The Jurassic Park generation. The term extends far beyond aspiring palaeontologists. Some could even say it pays homage to the fans who grew up in the 90s on a legacy laid out by filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
It was in 1993 when ‘Jurassic Park’ first released in cinemas, opening up a world of imagination, while inspiring awe and terror in equal measures as those first visuals of the T-Rex flashed on screen.
For almost three decades, the ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jurassic World’ films, based on characters created by author Michael Crichton, have kept the cash registers ringing with a tally of $1.88 billion across five films (and multiple re-releases), according to Box Office Mojo.
With ‘Jurassic Park III’ putting an end to the first trilogy in 2001, it was filmmaker Colin Trevorrow who reignited the franchise with ‘Jurassic World’ in 2015 and has been the creative architect of the series ever since, along with long-time franchise producers Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley.
“With these films, I’m sharing the next few chapters of a story we’ve been telling around the campfire for 30 years,” Trevorrow says. “This is a world that Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton created together, and I have been fortunate enough to be a custodian of it for three films — in collaboration with ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ director JA Bayona, the writers and everyone who’s worked to make this what it is.”
‘Jurassic World Dominion’ is the conclusion of that unprecedented three-decade story. “There is a cataclysmic event in the middle of the trilogy that fundamentally changes everything,” Trevorrow says, talking of the latest and final instalment in the franchise. “The dinosaurs are taken off the island and released out into the wider world and it was such an amazing opportunity to be able to explore the consequences of that.”
Trevorrow feels the movie is much more than just a summer adventure. “‘Jurassic World Dominion’ is about the need for us to respect the power of the natural world — if we fail, we’ll go extinct just like the dinosaurs. Not only are we finishing the story begun in 2015 in Jurassic World, we’re finishing the story that was begun in 1993 with ‘Jurassic Park’. That’s a story that takes all the characters in the saga to tell,” he stresses.
Return to the legacy
For the first time, the film does not take place on Isla Nublar, but entirely in our world, while bringing together the stars of both chapters of the franchise — Laura Dern as Dr Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm and Sam Neill as Dr Alan Grant from ‘Jurassic Park’ and Chris Pratt as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing from ‘Jurassic World’.
Joining them is also BD Wong who, as Dr Henry Wu, first appeared in 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’. For Trevorrow, these characters were central to this film and the reason for the franchise’s success all these years.
“We designed this trilogy to bring in characters from ‘Jurassic Park’. We had BD Wong in ‘Jurassic World’ to assure the audience that this was the same timeline; then we brought in Ian Malcolm in ‘Fallen Kingdom’ to reassure people that Malcolm is very much paying attention to what’s going on,” says Trevorrow. “In ‘Dominion’, the legacy cast is as equally involved as Claire and Owen. We don’t just bring them in to exist in some supervisory, parental role. We send them on a true, honest-to-God, scary-as-hell adventure.”
That explosive union (and reunion) occurs in the top-secret complex of a biotech company known as Biosyn. The company has secured a contract to collect dinosaurs out in the world and then transport them to their sanctuary in a secure valley to safely study them. But the true purpose of their research and intent is anything but benign.
Biosyn is run by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), a character — if some of you may recall — was last seen in 1993’s ‘Jurassic Park’ handing an empty Barbasol can to the ill-fated, would-be smuggler of dinosaur embryos, Dennis Nedry.
Biosyn now employs both Dr Henry Wu as a genetic engineer and Dr Ian Malcom as the company’s in-house philosopher. For different reasons, the band finds its way there and set off for a final hurrah.
“It turns out that Ian, Ellie and Alan have some unfinished business together — personally, intellectually, environmentally,” Goldblum reveals. “Their shared destiny and legacy has yet to be fulfilled. They lived through something as a troika that only they can fully and uniquely appreciate. They are forever primally bonded.”
Neill adds that he was eager to return as Dr Grant, but had stipulations in place. “There were indications about another ‘Jurassic’ film a long time ago,” Neill says.
