We don't have Mr. DNA. We don't have a trans-island transport system. We don't even have "auto-erotica". But we do have our very own special tour guide to help you decipher the brand-new trailer for upcoming dinosaur epic Jurassic World: director Colin Trevorrow. He took time out from his busy post-production schedule on the movie to talk Empire through the perils and pitfalls of the deadliest theme park in movie history.
"I'll admit, I was dreading it," says Trevorrow of the build-up to the launch of the trailer. "We hold our storytellers to very high standards these days, and we should."
Frankly, it wouldn't be a Jurassic Park adventure without a couple of kids oohing / aahing / running / screaming their way through the middle of it. And so, in the first of many nods to the original movie, here are Zack (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), Jurassic World’s Lex-and-Tim equivalent, being seen off by their parents from snowy Wisconsin on the trip of a (possibly soon-to-be-cut short) lifetime.
"Trailers are tough, you have to satisfy people who are looking for a reason to watch a new Jurassic Park movie, and younger people who didn't grow up on it," says Trevorrow of the decision to start the first Jurassic Park trailer in 13 years with characters rather than spectacle. "This movie has a lot of elements working together; it's not just sci-fi terror. It's not purely action-adventure. It's not just funny or sad or romantic. It's all of those things at once. Communicating that in two-and-a-half-minutes isn't easy."
And has the director been pleased with the reaction? "I've had people send me pictures and videos of their kids watching it. I see the look in their eyes, and I had that look once. I'd have to be pretty cynical to not be pleased with that."
A soon-to-be-rued joke from their mum, aka Judy Greer (Arrested Development/ Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes), who says her role is "small but poignant". Better advice would be, "If something chases you, hide behind the nearest lawyer. Unless he’s cowering on the toilet.”
22 years on from the events of the original Jurassic Park (and 17 years on from the events of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and 14 years on from the events of Jurassic Park III), Jurassic World is now open for business. And instead of helicoptering thousands of people in each day, tourists arrive by luxury boat. As the words on the side of this schooner suggest, we're headed back to Islar Nublar, aka Site A, aka the island which housed the original Jurassic Park. It's looking as rugged, verdant and mildly terrifying as ever.
"It opened in 2005," says Trevorrow of the fully-operational theme park. And InGen are out of the picture. "Masrani Global, owned by Irrfan Khan's character, bought InGen after John Hammond's passing with a very earnest mission to realise his dream. We have a website that details all that backstory. It will get more interesting as we get closer to June."
What have they got in there — King Kong? No, probably dinosaurs. This is the Jurassic World trailer, after all. It's nice to see the old gates are still in action, albeit with a monorail running through it and some small adjustments. The park sign is now blue, not red, and the torches are positioned lower on the beams (fire safety in the workplace and all that; you can't be too careful). Some fans have complained that the gates are CGI, to which director Colin Trevorrow replied on Twitter: "The gate is practical, the environment isn't. That shot was made specially for the trailer. The film will be different."
A glimpse at the heart of the park: Main Street. Clearly ticket sales are going well, with tourists elbow to elbow all the way down the thoroughfare, which leads to the new Visitor's Centre. Note the French and Japanese banners - this is a cosmopolitan crowd - and if you look closely you can see a sign for "Winston's", a nod to the late Stan Winston, the FX genius responsible for the animatronic dinos on the previous movies, back and to the left.
And here's our first peek at one of the park's real attractions: the humble gallimimus, part ostrich, part Labrador, no part meatasaurus. An obvious riff on an iconic scene from the original film, except here the visitors aren't running for their lives, but cruising along in an armoured truck. Slackers. But it's another examples of the futuristic trappings Trevorrow is bringing to the movie - even if it isn't actually set in the future.
"We set it in present day, but we've taken some scientific concepts that are in the theoretical stage now and made them real. Kind of like the first movie - we couldn't clone dinosaurs in 1993, and we still can't. It's just a more fantastic version of now."
Tourists happily kayak down a placid river, as herbivores graze on the banks. Looks lovely, but then again this is pretty much how the Jurassic Park ride starts at Universal Studios, and that ends with a TERRIFYING DROP. Fun fact: Chris Pratt went on that ride just before Jurassic World shooting began.
