It was a scene nearly 30 years in the making: The stars of the original “Jurassic Park” together once again and facing a very large dinosaur – of course – alongside the recent heroes of “Jurassic World.”
But a not-very-funny thing happened on the way to that memorable shot in the new “Jurassic World Dominion”: a pandemic. The sci-fi action adventure (in theaters now) was one of the first movies to resume production after COVID-19 shut Hollywood down in 2020, and returning “Park” mainstays Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum got to know “World” folks Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard well over several months sequestered in the same English hotel before filming the big moment. Amid all the COVID-19 tests, social distancing and ever-present sanitizing foggers, the actors collaborated on the occasional Beatles cover and bonded over many meals and drinks.
“You see someone in their dressing gown and slippers eating breakfast, you can only be so intimidated by them,” Howard quips. Adds Pratt: “It was really comfortable and also surreal. I mean, there was this animatronic Giganotosaurus head, this thing is probably three stories tall, and we're all outrunning it in the middle of the night on this massive set.”
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Directed by Colin Trevorrow, “Dominion” – which acts as a concluding chapter to the “Jurassic World” trilogy and a tidy bow on the six-film series so far – finds these generations of heroes amid a landscape where dinosaurs have met modern civilization. Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Dern) and paleontologist Alan Grant (Neill) investigate the appearance of destructive evolved locusts that threaten global famine while Owen Grady (Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Howard) race to rescue their adopted clone daughter.
Trevorrow wanted a thriller with fantastic beasts and genetic advancements that not only harked back to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film, but also to Michael Crichton’s 1990 “Jurassic Park” novel.
“Part of what made ‘Jurassic Park’ work so much for us was the ‘what if’ of it all,” the director says. It was important to him “that especially kids understand this is rooted in real science, just like the dinosaurs are.”
The filmmaker and his cast catch us up on old characters, hot new dinos and an uncertain “Jurassic” future.
‘Jurassic World Dominion’ tackles unrequited 'Jurassic Park' feelings
Owen and Claire have been love interests in the past two films, but as parents are “deeply devoted to one another” as the new one opens, Pratt says. “We're not tasked with sort of providing that ‘will they/won't they’ sexual chemistry.” Instead, that falls on Ellie and Alan, who weren’t quite on the same page in "Jurassic Park" (with a 20-year age gap that’s made headlines recently) but now see “this kind of second-act romance that they have in their lives.”
Pratt adds: “That story has really beautifully aged well over the course of the 29 years since the original film.”
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Jeff Goldbum’s chaos theorist Ian Malcolm finds new maturity
Ellie and Alan reunite with mathematician Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) as they look into Biosyn Genetics’ scientific shenanigans, and Ian acts as their man on the inside. Goldblum’s character is the snarky voice of reason (and an accidental sex symbol) in “Jurassic Park,” though he’s been changed by being so close to the toothy jaws of death over the years.
“I imagine that at this point he is more present than ever and probably cherishes, is thankful for and appreciates every moment that comes around,” Goldblum says. “He wants to use his resources and energies to leave behind something as substantial as possible and manage his stewardship on this planet and kind of move the needle as much as he can.”
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The latest 'Jurassic' dinosaur species enjoy the spotlight
Every “Jurassic World” features a bigger and/or nastier apex predator – from Indominus rex to the Indoraptor – and “Dominion” introduces the 30,000-pound Giganotosaurus, the largest known terrestrial carnivore. It’s one of 10 dinosaur species making their franchise debut alongside returning beasts like the venom-spitting Dilophosaurus.
Trevorrow reports that two new dinos appearing in “Dominion” were actually discovered by scientists since the previous film, 2018’s “Fallen Kingdom”: Moros intrepidus is a “tiny furry T. rex” that is seen being fed by a little girl in the movie while Dreadnoughtus, a long-necked cousin of the Brachiosaurus that’s “the size of a 747,” fills up the theater screen while hanging out in a lake.
Time will tell if ‘Jurassic’ is forever
Trevorrow introduces new characters like cargo pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and a dino-filled Earth that “very covertly set the stage for the future,” though what comes next after "Dominion" is anyone’s guess.
“Billions and billions of years from now, I predict, yes, there will be ‘Jurassic’ stories being told and consumed with lots of popcorn or whatever they eat at that point. Tang, probably,” Goldblum quips.
“It might be dinosaurs watching movies about the extinct humans that they brought back to put into an amusement park,” jokes Pratt, who sees the potential for a “Jurassic” cinematic universe. “When I was 13 years old watching these guys (in 1993), before I ever even knew I would be an actor, they were cemented in my mind as icons. I love the idea that there's a kid who's going to go watch this this summer and they grow up and get to be a part of this.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Jurassic World Dominion': Old stars, new dinos end trilogy in style