Jurassic World: Dominion (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Aug 23, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Jurassic World: Dominion (4K UHD Review)

Director

Colin Trevorrow

Release Date(s)

2022 (August 16, 2022)

Studio(s)

Amblin Entertainment/Perfect World Pictures/The Kennedy/Marshall Company (Universal)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A+
  • Extras Grade: B-

Jurassic World: Dominion (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

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Review

In the aftermath of the failure of Isla Nublar and the release of its rescued dinosaurs in North America from Lockwood’s black market auction (see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), former Jurassic World employees Owen Grady and Claire Dearing (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) are living in hiding in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California, hoping to keep their adopted (and cloned) daughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) hidden from those who wish to exploit the technology that enabled her existence for profit. Meanwhile, our favorite paleontologist, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), is busy excavating fossils in Utah while his former partner, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), is tracking the spread of a plague of genetically-altered locusts, which Ellie suspects were released by Biosyn, the world-leading genomics corporation where their old friend Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) now works as a consultant.

But when Maisie and Beta (the Velociraptor Blue’s hatchling) get kidnapped by poachers, Owen and Clarie use their contacts to track her captors to another dinosaur black market in Malta. At the same time, Alan and Ellie accept Ian’s invitation to visit Biosyn’s remote dinosaur research station in the Italian Dolomites to get to the bottom of the locust problem, a global ecological disaster that could cause humanity to starve. Naturally, the trail to finding Maisie and Beta leads Owen and Claire to Biosyn as well, where the socially awkward tech genius Dr. Lewis Dodgson (aka the guy who bribed Dennis Nedry to steal those dino embryos in the original film, here played by Campbell Scott) is clearly up to no good, inevitably causing chaos to ensue, dinosaurs to run rampant (as they’re wont to do), and all of the above to join forces in a desperate attempt to A) not get eaten and B) save humanity.

Got all that? Yeah, it’s a lot. And that, essentially, is Jurassic World: Dominion’s biggest problem. Directed by Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World), Dominion is meant to serve as a finale to both the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World trilogies, bringing together the key characters from each in one last big adventure. What that means from a practical standpoint, is that most of the film’s running time is spent servicing the plot, introducing those characters and setting them all on a collision course. So there’s little time for the kind of character interaction that would make you care. This would be fine if the previous sequels had spent time developing those characters, but even after six films they’re mostly ciphers. (This is especially true of Owen and Claire.) So Dominion offers one set piece after another where everyone reacts to things—chases, crashes, chomps—in various exotic locales, the assumption being that all of this is better with dinosaurs. To the filmmakers’ credit, the pieces do eventually fit together, and Industrial Light and Magic’s dinosaur FX have never been better. But by the time your favorite characters all end up in the same place (in the final half hour), there’s little emotional payoff—just more chasing, crashing, and chomping.

The theatrical version of Dominion already feels bloated at 146 minutes, but this 4K release also includes an Extended Cut which runs 14 minutes longer. It adds an expansive opening sequence set 65 million years ago, which segues into a present-day scene of the T-Rex rampaging through a drive-in movie. The rest of the new footage includes Owen’s first brush with the poachers, Maisie going into a local store when she sneaks into town, Ellie visiting with the kids who survived the giant locusts, Grant having to endure Gen-Z apathy about dinosaurs, and extended conversation moments that do flesh out the characters a little more: Owen and Maisie; Grant and Ellie; Owen and Claire; and Grant, Ellie, and Maisie. But none of this is enough to overcome the fact that the Extended Cut is really just a case of more, not necessarily better.

