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Jurassic World: Dominion movie review - the oldies are the besties

The conclusion to the Jurassic era is epically knowing

09 June 2022

I once had a dog. He humped my leg so much I got a callus on my shinbone. True story.”

There are many memorable lines in the sixth and possibly final instalment of the Jurassic films and most of them are delivered by 69-year-old Jeff Goldblum, whose bebop timing is as perfect as ever.

His character, at one point, riffs on cushy gigs. Which feels especially droll because Goldblum’s presence in the legendary dino franchise (not just the peerless original and pretty good The Lost World: Jurassic Park, but also the so-so Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is the ultimate cushy gig. Jurassic World: Dominion is being sold as an “epic conclusion”. The truth is that it’s epically knowing.

Beloved legacy characters Drs Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler (the wonderful Sam Neill and Laura Dern, both fizzing with sexual tension, both allowed to look their age), reunite with Goldblum’s whimsical mathematician, Dr Ian Malcolm, at a glossy dinosaur-sanctuary-cum-sinister-corporate-lab, run by Biosyn CEO, Dr Lewis Dodgson (Scott Campbell). Eventually, the trio encounter the heroes from the previous two instalments, namely cheeky ethologist Owen Grady, conscientious dinosaur advocate Claire Dearing, and their adopted child Maisie (Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and Isabella Sermon).

Howard is a gutsy actress and Sermon, playing two parts, is a revelation. That said, nothing can distract us from Ellie, Alan and Ian. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the original gang point their weapons at a few baddies, but are basically add-ons. That’s so not the case here.

Jeff Goldblum, with Mamoudou Athie and Campbell Scott, has the most memorable lines

/ film handout

The plot, by the way, revolves around three loving mother-daughter relationships, (fathers, in two of these cases, don’t figure at all). It shows women taking the lead over and over again, with DeWanda Wise’s Kayla, (the pilot who brings Owen and Claire to Dodgson’s lair), as swaggery as Casablanca’s Rick and just as flirtatious. It’s implied that Kayla had a fling with one of Dodgson’s minions, Denise (a small part, nicely played by British comedian Freya Parker).

In case you can’t tell, one of the year’s biggest blockbusters does everything it can to bait conservatives. Ellie even quotes Lenin. If Jurassic World: Dominion makes less than a billion at the box office, that failure will be used as ammunition by culture war berks. To put it bluntly, director/co-writer Colin Trevorrow has not played safe with Universal’s money.

And what of the dinosaurs? Oh, they’re lovely. Little kidnap victim Beta (the daughter of Owen’s favourite raptor, Blue) is cute but not too cute and there’s a feathery beast who likes dancing, isn’t afraid of a cold plunge and really suits the colour red. And let’s not forget Rexy, who initially meets her match in a Giganotosaurus, but soon comes into her own.

Admittedly, not everything works. Trevorrow, who did such a fine job with Jurassic World, definitely struggles with pacing this time round. And, sigh, the script is a logic free zone. And whole chunks are devoid of tension. Dodgson’s wicked idea is the creation of genetically modified locusts who bring death and destruction upon any farmers who won’t buy Biosyn seeds. Alas, these bad boy bugs aren’t scary. They just look like pimped-up grasshoppers. Also, the body count, in terms of people and creatures we care about, is tragically low.

So no tears, but plenty of laughs (most of them intentional). I’ll take that.

146mins, cert 12A

In cinemas from June 10

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