Jurassic World Dominion review – time to drop the dead dino

A dead-eyed Chris Pratt presides over this convoluted mess of Bond-style villains and toothless action that even the original cast can’t save from extinction

Here is the kind of sequelised franchise-clone movie to make you feel as if you’re lining up at the cinema like one of Nurse Ratched’s patients, while a dead-eyed attendant pops IP-content capsules out of an enormous blister pack. Genre and formula films can be great, but this flavourless slice of digitainment – the third in the Jurassic World series and the sixth in the Jurassic franchise overall – is overwhelmingly mediocre and pointless, contrived and lifelessly convoluted to the point of gibberish.

The first in the World series, back in 2015, admittedly put a little zap back in, but now this exercise in dead-dino flogging is dire. And the very worst thing of all is Chris Pratt. It’s painful to remember how funny he used to be in TV’s Parks and Recreation, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. Now he’s the boring action lead, forever doing smoulderingly hunky looks directed past the camera. You’ve heard of Blue Steel. This is Brown Steel. Or Beige Steel.

The previous film, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, left us with the idea that humans will just have to coexist with dinosaurs out there in the wild, dangerous but manageable, like bears or spiders. This new movie begins a few years after the destruction of the “Isla Nublar” compound for dinosaurs. Nowadays, beefy velociraptor handler Owen (Pratt) lives a remote, almost hermit existence as a kind of dino-cowboy, with his wife, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and their adopted daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the cloned child of Sir Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter. Sir Benjamin, played by James Cromwell, is the supposed former business partner of Jurassic Park OG John Hammond, once played by Richard Attenborough. Maisie has still got her posh English accent.

So much for the Jurassic World lineup. Meanwhile, “legacy characters” from the Park series (1993-2001) have to be crowbarred into the action, too. Dr Alan Grant, genially played by Sam Neill, is to cross paths once again with Dr Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern. All these people are to be drawn into the orbit of a new, arbitrarily created corporate baddie, a firm called BioSyn, which is covertly developing dino-clone tech to create dinosaurs as weapons and a new super-locust which will destroy crops planted by independent farmers who refuse to buy BioSyn seed. It is run in a massive Bond-villain city-state retreat in the Italian Dolomites by creepy plutocrat Lewis Dodgson, played by Campbell Scott. He whimsically employs Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) as a kind of contrarian in-house lecturer/motivator for his staff and also the clone genius Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong). But Malcolm and Wu are no sellouts, and will themselves finally join the righteous resistance to all this.

There are some flickers of fun, largely from the geezer generation: Dern and Neill have a nice chemistry and Goldblum is dependably droll. But Pratt and Howard look as if they have just been introduced at some LA party and have nothing in common. Their closeups, while they do their unconvincing acting expressions at each other, seem to create a green-screen aura of phoniness all around their heads. There are some action set-pieces, created for their own sake and with no convincing relationship with the supposed non-plot; these include a chase between a car and a dinosaur, which reminded me of Charlie Kaufman’s car-versus-horse idea from Adaptation.

This could have been fun, but there is something so arbitrary and CGI-bound and jeopardy-free about it, as the film joylessly chops in bits of Alien, The Swarm, Bourne and 007. And the essential thrill of the first Jurassic Park movie, from Michael Crichton’s novel, is completely gone: that vital sense of something hubristic and transgressive and wrong in reviving dinosaurs in the first place. It’s time for everyone involved to do some original thinking.

• This article was amended on 13 June 2022 to give the character of Dr Ellie Sattler her honorific as a doctor of palaeobotany.

• Jurassic World Dominion is released on 9 June in Australia, and 10 June in the US and UK.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Jurassic World Dominion review – prehistory repeats itself
The dino blockbuster whimpers to a close as Colin Trevorrow’s third instalment of the long-running beastie franchise chooses to play it safe

Mark Kermode, Observer film crtic

12, Jun, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern and Sam Neill reunite for third Jurassic World film
The three original Jurassic Park stars will join the latest sequel, to be directed by Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow

Andrew Pulver

25, Sep, 2019 @10:07 AM

Article image
My favourite film when I was 12: Jurassic Park
Continuing our series in which writers revisit childhood movie passions, Stuart Heritage recalls wishing the dinosaurs could talk – until he was caught by the epic film-making

Stuart Heritage

02, Apr, 2020 @9:50 AM

Article image
‘We ain’t in science-fiction any more!’ Laura Dern on the return of Jurassic Park
Back battling prehistoric foes 30 years after the first film, the Oscar winner explains why apocalypse seems more likely than ever – and why men in power are the real dinosaurs

Catherine Shoard

10, Jun, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Jurassic World review – Chris Pratt runs riot in upgraded dino-disaster movie
Executive producer Steven Spielberg has got his dinosaur footprints all over this thoroughly entertaining fourth Jurassic Park instalment

Peter Bradshaw

10, Jun, 2015 @1:00 PM

Article image
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom review – dino-flaws galore in series headed for extinction
JA Bayona’s adventure boasts some passable set pieces, but the plot is contrived, the characters fatigued, the cliches abundant – and the beasties t-rexecrable

Peter Bradshaw

05, Jun, 2018 @9:25 PM

Article image
Jurassic World: how dinosaur franchises can come back from the dead
Hollywood may be stricken with crippling sequelitis, but at least it is finally working out how to make sure its big beasts roar

Ben Child

16, Jun, 2015 @6:30 AM

Article image
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – watch the first full trailer of the dinosaur sequel online
The follow-up to Jurassic World is yet another creature feature set on the remote tropical island, where the animals are now threatened by a volcanic eruption

Guardian film

08, Dec, 2017 @2:55 AM

Article image
Jurassic World record: dinosaur reboot scores monstrous $511.8m on debut
Colin Trevorrow’s film surpasses Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2’s $483.2m global opening from 2011

Ben Child

15, Jun, 2015 @7:33 AM

Article image
Jurassic World thunders past The Avengers to number 3 on all-time box office list
Dinosaur thriller overtakes Marvel superhero film in worldwide earnings to leave only Titanic and Avatar in its sights

Andrew Pulver

23, Jul, 2015 @10:32 AM