“I was interested in returning, but I was hesitant because I wanted it to be more than just a cameo. I wanted to make sure to do Alan Grant justice if he were to return. It soon became apparent that Alan’s presence was crucial to the plot, and I became intrigued.”
Neill says he was thrilled to be reunited with Dern and Goldblum for ‘Dominion’. “We had an enormous amount of fun working on ‘Jurassic Park’, and we went through a lot together,” he explains. “In the early ‘90s, when we were filming, we had a hurricane that came through Kauai and almost killed us.
“It destroyed all our sets and we had to return to Los Angeles to complete the film, so our friendships were very much forged in a challenging and trying experience, not unlike the challenges that the world faced in 2020 [alluding to the pandemic].”
Coming full circle
Tying the five films together for an explosive conclusion also meant the characters of the ‘Jurassic World’ trilogy had to evolve as well.
Pratt, who plays dinosaur behaviour expert Owen Grady, also needed his character to be ready for the challenge.
“In ‘Jurassic World’, Owen is a bit rogue,” Pratt says. “He was right in the peak of his heroism and he was keeping love at arm’s length. In ‘Fallen Kingdom’, we start to see him take some more responsibility. And now, in ‘Dominion’, Owen has obligations. He’s a father and a husband. He can’t just throw caution to the wind and do the crazy things that he used to...”
When we meet Owen in ‘Dominion’, he and Claire are living off-the-grid with Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). Although the family has successfully been living surreptitiously, Maisie begins to go a little stir crazy. “But Owen and Claire know that because of who she is and the unique nature of her existence, she’s a target who is valuable to science and to these giant companies who may be able to profit off of her,” says Pratt.
Similar to Owen’s character growth, Dallas Howards reveals that Claire also had to transform as well. “When we first meet Claire in ‘Jurassic World’, she has all the makings of a villain. But by the end of that film, she’s gone through a transformative experience and we see her step into her feminine power, using it for good,” explains Dallas Howard. “‘Fallen Kingdom’ was about her navigating her own conscience and her role in this disaster that’s continuing to grow.”
While she is eager to bring this story to its conclusion, Dalls Howard is also grateful of Trevorrow’s clear vision about the trilogy from the start. “Over the course of the first two films, Chris came up with so many specific ideas. He would say things like, ‘I want to see a kid riding on the back of a triceratops like they would on the back of an elephant.’
“He just had so many detailed ideas, so I started to write them all down and kept a running document of all the ideas that Chris and everyone else on set had mentioned over the course of the two films. And after we finished ‘Fallen Kingdom’, I sent the document to Colin, and after reading the script for ‘Dominion’, it seemed like some of the ideas had been sprinkled throughout. And, who knows if these ideas had already been percolating or not, but either way, it felt extremely collaborative seeing the final script come together.”
Filming the project during strict COVID-19 protocols in place was no easy task either.
“It was expensive and arduous, and it required a whole new department being added to the production,” Pratt says. “At the time, I talked to people who would say, ‘Really? You’re going back into production? Are you sure that’s safe?’ And I would say, ‘Listen, if there’s an industry that’s cut out to handle this, it’s the film industry.’ I think it’s a feat of human ingenuity that we were able to be one of the first film productions to put all of the protocols in place and keep everyone safe.”
The pandemic conditions also seemed to work in their favour with the cast was all housed under the roof of one hotel. “That really created a sense of community and family between all of us,” Dern says. “It allowed us to rehearse and to talk through the work of the week on the weekends. And we were able to really consider the storytelling in a more intensified way that we would have otherwise. And on this one, we were together every weekend, had dinner together almost every night, worked out together, went hiking, rode bikes, got to know each other’s families.”
Countless events have happened in the eight years between ‘Jurassic World’ and now, and Pratt appreciates every experience that’s led to the culmination of this trilogy.
“I get a little sentimental thinking about everything that we’ve all been through together over these years. There’s been beauty and there’s been trauma, and we’ve all been there for each other through it all,” Pratt says. “And now, it’s the end of an era, and in a way, it’s sad, but it’s also really beautiful.”
— With inputs from Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor
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'Jurassic World Dominion' is out now in the UAE