Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the next installment of an ongoing series here on Rhode Island Movie Corner, ‘The Story So Far’. This is where I recap the past installments of a franchise in time for its latest release. In doing so, it allows you, the readers, an opportunity to catch up on a franchise if you find that you don’t have enough time to watch its previous installments and just want to know about its most important details before seeing the new film. And for today’s segment of ‘The Story So Far’, we’re looking at one of the most famous franchises in recent film history, Jurassic Park. Ever since director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of author Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel of the same name hit theaters in 1993, it has gone on to become of the most beloved blockbusters of all-time, heralded for its groundbreaking visual effects. It then proceeded to get two follow-ups, 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which Spielberg directed as well, and 2001’s Jurassic Park III, directed by Joe Johnston. Both films did well at the box-office though they weren’t as well-received by critics and audiences when compared to the first film. After that, a planned fourth film spent several years languishing in development hell until director Colin Trevorrow returned audiences to the island of Isla Nublar in 2015 with Jurassic World. Upon its release, the film set numerous box-office records amidst a critical reception that admittedly made it just as polarizing as the previous two films. But, of course, we’re back again with this cautionary tale of ‘man vs. nature’ with this year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, directed by J.A. Bayona. But until then, let’s return to the early days of this crazy, little dinosaur experiment and embark on an adventure ’65 million years in the making’ as we recap the events of the Jurassic Park series.
Jurassic Park (RELEASED: 1993)
On the island of Isla Nublar, located off the coast of Costa Rica, industrialist John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) and his company InGen have developed a way of cloning dinosaurs utilizing dinosaur DNA that has been extracted from fossilized mosquitoes. Hammond plans on showcasing his new discovery to the world via an immersive theme park called ‘Jurassic Park’. However, while transporting a Velociraptor to a new enclosure one night, one of the company’s dinosaur handlers is killed when the raptor tries to break free, resulting in a lawsuit from the employee’s family. Because of this, Hammond’s investors demand that he hires a team of experts to visit the park to ensure that it’s maintaining good safety standards. Thus, Hammond invites paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to the island. Along the way, they’re joined by lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferraro), who represents Hammond’s investors, and once they arrive on the island, they meet Hammond’s grandchildren, tech-savvy Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) and her younger brother, dinosaur enthusiast Tim (Joseph Mazzello). This proves to be a bit of an issue for Grant who, as evident from an earlier scene where he discusses raptors with a kid at a dig site, isn’t that big a fan of children. But the tour goes on as planned, with the group being told that the dinosaurs on the island are unable to breed because they are all female, something that Malcolm questions as he claims that this attempt of theirs to control nature is doomed to fail. As for the tour itself, it ultimately ends up being incredibly underwhelming as most of the dinosaurs that the group is meant to come across don’t show up. The only dinosaur that they do come across is a sick Triceratops that they find once they temporarily leave their tour vehicles. Ellie decides to stay and study the Triceratops while Grant, Malcolm, Tim, Lex, and Gennaro return to the tour vehicles right as a tropical storm begins to make landfall on the island, which forces the tour to be put on hold.
Meanwhile, Jurassic Park’s disgruntled main computer programmer, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), initiates a plan to steal some of InGen’s fertilized embryos for a rival company. To do so, Nedry temporarily shuts down the park’s security system, which also ends up shutting off all the power in the park. To make matters worse for Grant and company, this ends up occurring right when they’re stationed near the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock. Sure enough, the T-Rex breaks loose, eating Gennaro (while he’s hiding on the toilet in a nearby restroom) and injuring Malcolm while Grant and the kids barely manage to escape. Nedry’s own efforts to leave the island with the embryos in tow ends up being disastrous as well when he gets lost on the way to the docks and is killed by a venom-spitting Dilophosaurus (disclaimer: Dilophosaurus did not spit venom in real-life; this was something that Michael Crichton invented for the novel). When Ellie and the park’s warden, Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck), head out to try and find Grant and the kids, they rescue Malcolm and barely manage to escape from the T-Rex when it chases after them. Once back at the park’s visitor center, Hammond and his chief engineer, Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson), decide to reboot the park’s entire system when they find that they’re unable to figure out a way around Nedry’s hacks. When Arnold fails to return from turning the power back on, Ellie and Muldoon head out to investigate. Muldoon ends up getting killed by a pair of Velociraptors while Ellie manages to reach the primary maintenance shed and gets the power back up and running again, coming across Arnold’s severed arm in the process.
