When you think of the Jurassic Park franchise the first word that comes to mind probably isn’t small.
This is a big franchise, with giant set-pieces, spectacular action and humungous dinosaurs wreaking havoc. That’s especially true of the trailer for “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” which had all of the above, plus an exploding volcano and the aforementioned creatures stampeding away from its spewing lava.
But taking the fifth “Jurassic Park” film into uncharted territory was always J.A. Bayona’s goal, and, surprisingly, that included him repeatedly telling co-screenwriter Colin Trevorrow that he “wanted to go smaller” with “Fallen Kingdom” “instead of going big.”
“Nowadays Hollywood blockbusters are all about going more and more and more,” Bayona recently told me over the phone. “I felt that looking back at the first ‘Jurassic Park,’ the second half of the movie becomes more claustrophobic and suspenseful.”
“I think people love to be scared by dinosaurs. So I told Colin, ‘Let’s get all the fireworks in the first half of the movie. Then once you have given the audience what they are looking for let’s go to something they don’t expect’.”
“’Let’s try to put them into a very unexpected place. And build up the suspension in such a way that you give them a sense of fear and horror that we love from the first ‘Jurassic Park’.’”
As both a sequel to “Jurassic World” and the fifth “Jurassic Park” film, though, when Bayona first began work on “Fallen Kingdom” he found it “pretty challenging” to find an angle that offered “the audience something that they didn’t’ expect.”
Eventually that arrived in the shape of the film “leaving the island behind and opening the gates to something that we have never seen before in the ‘Jurassic’ universe.”
At the same, though, Bayona is clearly beholden to the previous entries in the series, as cites Steven Spielberg as one of his movie idols and admitted that “Jurassic Park” was a huge influence on “Fallen Kingdom,” before then explaining how it uses the 1993 classic as a launch pad.
“I was always a huge fan of Steven Spielberg movies. I always appreciated the way he was able to mix entertainment with important subject matters. And in that sense ‘Jurassic Park’ was a reference movie for me.”
“Being part of the franchise and being able to have fun designing and playing with one of his films, and at the same time talk about things that I am interested in was exciting to me.”
“Because this is a movie that talks about attempting what we don’t understand. And in that sense I think it is very smart that the movie turns the whole dinosaur dilemma into something that affects us, in a very straight forward way.”
“In that sense, I think the film takes a major step forward in what the Jurassic universe has been showing us.”
None of this subtext is gratuitous, though, as Bayona made it very clear that he always knew exactly what his job, goal and mission was with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
“When you work on a movie like this, which is a summer blockbuster, you really want the audience to have the best experience possible.”
“So you really want it to be a rollercoaster. Making sure that the audience is having fun, getting big scares, and even getting emotional. I have seen some of the early screenings and some of the audience gets really emotional watching the movie.”
“It is all about having fun and an enjoyable experience. Hopefully we have taken it to a place where we have never been, and that feels like the right balance between what people were looking for and what they didn’t expect.”
You can see if J.A. Bayona achieves just that with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” when it is released on Friday.