Poffy The Cucumber

“I now dominate you in the name of male hunks.”

Insectovorus Plotarmordon.

Dinosaurs are everywhere. Loosed on the world in 2018’s FALLEN KINGDOM, they’re now as ubiquitous as cats and dogs in JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION.

The stars of JURASSIC WORLD, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, are teamed alongside JURASSIC PARK legacy players Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, to take down Biosyn, the Big Bad Corp messing with dino DNA and the world ecosystem. Campbell Scott plays Lewis Dodgson, CEO of Biosyn (and if the character sounds familiar, Dodgson gave Nedry the Barbasol can to steal the embryos in the original JP); a twitchy absent-minded nerd (heaven forbid the filmmakers give him traits that are desirable, because they don’t want us relating to him, the narrative as always: CEO = eeevil), he’s the only one who gets eaten horribly, while all the others escape being dino dinner, because they are noble and good.

Written by Emily Carmichael, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, and directed by Trevorrow (who directed and/or wrote the previous two JW movies), DOMINION has the potential to be a great movie, if not sterling entertainment with its perfectly realized dinosaurs, but its merits are cancelled out by its faults, which are as towering as the sauropods it purveys so perfectly.

And that’s why we’re looking at the Top 5 Bottom 5 things about JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION…


Let’s start with the 5 worst things about DOMINION– but wait – “unrealistic” dinos?! To be clear: the dinosaurs LOOK great! But their behavior? Completely beholden to plot armor. They simply won’t attack any stars in the way they attack extras. Tyrannosaurus is simply used as a pal of the humans and inadvertently even does their bidding — it’s no better than Godzilla being a “friend to children.” Ultimately, the set pieces where predatory dinos chase our heroes are a waste of time, because even one snatch of jaw and our heroes would be mutilated in ways you can’t show in kiddie-based media. Thus – never gonna get caught; hence, no tension. The final scene with the Giganotosaurus is especially egregious as all the stars in a bunch casually stay out of reach of Giga as it casually walks after them.

The Therizinosaurus is portrayed as blind – very cool! – but if an animal is blind by nature, its hearing and smell are off the charts – so when its head is right next to Claire (Howard), why doesn’t it SMELL her vivid strawberry perfume and vanilla-scented body oils? (At least, that’s how *I* imagine Claire smells…)

The tyrannosaur and therizinosaur teaming up to kill the giganotosaur – since when do herbivores and carnivores team up to kill another carnivore? And the first thing Rexy shoulda done after killing Giga, was to EAT Theri, not stand there and roar in unison like some kinda wrestling takedown.

Why do the ceratopsians attack the baddie’s trucks and not the hero’s?

The Quetzalcoatlus flying as fast as a cargo plane to attack it.

We see an Oviraptor (represented here as a fully feathered cock-a-doodle-doo) stealing an egg… This poor dinosaur has been libeled from the outset with its species name meaning “egg thief,” when in reality, its first discovered skeleton was nesting on its own eggs, not stealing them. And no one has corrected this misnomer! Like Columbus calling the natives “Indians” because he thought he was in India, and then, upon discovering he wasn’t, continuing to call them Indians!

And every “hybrid” dinosaur introduced since 2015’s JURASSIC WORLD is a middle finger to the whole dinosaur kingdom and evolution! Back then, the Indominus could speak Velociraptor and turn invisible, and now we’ve arrived at dinosaurs with frickin laser beams attached to their heads (!) with the indelicately-named Atrociraptors – point a laser at someone and the animal chases them down single-mindedly. Yup, it’s as stupid now as it was when they came up with it in the last movie.

And the number of times Owen (Pratt) faces off against large carnivores and escapes unscathed – I mean, not even a scratch above the left eye (the universal shorthand for being in a scuffle that almost kills you).


How do all the dinos know to chill when the humans do the hand thing? Owen started this in JURASSIC WORLD, and no one questioned it because it seemed like a training gesture – but how did it propagate to all humans and all dinosaurs that putting your hand up in a “stop” gesture will make a dinosaur stop? This goes hand in hand (see what I did there?) with the unrealistic dino behavior. Did Henry Wu program it into their DNA? Clever girl!


