"You never get used to it!" sighs Laura Dern as her returning paleobotanist Ellie Sattler finds herself once again in the vicinity of some miraculously revivified dinos. Seven years on from Jurassic World, and almost three decades after Jurassic Park, the makers of the latest entry in the Michael Crichton-inspired franchise, Jurassic World Dominion, will be trusting audiences retain the same residual affection for a series that has still to equal the exhilarating highs of Steven Spielberg’s game-changing original.
Bringing back Dern, Sam Neill’s Alan Grant, and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm is virtually an admission of such in a lega-sequel so keen to play the nostalgia card that several of its scenes are more or less reruns of pre-existing set-pieces. The trio’s welcome reappearance, alas, has the unfortunate side effect of showing up just how wan their successors – Chris Pratt’s raptor-whisperer Owen, Bryce Dallas Howard’s dino-liberator Claire and clone kid Maisie (Isabella Sermon) – are in comparison, even with the assured DeWanda Wise bolstering their contingent as out-and-proud pilot Kayla (who shares Pratt’s penchant for redheads).
Picking up where 2018’s Fallen Kingdom left off, Dominion opens with the tantalizing prospect of dinos living and preying among us: a new reality strikingly established by having a fishing trawler capsized by a Mosasaurus in the icy Bering Sea. It’s a scenario bursting with possibilities, exploited to the max in a pulsating sequence that sees Owen and Claire hounded through Valletta by a relentless pack of Atrociraptors that have Jason Bourne’s propensity for rooftop parkour.
Episodes like this one, and another in which a Texas farm is attacked by a prehistoric swarm of locusts, dramatically up the ante in ways we’ve not seen before. It’s disappointing, then, that Dominion’s second half confines itself to a monitored facility in the Dolomites: a sanctuary for dinosaurs owned by a nefarious tech mogul (Campbell Scott) that’s really just a Jurassic Park in everything but name.
True, bringing all the players under one (virtual) roof allows them to be menaced by the same Giganotosaurus, a fearsome behemoth who makes the T.Rex look as puny as the infant raptor Owen’s seeking to reunite with its mother. But in narrowing his film’s field of activity, director Colin Trevorrow dispiritingly winds up reducing it to the tried, the tested, and the numbingly familiar.
Jurassic World Dominion arrives in cinemas on June 10. For more, check out our interview with Colin Trevorrow and Jeff Goldblum on the making of the movie.