I typically reserve half-stars for films that offend me, like real bottom of the barrel stuff, but Jurassic World Dominion was too long and too boring to even warrant a full-star rating. I’m in no way surprised or upset or frustrated or moved emotionally to dislike this film, as a half-star would usually permit, but the film is so objectively and experientially long that it constantly labors toward its impotent ending. I seriously want to go ahead and break down what went wrong here – again, not because it’s surprising – solely to bring clarity to many who may be scratching their heads going, “but why didn’t I like this movie?”. Or, for the other crowd that’s going, “That movie wasn’t that bad, what’s the big deal?”.
For starters, this movie has essentially five opening character scenes, each scene lasting about 6-minutes each. 6 times 5 equals 30-minutes of opening sequences when I’m about ready for the plot to start around 15-minutes in, 8-minutes if we’re looking at truly efficient filmmaking. Two of these character openers include legacy characters which requires me to let the cat out of the bag: I either haven’t seen Jurassic Park or I have very little memory of it. I simply can’t remember which is true. Regardless, unlike quality legacy-esque reboot/remake/rehash flicks that establish legacy characters in their own way, such as Top Gun: Maverick being able to setup Maverick and Iceman as their own characters in that singular movie (a practice that seems so far away at this point), Jurassic World Dominion seriously banks on audience members remembering Sam Neill and Laura Dern’s characters or else you’re going to be dramatically lost. But, worse off, it means these character opening scenes functionally fail to do their job, plus they’re two more scenes to an otherwise painfully long first act.
During this strenuous time, audience members will also be exposed to some abysmal editing. I noted serious corner cutting such as establishing shuts cutting super quickly, characters teleporting across geography, characters outright going missing, and one audio sequence that audibly caused me to react, saying to my wife, “They… they just cut the audio on that conversation before it was done and went to the next scene! It was so noticeably abrupt!”. It really can’t be my fault how confusing I found this film. The editing did not help one bit and I literally put my hand open-faced against my forehead as if to keep my brain from rupturing. I had my full-faced hand against my forehead and rested it against the theater seat. This, of course, is when I truly became surprised in my own sort of way. Absolutely baffled. As for my wife, she noticed how her eyeballs were constantly jumping across the canvas of the screen, never having a comfortable place to rest or focus her eyes. She had to close her eyes because the whole experience was giving her a headache. Poor wifey :c
As I became less and less interested in the film, largely due to its own assault, I started to observe how many people came in and out of our theater, including my wife who took a comfortably long bathroom break, one she said was thoroughly enjoyable compared to the otherwise flushed curiosity Jurassic World Dominion provides. Especially after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which was extremely strange, not good at all, but at least entertainingly brainless, Jurassic World Dominion doesn’t appear to be a film that disappoints anyone, it just confuses. It’s not quite a dinosaur movie, not quite a science fiction movie, not quite a world-scale adventure movie, not quite a horror movie, not quite a thriller movie; not quite a movie at all.
Before I saw Jurassic World Dominion, a friend texted me asking, “Hey, could you figure out what the villain’s motivation was?”, which of course was no surprise going into the film. I texted them back after seeing the film, “I have no idea.”. One complicating incident of the film includes a mutated version of locust comically chasing children into a farmhouse. All of the “mayhem” in this movie, by the way, is seriously silly. Afterward, it’s made clear that the locusts are not only eating all crops across the United States, but they’re also ignoring crops planted with Biosyn seed (the evil corporation!). Obviously, the film is clearly making a point that Biosyn is trying to manipulate markets to create dependency on their product through this manufactured locust mutation, but the extent to which the locusts can eat, and the amount that exist, literally means no one will be alive in the next few years. To a point that isn’t even cleverly evil.
Let’s look at this as presented within the film: If the locusts are eating all crops that are “independent”, or even using crops cultivated by foreign companies (in some cases, especially in the US, there’s roughly 6-7 mega parent corporations that handle most meat and farm components of the market). Toss in Biosyn as a fictional 8th parent corporation. That means only 1/8th of the United States cropland is surviving this onslaught of locust. With the inclusion of US exports, that means there’s a significant decrease in the world’s level of food production. That’s without including the fact that later on the locust travel to foreign countries. This means there would be a lot of death across the entire planet. Additionally, we saw during 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic that a food surplus due to an inability to distribute large amounts of product leads to waste, as farmers require their product to be disposed of in some capacity. Search videos of farmers using large CAT machines to destroy immense, bountiful crops to make room for future harvests. Due to increased deaths, you’d witness less distribution, a focus on resources toward world-wide malnutrition, and you’d find, in the end, that market manipulation into producing Biosyn exclusive crops would essentially diminish the market pool, and therefore eliminate customers. So, even the villain motivation is so needlessly convoluted and stupid that it ultimately falls apart. And, yes, it is a plot point for our characters to solve this locust problem because of this very thing, but there needs to be something the villain is doing, “right” for their “wrong” actions to seem at least entertaining. But his evil scheme is so stupid that it actually comes off as annoying. It’s more like when I stub my toe. That sure is a complicating incident in my momentary life, but it’s more annoying than interesting to tell a story about. Why would I ever tell anyone I’ve stubbed my toe? What a stupid tweet.
