The epic finale of the Jurassic Park franchise desperately needed more teeth.
Jurassic World Dominion is The Rise of Skywalker all over again — in that I have to thank the early reviews for lowering my expectations so drastically that I could actually have a good time with it. It’s a deeply bizarre sequel in a lot of ways, but there are plenty of fun set pieces throughout, and the chemistry between the original cast alone made it a worthwhile experience.
Much has been made of the baffling choice to have the plot center mostly around locusts, not dinosaurs. And yeah, it’s a weird decision. But I think this would have worked just fine if not for a bigger issue: how is it that this movie has nearly no memorable deaths whatsoever — not even for random side characters?
Seriously, this is the alleged grand finale of the entire Jurassic franchise, and not only does every single notable character make it to the end, but barely anybody gets killed by dinosaurs in general. The movie is so weirdly bloodless that it seriously took away from the tension of some sequences that on paper should have had us on the edge of our seats.
The idea that legacy sequels like this absolutely must kill one classic character has become a bit of a cliché, but as much as it would have pained me, I do think a heroic death by Ian Malcolm wouldn’t have been a terrible idea. He already nearly does get killed, and offing him would at least give this affair some sense of import.
If no legacy characters were going to die, though, could the movie not have at least killed a few side characters, or, heck, even just more random people? How on God’s green Earth does, for example, Dichen Lachman’s dinosaur smuggler character not get an absolutely gnarly death? Instead, she pretty much just disappears from the movie with no fanfare.
A number of the film’s action sequences feel less like horror set pieces and more like generic chase sequences as a result, mainly because we never feel the threat that anyone could be killed. Having seen the movie a few days ago, I can only even really recall one death: the random man being eaten off a scooter — which, yeah, was great stuff. More of that, please! Did the fact that everyone complained about Zara’s amazing death in Jurassic World scare Colin Trevorrow away from killing anyone this time?
You’re telling me we couldn’t have at least, off the top of my head, given Dr. Wu a sacrificial death sequence to complete his redemption arc? Some big killing near the end also would have gone a long way toward making us feel something in the final set piece. Instead, Trevorrow just has two dinosaurs go at it for pretty much no reason whatsoever other than that’s generally how these movies end, while our characters simply watch. How the heck can the movie drop the ball so hard on getting us invested in watching Giganotosaurus vs T. Rex, the closing battle of the whole series?
In general, though, this is a finale that in no sense feels like one, to the point where I seriously question whether the idea of this being a “final chapter” was even part of the conversation until the marketing took over. At the beginning of the movie, dinosaurs are loose on the mainland, and by the end, they’re … still loose on the mainland. The status quo goes pretty much unchanged — other than a new threat involving locusts being dealt with, which we never even heard about until this film — and yes, everyone makes it out just fine. Why is it that the middle chapter in this trilogy, Fallen Kingdom, actually had larger consequences on the series than the supposed last movie?
There have also been tons of complains about Dominion failing to capitalize on its “dinosaurs loose in the real world” premise, seeing as taking the action to a remote dinosaur sanctuary is basically the exact same thing as if they were just on the island. To be honest, though, I found this to be a relief. For me, a big part of the magic of the Jurassic series is the horror of being trapped in an enclosed location with dinosaurs. When Fallen Kingdom made it clear this trilogy’s endpoint was about letting them loose and leaving the island behind, I was pretty disappointed, feeling that the series was going to lose a big part of its appeal in doing so.
So I was satisfied that the last hour or so of this movie pretty much played out like classic Jurassic Park, trapping its characters in a jungle and forcing them to fend for their lives. It seems like Trevorrow, too, realized how important this is to Jurassic‘s DNA. But then I only have one question: why did this series go through so much effort to get the dinosaurs off the island if it had no real interest in exploring the idea of dinosaurs being off the island? The trilogy blew an entire movie to get us to this place, and it was all for nothing.
Perhaps the fact that the stakes in this movie feel so low is kind of a good thing, though, in the sense that it being a mild disappointment isn’t as soul-crushing. It doesn’t feel like Trevorrow and the gang botched this crucial piece of the Jurassic saga in a way that ruins the series forever. He just delivered an entertaining but extremely weird and silly Jurassic sequel, which fits perfectly well along with the franchise’s many entertaining but extremely weird and silly sequels. In that sense, maybe it’s not the finale we wanted, but the finale Jurassic deserved.