Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is taking the 25-year-old franchise in a new direction, as an erupting volcano is threatening everything on Isla Nublar, including the extinction of the reborn breeds of dinosaurs. In steps Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing, who have returned for what is supposed to be a rescue mission to preserve as many species as possible, but which turns into the discovery of a massive conspiracy involving genetically enhanced dinosaurs that literally threatens the planet.
Like other film trilogies such as the original Star Wars or Lord of the Rings — which this was designed to be from the time that 2015’s Jurassic World was conceived — the nature of storytelling means that Fallen Kingdom will be a considerably darker tale than the one that preceded it.
“Normally, the second chapter is where everything somehow gets more and more complicated and more tangled,” agrees director J.A. Bayona, who takes over directing from the first film’s Colin Trevorrow (who nonetheless co-writes with Derek Connolly). “In that sense, it’s very exciting, because you are somehow picking up the consequences of the first movie and planting the seeds of the vigorous story to come, which would be the third movie. It’s great having the chance of doing a sequel to Jurassic World, but it’s also the fifth movie of Jurassic Park. You have such a big and rich background full of characters, stories, locations, and the connection that the audience has with all this material is so emotional. It’s very exciting to be a part of it.”
It would also be a challenge, one would think, given that the cliché of this series is that people go to the island and those that aren’t eaten by dinosaurs eventually get off the island. So while a creative tapestry has been created, there has to be fresh angles added to keep it original and give the audience something that it hasn’t seen.
“Exactly,” Bayona agrees. “I think this is one of the things that convinced me the most when Colin told me the story for the first time. The fact that it’s not a rescue mission to save people from dinosaurs, but it’s a rescue mission to save dinosaurs. From the very beginning we have this idea of a volcano threatening the life of all the remaining dinosaurs on Earth, and it’s about Claire, who has made a big step forward in comparison of who she was in the first movie, who goes back to Owen, trying to convince him to get back to the island to help. That was very exciting. There’s also a second half of the movie, after delivering what everyone is expecting from a Jurassic movie, that takes you to a very unexpected place, which I found very comfortable and interesting, somehow.
“The first half,” he continues, “creates a big adventure, while the second half is more tied down, more claustrophobic, and has these kind of, even, Gothic elements that I love, where I have the chance of playing with all these elements I love, like shadows on the walls, long corridors, cracking wood, and playing with the sound and silence. Again, I was very comfortable there. At the same time, I thought it was very refreshing for a Jurassic movie and something very exciting to be a part of.”
It’s his belief that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom follows the DNA of the series that started with 1993’s Jurassic Park, which is to give the audience a rousing adventure, while at the same time working in timely and relevant themes about humanity and its relation with science and nature.
“It’s all very exciting to play with, the idea of bringing back these creatures that disappeared from Earth millions of years ago,” explains Bayona, “and talk about that idea of the relation of man towards nature, which feels more relevant than ever now. These movies always play as a metaphor of where the world is right now, you know? Again, this is the second episode of a trilogy where things get more complicated, and I think we live in a complicated world right now. In that sense, it’s very interesting what’s going on in the movie, the worldwide situation following the disaster in the park. Everything is talking about what is going to happen with these dinosaurs because of the volcano. And everyone is talking about what is the responsibility of man towards these creatures. That triggers a context that somehow you can understand as a reflection of our world.”
Look for more from J.A. Bayona on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom next week. The film opens in theaters on June 22nd.
Images: Universal Pictures