Jurassic World: Dominion is summed up in an exchange between velociraptor whisperer Owen (Chris Pratt) and pilot Kayla (Dewanda Wise) amidst Kayla’s attempt to steer a severely damaged helicopter to safety.

“What’s the plan?!”

“Whatever happens, that’s the plan. That’s it!”

Has there ever been a film more honest or self-deprecating? Colin Trevorrow’s action adventure, which he has written along with Derek Connolly, is big on the spectacle and generous on the parody. Jurassic World: Dominion is like a house party packed with old and new friends that quickly descends into chaos – fun while it lasts but barely remembered afterwards.

The new movie is fuelled by a cocktail of familiarity and nostalgia. An array of prehistoric creatures amble about. Humans run for their lives. Questions are posed about the ethics of genetic engineering and cloning that the film has no interest in answering.

Dominion brings together characters from the first Jurassic Park trilogy that began in 1993 and the set of films that kicked off with Jurassic World in 2015. Paleobotanist Ellia Satter (Laura Dern), paleobotanist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) reunite at Biosyn Genetics, run by the unscrupulous Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott). Alongside messing with dinosaur DNA, Lewis has been cooking up genetically modified locusts in his labs, which are wreaking havoc across America.

Meanwhile, dinosaurs of varying sizes are staggering across the planet, including in the backyard of Owen, his partner Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Maisie (Isabella Sermon), the human clone from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). Blue, the raptor closest to Owen, is now protective mommy to Beta. A twinned abduction of Maisie and Beta by Lewis brings Owen and Claire to Biosyn, but only after a detour that can only be described as Mission: Impossible – Dinosaur Protocol.

Always on the run, often from its own incoherence, the 146-minute film is packed with visually impressive near-escapes and hair-raising encounters between dinosaurs and humans. Everybody appears to be in the joke, from Chris Pratt’s Owen, who frequently repeats his meme-worthy “Heel, raptors!” gesture to Jeff Goldblum’s Ian, sporting a cultivated air of weary cynicism.

The magnificent dinosaurs, created with the help of animatronics and state-of-the-art visual effects, dominate the show by turning up at inopportune moments to screech their heads off and display their dental work. A spin-off featuring Blue, who saved the day in Jurassic World and its sequel, the almost-cuddly Beta, and the dependable T-Rex might just be the palette-cleanser we need after this dinosaurs-in-the-belfry saga.

Jurassic World Dominion (2022).