STARRING Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson
DIRECTED BY Colin Trevorrow
NOT YET RATED
RELEASE DATE June 12
It’s been nearly a decade since Hurricane Katrina, and the sign at the entrance of New Orleans’ Six Flags still says “Closed for Storm.” The rides inside may be shut down, but on this muggy day in June 2014, the enormous parking lot has been taken over by the $180 million-plus production of Jurassic World. In the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park series, the dinosaur island theme park that John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) was developing in the original 1993 film has finally come to fruition 22 years later. It is a thriving vacation destination, and the set reflects this. There is an elaborate main street with a visitor center, a gift shop, and restaurants. For the moment, everything is surprisingly calm. “It’s going to be super boring,” jokes Chris Pratt, who plays an ex-military dude living on the island and studying raptors. “It’s just, like, us watching dinosaurs for an hour and a half.” Hardly. Soon enough, Pratt and costar Bryce Dallas Howard are ducking for cover from flying pteranodons and screaming, “Run!”
Some things never change. In keeping with the previous films, Jurassic World is a tale of humans who get cut (or chomped) down to size when they try to outwit nature in the name of the almighty dollar. “We have seen that we will repeat our mistakes if there’s money on the table,” says director Colin Trevorrow. “It’s not about the danger of playing God. These animals are real, and they’re on our planet.”
To boost attendance at the swank new park, operations manager Claire (Howard) introduces a genetically modified dino into the mix. But of course the big baddie escapes and unleashes a rampage—right when Claire’s young nephews (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson) happen to be visiting the island. In one scene that pays homage to the first Jurassic’s iconic T. rex/Ford Explorer sequence, the unlucky lads come close to becoming the beast’s playthings. “There’s a ride at the park that allows you to get into a gyroscopic sphere and be out in the wild with dinosaurs and travel beneath them—and that goes horribly wrong,” says Trevorrow, whose only other feature is 2012’s time-travel indie Safety Not Guaranteed. “Imagine being inside a sphere and then suddenly it breaks and you’re rolling like a cat with a ball of yarn.” Enter Claire, who morphs into an Ellen Ripley-like heroine to protect her nephews. “Becoming a mother myself, I’ve realized being maternal is being wildly badass,” the actress says with a laugh.
Howard and Pratt also got to inject a bit of love/hate, Romancing the Stone-esque electricity into their characters. “They don’t like each other at all, and by the end that’s changed,” Trevorrow says. “We think that [classic conceit] absolutely can apply to a dinosaur movie.”
Making those kinds of decisions is all part of the job on a colossal operation like Jurassic World. It’s no small feat to jump from an indie like Safety (which cost $750,000) to a major franchise. But producer Frank Marshall and exec producer Steven Spielberg liked what they saw in Trevorrow. “Colin understood the [Jurassic] movies,” Marshall says. “That’s what Steven and I felt was the most important thing—he’s a storyteller.” Trevorrow is aware of the tall order he faced. “There are a lot of people in my generation who dreamed of being filmmakers who would love to have this job, and I feel a responsibility to all of them to make this everything that we all wish it could be,” he says. “If I can pull that off, that’s my gift back to Steven.” And to us.