As Grant and the kids begin their journey back to the visitor center, they come across a bunch of broken egg shells, with Grant realizing that Malcolm was right and that the dinosaurs can breed after all due to the parts of their DNA that were taken from frogs who can change their sex in a single-sex environment. After enduring everything from a Gallimimus stampede (and subsequent T-Rex attack) to Tim nearly dying when they try to climb over an electric fence right when the power is turned back on, the trio manages to return to the visitor center and reunite with Ellie. Unfortunately, they are then pursued by the raptors, who first chase Tim and Lex through the kitchen before cornering the lot of them in the control room. The group manages to temporarily keep them at bay when Lex manages to use the park’s UNIX computer system to restore power to the entire park, fixing both the phones and the electric door locks. As Hammond calls for a helicopter to evacuate, the group are forced to flee once again when the raptors break through the windows of the control room. They eventually end up in the visitor center’s foyer, where they get cornered by the raptors. Luckily for them, the T-Rex pops up by surprise and kills the raptors, giving them ample time to escape. After reuniting with Hammond and Malcolm, the group finally escapes the island via helicopter, with Grant having gained a newfound appreciation for children thanks to the time that he has spent with Tim and Lex.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (RELEASED: 1997)
After the success of the film adaptation of Jurassic Park, Crichton published a sequel, The Lost World, in 1995, which was subsequently adapted to the big-screen by Spielberg two years later. Set four years after the events of the original film, it opens with InGen once again finding itself in hot water when a young girl named Cathy Bowman (Camilla Belle) is attacked by a swarm of Compsognathus while on vacation with her family. As it turns out, the family had landed on another Costa Rican island, Isla Sorna, which is revealed to be the site where the company had created the dinosaurs before they were moved over to Isla Nublar. The site was ultimately abandoned when a hurricane ravaged the area, leaving the dinosaurs on their own without any sort of measures in place to restrain them. InGen, now headed by John Hammond’s nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard), plans on using the island to fix their financial troubles caused by the incident on Isla Nublar. While this is going on, John Hammond approaches Ian Malcolm and asks for his help in ensuring the dinosaurs’ survival by having him travel to Isla Sorna with a team to document them to prove that they’re perfectly fine in their natural habitat. While Malcolm is hesitant to return to the area, he is ultimately convinced to go when he learns that one of the members of Hammond’s team is his girlfriend, paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), who’s already on the island. Now intent on getting her out before something happens to her, Malcolm meets up with the other two members of their team, engineer/field equipment expert Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) and video documentarian Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn). Before they head off, Malcolm is also forced to deal with the increasingly strained relationship that he has with his daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester).
Once the group lands on Isla Sorna, they reunite with Sarah while also discovering that Kelly had stowed away with them in their mobile base. Soon after, a team of mercenaries and hunters led by Ludlow and big-game hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) arrive on the island to enact InGen’s plans by capturing multiple dinosaurs and having them sent to a theme park that’s planned to be built in San Diego. They also capture an infant T-Rex that Tembo plans on using as bait to lure its parent, which he’s primarily looking to capture. Clearly aware of why this is, as Malcolm later puts it, ‘the worst idea in the history of bad ideas’, Nick and Sarah break the dinosaurs out of their cages, allowing them to wreak havoc upon the InGen team’s camp. They also take the infant T-Rex back to the mobile base to fix its broken leg. This, of course, causes its parents to arrive on the scene, knocking the base off a cliff while Malcolm, Sarah, and Nick are still inside and eating Eddie when he tries to pull it back up. The trio ultimately gets rescued by the InGen team and, because of the loss of both teams’ communications equipment, are forced to form an uneasy ‘alliance’ with them to reach the island’s abandoned radio station and call for rescue. The group ends up getting chased by the adult T-Rexes and a bunch of velociraptors, with numerous casualties along the way. Malcolm’s group manages to reach the radio station, fend off the raptors, and call for a helicopter while the InGen team successfully manages to capture the male T-Rex, who’s then transported to the site of the new theme park in San Diego.
