Cloned dinosaurs are roaming freely on the mainland as human beings face possible extinction in the official trailer for Jurassic World Dominion, the sixth installment in the hugely successful franchise. Universal Pictures describes the film as “a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe,” but what has everybody buzzing is the reappearance of the three stars of the original Jurassic Park.
That’s right, Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum’s suave, black-clad Dr. Ian Malcolm will join Jurassic World co-stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in yet another thrilling battle between man and once-extinct beast. We haven’t seen Neill’s or Dern’s characters since 2001’s Jurassic Park III. Even better, they’re major players in Dominion, not just making brief fan-pleasing cameos.
(Spoilers for prior films in the franchise below.)
The original Jurassic Park is a sci-fi classic, about the doomed attempt of wealthy industrialist John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to create a theme park of cloned dinosaurs on Isla Nublar, a remote island off the Costa Rican coast. The film won three Oscars for visual effects and sound design, which included groundbreaking advances in computer-generated imagery and animatronic effects. It was also hugely entertaining, grossing over $912 million worldwide during its theatrical run. That success spawned two sequels, The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001), which didn’t quite recapture the same magic but were nonetheless commercial hits.
Universal eventually began developing a second film trilogy in which the park was fully functional and open for business, starting with 2015’s Jurassic World. Pratt starred as Owen Grady, a Navy veteran and velociraptor handler at the theme park. Howard played Claire Dearing, operations manager; Daniella Pineda played dino veterinarian Zia Rodriguez; Justice Smith played park technician Franklin Webb; Omar Sy played Owen’s assistant Barry; and B.D. Wong returned as the geneticist Dr. Henry Wu.
Things played out much like they always have with this franchise. A nefarious plot shattered the smooth operation of the park, and the conniving bad guys got eaten by dinosaurs. The good guys saved a couple of children and escaped the island as a T. Rex roared in triumph. Audiences loved it, to the tune of $1.6 billion at the global box office.
Then came 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in which Owen and Claire found themselves trying to rescue Isla Nublar’s surviving dinosaurs from an imminent volcanic eruption. (Malcolm naturally argued for letting nature take it course to restore the natural order of things, naturally.) Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), Hammond’s former business partner, proposed relocating the dinosaurs to another remote island. He brought the beasts to his private estate instead, where his granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) discovered he planned to auction them off on the black market. The creatures included Wu’s latest creation: a transgenic dinosaur dubbed Indominus Rex.
Maisie teamed up with Owen and Claire to thwart that plan—almost successfully. Fallen Kingdom ended with Maisie (now revealed to be a clone of Lockwood’s dead daughter) freeing the remaining caged dinosaurs to save them from a hydrogen cyanide gas leak, over Owen’s objections. In the final scene, Malcolm dramatically declared the onset of a neo-Jurassic age where humans and dinosaurs must learn to co-exist. And that’s right where Dominion picks up.
The Jurassic World trilogy was always intended to be a complete story told across three films, as opposed to the standalone nature of the original trilogy. Director Colin Trevorrow, who co-wrote Dominion‘s script, knew that he wanted the third film to center on dinosaurs going “open source,” so to speak—a world in which Wu was not the only scientist capable of cloning the beasts. But rather than scene after scene of dinosaurs terrorizing people and destroying cities, he wanted “a world where dinosaur interaction is unlikely but possible—the same way we watch out for bears or sharks.”
That sensibility pervades the trailer. Per the official premise:
Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
Pratt, Howard, Pineda, Sy, Wong, Smith, and Sermon are all returning in their respective roles. New cast members include DeWanda Wise, Mamoudou Athie, Dichen Lachman, Scott Haze, and Campbell Scott. Scott plays rival Biosyn Genetics CEO Dr. Lewis Dodgson, previously played by Cameron Thor in the 1993 film. The studio released a five-minute preview of Dominion last June that featured a prehistoric battle between a Giganotosaurus and a T. Rex. The footage was supposedly the opening of the film, but apparently it didn’t make the final cut. Instead, the clip was released online in November as a short prologue to Dominion.