To say that I am a huge dinosaur fan would be an understatement. I’ve loved learning about new dinosaurs since I was a child, and it followed me into adulthood, where I work at a museum with dinosaurs.
I’ve seen every “Jurassic Park” movie, and proudly pointed out all the scientific trivia I knew along the way. As each new dinosaur appeared, I called out their names to my fiance.
When “Jurassic World: Dominion” came out, I bought tickets in advance to see it on opening day. Here’s what I thought, as a dinosaur fan and a Jurassic Park fan. Spoilers Ahead!
Jurassic World: Dominion is great for dino lovers.
It totes many new species that fans will adore. These include Therizinosaurus, Troodon, and even non-dinosaur prehistoric extinct megafauna such as Dimetrodon. However, the film falls short of classic “Jurassic Park” (including “Jurassic World” series) standards.
A set of themes appears throughout the “Jurassic Park” series; such as the moral trustworthiness of children, the inherent distrust of millionaires, the persistent feeling of being hunted, the conflict of man versus nature, the challenge of becoming god with technology.
For example, throughout the previous five films of the franchise, there has always been a consistent feeling that a particular dinosaur is hunting down the group of protagonists. The stars of the show like Rexy, or the Spinosaurus, or even the Indominus variations of most recent films have been the main antagonist as they consistently work to get closer to their prey, making the human heroes’ success much more worth it.
However, “Dominion” has too many big dinosaurs that they wanted to show off in order to have an antagonist. They were simply following nature’s will to hunt, and after their defeat were rarely seen again.
This parade of new species to show off took attention away from the ability to build horror on the idea of a predator that knows you, that follows you when you run away.
Even when we do see dinosaurs kill people, it is a background character with no name. Or it cuts to black just before the gore, such as with Dodgson on the train. This film had remarkably less blood and gore, less horrifying screams as victims were eaten alive as other films. Why is that?
I believe that it is because the film was making a strong push toward the nostalgia factor. It clearly tried to capitalize on longtime fans returning to the franchise. By bringing back the original cast and mixing them with our current heroes, there was suddenly a larger list of “people who we will not kill off” than previous movies. With such famed names and well-loved characters, we cannot pluck off humans to feed to dinosaurs as time goes on. However, this could have increased the horror amongst the remaining survivors as the stakes are raised higher.
To put it simply, I would say that the best film was the original 1993 “Jurassic Park.” Many fans agree. In order to make the epic conclusion to the Jurassic Saga, filmmakers looked back on this classic that set the standard for the series and tried to reincorporate elements of the original that we know to be successful. They brought back the original cast, favorite dinosaurs like Dilophosaurus, favorite blockbuster lines (“don’t move”), and even old props like the Barbasol canister that started it all.
But what happens when we bring up the past? Is that not a theme of the franchise, that the past should stay in the past?
We have consistently seen that capitalists will continue to abuse power. They will continually make the grave mistake of reviving dinosaurs for short-term gains. And this film is no different. We see Dodgson use dinosaurs to further his own goals and drive up profits by creating locusts that only eat the crops of competitors.
Among other lessons from the past that antagonists struggle to grapple with, another theme keeps repeating in this movie which none brought up before: can a copy ever be the same as the original? Asexual reproduction from our favorite raptor Blue brings up the question. And it is this very film which begs the same question of the audience.
Can this movie, an attempted replica of the classic that kicked off the Jurassic series, ever truly measure up to its original content? Or is it better to keep the past in the past? The capitalists who own the franchise struggle to see that they themselves are but a reflection of the human antagonists, trying to pull up more for the sake of gain.
But despite all this, I did love this movie. I can’t help it that even if the messages and themes fall short, watching big dinosaurs on big movie screens is really cool. It tickles my inner child. It is, on the surface, easy to enjoy.