‘Jurassic World 3’: The Real Reason the Movie Needs Original Characters to Return

Fans greeted the news that Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum will join the cast of Jurassic World 3 with a roar of approval. Is this a shot in the arm the franchise needs after the relative disappointment of Fallen Kingdom, or is this Universal shamelessly pandering to nostalgia? 

Maybe it’s both. The return of the beloved principals of the first Jurassic Park is certainly welcome,  but how effective that return is depends on how well they are used. 

The most recent ‘Jurassic World’ fell short

Sam Neill in Jurassic Park
Sam Neill in Jurassic Park | Murray Close/Getty Images

The first Jurassic World in 2015 was a huge success, making $652 million here and $1.7 billion worldwide, making it the franchise leader before you adjust for inflation. Although some critics knocked it for being sexist and too derivative of Jurassic Park, it was generally well reviewed, with 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Fallen Kingdom came out three years later, and something was missing – enthusiasm. The sequel made $417 million here, a disappointment somewhat salvaged by making $1.3 billion worldwide, but the reviews hit a franchise low of 48%. Fans and critics alike noted the dour tone, with a structure that seemed too close to The Lost World. Both the 1997 and 2018 contrived reasons to return to dinosaur islands failed to capture the wonder of their predecessors. Both movies also unleashed the dinosaurs on the mainland. 

One aspect of the sequel that burned some fans was that the trailers highlighted an appearance by Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm, but he turned out only to have a cameo, with almost his entire performance contained in the trailer. One hopes Universal isn’t making the same mistake again with Dern and Neill, although it sounds like all three will be more central to the story this time. 

What will the third ‘Jurassic World’ be about? 

Jurassic World 3, due out in June 2021, will deal with the aftermath of the dinosaurs reaching the mainland. The Lost World’s third act dealt with this too, but it cleaned up the mess relatively quickly. That movie had one dinosaur stomping around, while this one will have a whole bunch. 

Colin Trevorrow, returning to the director’s chair after only co-writing Fallen Kingdom, told EW the story”will be focused storytelling with dinosaurs all over the world. We really wanted this technology, this genetic power, to go open-source at the end of the film. What we’re suggesting is not just that these specific animals that we care about that were in captivity were freed, but also that the ability to create these animals has gone a little bit wider than our friend Dr. Wu. The open-sourcing of any technology, like nuclear power, that’s the scary side for me.”

In other words, it sounds like we get not only your traditional T-Rex’s and velociraptors, but your mutant hybrid dinosaurs that caused so much trouble in the previous movies. Those greedy humans just never learn, do they? Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return as well. 

Will bringing back the old favorites work? 

Many fans were delighted to see Neill, Dern and Goldblum back in the mix, with one person on Instagram saying, “BEST DAY EVER! YOU GUYS KNOW HOW TO MAKE HAPPY THE FANDOM!” A more cynical commenter on EW said, “The original title of this story was: “Universal resorts to Disney tactics by playing on Gen X nostalgia.” (…and Millennial’s disdain for watching ancient ’90s movies.)”

It almost goes without saying that Jurassic World 3 will make a ton of money. One hopes, however, that Universal isn’t just handing out the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Sam Neill and Laura Dern came back for Jurassic Park III, and that movie in some corners is like the forgotten stepchild, so there’s no guarantee their return will get the franchise back on course. 

To be fair, dinosaurs roaming the mainland isn’t something the franchise has played with for an entire movie, and if it fulfills the promise of the short film that came out, then Jurassic World 3 will make a good capper for the franchise – provided they stop there.