The Collin-Denton Spotlighter is taking a look at some of the top movies and newest exclusives to hit popular streaming services. We’ll be reviewing those movies not only by traditional standards, but by how well they hold up as quality streaming options for a comfy night in with a bowl of microwave popcorn.
This week’s movie is perhaps one of the most divisive blockbusters of 2022, Jurassic World: Dominion. The third entry into the second trilogy in the franchise, an exhausting explanation of a film’s lineage if there ever was one, roared onto Amazon Prime on January 6. Before you get preoccupied on whether you could stream this tentpole film today though, let our review scientist stop to think if you should.
The Spotlight Review
At nearly 2 and a half hours, it’s fair to expect Jurassic World: Dominion to have a lot of dinosaurs. For a franchise hitting its sixth movie, it’s an important expectation to uphold. Big, small, menacing, cute or whatever the case may be, dinosaurs should rightfully be the stars of the show in a Jurassic Park flick. No matter how worn out the franchise gets through the decades, it just never gets old seeing new dinosaurs.
That’s the problem with Jurassic World: Dominion though. For some reason, the movie isn’t very interested in new dinosaurs. Sure, there’s more than enough dino-centric action, but none of it feels very fresh. For a setup with so much potential, dinosaurs invading the outside world, it’s shockingly mundane and by the book.
The movie isn’t particularly interested in the cast for its newest trilogy either, led by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Their story is woefully underdeveloped throughout the film.
Dominion still doesn’t use its scripting energy on its returning original cast led by luminaries like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. Their story is barebones, if at least entertaining.
No, Jurassic World: Dominion is really interested in bugs.
Specifically, its main villains are big, giant locust controlled by some sort of stereotypical Silicon Valley startup led by a Tim Cook lookalike. It’s a plot twist that’s about as exciting as it sounds.
Locust don’t make for much more than a vaguely gross and squishy affair; a general feel that doesn’t quite line up with the awe of watching gigantic dinosaurs. The fact that so much of the plot and action revolves around these creepy crawlies feels like a lost opportunity for a movie that fails to ever really capitalize on its prehistoric stars as much as some of its critically acclaimed predecessors.
Such a departure may seem downright baffling for a franchise that can easily lean on that simple core ideal of the universal love for big, scary dinosaurs. Then again, the movie preceding Dominion introduced a clone child who continues to play a central role in this film, so maybe it’s not as baffling as it is disappointing.
To elaborate more than that on the main plot would be to do it more justice than even the writers have. It’s a bland, uninspired story that fails to develop any sort of hook to keep you invested in Owen, Claire or their adopted child, Maisie.
Luckily, the paper-thin main story doesn’t affect the returns of the original cast much. The returns of Dern, Goldblum and Sam Neill save the movie from being completely unwatchable from a plot perspective.
While it’s hard not to wonder how many times their characters can stare dramatically into the distance, the original cast delivers appropriately campy and energetic performances that a franchise as well-worn as Jurassic Park needs. When the trio of them are on screen, the tone shifts more from bad B-movie, which really lingers whenever Owen or Claire delivers another melodramatic witticism, to more of an enjoyable romp akin to the recent Fast & Furious films.
Their run-ins with various dinosaurs, of which there are many throughout the film, are legitimately enjoyable, unlike the newer cast’s efforts.
The problems are most prominent with Pratt who plays Owen far too seriously. He veers away from comedy and towards action star much more often than he should, especially considering he’s proven the ability to successfully balance the two as Star-Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy films
It doesn’t help that some of his scenes with the dinosaurs almost feel lackadaisical at times. It may be a lack of legitimate stakes to their encounters, given the predictability of the script, but the new cast doesn’t seem to mesh as well with the dinosaurs as they should. The action side of the proceedings suffer for these reasons.
Likewise, new characters like DeWanda Wise’s Kayla Watts or Dichen Lachman’s Soyona Santos are painfully underdeveloped. They fail to really incorporate themselves into the story in any meaningful way in spite of their entertaining character setups.
At the end of the day, or trilogy as it may be, there’s just not enough holding this film together. Hordes of roaring dinosaurs aren’t even enough to save this film from dollar-bin ignominy, even if said dinosaurs are still occasionally awe-inspiring to behold on screen.
Skip or Stream
No matter how you traverse it, Jurassic World: Dominion is a streaming skip. There are movies that hold together the core concepts of the series better than Dominion in both trilogies, so there’s really little reason to waste your time besides a desire for completion’s sake.
Nonetheless, if you’re insistent on taking a trip to the world of dinosaurs from the 2020s, consider at least taking an intermission somewhere along the way.
The story is so predictable and groan-inducing that the movie really leans on the dinosaur scenes to pack a punch. It works to as much of an extent as you could expect, but only when the pace allows it to.
There’s a few too many scenes of Pratt dramatically holding his hand out to calm a dino, for example, so it would be best to use the luxury of the pause button to give yourself a break for a bit.
Even using that tip, it’s hard to recommend Jurassic World: Dominion no matter how you watch. Dinosaurs may still be fun to see on screen, but these movies are not. If this is the best Jurassic Park can offer, the franchise is well-served in going extinct.
Spotlight Score: 4/10