Like BATMAN RETURNS wrote itself into irrelevance by making its climax penguins with frickin laser beams attached to their heads, DOMINION’s writers also seem to have waylaid themselves by making the locust subplot the actual world threat, rather than the dinosaurs that are the selling point of any JURASSIC IP. Giant locusts with Cretaceous blood! Dodgson is breeding them to eat everyone else’s non-Biosyn crops, so that Biosyn can monopolize crop supplies on Earth. Who cares?! It’s like when they start talking about trade embargoes in STAR WARS – your eyes glaze over. (Didn’t Hollywood use giant locusts in 1957’s BEGINNING OF THE END, when grasshoppers walking on postcards of buildings was the height of efx?) At least this plot thread pairs Sam Neill with Laura Dern on a cute misadventure, giving more screentime to Laura Dern’s magnificent pearbottom.

Bottom 2 – GIRLING UP

DeWanda Wise as mercenary Kayla is so random a character – smuggler, rescuer, fighter, then just fifth wheel – that it’s OBVIOUS she is onboard as a black warrior chick for the same reason that black warrior chick was 007 for a minute: “Hey, we can do everything a Chris or a Craig can do – in high heels!” Widening the audience also – now there’s not just Owen’s hero-bulges, there’s Kayla’s too!

And just to prove Girls Can Man Any Role – there’s the chick villain, a weird-looking blonde (Dichen Lachman) with the face of a velociraptor (uh, that’s not a compliment; but I’m sure she’s a supermodel somewhere because of her prominent ribcage and depilated sphincter.) (Also, her name is “Dick In, Like Man”?!)

And just to prove they can’t write women, Claire has turned into another character altogether – from the perfectly-coiffed corporate shill into the Karen of animal activists (I can’t complain though – this new rough look is damnably gorgeous!); living off-the-grid as a hermit with Owen, parenting the now-teen clone girl from the last movie, and crazy enough to break into compounds to liberate dinos. Even the wokesters from the last movie are telling her to dial it down to a 7. I guess that’s the power of Chris Pratt’s Big D.


The worst thing about JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION is its ultimate message, that it thinks is eco-friendly: “We’re part of a fragile system made up of all living things – if we’re going to survive, we’re going to have to trust each other, depend on each other, co-exist.” We see parasauralophi galloping alongside horses, pterosaurs flocking with water birds, a mosasaur swimming with humpbacks, a ceratopsian walking with elephants… Are you batshit crazy? Or just biologically ignorant? Throw a bunch of diverse species together in the same food niche, and the species more suited to its environment, or more quickly adaptable (the “stronger” species) is going to wipe out the other. It’s real simple math: a gaggle of new invasive species – versus the same amount of food. You said it yourself, “a fragile system” – these prehistoric animals didn’t evolve into this ecosystem or migrate here over millennia – they are a sudden infusion into a functioning ecosystem. Something has to die for something else to live.

What does “co-exist” mean anyway? Do humans have to stop killing chickens and lambs and pigs for food? Does the lion have to stop hunting the antelope? Does the t-rex have to go vegan? It’s almost as thoughtless and harmful as Disney movie messaging. No wonder Mankind is going extinct.


Bottom – Honorable Mention: There’s the annoying teenage clone girl (Isabella Sermon) that doesn’t listen to her elders, mopes about the house, and gets herself kidnapped. Like all angsty little bitches in American blockbuster movies, we wish she’d trip and get eaten.

Top – Honorable Mention: Mamoudou Athie is Ramsay, Dodgson’s right hand, a cool cucumber in an understated performance, who aids our heroes surreptitiously, working against his liege Dodgson right under Dodgson’s nose.

And now let’s look at the Top 5 things about JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION.


Dinosaurs alongside humans, ah yes, just like caveman times… One of the best things about DOMINION is that it has normalized dinosaur interaction with humans; you may see children playing with compsognathi in the park, or you may encounter a tyrannosaur chased through your drive-in movie. And it doesn’t shy away from humans being the avaricious swine that we are, because if dinos did become that prolific, you can bet that all manner of species would be exploited in black market sales, as weapons, in cock-fights, in mutating their DNA for evil ends…

The downside of incorporating dinosaurs into the fabric of society so well means they are no longer a novelty – there’s nothing for them to “do” here except chase people into the middle foreground. The scant dinosaur subplot involves Biosyn abducting the baby velociraptor, to study how a female gave birth without sex. But the high stakes plot is the locusts – even the feature fight scenes between apex predators t-rex and giganotosaurus are peripheral to everyone’s journey.


