Around 55 years ago, the legendary Toho director Ishiro Honda decided to end his iconic Godzilla franchise with one epic feature that would bring the giant fire-breathing monster head to head with every last kaiju in the Toho universe – battles that spanned four continents, space rockets and even an alien invasion plot involving mind control. Despite this promise, the franchise was back with another entry a year later, and Toho kept the franchise alive long after Honda’s retirement. Jurassic World: Dominion promises to be the conclusion of a nearly 30-year-old franchise – although with the impact the original film had on popular culture, it’s hard to believe that this is the last – even if all we can expect in the years to come are a few more seasons of Netflix’s Camp Cretaceous animated series.
There’s more than a few parallels between the Jurassic franchise and the Showa era of Godzilla films for that matter – starting with the opening scene. A commercial fishing vessel on the rough seas – only to be capsized by the jaws of a fearsome mosasaurus – a mainstay from the last two Jurassic World films, and the largest predator to have ever lived – more menacing than Rexy, who barely makes an appearance in this last film. This leads to a found footage montage of prehistoric monsters ripping apart a modern countryside – an occasion that has become all too common in the world of the film – as the assets out of containment from Jurassic World have become a worldwide menace.
It’s not all bad though – there’s plenty of oohs and aahs as a herd of apatosaurus make their way onto the mainland, encroaching on a logging operation in a snowstorm, and people look on with amazement that something that old and that large is able to coexist with them, but has nowhere to go. It’s also a moment of realization for Maisie Lockwood, the human clone in hiding from the world – being raised secretly in a cabin in the mountains by Owen and Claire. There is, of course, a cabal of criminals looking to sell her on the black market for a higher profit than the dinosaurs they sell and a remote dinosaur hideaway with multiple ecosystems run by an evil conglomerate bent on world domination.
The problem is that all of this is less promising than it sounds. When it came to the Showa Godzilla films, I used to laugh about how many times a giant monster could surface in a city and force it to rebuild before the land became unlivable. A decade of record breaking hurricanes and tornadoes later, I don’t find it as funny. While I can believe in a world where nature reclaims the land in the form of giant monsters, it’s a bit harder to believe that the same people who created these monsters and consistently make even more reckless mistakes are worthy of a redemption arc – as Henry Wu who had a hand in creating the original Jurassic Park has somehow cloned back an extinct species of locust that ravages North America. The problem is that despite the buildup, this is a problem resolved indirectly by the main characters in an entirely predictable way before the film abruptly ends, leaving you wondering that maybe involving aliens might have made the movie more enjoyable.