Jurassic World: Dominion’s Colin Trevorrow defends the film’s storyline
Some critics have been disappointed that the sequel doesn’t go down the humans-vs-dinosaurs route promised in the trailers – but the co-writer and director says it wouldn’t “feel real’.
If you were expecting Jurassic World: Dominion to be an epic dinosaurs-vs-humans struggle on a worldwide scale, think again – because despite some suggestions of that in the trailers, the finished film tells quite a different story based on genetic modification, Jason Bourne-style globetrotting and evil CEO billionaires.
It’s fair to say that some have been disappointed with this direction – RadioTimes.com’s own reviewer said that “there’s so much potential with the concept of dinos roaming free, and the sequel doesn’t always make the most of it” – but Trevorrow is firm that it was the right way to round off his Jurassic World trilogy.
“I think there's a sense that this is a movie about dinosaurs and humans battling for dominance on the planet, and only one can win. And you know, it sounds cool,” Trevorrow told RadioTimes.com.
“But when you actually think about what that actually means, it doesn't really feel real. And so I think that we've made a movie that is hopefully richer and more thoughtful and approaches things in a way that maybe people won't expect.”
Later, he added: “Instead of something that feels sci-fi or you know, dinosaurs in the city and eating out of Starbucks, like whatever that is. I just wanted to make it feel like ‘What if this actually happened?’”
We also caught up with Trevorrow on where the Jurassic franchise could go next, which comedy actor almost made it back into the film for a cameo and why the film could have survived even without the return of some Jurassic Park legends. You can read our full Q&A below.
So, Colin, was it always the plan for you to come back to finish the trilogy? You know, you sort of stepped away a little bit for the second film.
To a certain extent if I continued doing the [Star Wars movie] that I was doing during Fallen Kingdom, maybe scheduling wouldn't have worked out, but it was definitely something I wanted. And so when I realised I would have the opportunity to do it, I didn't blink.
What was it like kind of coming back and taking charge? What was the story you really wanted to tell here?
I don't really feel like I went away, just because I worked so closely with [director JA] Bayona on the second film, and the challenge for me here was knowing I wanted to tell a larger story about genetic power, knowing that I wanted the legacy characters to be the engine of that story. And also being able to explore Claire and Owen being parents in the guardianship of a child whose unique existence is related to everything they have guilt over in their lives.
So a lot of things I wanted to do and working with [co-writer Emily Carmichael] to really streamline it into a story that is structured in a way that maybe most blockbusters aren't, but then really invest us more and more into these two parallel stories until they collide.
Did this film really depend on getting back those legacy characters – the great Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern – or was there a version you could have made if they’d said no?
Well, you've seen it. I mean there's a film in there, where it's just two parents trying to find their daughter.
And yet the way that those stories ultimately weave together and how they become so reliant on each other's adventure... I think actually, the film will benefit from rewatch value if you know that going in and you see how it's built.
I know these movies get watched again and again by kids. And so I don't think about the first time, I think about the fifth time watching a movie and how it plays then. And it's easier for me, because I have to watch it 100 times.
We also have some returning characters from earlier in your trilogy like Omar Sy. Was there anyone else you wanted to get, but couldn't?
Well, I mean, I would always love to work with Jake Johnson again, and that didn't work out this time around. But I also felt, you know, he and I are friends. So we see each other a lot. And we also we have a feeling now that you know, what we did in Jurassic World was just special. And maybe that's okay. That that's all it was.
There was a little photo cameo from him, right?
Oh, of course. Yeah, absolutely. Hey, you caught that.
We also have the return of a significant villain in Dodgson, who appeared in the original movie – was the idea to bring it back to the start?
We always felt like Dodgson and BioSyn….which isn't mentioned in the first movie, it's only people who've read the book who even know that BioSyn exists. But for fans of Crichton, BioSyn as an entity felt like an important thing to define. And this movie gave us that opportunity.
But we also didn't want to make it an evil corporation. Because I don't think that's a real thing. I think corporations are made up of people who work for somebody who is making decisions very high up. And so to make that guy, someone who feels like a betrayal to the values of all the young people working in the company felt like something a lot of us are feeling now and we could connect to.
That's interesting, I hadn't thought about that.
It's a big thread. I mean, you know, Mamadou Athie's character is a young man who feels betrayed by this icon that everybody looks up to who turns out to be a pretty shady guy. And I think that's it's a very current idea.
This might be tricky for you to answer, having seen it 100 times – but what do you think might surprise people about this film?
I think what I think there's a sense that this is a movie about dinosaurs and humans battling for dominance on the planet, and only one can win. And you know, it sounds cool.
But when you actually think about what that actually means, it doesn't really feel real. And so I think that we've made a movie that is hopefully richer and more thoughtful and approaches things in a way that maybe people won't expect.
