Warning! This article contains major spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Read ahead at your own risk!
Having amassed over $4 billion at the international box office across the last 25 years, it’s clear global interest in the Jurassic Park franchise has yet to go extinct as it races into the future in the series’ latest installment, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The J.A. Bayona-directed film — Jurassic entry No. 5 since 1993 — boasts flashy, cutting-edge visual effects and a wildly spectacular story line that reroutes the course laid by earlier films, but it isn’t about to let the iconic groundwork laid by its predecessors’ slip into ancient history in the process. While the film boisterously charges the franchise forward, it also pays dutiful tribute to its past via blink-and-you’ll-miss-them easter eggs. No, not a single character rocks a peach blouse/cargo short ensemble quite like Laura Dern did in the series’ freshman outing, but here’s a list of other notable self-references we found in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear
Steven Spielberg’s stylistic flourishes elevated the first Jurassic Park film from the category of mere summer spectacle to a savvy directorial masterpiece. One of the film’s most thrilling moments is arguably the infamous T-rex chase scene, in which the dino in question charges after a jeep carrying Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck). A quick — but altogether iconic — shot highlights the scene as a shining example of Spielberg’s magic touch, showing the mammoth beast’s image as seen in the vehicle’s side mirror, its reflection roaring over the mirror’s text proclaiming “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” When Owen (Chris Pratt) explores the island on foot in Fallen Kingdom, he too comes across one of the original (deeply mutilated) Jurassic Park vehicles in the middle of the jungle. He approaches the car and the camera cuts to a close-up of his reflection in the mirror, just above another “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” inscription.
Clever girls (and their dexterous claws) come out to play
The original Jurassic Park introduced a revolutionary arsenal of cutting-edge computer-generated effects, but it stuck its nightmare-turned-reality landing to jaw-dropping practical movie magic and lifelike animatronic puppetry. A particularly bone-chilling scene from the film features a Velociraptor — on the hunt for John Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) — using its brain power (and razor-sharp claws) to turn a door handle to access the fresh meat on the other side. Five films into the series, that same dexterity is on display yet again in Fallen Kingdom when the Indoraptor scales the exterior of Lockwood Estate and uses its reptilian “fingers” to jostle the knob leading to the bedroom of Benjamin Lockwood’s (James Cromwell) granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon). Looks like someone inherited the “clever girl” gene, after all.
What do a cupboard door and a dumbwaiter have in common?
The small figures of the franchise’s youngest human heroes allow for a few advantages over their elders when it comes to hiding from hungry dinos. In the first film’s raptors-in-the-kitchen sequence, the teenage Lex struggles to hide from her hunter by crawling into a cupboard. The only problem? She struggles through anxious tears to shut the door as the raptor closes in (thankfully the carnivore only notices Lex’s hysteric reflection on the metallic hardware and mistakenly crashes head-first into a countertop opposite her real hiding spot). Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie seemingly carries the same instincts of her cinematic forerunners, as a shot similar to the aforementioned features the youngster entering a dumbwaiter as the Indoraptor chases her down a long hallway inside the estate. Once she squeezes into the tight space, both of her hands similarly fiddle with the dumbwaiter’s finicky door as the predator closes in.
Poor little goat, round two
Other than humans, what’s a T-rex’s favorite snack? A cuddly farm animal, of course. After all, the first film taught us that no cow (or the sturdy metallic harnesss upon which it’s lowered into, say, a Velociraptor exhibit) is safe on Isla Nublar. But while there’s only been one bovine fatality across five Jurassic films, that number doubles when it comes to goats. Fallen Kingdom’s twist kicks in roughly halfway through the movie, when it’s revealed that Lockwood’s seemingly well-intentioned rescue mission has actually been commandeered by his aide, Eli (Rafe Spall), who seeks to sell the rescued animals to international governments for military research. Sequestering the animals in an underground lair deep beneath the estate proves to be a difficult task, with the T-rex unwilling to go along for the ride — that is, until Eli’s team lures it into its pen with live bait: a poor, defenseless goat attached to a chain, much like the ill-fated mammal who met its maker in the jaws of the T-rex in Jurassic Park. Further referencing the initial T-rex-breakout sequence from Spielberg’s 1993 classic, the reptilian giant doesn’t quite fit the entire goat into its mouth in Fallen Kingdom, either, leaving the goat’s brittle leg for last (who could forget the scene in Jurassic Park where the bloody goat leg falls atop the jeep’s sunroof?).
