I vividly remember going to see Jurassic Park (1993) in the theatre. It was me and two of my besties, on the edge of our seats… at least until Kelsey and I glanced over at Julie-Ann and she wasn’t there.
Julie-Ann claims she’d dropped her Smarties box and just had to go find it during a particularly tense sequence of the film. All we know for sure is that Kelsey and I had exactly the same thought in that moment: the dinosaurs got Julie-Ann!!
It was THE BEST. And it’s still one of the best science fiction films I’ve ever seen, because it blends heart-stopping action with ideas and ethics and stunning-for-the-time visuals and performances that capture the little-kid wonder and heart-stopping terror of humans encountering actual dinosaurs. Not to mention Dr. Ellie Sattler, who is still one of my favourite female characters in all of film. This woman is a badass in ALL of the ways:
At least, she was.
That’s right, I went to see Jurassic World Dominion. I know, I know. Every Jurassic Park movie since the first one has completely failed to capture the magic of the original, and believe me, having seen them all, my expectations were… not high. But it’s summer, and there’s still a pandemic on, despite what people seem to believe, and the drive in theatre is a COVID-friendly activity that Tech Support and I have looked forward to every summer since we moved to a latitude where it’s both warm enough and dark enough at a reasonable hour to go. And we deliberately choose ridiculous monster movies, in part because that’s drive in tradition, and in other part because half the fun of the drive in is getting to make fun of the movie without disturbing everyone else who turned up to watch it.
So yes, I expected it to be bad. I just didn’t expect it to reach quite such epic levels of badness.
In all fairness, it was pretty exciting to see that the special effects team had updated the dinos to be more in line with current scientific thought – a delightfully large number of them had feathers. And finally, FINALLY, they managed to get the dinosaurs off the island (a thing which happens at the end of The Book That Started It All). But Dominion is the dying gasp of a franchise that really deserves to go extinct. And the cameos of heroes past couldn’t save it; rather, they added to the soulless travesty of the whole thing. Case in point, Dr. Wu, who just never, never learns. And Dr. Sattler. Oh, Dr. Sattler. She’s no longer a badass with both brains and brawn, who gets it done while the dudes stand around in shock. She’s every blonde woman in every monster movie – there for the scream.
Even more disappointing? Not one dinosaur ate Chris Pratt.
If you haven’t already seen this one, you can safely skip it. Instead, watch my favourite drive-in monster movie – the genuinely tense and claustrophobic Crawl. Way less budget, way more tension.