Now available at home, the already-too-long Jurassic World: Dominion has earned itself an Extended Edition that adds approximately 15mins to take the runtime up to 2hr 40. The most noticeable – and indeed appreciated – addition is the stunning prologue (released in 2021 as an IMAX-exclusive preview and later an online short). Slotted into the beginning of the film, it acts as a unique and exciting opener that starts things off with a bang. Along with serving as the only time we’ve truly seen dinosaurs in their natural habitat (and time) during the entire Jurassic saga, it’s beautifully shot with a Malickian flair. It’s absurd it was ever cut. And the drive-in sequence that closes out the prologue gives us a taste of the film’s promise of dinosaurs living among us that Dominion otherwise fails to provide.
Beyond that, additions are just short moments here and there – including some sweet added scenes for legacy characters – that don’t do a great deal to save the film from its’ own mediocrity. It is still tedious and monotonous, but the opening alone is enough to add another half star since my review of the film’s theatrical release.
As the credits began to roll on Jurassic World: Dominion, my friend turned to me – head in hands – and defeatedly muttered “that was so much movie”. Indeed, this lengthy climax to the Jurassic Park/World saga feels like about five different films smushed into one, and the result is a bloated and indulgent incoherent mess that ends the series on a sad note.
This disappointment could be considered par for the course at this point – there hasn’t really been a good film since 1993’s epic original film. But something about Dominion promised more. The returning legacy trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum mixing with the newer World characters lead by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, along with the suggestion that the film would deal with the mayhem of a world where dinosaurs roam free, should have offered a fitting farewell to this franchise. But unfortunately, the result is a soulless and chaotic 150 mins (the longest film in the series) that inexplicably spends more time on a meandering conspiracy about engineered locusts destroying the world’s food supply than it does with, y’know, dinosaurs. It is a peculiar choice that doesn’t pay off. The closing scenes of Fallen Kingdom promised an exploration of man’s attempts to coexist with the prehistoric beasts, but Dominion is surprisingly light on this – the majority of the action takes place on another nondescript island and far from civilisation anyway.
Jurassic World: Dominion veers wildly from unmemorable set-piece to set-piece, with a dull detour to Malta perhaps the biggest example of something that should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. A bike chase – seemingly pulled out of Mission: Impossible and not a Jurassic flick, despite the dinos – can’t save this yawn-inducing chunk of the film. Returning villain Dodgson (albeit recast with Campbell Scott after the original star was convicted of sexual assault in ‘13) is a lifeless characature combo of every Bond and Bourne baddie put together, while Pratt and Howard continue to prove they have absolutely zero chemistry onscreen. The saving grace of the film is, unsurprisingly, the returning cast, who step back into their roles effortlessly. Their chemistry is as dynamite as ever, and as we all know, nostalgia is the order of the day in cinema – and it is unquestionably great to see these characters again. Sam Neill in particular shines, and the legacy crew are given plenty of screentime to never feel wasted. These are far more than crowbarred cameos, which is refreshing for a sequel like this. Subtle moments of fan service never feel particularly heavy-handed or in-your-face, but the general feeling of the film isn’t one of love and reverence to its roots but rather it feels contractually obliged to make these references.
In traditional Jurassic fashion, a great deal of the special effects are practical and this realism does help considerably. But there’s still plenty of time in the film’s extended runtime for by-the-numbers CGI action that has absolutely none of the original film’s pure wonder. This is just another characterless blockbuster action that – if you pulled out the original cast – you’d probably not even think was a Jurassic Park film. It’s so inconsistent in its tone and delivery to what has come before it that it feels like its own beast to the original film’s beauty.
A weak, nonsensical plot and lifeless set-pieces devoid of any stakes…more than anything else, the film is just plain boring. Every minute of its extended runtime is cruelly felt and the chaotic combination of so much happening just means it is impossible to feel even remotely engaged or invested in the story or its characters. Jurassic World: Dominion is a painful slog that feels about as far from the magic and wonder of Jurassic Park as is possible to get.