But once they realise what we're after, hopefully, they'll accept it as part of our whole trilogy.
Obviously, there’s some big action sequences in the film – I especially enjoyed the cage, when the whole cast’s in the forest being attacked. What was the most difficult to shoot? And what was your favourite?
I mean, they're all challenging. That one that you're talking about is with everyone. And so being able to have that many people feel constantly in danger is really challenging. We had a big animatronic, it was night, it was cold, it was a pandemic, there was a lot going on.
My favourite personally is the sequence I did with Bryce where she goes underwater. She and I had never had a chance to just do a dinosaur sequence together with her alone on screen, plus a dinosaur. And so it felt like a drum solo.
After all these years, we got to just do something exactly the way that we would want it to be. And she's a director. And so it felt like a really cool collaboration.
I noticed a lot more practical dinosaurs in this film, and animatronics. Was that a conscious change?
I mean, it's something I always wanted to do, but it was it was about resources and honestly, trust. You know, trust in the filmmaker to make choices on set, as opposed to have the ability to make them later. When you make an animatronic, whatever you shoot is what it is.
And I think more and more these days, producers and studios are used to being able to create a lot of things in post and having a lot of conversations about that. And here, it's trusting me to get it on the day as if I'm there with actors.
So each time we've been able to make more and more, we've had more resources to make more. If it was up to me, they'd all be animatronics, but they do have to run sometimes. So you can only do so much. You can't throw them underwater. They don't like that.
Were there any moments that you shot that you ended up having to cut from the film that you really regretted losing?
Yes, there's about 14 minutes of movie. I know, it sounds very specific, because it is. But we'll all get a chance to see that. And actually, the first five minutes of the movie we put online six months ago, the prologue was the opening of the movie. So you can see how that might go right into the beginning.
But I actually really like how the prologue does pay off at the end of the film. So if, if you're a kid, and you've been watching that for a long time, I know a lot of kids have, you'll recognise that you're seeing the end of the story when you go.
I think and correct me if I'm wrong, was this the first Jurassic film not set at least partially on one of the two islands in Costa Rica? Did you clock that early on, and was there any thought given to slotting one in?
You know, it wasn't the story we were telling. Obviously Nublar went through a serious tragedy [in the last film]. And it felt like the natural trajectory of this was to fundamentally change what the franchise is, in certain ways, because every movie has just been on an island that may or may not be safe when people go to it.
I think we've just gotten into this pattern of assuming that that's what a Jurassic movie is, but to me, it felt like especially you know, if there are future stories to be told to give a little bit more room for people to be creative and to create a really natural, believable dynamic between dinosaurs and humans on the planet.
Instead of something that feels sci-fi or you know, dinosaurs in the city and eating out of Starbucks, like whatever that is. I just wanted to make it feel like ‘What if this actually happened?’
It also neatly sidesteps the classic Jurassic Park/World question, why would you go back to dinosaur murder island?
I was eager to not have to answer that question again, because it's a really good question. Why? Why would you go?
You mentioned future stories. Obviously, this is the close of a trilogy. Do you see there being more films? And would you like to be involved with them?
You know, it's really up to the audience. If the audience responds in a way to this that makes us feel like they want to know more about this world that we've created, more about the new characters we created, Kayla Watts, Ramsay Cole, I did want to create that possibility that there's characters you could walk forward with.
But I also wanted to tell the end of this story we've been telling and of the larger story that Steven [Spielberg] started telling a long time ago.
If the story did continue, where do you think it could go next?
You know, I think that it's up to the next filmmaker to tell me what that is. Or tell Steven what that is. That’s what I did.
And I think for someone to have a really clear vision of where this can go, that's in many cases what makes them the one to take on the huge responsibility and incredible joy of making these movies. I know he or she is out there and I can't wait to meet them.
And what's next for you? Got any other projects coming up?
Yeah, I do. I'm producing some films of younger directors who I really admire and I'm hoping to give them the same kind of support that I was given. And as far as me, I'm working on a trilogy about our first civilization that had technology: Atlantis.
Sounds great – to wrap up, one final question. When audiences leave the cinema after watching Jurassic World: Dominion, how are you hoping they’ll feel? What will be running through their heads?
I hope a sense of deep satisfaction. And not just with the movie, but maybe just a sense of closure. Because I think that with these films that are new versions of the films that we loved when we were kids, you sometimes leave feeling a lot of really conflicting emotions.
Sometimes it makes you feel bad in a way you don't understand, or that you're ageing in a way that's uncomfortable. There's a lot of complex emotions.
I hope this film gives people a sense that their favourite characters are safe and well, that the dinosaurs have found a place of peace and found home. Maybe that'll make them feel a little bit hopeful.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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