Jurassic World Dominion Review: Overly Long but Full of Heart

It's been four years since Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hit theaters, and despite becoming the 16th-highest-grossing film of all time, it received middling reactions from critics and audiences alike. The long-awaited follow-up, Jurassic World Dominion, is finally here and fans are eager to know if it's better than its predecessor. There will likely be some debate among moviegoers, but the new film ultimately won us over due to its fierce nostalgia for the original Jurassic Park. If you're coming just to see the return of Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill ), and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), you won't be disappointed by their amount of screen time. However, Dominion is the longest movie of the franchise, and it's extremely noticeable. 

There are many characters to follow in Dominion, from Jurassic World's Clarie Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to Fallen Kingdom's Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), as well as newcomers Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), Ramsay Cole (Mamoudou Athie), and Soyona Santos (Dichen Lachman). Jurassic Park's Lewis Dodgson also plays an important role in the film, but he's now played by Campbell Scott. There are even more characters mixed in, and we can't help but wish some of those people had been replaced with dinosaurs. 

If you weren't a fan of Fallen Kingdom, we're sorry to report that the entirety of Dominion rests on the story of Maisie Lockwood and her cloned genes. Thankfully, Sermon is a gifted young actor, but you really need to care about her character to be invested in 70% of the movie's plot. While Claire and Owen do their best to keep her hidden from those who want to study her, Ellie and Alan team up with Ian once again to investigate Biosyn, a company they suspect has manufactured giant locusts in order to control the world's food chain. Unfortunately, a whole lot of the movie's 2-hour and 26-minute run time isn't about dinosaurs, but when the prehistoric creatures are on-screen, it's impossible not to have a good time. 

Dominion has more animatronics than the previous two films combined, which gives the movie a bit of an edge. When the dinosaurs become the focus, they look better than ever and give some of the most unique action sequences of the franchise. One dino chase, in particular, feels like a moment out of a Mission: Impossible or Bourne movie, which is as thrilling as it sounds. Dominion utilizes the "world" aspect fairly well, and its bigger landscape makes it feel a lot different than the five movies that came before it.

While the abundance of characters can feel tedious at times, the standout newcomer of the bunch is Wise as Watts. It's rare to see a woman who is both badass and funny, and her presence on-screen is extremely welcome. While Pratt's Owen has remained constant throughout his three films, Howard's Claire has had one of the more interesting arcs of the franchise. She went from being a woman who could barely hug her nephews to a mom on a mission, and her compelling change makes us care a little more about Maise's outcome. As for the original trio, each character was treated with care. It's clear director Colin Trevorrow and his co-writer, Emily Carmichael, have great affection for the original film. Alan, Ellie, and Ian all took paths that feel true to the characters that were established in 1993 and they meld well with Owen and Claire's story. In fact, you can't help but get a little emotional seeing the legacy characters unite with the World cast. 

Dominion takes a long time to get going, but the final third makes the whole experience worthwhile. Everything comes together in such a satisfying way that it's hard to dwell on the prolonged journey that brought you there. The cast works extremely well together and the dinosaurs' final showdown is epic. Jurassic World Dominion has enough heart to make it worth watching.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Jurassic World Dominion releases in theaters on June 10th.