Jurassic World: Dominion was shot by cinematographer John Schwartzman (Pearl Harbor, Seabiscuit, The Amazing Spider-Man) on both 35 mm and 65 mm film (in Super 35 and VistaVision formats) and also digitally (in 8K Redcode RAW format) using a variety of Arriflex, VistaVision, and Panavision cameras and lenses. It was then finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate at the 2.00:1 aspect ratio. For its release on Ultra HD, the film has been graded for high dynamic range (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are available). By and large, the resulting image looks terrific, though it should be noted that detail isn’t always quite as apparent as you might be expecting, as the film employs extensive practical and digital atmospherics—heat, haze, dust, humidity, fog, etc—to help its digital creatures blend more naturally into the live action plates. But the result is undeniably effective; film dinosaurs have come a long way from the original Jurassic Park in 1993. Grain levels vary depending on the source and thus appear a little uneven, running the gamut from very light to moderate. The color palette is also occasionally restrained, while exhibiting a slight warm push in many scenes, yet everything looks a bit more lush and refined than it does on regular Blu-ray. And the wider gamut does bring out nice detail in the shadows. Highlights are bright, right on the edge of being eye-reactive. All in all, this is a fine looking—if somewhat garden-variety—4K presentation, with regular standout moments.

The 4K disc includes its lossless audio in an outstanding DTS:X object-based mix that dazzles from start to finish. The soundstage feels massive and exquisitely balanced, lending its dialogue, sound effects, and music a pleasing clarity and nuance that allows you to appreciate each sonic element, while still unifying them smoothly into a holistic and enveloping sound field. Each of the film’s locations has a unique and highly atmospheric sonic character, and the mix impresses as much in its quiet moments as in blustery ones. Once Claire lands in Biosyn’s lush habitat, you can hear the subtle sounds of life all around her, from quiet insect calls to the rumble and chatter of dinosaurs large and small, near and far. When the action does heat up, the dynamics are stout indeed with bass aplenty, while panning and movement are fluid and natural. Michael Giacchino’s score, which obviously draws extensively upon John Williams’ iconic themes, sounds full and delicate all at once. This is a thrilling sonic experience, exactly what you’d expect for an entry in this franchise. Alternate audio tracks include Spanish and French 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional subtitles available in English SDH, Spanish, and French. (The Blu-ray version of the film offers the same audio and subtitle options, while adding Descriptive Video Service.)

Universal’s 4K disc and its accompanying Blu-ray each include both cuts of the film along with the following special features:

  • Battle at Big Rock (4K – 10:17)
  • A New Breed of VFX (HD – 6:16)
  • Dinosaurs Among Us: Inside Jurassic World: Dominion (10 parts – 47:09 in all)
    • Together for the First Time (HD – 5:26)
    • Underground Dino Market (HD – 4:59)
    • Mayhem in Malta (HD – 4:32)—street chase
    • Scary Real Animatronics – Spit Take: The Return of Dilophosaurus (HD – 5:26)
    • Scary Real Animatronics – Inside the Dimetrodon (HD – 4:38)
    • Scary Real Animatronics – Creating a Plague (HD – 4:30)
    • Scary Real Animatronics – Passing the Beta…n (HD – 4:19)
    • Scary Real Animatronics – Giga-Bite (HD – 6:26)
    • Final Night (HD – 6:52)

Battle at Big Rock is a separate short film in which a family camping in the woods survives an Allosaurus attack. Dinosaurs Among Us is a hour-long “making of” documentary in 10 parts that includes the Scary Real Animatronics sub-documentary within it. Of its many pieces, the best are Together for the First time—in which we get to see all of the key cast members on set sharing stories of their experiences with the franchise—and Scary Real Animatronics—which examines the film’s best ever practical dinosaur effects. Final Night is also a nice piece with everyone reminiscing and enjoying their final day of filming together. Aside from its disc-based content, the package also includes a Movies Anywhere Digital code on a paper insert.

Whatever you felt about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (see our 4K review here) you’ll probably feel the same of Jurassic World: Dominion—just more so. This is a mechanical—even perfunctory—film experience, with plenty of franchise callbacks yet lacking in the kind heart needed to make audiences actually feel anything. But there’s a lot of it and the dinosaurs look better than ever, so that’s something at least. It’s just a shame that Alan, Ellie, Ian, Owen, Claire, and Maisie didn’t get to spend a little more time together during it’s epic running time. That might really have been something.

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

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