How low can you set your expectations for Jurassic World: Dominion?
If you can burrow those expectations deep into the earth, perhaps so far that researchers don’t discover them for thousands of years, you may have a good time. That goes double for parents who are looking for a movie to watch with amped-up, pre-teen dinosaur aficionados. The film’s ideal audience agrees with its filmmakers about what matters here: the dinosaurs, not the humans.
This is the kind of film in which a Quetzalcoatlus appears on the horizon, and a character responds by saying its name briskly yet accurately, just before the majestic flying dino emerges in terrifying and detailed fashion. This creature gets better and fuller justification for its actions than pretty much any actor in the film—which might have been fine, had Dominion‘s writers not spent so much time trying, and failing, to stitch its characters’ motivations together.
“Look at you… and look at me…”
My favorite things about this film are easy to list, so I’ll start there.
First, the dinosaurs are great. The budget invested in this film’s roster of ground, air, and sea behemoths is well spent, and the production team clearly had a blast cracking open modern paleontology records and expanding the series’ dino roster beyond the usual suspects. Fast ones, lumbering ones, even ones with feathers: they’re all here, and they’re generally used to terrorize the humans. Even better, the acting, framing, and light-and-shadow bounces in these crucial moments shine in ways that will make you forget how many green screens are likely in use.
Second, the best action scenes are nuts. My favorite, which sees velociraptors chasing trucks and dirt bikes, has been spoiled in trailers to some extent, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the film’s execution. That’s largely because the cinematography emphasizes prolonged shots instead of countless rapid cuts, making its stunt driving look all the more incredible.
And third, Jeff Goldblum is fantastic. Though he’s wedged into the film under some of the series’ most moronic pretenses (which is saying something), his character Ian Malcolm shines as a self-professed “chaoticist” (take that, futurists). What’s more, his contribution has been upgraded from the phoned-in, behind-a-bench narration sequence in the last Jurassic World film. In one early moment, he greets a longtime friend with Goldblum-ian aplomb: “Look at you… and look at me… and look at you!” It’s the exact tongue-in-cheek attitude that this film needs, and he certainly adds to Dominion‘s watchability whenever he’s in the frame.
Sadly, Goldblum is crowded out of the film often enough for the rest of Dominion‘s disappointing content to come through.