Back on the mainland, the ship transporting the T-Rex ends up crashing into InGen’s docks when it arrives earlier than expected without responding to any calls from the harbormaster. After it’s discovered that the ship’s crew has been killed, the T-Rex is accidentally released from the cargo hold, allowing it to rampage through the city where it menaces suburbia, eats ‘unlucky bastards’ who happen to be played by the film’s screenwriters (no joke, that’s what the character played via cameo by screenwriter David Koepp is listed as), etc. To get it back on the ship, Malcolm and Sarah collect the infant T-Rex from the new park’s facilities and transport it back by car, luring the adult T-Rex back with them just like when they first took the infant back to their mobile base on the island. When Ludlow tries to intervene, he gets trapped in the cargo hold by the adult T-Rex and is devoured by the infant while Malcolm and Sarah manage to tranquilize the former and trap them both in there so that they can be sent back to Isla Sorna. The next day, Malcolm, Sarah, and Kelly watch a news report on the infant and adult T-Rexes being transported back. An interview with John Hammond reveals that plans have been made with the Costa Rican Department of Biological Preserves to turn Isla Sorna into a nature preserve, allowing the dinosaurs to live in peace without any sort of interference from humans. Thus, as the film ends with a shot of the family of T-Rexes reunited on the island, Hammond quotes the line that Malcolm famously stated in the previous film, affirming that ‘life will find a way’.
Jurassic Park III (RELEASED: 2001)
Four years after the events of the previous film, Jurassic Park III opens with 12-year-old Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) parasailing near the island of Isla Sorna with family friend Ben Hildebrand (Mark Harelik). To their horror, the other passengers on their boat are killed by something that is unseen due to fog and the two end up having to detach themselves from the boat before it crashes into a bunch of rocks, resulting in them being directed right towards Isla Sorna. Meanwhile, back on the mainland, Dr. Alan Grant finds himself struggling to find funding for his team’s research while Ellie Sattler has since gotten married to U.S. State Department worker Mark (Taylor Nichols), whom she has had two kids with. One day, Grant is approached by Paul (William H. Macy) and Amanda (Tea Leoni) Kirby, who offer him funding for his research in exchange for an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. Despite his initial dismissal about returning to the area (to the point where he responds to a question about it at a university lecture by stating that ‘no force on earth or heaven will get him on that island’), Grant agrees to their offer. He is joined by his assistant, Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola), on the trip along with a bunch of mercenaries who are ‘financed’ by the Kirbys, Udesky (Michael Jeter), Cooper (John Diehl), and Nash (Bruce A. Young). Once they arrive at Isla Sorna, however, Grant discovers that the group plans on landing there. Despite his objections, they do land and, soon enough, they end up stranded when they crash into a Spinosaurus that had been chasing Cooper, who is subsequently eaten by it along with Nash. After escaping both the Spinosaurus and a T-Rex, who gets killed by the former, Grant learns that the Kirbys had lied to him. Instead of being a rich couple, they are recently-divorced parents who own a hardware store and have come to Isla Sorna in search of their son Eric and Amanda’s boyfriend Ben, who have been missing for the past eight weeks.
The group finds Ben and Eric’s parasail, with Ben’s skeletal remains still attached to it and no sign of Eric, meaning that he’s potentially still alive. After being chased by a group of Velociraptors, who kill Udesky, Grant is separated from the group and is rescued from the raptors by Eric, who’s managed to survive on his own for the past eight weeks. When the duo manages to reunite with the others, Grant learns that the reason why the raptors have been chasing them is because Billy had taken a pair of raptor eggs to provide their dig site the funding that they obviously won’t be getting from the Kirbys. Grant, furious at this decision, takes the eggs to ensure that the group will survive, remarking that Billy ‘is no better than the people who built this place’. When the group enters an aviary full of Pteranodons, Billy saves Eric from being taken by them but is seemingly killed in the process. Eventually, the group begins to make their way downriver by boat, barely managing to ward off the Spinosaurus with fire while Grant phones Ellie for help. When the group gets cornered by the Velociraptors once again, Grant manages to ward them off by surrendering the stolen eggs to them and using Billy’s 3-D printed replica of a Velociraptor larynx to confuse them. Once they reach the coast, they end up getting rescued by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy, who were called there by Ellie. Billy is revealed to be alive and the group leaves the island while noticing a bunch of Pteranodons departing as well. As Grant remarks, they’re ‘looking for new nesting grounds’.
