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How ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ found new life in familiar faces

How ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ found new life in familiar faces

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For many, the appeal of the Jurassic Park franchise isn’t just the dangerous dinosaurs or the near-death escapes. They’re also the franchise’s beloved humans who continue to entertain audiences nearly 30 years after the first film launched. And that’s why the sixth film in the series is being hyped not for its jaw-dropping action, but for the return of its three original – and arguably most popular – characters.

Jurassic World: Dominion”, releases Friday, brings together Drs. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), whose roles in the 1993 blockbuster helped spawn generations of prehistoric-themed memes and action movies.

But it’s been a journey to get there.

Originally a Steven Spielberg-directed film based on Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novel of the same name, the cautionary tale about reviving dinosaurs for a theme park has been a huge hit, both critically and commercially. . Two sequels followed over the next decade, but none with half as good reviews. In 2015, Colin Trevorrow directed the first reboot of the trilogy, “Jurassic World”, starring Chris Pratt as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, a younger couple who represented the new generation of dinosaur defenders. The film won back some of the franchise’s admiration, but the second in this series (directed by JA Bayona) failed to generate the same enthusiasm.

Despite the franchise’s influence outside of movies – the movies have also spawned video games, board games, comic books, animated series, short films and, ironically, theme park rides at his image – ‘Dominion,’ again directed by Trevorrow, tries quite a feat: to convince us, beyond the dinosaurs, to fall back in love with the reason we were all there in the first place: this trio of doctors who succeeded to save the world (or an island, at least).

“It was very helpful to let everyone know that the characters they loved as kids will be fine,” says Trevorrow, who co-wrote the three new films. “When we care about these icons and don’t know where or how they exist in the world we present now, what is their opinion [or] point of view on this is … we bring them [back] to assure people that they have found a place of safety and satisfaction in their lives. That’s how we end most stories, so I wanted to treat this as one long story from the start.

Although Goldblum starred as his chaos-theorist mathematician Malcolm in the 1997 sequel “The Lost World” and made a guest appearance on 2018’s “Fallen Kingdom,” and Dern and Neill had cameo appearances as a paleobotanist. Sattler and paleontologist Grant in “Jurassic Park III” in 2001, “Jurassic World: Dominion” is the first time the three are on screen together again.

“I wasn’t interested in coming back and appearing for a few scenes,” says Neill, who was approached by Trevorrow in the summer of 2019 when the script was still in progress. He was assured by the director that the trio’s reintegration was going to be something much deeper than quick, nostalgic cameos.

Trevorrow and his screenwriting partner Emily Carmichael wanted Sattler, Grant, and Malcolm’s presence in the film with Claire and Owen to feel organic. The story, set 30 years after Jurassic Park’s infamous opening, centers on a new science- and conservation-focused park developing in the Italian Dolomites as dinosaurs roam the Earth freely (and often dangerously). .

“I made a choice very early [to] make sure Ellie was the driving force behind this story, or certainly one of two parallel stories that happen,” Trevorrow says of Dern’s paleobotanist character. “[Emily and I] first had conversations with geneticists asking them what a global crisis is that could be a cause of altered genetic power that only a paleobotanist would notice. And that’s what’s in the movie.

Indeed, the OG trio’s arc is integral to the plot – even if it’s peppered with a few throwback “Jurassic Park” moments such as Malcolm’s shirt buttons too undone, the Indiana Jones hat well Grant’s beloved is almost lost to a hungry dinosaur. , a Cretaceous creature chasing a Jeep, and a scene in which Malcolm uses a fire stick to lure a T. rex away from the group. But they stopped short of repeating any actual lines — because humans don’t do that, Trevorrow says — and because the point was never to force those encores. Rather, the motivation for these similar visuals was a matter of respect.

“It comes from a place of recognizing the importance of these characters both in this story and to us as an audience, and then building it with them,” says Trevorrow, who believes his actors are authorities on their own characters more than a director. never could be. “It was a series of conversations with Laura, Sam, and Jeff, asking them how their characters would feel about this new world. All of these choices were made as part of a collaboration.

Malcolm is “still actively involved in cutting edge science and mathematics,” says Goldblum, “and because of the events we witnessed in 1993, I have been transformed and am older and wiser, but wiser. passionately involved in fighting for the good fight – especially against factions and people who would use the achievements of science for their own ignorant ends I think it’s very clever what Colin has done, how [Claire and Owen] get to meet now [with us] because of their own passionate agenda which hopefully unfolded in this logical, organic and exciting way.

For Neill, playing Grant was like putting on an old shoe: “It’s comfortable and I know exactly what to do with the shoe.”

“I think there’s some emotional growth” with the character, he says, before laughing out loud. “It sounds very funny to me when I say it out loud – this grizzled old man is finally waking up to his own internal emotional life.”

Despite the varying receptions of the Jurassic Park movies, Goldblum says he’s only ever had good associations with the franchise. Working with Spielberg in the first film was a life-changing event, he says, as was working with Dern and Neill.

“[Laura and Sam] are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet,” says Goldblum. “And I tell you, as the song in ‘Wicked’ says: they left an imprint on my heart. I would be a different person if I had never worked with them.

And while “Jurassic World: Dominion” is the end of the Jurassic World portion of the trilogy, Trevorrow wouldn’t call the film series extinct just yet.

“Maybe there will be opportunities in the future” to bring back the original characters, Trevorrow says. “I don’t think this franchise is necessarily sailing towards sunset.”

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