After months of waiting, years for some of us, Jurassic World is finally ready to stomp into theaters and devour the box office competition. Being the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise that dates back more than 20 years, there is a lot of history to contend with, both within the world of the film and from a viewer perspective. There are obvious nods to the original film, like the fact that Velociraptors once again play a major role, the logos are basically the same, and the fact that the park is set on Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica, the site of the first park.
You can make the argument that the entire movie is a two-hour nod to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster, but it’s the smaller, subtler tributes that are always the most fun for eagle-eyed fans, or those who have simply seen the movie too many times. With that in mind, we’re going to run through of our favorites references. Some of these are big and obvious, others are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quick, and there’s one we’re not 100% sure that we actually saw or if our mind is playing tricks on us.
Like we said, there are tons of references to the first film to be found in Jurassic World, and we’re not even going to try include a full list. Once you see the movie you should sound off in the comments and let us know what your favorites were, or point out ones we missed.
Things could get spoiler-heavy beyond this point. We’ll try to keep that to a minimum, but it’s bound to happen. That said, onward brave adventurers.
John HammondThere are obvious references to John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the original visionary behind a theme part full of real live dinosaurs, woven in throughout the film. You see a bronze statue erected in his honor, the main visitor center bears his name, and this is, of course, the ultimate realization of his dream. John Hammond is a name bandied about quite often in conversation: Irrfan Khan’s Simon Masrani, now the owner of the park, references how he promised Hammond he would fulfill the older man’s dream, creating a place of wonder and excitement; and there are also many mentions of the mistakes he made in the first run; and of the high cost of playing god and bringing extinct animals back from obliteration. Playing on your prior knowledge, these remarks add a nice ominous layer to the proceedings.
Dr. Ian MalcolmMuch has been made about the absence of Jeff Goldblum, who plays chaos mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm in the earlier films. His neurotic ramblings and charm are highlights of Jurassic Park (less so in subsequent installments), and many are upset that he wasn’t invited back for more. As it turns out, Jurassic World is not entirely devoid of Goldblum. It’s quick, and in the background, but early on, when the two brothers, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), first arrive at the theme park, they ride in on a train. Sitting behind them, their escort (Katie McGrath) reads a hardcover book and on the back is a photo of Jeff Goldblum. Dr. Malcolm is a well-known personality in this world, and the implication is, of course, she’s reading one of his books.
Dinosaur SnotOne of the funniest moments in Jurassic Park is when the Brachiosaurus sneezes and covers the young Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) in a couple gallons of viscous dinosaur snot. It’s also way gross. Early on we get to see and explore the park along with Zach and Gray as they make their way from attraction to attraction. One of the stops is a petting zoo where guests can touch and interact with various baby dinosaurs. It’s adorable. As they make their way through the crowd—teenage Zach is not impressed, while Gray is awestruck by everything—they pass a group of young girls, probably roughly elementary school age. As they reach over to pet a long-necked baby herbivore, it sneezes and blows a wad of mucus all over the hands of one of the girls.
Dr. Henry WuAnother obvious presence, B.D. Wong’s Dr. Henry Wu is the only actual character from the first film who makes and appearance in Jurassic World, and he plays a much more important role this time around. In his earlier incarnation (especially in the book), he demonstrates a compassion for the animals he creates, though is, to paraphrase Malcolm, much more concerned with whether they could bring dinosaurs back to life than asking whether they should. In the decades that have passed, he’s continued his research and, as he is the driving scientific force behind the creation of the new dino, the vicious Indominus Rex. This time, however, he’s not simply a head-in-the-sand researcher, he has a much more sinister endgame in play, but you’ll have to watch the film to see that unfold.
T-RexWe’ve been hearing for some time that we would be seeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic World, and not just any old T-Rex, the T-Rex from the original movie. She has survived, was somehow captured and contained again, and she makes an appearance in 2015. You can even see the battle scars left from her tussle with the pack of Velociraptors, which is a nice visual touch. She shows up early in the film, for a subdued cameo, and you’re initially afraid that is all we’re going to get from her. But don’t worry, she comes back, and in a big way. We won’t spoil it by going into details, but rest assured, the old girl gets a throwdown that is truly worthy of her monstrous stature in the franchise.
Visual CuesMichael Giacchino’s score obviously owes a huge debt to John Williams, even employing his iconic Jurassic Park them from time to time. Director Colin Trevorrow only has one feature under his belt, the low-budget indie Safety Not Guaranteed, which probably cost as much as Jurassic World’s catering. Visually, he borrows a ton from the Steven Spielberg playbook. Some are subtle and low-key, like a moment where you see guests at the park brush dirt off of a fossil that is reminiscent of the moment we first meet Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) on his dig in the Badlands in Jurassic Park. On the flip side of this coin are the soaring, wide-angle shots of a helicopter juxtaposed against the lush, dense jungle of the tropical island, visually driving home the thematic point that we humans are in fact very, very small.
The First ParkJurassic Park may take place on Isla Nublar, but the facilities are all brand spanking new. The old park comes up in conversation, though it is mostly talked around—Jake Johnson’s character, Lowery, wears a vintage T-shirt from the original incarnation that he found on eBay, a kind of morbid nod to their predecessors. As much as the current staff of the park attempt to ignore the history they are doomed to repeat—they even changed the name from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World to avoid the disastrous stigma—the ruins are still rotting away out there in the jungle. In fact, it provides a safe haven for Zach and Gray in a moment of danger, as well as offering a nostalgic look back for viewers. When they stumble across the old visitor center, you see the banner that T-Rex ripped down, still in a pile on the ground; there are those super ‘90s looking night-vision goggles that Tim plays with; and the old-school beige Jeeps even play an important part getting the boys to safety.
Dennis NedryThis is the one that I’m not 100% sure of. You remember Dennis Nedry, the slovenly weasel of a computer tech played by Wayne Knight whose ill-fated attempt to steal and sell dinosaur embryos leads to all the drama and danger in the first film. When Zach and Gray first arrive at the park, shortly after you spy Jeff Goldblum on the book cover, the camera swoops down over the main tourist area of the park. There are shops and attractions, and banners indicate what specific things are. I swear to god that one of these banners flapping in the breeze reads "Nedry something." The moment flashed by, and though I kept my eyes peeled for the rest of the movie, I never saw it again, so I can’t tell if my mind was playing tricks on me, or it’s really there. Though it does seem strange that they would name a piece of the park after Nedry. If you noticed this, or if you go see the movie and you do see it, sound off in the comments, it’s going to drive me crazy until I can see the damn movie again.
But don’t worry, even if I’m full of crap, there are other Nedry references. Not only are there embryos that get hijacked, but Jimmy Fallon has a cameo in an educational video where he talks about the venom of the Dilophosaurus and how it was used to paralyze its victims. He also gets some on him, much to his chagrin. This is the very dinosaur that ultimately ends Nedry as he attempts to make his escape. So there’s that, but later on, as Zach and Gray run from Velociraptors, Gray, who is apparently a genius, triggers a hologram of a Dilophosaurus as a distraction. The image that appears on screen is essentially the same one that confronts Nedry when he gets back into his vehicle in Jurassic Park, where the smallish, innocuous-looking dinosaur puffs out it’s head flaps, screams, and then ultimately attacks.