Jurassic World (RELEASED: 2015)
Generally ignoring the events of the previous two films (which still recognizing them as canon), Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the events of the original film. In the years since, John Hammond’s idea of a dinosaur theme park has been revitalized by the Masrani Corporation, with ‘Jurassic World’ operating on the exact same site on Isla Nublar. Bickering brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins) Mitchell travel to the park to visit their aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who serves as the park’s operations manager. As soon as they arrive, though, she immediately brushes them off to deal with the pressure coming from her boss, ‘pilot’ Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), to develop a new attraction that would help boost their attendance numbers. Under the direction of Hammond’s former lead scientist Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), a new dinosaur known as the Indominus Rex is created from the combined DNA samples of various dinosaurs, including the T-Rex, and other creatures. Claire is then forced to ask for the assistance of the park’s velociraptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), whom she had one ‘bad’ date with, to ensure that the Indominus’ enclosure is properly secured. Once there, however, they find that the Indominus has seemingly managed to escape. As it turns out, the Indominus managed to fool them with its camouflaging ability (taken from cuttlefish DNA) and escapes for real once Owen and a few other workers go in to inspect the site. Masrani attempts to subdue it by sending in the park’s Asset Containment Unit, but most of the team ends up getting killed by it, resulting in Claire ordering a complete evacuation of the northern half of the island.
Unfortunately for Claire, a new problem emerges when Zach and Gray end up wandering into a restricted area via the park’s gryosphere attraction. The two brothers end up getting attacked by the Indominus and barely manage to escape from it by jumping off a waterfall. While Claire and Owen head out to try and rescue them, they end up coming across the old Jurassic Park Visitor Center and begin heading back to the resort in one of the old park’s jeeps, which they manage to repair. Meanwhile, Masrani pilots an attack helicopter to hunt the Indominus. This ends up being a complete disaster, however, as the helicopter crashes into the resort’s aviary, resulting in a swarm of Pterosaurs attacking the resort’s guests. Owen and Claire manage to find Zach and Gray while park security manages to subdue the attacking Pterosaurs. Soon after, Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), head of InGen’s security team, assumes command of the situation. Hoskins and Owen had come into conflict earlier over the former’s suggestion of using the latter’s quartet of trained raptors (Charlie, Echo, Delta, and Blue) for military use. Despite Owen’s objections, he agrees to partake in Hoskins’ plan to use the raptors to hunt down the Indominus. Unfortunately, once Owen and the raptors come across the Indominus, Owen realizes one of the biggest secrets surrounding the creature’s creation… it’s part raptor. This allows the Indominus to become the Raptors’ new ‘alpha’, resulting in the pack beginning to hunt InGen’s troops.
Owen, Claire, Zach, and Gray barely manage to escape and return to the Jurassic World Visitor Center. Once there, they discover that Hoskins has been working in conjunction with Dr. Wu on new hybrid dinosaurs to further his plan of having them be used for military purposes. While Hoskins ends up getting killed by Delta, Owen manages to regain the trust of his raptor pack right as the Indominus returns. After Echo and Delta are killed by it (Charlie was killed earlier during the Indominus hunt by a missile), Gray remarks that they need something with ‘more teeth’ to stop it. Thus, Claire orders one of the park’s control room operators, Lowery Cruthers (Jake Johnson), to open the gates to the T-Rex paddock as she manages to lure the T-Rex into a fight with the Indominus… and yes, she does all of this while wearing heels. With assistance from Blue, the last surviving member of Owen’s raptor pack, the T-Rex manages to corner the Indominus at the edge of the resort’s lagoon. Before the Indominus can attack again, it is swiftly grabbed by a Mosasaurus and dragged underwater. Blue and the T-Rex depart, though the former shares one last moment with Owen beforehand. As Isla Nublar ends up being abandoned once more, Zach and Gray reunite with their parents, Karen (Judy Greer) and Scott (Andy Buckley), at an off-site shelter in Costa Rica while Owen and Claire prepare for whatever comes next by deciding to stick together ‘for survival’. The film ends with the T-Rex perched above the abandoned Jurassic World site, once again in control of its home environment. But as it’s established in the trailers for the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the future of said home is put into jeopardy by way of the island’s previously dormant volcano.
And that is the ‘Story So Far’ when it comes to the Jurassic Park series. Thanks for following along and you can expect a review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sometime in the next few days. While I am aware that the overall reception towards this franchise’s sequels tend to vary amongst critics and audiences, I’ve personally enjoyed all the films in this franchise (yes, even Jurassic Park III despite the 2.5/5 rating that I gave it a few years back in the retrospective that I did on the original trilogy prior to the release of Jurassic World). Thus, I am eagerly looking forward to this new film, which I hear will provide an interesting set-up for the new trilogy’s finale that’s set to come out in 2021 and will see Colin Trevorrow return as director.