Is Jurassic World Dominion Really The Worst Jurassic Movie?

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Jurassic World Dominion

Jurassic World Dominion has the lowest critical rating of any of the Jurassic films thus far, but is it really the worst of the series? The latest entry in the franchise serves as the finale of the Jurassic World trilogy, rounding out the franchise that began with 1993's Jurassic Park. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park served as a kind of tech-thriller meets Jaws-on-land, brilliantly orchestrated by director Steven Spielberg into becoming a beloved classic that continues to be celebrated and discovered by new and old audiences. The key characters, including Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, became everything from icons to memes, taking their place in the halls of nostalgia.

The sequels were another story altogether, with none of them achieving the critical adoration that Jurassic Park did. 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed the original and brought back only one of the main players (Goldblum) and kept Spielberg at the helm, but underwhelmed audiences and the box office. 2001's Jurassic Park III, which brought back Neill in the lead and Dern in a cameo, but once again failed to ignite fans or dollars, leaving the franchise dormant until 2015's Jurassic World. Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring a new cast including Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World was the second-most favorably reviewed of the Jurassic series, likely due to the 14-year gap between sequels. The film went on to gross $1.6 billion, making it the most profitable of the series. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom would follow, and despite being a critical dud, still managed to pull in over $1 billion worldwide, ensuring another chapter to come.

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Trevorrow's Jurassic World Dominion is now in theaters and sits as the worst-reviewed of the series, sitting at a 31% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience score, however, sits at 80% and is a far cry better than Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's 48% audience score and even better than Jurassic World's 78% audience score. In fact, Jurassic World Dominion has the second-best audience score next to Jurassic Park (91%) and has garnered an A- Cinemascore. The early box office has Jurassic World Dominion opening at $142 million—which is just a few million shy of the last entry's opening—with a global haul tallying $386 million to date accounting for early release overseas. With all of those factors taken into account, it's impossible to call Jurassic World Dominion the worst of the franchise, especially when it's doing better than most entries in the franchise already when it comes to box office and audience interest, showing that critics may be way off the pulse on this one. Here's why Jurassic World Dominion is not the worst of the Jurassic series:

With the Jurassic Park cast of Neill, Dern, and Goldblum becoming icons of the franchise, it's one of the biggest wonders as to why they weren't all reunited after the success of the first film. The dynamic, chemistry, and characters helped make the series memorable, yet they only came back for sequels separately, which made no sense given their legendary status. Jurassic World introduced all-new characters, including Pratt and Dallas-Howard, but they didn't quite achieve the same magnitude of popularity as the originals. Now, Jurassic World Dominion has done what everyone has been asking for since 1993 and although it's almost 30 years too late, it's thankfully a welcome treat to see both legacy casts meet onscreen and interact with one another, bridging the franchise together in a way that hasn't been done before, while paying off the characters that have languished for far too long.

Spielberg set a precedent with Jurassic Park, not just with VFX, but with the action and energy that kept the film moving. The suspense and grandeur of it all made Jurassic Park a blockbuster to remember, but that awe and spectacle started to wane in subsequent sequels. Jurassic World attempted to reinvigorate some of the dino action, but was mostly a rehash of Jurassic Park's beats, while Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was a muddled, low-energy affair that barely registered in the action department. Jurassic World Dominion more than makes up for the loss in momentum, supplying a level of action that hasn't been seen since the first film. The unrelenting pace keeps everything moving swiftly with set pieces all over the world—as well as in the sky and underwater—with plane sequences, helicopter sequences, motorcycle chases, and showdowns with all manner of dinosaurs, from new entries to fan favorites, making Jurassic World Dominion without a doubt the most action-filled of the new trilogy by far.

Jurassic World Dominion's story takes some big swings in logic, but it also presents a lot of compelling ideas that are very much in line with original author Michael Crichton's work. Crichton was known for exploring the evolution of science, genetics, technology, etc. and taking the Jurassic Park franchise into the realm of DNA cloning of humans and, in this entry, insects, is almost certainly what the author would've done had he continued writing the series. The idea of cloning and genetic innovation running amok was something Crichton was keen on and Jurassic World Dominion honors the author's legacy by pushing those boundaries and further exploring what that looks like for all manner of creatures and the world at large. The spirit of Crichton is very much alive in Jurassic World Dominion, even if some of it is as silly as it is provoking, which is also a hallmark of his work.

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It would be easy to get the casts of both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World together and just recreate scene after scene of greatest hits from previous entries, but thankfully Trevorrow avoids that completely. Instead, Jurassic World Dominion goes the subtle route: Dr. Grant at a dig site; a rusty can of Barbasol; Sattler's affection for a Triceratops; distracting an apex predator with light. There are blink-and-you-miss-it shots recreated throughout the film that harken back to the original, but it's never an obvious wink to the audience. There are Easter Eggs galore, but they never go overboard, nor do they make them too easy to spot. Thankfully, the nostalgia is more earnest, including the character interactions of the original characters with the new cast, as well as some recurring dinosaurs that tie things together in a way that feels fitting, but not like beat-you-over-the-head fan service.

It's unclear why Jurassic World Dominion reviews are so negative, but it is not the worst of the Jurassic franchise. In fact, it's the best of the Jurassic World trilogy and surpasses the Jurassic Park sequels in many ways as well. However, calling Jurassic World Dominion the worst of the franchise, especially when taking into account its audience scores and overall box office, simply doesn't make sense. While critic ratings serve as a consensus among critics, they don't serve as a consensus among ticket buyers, who ultimately decide the fate of any film released in theaters with their wallets and their time. If audiences are flocking to a movie, the majority are enjoying it and it's making money, then it's certainly not the worst of anything. While some viewers may agree with the critics that disliked the film, it appears that more of them are enjoying it, more so than the last four entries, making Jurassic World Dominion one of the better films in the franchise, not the worst.

Next: Everything We Know About Jurassic World 4

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