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Last night at a special fan screening of Jurassic World (2015) at the ArcLight in Hollywood, director Colin Trevorrow announced that Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill will reprise their respective roles as Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic World 3. The trio joins Jurassic World stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. While Goldblum, Dern, and Neill have all reprised their roles in the franchise following the original 1993 blockbuster, Trevorrow’s film will mark the first time all three will be reunited in the same film. Plot details are still under wraps, but Trevorrow’s recently released short film Battle at Big Rock, written by Jurassic World 3 screenwriter Emily Carmichael, teased the repercussions of the dinosaurs being set loose in the world at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). With the return of three iconic characters, Jurassic World 3 has the potential to be the biggest film in the franchise yet.
When Jurassic World reinvigorated the long-dormant franchise in 2015, it did so with new characters. While fans expected a cameo or post-credit scene featuring either Malcolm, Sattler, or Grant, the only character from the original film to return was BD Wong’s Dr. Henry Wu. Universal’s bet on new characters paid off, and Jurassic World landed a record-breaking opening weekend on its way to $1.672 billion worldwide. When the sequel, directed by J.A. Bayona, came around, Goldblum’s Malcolm was featured heavily in the film’s marketing. But his appearance, his first since The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), amounted to a cameo and no dino interaction. Despite the sleight of hand, the film made $1.3 billion and Malcolm’s appearance held the potential of a return, alongside more familiar faces to show up in the next sequel. As much as the Jurassic World series has become the story of Pratt’s Owen Grady and Howard’s Claire Dearing, it would be disappointing if Malcolm, Sattler, and Grant weren’t brought in on the action now that dinosaurs no longer exist in a contained environment.
Trevorrow, who has said that this sixth entry in the franchise will return to the science thriller roots of the first film, confirmed that Goldblum, Dern and Neill’s roles will be significant. While we know where Malcolm stood on the dinosaurs in Fallen Kingdom, believing that their extinction was the only natural course, it will be interesting to see where Grant and Sattler stand. The last time we saw both characters was in Joe Johnston’s Jurassic Park III (2001). In Dern’s brief scene, Sattler was shown to be married to an employee of the State Department, and the mother of two children. She seemed to have largely moved on from her life as Paleobotanist. Grant, on the other hand, remained invested in dinosaurs, despite suffering some post traumatic stress from the incident on Isla Nublar, and led a tour group to Isla Sorna, which of course resulted in its own series of consequences, which made up the bulk of the film.
It will be interesting to see how all three returning characters are brought together, along with Owen and Claire, and how they react to Hammond’s technology being used to perfect human cloning. While there’s an undeniable element of nostalgia that makes these characters’ return so enticing, there’s also the fact that their inclusion could pave the way for larger questions to be asked in the franchise. While Jurassic World has utilized both the action and horror genres, the inclusion of these characters suggests a more inquisitive look at what dinosaurs and Hammond’s technology means for the future of the world. Given Jurassic Park filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s insistence that Trevorrow direct this third film, it seems like a safe bet that that his influence will be felt. Whether this means even deeper cuts into the previous films in the series, like what happened to the dinosaurs on Isla Sorna, or the return of other familiar faces like Tim (Joseph Mazzello), Lex (Ariana Richards), Kelly (Vanessa Chester), or Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) remains to be seen.
While Jurassic World 3 may be the biggest installment we’ve seen from the franchise just yet, don’t think of it as the finale. Universal, which has stayed out of the superhero business, has found billion dollar success with the Fast & Furious and Jurassic World franchises. If the former is any indication then the return of familiar faces and a wider scope for Jurassic World 3 may be setting the stage for spin-offs, television series, and novels all set within the larger Jurassic World continuity. The age of dinosaurs is back again.
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