I like the way JURASSIC plays its fan service: Not only did they entice back the OGs – Neill (74), Dern (55) and Goldblum (70) – the callbacks and homages are many (Ellie Satler taking off her glasses in that way, Claire saying, “Run!” in that way; in an act of poetic justice, Dodgson dies the same way Nedry died; “Life will find a way,” “humans and dinosaurs can’t co-exist”…) And there’s long-suffering geneticist Henry Wu (BD Wong), the battered housewife of the JURASSIC series, always doing his best DNA work, and always vilified – here at last, finding redemption after 30 years of gene-splicing with questionable outcomes.

And just like Michael Crichton’s novel subtly blended in discussion of Mandelbrot fractal curves (a mathematical equation that repeats and repeats on itself), this movie demonstrates how JURASSIC repeats and repeats on itself: Biosyn is InGen, Dodgson is Hammond; the company is trying to contain an ecosystem about to breakout against their best efforts; electrical implants have replaced electrical fences as boundaries; Dr Grant stuck in a tree, Claire stuck in a tree; Malcolm on the radio to Ellie, on how to reboot the system; Owen on a motorbike with raptors; Claire saying, “This is the same system I use…”


Taken as read the stupidity that the ejector seat is a passenger seat… In a breathtaking piece of directing, Claire ejects out of a plane, and a bodycam captures the whole topsy-turvy sequence as she is attacked by pterosaurs. (It’s the same first-person cam technique they use when the mosasaur wrenches a trawler into the deep – another startling sequence just for the way it is filmed!)

Dangling in a tree, Claire is confronted by the best solo dino appearance – the Therizinosaurus, gurgling, clucking vegetarian, large as a t-rex, cataract-blind (and we see a flash of nictitating membrane!), with Wolverine claws the size of a person. A slow, cautious dino, with the scene directed slowly to match, as Claire sheds her chute and crawls hopelessly forward into muck to escape, not its bite, but the unthinking power of its sweeping talons. This whole sequence demonstrates that Trevorrow can bring suspense and art and biology together to roar spittle in our faces. Why isn’t the rest of the film this good?…


We’ve come a long way from the “slurpasaurs” of the 50s and 60s (lizards with sails glued to their backs) – the photorealistic dinosaurs in DOMINION are beyond reproach. They’re just REAL. The first ten minutes is sixty-five million years ago! The best Mesozoic life art ever created; just watching dinosaurs in their habitats. Who wouldn’t give just about anything for a time machine to view this tableau as it happened?

And in the modern day, we see a fully feathered Deinonychus on ice (they list it as a Pyroraptor, but again, it’s way too big to be a pyroraptor, and is the size of Deinonychus – just like Velociraptors in these JURASSIC movies are also the size of Deinonychus – I don’t know why they don’t just CGI up a Deinonychus!); there’s a Dreadnoughtus and Apatosaurus, a surprise Dimetrodon (surprise because technically it’s not even a dinosaur!), a tiny Lystrosaurus – I mean, who went around and found all the preserved mosquitos for all these different species?


And the best thing about JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION – Doctor Ellie Satler (Dern) and Doctor Alan Grant (Neill). These two!! As soon as Ellie manufactures a reason to recruit Alan on her DNA quest, it’s a constant Will they?/Won’t they? with these crazy kids…

In the Jurassic Park novel, they were paleontologist and student, Spielberg moved them up to comfortable lovers in the JP movie, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one disappointed when, in JPIII, director Joe Johnston wrenched this wholesome couple apart (“I don’t think they looked like a couple” – screw YOU, buddy!), with Ellie having a husband and kid in some suburb.

Here, their chemistry drives our viewing pleasure, both still holding up extremely well for reprising these roles 30 years later (shoutout to Goldblum too!), with Sam Neill, as always, snidely entertaining with his reaction of bemused detachment to every situation. Of course, Ellie is single again (as Alan pryingly discovers), so that they can run and scream and hide and gasp and eventually “accidentally” end up on top of each other, Ellie breathing and staring closely into Alan’s face like she’s just had the big O.

…And what better way to bow out than on a climax? – the Top 5 Bottom 5 – JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION.

Y’know, I could be wrong — but you know I’m right!


JurassicWorld_titleJURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (Jun 2022) | PG-13
Director: Colin Trevorrow.
Writers: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Michael Crichton.
Music: Michael Giacchino.
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Isabella Sermon, Campbell Scott, BD Wong, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, Kristoffer Polaha, Elva Trill.
Word Count: 2,590      No. 1,592
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