Jurassic Park ends with the central band of survivors escaping the titular resort via helicopter. As they leave the island — now overrun by Hammond’s renegade creations — Alan Grant (Sam Neill) gazes out the window as John Williams’ score swells over the scene. The camera cuts to his perspective, his gaze trained upon a flock of pelicans gliding above the sun-kissed ocean waves. It’s a touching moment meant to console us in the aftermath of the two-plus hours of peril that came before it, reminding the audience that the terrors of Isla Nublar are now contained on the shores our heroes leave behind. Fallen Kingdom, however, features a witty reversal of Jurassic Park‘s final shot. Just before the end credits roll, the film cycles through various scenes of havoc wreaked upon domestic soil by the escaped dinosaurs. Among them is a quick shot which sees Claire and Owen driving along a coastal road overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Like Dr. Grant before them, they peer out their respective vehicle’s window to see a family of winged creatures soaring over the water — but this time it’s a family of Pteranodons flapping their wings as the sunset reflects off the choppy waters. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it callback that turns the serene effect of the first film’s conclusion on its head as the global consequences of Hammond’s actions loom overhead.
Dinosaurs can do splits, too.
This one might be a stretch — literally — but the way Eli dies (like you didn’t see that coming) at the end of Fallen Kingdom recalls the manner in which Eddie (Richard Schiff) bit the dust in The Lost World. After unsuccessfully attempting to pull Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn), and the returning Malcolm (Goldblum) up and over the side of a cliff after the T-rex shoved their trailer over the side, Eddie’s corpse served as a tug-of-war toy for two Tyrannosaurs. Though the field expert was ripped into separate pieces by a mother-father T-rex duo, it’s actually a T-rex and a Carnotaurus that shred Eli in half in Fallen Kingdom. Regardless, it’s limbs all around!
Shock and awe (over a familiar Brachiosaurus!)
Everyone remembers Dern’s face the first time her character saw a living, breathing dinosaur in the flesh during her first visit to Jurassic Park (when the attraction was fully intact and had a human death toll of approximately zero, save for that unfortunate handler in the film’s opening moments). Fallen Kingdom stages a similar moment between veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) — who travels with Claire and Owen to rescue the doomed dinos on Isla Sorna — and the same breed of dinosaur that took Dern’s breath away all those years ago: the long-necked Brachiosaurus. After much chatter about the special feeling one gets when gazing upon a dinosaur for the first time, Zia finally gets the chance to experience it for herself when the team arrives at the former entrance gate to Jurassic World, the ruins of which are now overgrown with vegetation and battle scars from the previous film’s epic Indominus Rex/T-rex showdown. A loud thumping sounds in the distance, and the camera cuts to a close-up of Zia’s face as her mouth widens in awe. The reverse shot shows a Brachiosaurus clomping into view as Williams’ musical theme plays in the background. The contrast of the environment surrounding both characters — Ellie visits the park at its thriving prime, whereas Zia traverses its dangerous, dilapidated shell — brings the thematic evolution of the Jurassic series full circle.
Look, Film Twitter: No heels!
Fallen Kingdom director Bayona wants to make sure you know Claire DOES NOT FIND HIGH HEELS APPROPRIATE FOR A TREACHEROUS JOURNEY INTO DINOSAUR-INFESTED TERRITORY! Jurassic World filmmaker Colin Trevorrow learned that the hard way after the release of his 2015 epic, after he — and distributor Universal — found themselves on the receiving end of internet flack for putting Howard’s character in high heels as she fled a Tyrannosaurus on foot! Fallen Kingdom quickly corrects the gaffe, however, contrasting Claire’s business attire at her dino-advocacy office (the first shot of Claire in the film noticeably focuses on her high-heeled feet inside an elevator) with her Isla Nublar adventure gear (another very calculated close-up sees her booted hoofs stepping onto a helicopter bound for the island). Lesson for future filmmakers: Heels are for corporate affairs, not life-and-death scenarios involving murderous, previously extinct life forms!