I don't really get the poor reviews
Dominion is getting. I can
absolutely agree that a sixth film in the franchise was unnecessary,
but then, no sequels were ever really necessary or could hope to
match the original Jurassic Park.
Even Chrichton's The Lost World struggled
to justify its existence in that respect, and the film version even
more so. Dominion is
about making a comment on the modern world and the commodification
and exploitation of science, and the lengths to which those on the
top of the capitalist world will go to to ensure their own dominion.
That's what it's about, but it's not what it's for. It's there
because we want to see characters we like running away from
dinosaurs, because that is entertainment.
I don't get the vitriol, because Dominion kept
me thoroughly entertained throughout. On a purely visual level, there
were elements here that surpassed anything that has gone before in
the Jurassic Park saga.
The raptor chase through Valetta – utilising the Atrociraptor
mainly, I feel, for the cool
name – is a fantastic juxtaposition of visuals and a truly
breathtaking action sequence. Sights of dinosaurs sloping into town,
a Brontosaurus blocking
a highway because it just doesn't know where it's found itself, are
beautiful (and far more effective than the T.
attempt of The Lost
World). The impossibly vast
inflated beyond even the giraffe-sized creature's natural scale –
providing a hazard to aircraft is what this series is all about.
Plus, we finally had proper feathered dinosaurs, the imaginary
science of the films catching up with the real science of
palaeontology, which has revolutionised our understanding since the
novel was originally published.
fitting for the film to bring back the original three leads of
Jurassic Park. I've
said it before, but it's never really, truly a Jurassic
Park film without Sam Neill as
Dr. Alan Grant (one of the reasons I have a soft spot for the much
maligned Jurassic Park III).
Some viewers disliked that Grant, now old, bearded and solitary, is a
rather lost figure at the beginning of the film, but it's absolutely
fitting that he would gravitate back to the familiar world of fossil
hunting, the last bastion of the world before dinosaurs walked again.
He retains strong chemistry with Laura Dern's Ellie Satler, who gets
to shoulder most of the trio's half of the film. Satler was always
the most impressive of the characters when it came to surviving in
the Park, and it's only right that she gets much of the limelight
been wasted in a cameo in Fallen Kingdom,
Jeff Goldblum gets to play Dr. Ian Malcolm for real again. While he
does, as always, play himself, Goldblum is able to make Malcolm into
a character again with a genuine reason to be involved, instead of
just a celebrity stop-off of quirky delivery. This half of the film,
which stays resolutely away from the other side for much of the
runtime, gives the old guard a chance to shine, without the newbies
overshadowing them. There's able support from Mamoudou Athie as
Ramsay Cole, the turncoat PA and communications head at Biosyn, who
puts in a classy performance. Making Lewis Dodgson the villain was a
clever idea. While it was a shame to have to recast him (but look, no
one is going to work with Cameron Thor, if he was even out of prison
in time to film it), Campbell Scott makes for a suitably nefarious
billionnaire. Linking him back to the character who was barely seen
but was ultimately behind the chaos of the first film is a great
touch, especially since Dodgson was such a major character in the
novels. Here, he comes across as less of a scientist than in the
books, and more an evil Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. Which is to say, a
Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.
the classic characters overshadowed the Jurassic World
crew. Chris Pratt still remains
a likeable presence as Owen Grady, but by now his Velociraptor
whisperer schtick is getting a
bit old. Still, he handles the action scenes excellently and has
great chemistry with Isabella Sermon. As the teenaged clone Maisie
Lockwood, Sermon steals her scenes: a gobby, angry posh girl with an
entirely justifiable chip on her shoulder due to her unique and
unexplained past. Bryce Dallas Howard does well as Claire Dearing,
especially in her action scenes where she portrays a tangible
desperation (the slow escape from the Therizinosaurus is
one of the most nail-biting moments in the franchise), she lacks
chemistry with Sermon and, surprisingly, with Pratt.
Wise, on the other hand, has palpable chemistry with Pratt. So much
so, in fact, that the only way to keep her character Kayla from
falling into Owen's arms is to make her gay. Kayla could be a stock
action film character – she's a daredevil pilot, a criminal finding
her principles again, etc. – but Wise has enough charisma to carry
the part off and make her a success.
there problems? Of course there are. While keeping their storylines
linked but separate for so long helps, the film does feel overstuffed
two sets of heroes: six adult leads and one child is a lot to juggle.
This means some elements feel a little cut short: Grant and Satler's
revival of their relationship seems a bit forced, and Maisie's
discovery of her mother is swamped by the many other elements
jostling for attention. The monstrous locusts work as an immediate
threat, but not a world-ending catastrophe. Surely even a company as
powerful as Biosyn would be investigated if their crops were the only
ones not being threatened by this sudden and impossible strain of
fight between the Giganotosaurus and
T. rex is presented as
being a climactic moments, but neither has had much impact on the
film by that point, and so feels unearned. While there's something
more to it if you know that this is the same T.rex Grant,
Satler and Malcolm faced in the original film, nothing is made of
this in the film itself. In the end, I was cheering more for the
poor, blind, herbivorous Therizinosaurus than
either apex predator, but the final fight fell flat. The similar
battle between T.rex,
Indominus rex and the
Mosasaurus, that this
was clearly meant to evoke, worked far better, even if it was more
far-fetched (even the utterly mismatched Spinosaurus vs.
T.rex fight in JPIII
are some huge logistical problems with the set-up, of course.
Supposedly, all these dinosaurs are roaming loose after they escaped
from the house at the end of Fallen Kingdom –
really, all of them? Even the Brontosaurus that
clearly couldn't have fit in there? Even the Mosasaurus
that lives in the bloody sea?
Dr. Wu's redemption is nice, but far too easy, with the final end of
the film feeling anticlimactic.
spite of those hard-to-swallow pieces, this was a cracking dinosaur
movie. Anything that presents a dinosaur black market, complete with
dinosaur smugglers and trained raptor attack dogs, in the bowels of
the Maltese capital, with a truly gorgeous, beaten-up old Carnotaurus
as the main attraction, is a
winner in my book.