In addition to this, based upon the last films “revelation” that a certain character is a clone, there’s a further “revelation” that their mother artificially self-inseminated their clone through asexual means. Cool science fiction idea, sure. Whatever. But then there’s a further additional plot point that the mother character was sick with a fatal disease cutting their life short. They then spent their life trying to find a cure so they could cure their cloned self-knowing full-well that their clone would grow up with the same fatal defect. They succeed, but because we watch the original inject the clone with the cure, we’re left going, “So, couldn’t she just inject herself with the cure?”. It wasn’t like the clone we were watching was, perhaps, a redux. Like, she cloned several versions of herself and realized she had to create a new one, recreating their DNA from the source and then birthing them a third, fourth time. No, she just injects this toddler version of herself in the leg like a normal vaccine. Additionally, the practice is so important to the plot that a later character needs to learn how to recreate the process to essentially destroy the locust population (more on that plot-point later). All this does is further emphasize that this magical vaccine cure could have been used upon the original, elder scientist so that she could live alongside her newborn clone. It’s unbelievably nonsensical.
Returning to the locusts: the solution proposed to solve this problem is to create a sterilization method that will kill the locust in one generation. The whole film emphasizes how important it is for this clone to participate in the process so that a tired, disinterested BD Wong can study her and learn of this miracle cure. And yet, what’s with all the fuss? Disney World already does this with mosquitos. They investigate where Mosquito hives (or pods, or nests, or hotels) exists, sterilize them, and then they live the rest of their impotent lives before dying off without genial record. Did Trevorrow and Carmichael not know this was a thing? This already happens! What??
So not only are we expected to think Jeff Goldblum and company are incredibly smart and capable of solving all of these problems, but they’re also living in a world where every solution is so convoluted and difficult that I’m almost just not interested in sitting there for it? I was stretching. I was aching. I was so disinterested, and it was excruciating to finish this movie. Frankly, it is the first time I had ever felt so compelled to walk out. I have AMC Stubs A-List, so it doesn’t even cost me anything (with how much I see Dolby screenings), to decide I’m not interested in finishing a movie. Comparatively, I finally caught up on Stranger Things and watched that first episode of Season 4 and my mind was shattered. It was amazing! And then I drive twenty-five minutes behind nutty PA drivers just to watch this? You’ve got to be kidding me.
I’ve never seen actors so disinterested in their own film since Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. I’ve never seen editing emphasize to this degree the importance of cutting down that runtime. I’ve never even seen a franchise IP film so cheaply produced with such poorly implemented CGI (oh man some of those dinosaur mouths were horrible), messy cinematography, goodness it’s unbelievable. Mark Sanger, who edited Jurassic World Dominion also edited Gravity alongside Alfonso Cuaron, so I guess things worked out alright over there, but he also worked on Transformers: The Last Knight which is notorious for its editing. In addition, I looked up John Schwartzman who was the director of photography and there really isn’t anything of note within his filmography. I’ve seen a few films here and there but nothing that was memorable. Most pictures involved are light comedies and a few dramas, with some not-so-popular action-y flicks throughout (looking at you, Pearl Harbor). So, maybe it was just a bad team all around? I really can’t tell, but I’ve been thinking about this movie nonstop for the last 12 hours so I can’t help but investigate how collectively messy this was.
I really don’t have much else to say here. Again, I’m not surprised that Jurassic World Dominion turned out poor. I’m not really mad, either. If anything, Jurassic World Dominion committed the worst crime by being boring. I couldn’t wait to go home, and then I was so disappointed to find out it was after midnight. I couldn’t watch episode two of Stranger Things S4, so I had to go to bed a night wasted. And to think I’ve barely scratched the surface! I’ve seen so much other criticism about the narrative, both metatextual and textual, and it’s almost a goldmine of absurdities. C’est la vie.
I asked my wife is this was worse than Morbius and she went, “Yes, because Morbius had the decency to be 90-minutes.”
Mamoudou Athie innocent.
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Melvin Benson is the Founder, Editor-In-Chief, and Lead Host of Cinematic Doctrine. He’s written fiction and nonfiction for over a decade with short stories featured on the Creepypasta Wiki and Wattpad. His novelette Ethereal Temptation, a teen drama with a tinge of magical-realism, can be read for free here. His hope is to see King Jesus glorified as far as the east is from the west!