film doesn’t even feature the distinctive Gothic haunted house setting of J A Bayona’s tedious follow-up to Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom. Instead, we globetrot through some bland spy scenarios, with a couple of decent action highlights, and a generally stale air pervades the whole enterprise, a pall which only lifts when the original trio are on screen. Pratt’s character in particular will grind anyone up the wrong way; a dinosaur whisperer, he’s also a expert on cars, motorcycles and planes, but despite such amazing abilities, has zero character. At least the oldies know how to crack wise.
You have to make your own fun when you try and fan the flames of a franchise that was old hat by the time of the second film, but there’s only one real attraction here, and that’s seeing Neill, Goldblum and Dern. Otherwise, there’s a similar mix of dinosaurs, disaster movie and resourceful family drama, but the elements separated some time ago, and Jurassic World: Dominion is something of a slog. CGI is flipping everywhere these days, and there’s nothing special about seeing dinosaurs or this franchise again; I won’t be the only critic to say this, but it’s time that these dinosaurs went the way of the dodo.