So far in the trailer we've seen gallimimuses, stegosauruses and brachiosaurs, with raptors popping up later. But as yet there's no sign of our old Jurassic Park chum, the T-rex. So, will we see one in Jurassic World? Trevorrow's response is short and to the point. "You bet your ass you will."
One of the funkiest features of Jurassic World is the gyrosphere, in essence a high-tech hamster ball that allows visitors to get up close without becoming dino din-dins. It doesn't look very safe to us, but what do we know? Rumours suggest that Jimmy Fallon may lend his voice as tour guide, much like Richard Kiley did in Jurassic Park.
"Steven loves theme park rides," says Trevorrow of the origin of the gyroscope. "He wanted to create a way for people to get up close and personal with the animals, to make it a self-driving, free-roaming experience. It loads on a track, but once you're out there, you actually get to navigate around the valley."
But, as we see later in the trailer, it would seem that the gyrospheres aren't entirely dinosaur-proof. "I'm not sure what you're suggesting," laughs Trevorrow. "I see no way any of that could go wrong."
And here, in the trailer's biggest 'wow' moment, we get to meet a brand-new dinosaur, the mosasaurus. How badass is this leviathan creature of the deep? Well, it devours the carcasses of Great White sharks in a single bite. Jaws, you have been shown the door. Trevorrow, however, insists this wasn't a tip of the hat to his producer, Mr. Steven Spielberg.
"It wasn't intended that way, however obvious it seems. The idea came out in one of our first meetings - I didn't know if Steven and Frank [Marshall, producer on all the Jurassic Park movies] had considered an underwater reptile, so I pitched the mosasaurus and went off on the idea. I thought it would be cool if we had this massive animal and the park used one of our most fearsome modern predators as food. There could be a whole other facility where they used shark DNA to mass-produce them to feed the bigger beast. Steven gave me this look like, 'You know I get it, right?' And I sunk a little lower in my chair. And then he said, 'Let's do it'.
"It's a bonkers idea, but I'm comfortable going to Crazytown, because I used to live there when I was a kid. Children have a creative fearlessness that I envy. If you've seen my first movie [sci-fi dramedy, Safety Not Guaranteed], you can see that I don't mind embarrassing myself sometimes. As a result, my working relationship with Steven can feel like that Saturday Night Live sketch, Laser Cats. I walk in with so much confidence, then I look in the mirror and I'm wearing a tinfoil helmet. Half the time I feel like an amateur, and half the time he says, 'No, wear the helmet. The helmet works.'"
All this magic has, once again, been made possible by genetics. And specifically by the high priest of helix, Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong, the only cast member from the original film returning). The Jurassic World lab is seriously big and seriously high-tech.
Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is Zack and Gray's aunt, although she's dressed all in white, just like John Hammond. She's also a Jurassic World head honcho, dedicated to keeping attendance figures sky-high. How's she planning to do that? Well, she's gone all Dr. Catheter from Gremlins 2. "We have our first genetically modified hybrid," she announces. Cue big, bassy, sinister note on the soundtrack!
There has been some controversy about the addition of a new dinosaur to the franchise, with some criticising the need to make up a new species when there are plenty of actual dinos to choose from. Trevorrow, though, is ready to head the critics off at the pass.
"There is no shortage of awesome dinosaurs," he agrees. "We could have populated this entire story with new species that haven't been in any of these movies. But this new creation is what gave me a reason to tell another Jurassic Park story. We have the most awe-inspiring creatures to ever walk the earth right in front of us, but for some reason that's not enough. We're not entertained. We're always hungry for the next thing, and those who profit from it are always looking to feed that hunger. The focus groups want something bigger than a T-Rex. And that's what they get."
Meet Owen (Chris Pratt), the voice of reason and harbinger of toothy doom. He's doing a very serious face because he suspects that creating a mutant dinosaur might not work out so well. And judging by those claw-marks in the next shot, he might just be right. Not much is known yet about the lab-baked beast, which internet whispers say is called "Dominus Rex" or the "D-Rex", but a recently leaked photo of a Lego toy suggests it has red eyes, chameleonic skin and a downright irresponsible attitude.
