In addition to a well-deserved status as one of the greatest blockbusters ever made, one of the reasons why Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park still holds up today is that the effects are as convincing now as they were when the movie was first released almost 30 years ago. Terminator 2: Judgment Day may have ushered in the CGI revolution, but Jurassic Park blew the doors clean off their hinges.
The creature feature knew when to rely on digital creations and when to use full-sized animatronic dinosaurs, and the art of practical effects has been slowly dying out in the years since as as big budget productions find it cheaper and more time-effective to simply create things on a computer rather than building full-scale models.
One of the main criticisms of the Jurassic World franchise is that animatronics have largely been omitted altogether, and having dinosaurs that are very obviously entirely computer-generated makes the suspension of disbelief that much harder. Audiences don’t exactly want realism in $200 million movies about giant reptiles terrorizing humans, but it felt like the most recent installments were missing the tangible quality that made the original so special.
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However, it looks like director Colin Trevorrow is doubling-down on animatronics for the recently-resumed Jurassic World: Dominion, and in what will be great news for longtime fans of the series, he promises the latest adventure will feature more practical effects than the last two combined.
“We’ve actually gone more practical with every Jurassic movie we’ve made since the first one, and we’ve made more animatronics in this one than we have in the previous two. And the thing that I’ve found, especially in working in the past couple months, is that we finally reached a point where digital extensions on animatronics will be able to match the texture and the level of fidelity that, on film, an animatronic is going to be able to bring. And you didn’t used to be able to really mix them. You could really see the seams. And so that part of it is very exciting for me.”
It looks like the returning filmmaker is looking to bring the best of both worlds to Jurassic World: Dominion, leaning into the franchise’s past by bringing back the original trio of stars and large-scale animatronics. Fallen Kingdom may have marked a second consecutive billion-dollar movie, but it suffered from the worst reviews the long-running series had seen yet, so hopefully Trevorrow manages to right the ship and deliver a sequel that lives up to expectations.