The Park is Open - all you need to know about Jurassic World

15 Jun 2015 BY Joe Ursell in Film Features

6 mins
Jurassic World
Jurassic World

This summer's big cinema release is the long-awaited Jurassic World, and we've got everything you need to know about the prehistoric adventure right here.

Cinema and dinosaurs have a long history...

Dinosaurs have always been a popular attraction for filmmakers, ever since the days of silent cinema. One of the best known early examples is a 1925 adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World. The Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park sequel of the same name is actually based on a Michael Crichton book, but Spielberg has said many times that the 1925 film was a big influence on him as a young filmmaker. Other major dinosaur films include King Kong (which featured a fight with a T-Rex); One Million Years BCThe Land Before Time, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

With Pixar and Aardman also making upcoming films centring around dinosaurs, it seems safe to say that they aren't going to be dying out in cinemas any time soon!

Jurassic Park always thinks of the children!

One of the features of Jurassic Park is its use of children in the story. The Jurassic Park films are designed to appeal to children of all ages and their success partly comes from having a child's perspective to share in the spectacle. The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 also had children as protagonists, and Jurassic World stays true to that with the young characters of Zach and Grey, who visit the park as a guest of their aunt Claire, the Park's operations manager.

Don't worry if you haven't seen the other sequels...

This new instalment bears a direct relationship to the events of the original film, but makes no reference to the two sequels. It is set twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, on the same fictional South American island of Isla Nublar.

The only returning cast member from the original film is BD Wong as the scientist Dr. Henry Wu. Despite their huge popularity with fans, the filmmakers could not find a way to credibly reintroduce characters like Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant back into the story.

Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has risen quickly...

Amazingly, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has only made one feature film before this 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed, an American indie-film made for just $750,000. To put that into perspective, the budget of Jurassic World is rumoured to be well over $150,000,000!

...and he's not the only one!

Trevorrow is not the only young filmmaker to be handed the reins to a major monster movie on the basis of just one small film. In 2014, British director Gareth Edwards directed a new version of Godzilla, after having only made the science-fiction film Monsters previously, which was so low-budget that Gareth created many of the special effects shots for the film in his bedroom!

Older members can order both Monsters and Safety Not Guaranteed, and try to work out what the likes of Steven Spielberg saw in these films to entrust their comparatively inexperienced directors with such large-scale projects.

Despite the advance of CGI, Jurassic World still uses practical effects.

The original Jurassic Park was pioneering in its use of CGI, although more traditional stop-motion effects were also used. Technology has moved on enormously since, but the Jurassic World filmmakers were still keen to use animatronic dinosaurs as well as computer generated creatures, which were created using performance capture, with humans simulating the movements of the dinosaurs during filming.

There are plenty of new dinosaurs on display...

One of the new dinosaurs is a giant sea-based creature called Mosasaurus. In the film, they are shown spectacularly devouring an entire great white shark; this is probably a cheeky reference to Steven Spielberg's Jaws, the film that helped to launch the entire blockbuster genre, and which celebrates its own 40th anniversary this year. The film centres around the development of a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, Indomitus Rex: a dinosaur more fierce and deadly than any that have come before it. The justification for creating Indomitus Rex (which means Fierce/Untameable King in Latin) is that the public have become bored even with the spectacle of dinosaurs, and are craving something bigger and more exciting.

...but is one of them a metaphor?

Members might want to consider whether or not this is the filmmakers commenting on the evolution of blockbuster films themselves, and the constant demand for greater spectacle. The original Jurassic Park was also noted for the way it appeared to be referencing its own status as a major blockbuster. In that film - which was the most successful movie of all time when it was released - there are actually only six and a half minutes of dinosaur action!

The attention to detail went down to the choice of camera!

Most big films today are shot using digital cameras. However Jurassic World was made with 35mm and 65mm cameras, in order to preserve the aesthetic look of the first films. One of the 65mm cameras used was also used by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey!

Filming took place in Hawaii...

Trevorrow filmed a lot of the big exterior scenes in Hawaii. Fortunately, they managed to avoid the fate of the first film, which had to shut down production for several days after a hurricane struck the island! Ever the filmmaker, Spielberg captured some of this storm footage and used it in the final cut of the movie.

...and in a theme park only *slightly* less scary than the real Jurassic World!

Other parts of Jurassic World were shot on an abandoned theme park in New Orleans, with real alligators and snakes crawling around and causing some hair-raising moments for the cast and crew!

We hope you'll all enjoy Jurassic World even more knowing so much more about it, and we look forward to receiving your reviews of the film on the site.

Portrait picture of Joe Ursell

Joe Ursell, Film Curator

Joe has a BA in Film & American Studies from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Contemporary Cinema Cultures from King's College London. He has worked with the BFI London Film Festival and on the production of ITV documentary 56 Up.

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