"Obviously I'd love to hold back as much as possible," says Trevorrow. "But Universal has to introduce this movie to people all around the world, and in an era where we're contending with superheroes and space epics, marketing has its own set of needs. We're introducing a relatively new idea. No one under 25 has a memory of seeing the original Jurassic Park in a theatre. The last instalment was 14 years ago. We may see little pieces of her as we get closer - in fact, we already have - but I'm confident that we can keep much of that animal under wraps. She's not the only danger. Far from it."
The new-look control room (or should it be the you-never-had-control-room?) is seriously glam and 100% Nedry-free (yes, we checked the vending machines). We doubt that will prevent it from rapidly turning into a panic room beset by flashing lights and error messages, but at least it'll all happen in HD. The million-dollar question: is it still running on Unix? "That would be every bit as effective as the gyrospheres having interactive CD-ROMs," says Trevorrow.
Rather than entrusting the security of the park to a single sturdy Brit in shorts (RIP Muldoon), Jurassic World's owners have installed a small army on the island. They are the ACU (Animal Control Unit? Anti-Carnivore Army? Army Combat Uniform) and this is Hamada (Brian Tee), looking up at something big and scary. Note the nifty Aliens-style tracker device on his wrist.
This Evil Dead-style POV shot sees someone being dragged backwards to their presumed doom. Most of the trailer scenes are in broad daylight, but this and the final shots suggest that there's a big chunk of the film that's still being concealed.
Owen runs for his life. Could the monstrous behemoth on his heels be our old friend the T-Rex? The foot looks a little too large and clawy, so there's a good chance this is the little piece of the D-Rex (if that's what it's called) that Trevorrow was referring to. Whatever the case, we're disappointed Pratt's not challenging it to a dance-off.
Chaos! Anarchy! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria! Yes, the park is now in full breakdown mode, and with more dino-fodder here than in all the previous films put together, the stakes are high. Let's pause to give credit to Michael Giacchino, whose inspired reworking of the John Williams musical theme is a very effective counterpoint to all the amped-up action in the trailer. Fun fact 2: Giacchino's very first job as composer was on the Lost World videogame.
Another overt riff on the original film, this shot of Gray echoes the bit where Tim and Lex spot an advancing raptor while sat in front of a mosaic of one. No jelly here, though.
And for the finale, the big reveal that Owen and the raptors are, if not pals, then at least working together in perfect harmony. It would appear that he's managed to train the deadliest villains of the first movie and turn them into allies. But to do what? Will they stay tame? And what on Earth could be so terrifying that you need to release raptors to deal with it? On all these matters, Trevorrow is keeping relatively schtum.
"I like that people aren't sure what the hell they're looking at," he says. "I was concerned about putting this image in an early trailer, but I love that people are as excited about it as they are. It just reinforces that we all want to see something fresh. Those familiar homage shots in our trailer kind of mask how different this movie is from the others, and I'm relieved that people are embracing the new ideas."
Still, the question remains: how can Owen be riding with raptors? "To not dodge the question entirely," says Trevorrow carefully, "Owen's relationship with the raptors is complicated. They aren't friends. These animals are nasty and dangerous and they'll bite your head off if you make the wrong move. But there are men and women out there today who have forged tenuous connections with dangerous predators. That's interesting territory to me."
And here we see Owen, resplendent in the most divisive garment this side of the Liverpool away kit: a leather waistcoat that has been hailed as the coolest movie garment since Han Solo by some, and the dorkiest thing since Napoleon Dynamite by others.
"Our costume designer, Daniel Orlandi, found the vest," says Trevorrow. "I like characters with distinct looks. Bryce's dress was also a very specific choice. She starts out with this snow white pristine outfit, then it all just gets completely torn apart. You see it in the trailer – that's later the same day. I just want these people to have an unmistakeable identity. If there aren't a bunch of kids walking around with leather vests next Halloween, I've failed."
Here, we see Owen and Claire, the Alan Grant and Ellie Satler for a new generation, looking worried. As you might expect. "They have a kind of old school combative chemistry," says Trevorrow of his leads. "We haven't really seen what those two people are like yet, the trailer sticks to moments when they're at their most ominous and concerned. Owen and Claire are real people, and their relationship is a big part of this story. I'm not ashamed of putting a little sexual tension into my dinosaur movie." Isle Nude-blar, anyone? Anyone?