Jurassic World: Dominion | 2021
- DIRECTOR |
- Colin Trevorrow
The crazily complex digital compositing is a nightmare for location spotters, but there’s an imaginative use of practical locations in part three of the Jurassic World trilogy.
A TV news broadcast brings us quickly up to speed with events following Fallen Kingdom, as dinosaurs have spread around the world and humanity is coming to come to terms with a new reality.
Like Fallen Kingdom, the film was based at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire, in the UK, using nine soundstages plus the 4.3 acre outdoor North Lot. The exterior of the 'Biosyn' complex, the underground dino-market and the plane crash on a frozen lake were all filmed here.
So among all the globetrotting locations, there’s a little more of the UK than you probably realised.
Most obviously in England is the illegal dino dealing business, from which caged pterosaurs are being removed during a raid, which is Hire-It, 4 Station Parade, Ealing Road in Northolt, West London.
Several scenes were cut from the Theatrical Release (you can see them on the DVD / Blu-ray) and one is the 'copter chase following the T-Rex as it tramples through the very American-looking 'Skyline Drive-in Theatre'. This was filmed on Hawley Common / Minley Woods, west of Camberley in Hampshire – where the ‘Lockwood mansion’ façade had been built for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is introduced, along with Zia (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin (Justice Smith) from the previous film, carrying out a clandestine raid on the 'Saw Ridge Cattle Co, Nevada', an illegal breeding facility, from which she liberates a sick baby Nasutoceratops.
No, this isn't 'Nevada'. The facility is – both inside and out – the warehouse / hangar at RAF Marsworth (also known as RAF Cheddington), near the village of Gubblecote, between Marsworth and Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, north of Tring.
Closed in 1952 and now used as a filming location, the old base was seen in Alex Garland’s Annihilation (2018), with Natalie Portman, and in Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). This is private land and not open to visitors.
As her co-conspirators bail, she returns to her partner, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), who’s now devoted to capturing and relocating stray dinosaurs. He's out on horseback hunting a flock of Parasaurolophus in the snowy 'Sierra Nevada Mountains, California', but is thwarted by a gang of nasty dino-rustlers led by Rainn Delacourt (Scott Haze).
Merritt has screen history, having provided the backdrop for Atom Egoyan’s Academy Award-nominated movie The Sweet Hereafter, Sean Penn’s 2001 The Pledge, with Jack Nicholson, and the opening of the legendary 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, with Nicolas “The bees!” Cage.
Although it seems to be nearby, the cabin where Owen is living off-grid with Claire and Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) is a long way away. Don't be fooled by the (digitally added) mountains.
In Fallen Kingdom, the cabin was under construction in Bourne Wood, Surrey. It’s still in Surrey, but now it’s a set built at Larch Valley in Winterfold Forest, between Cranleigh and Guildford. And, yes, the nearby abandoned school bus, marooned in fake snow, where Blue the Raptor hangs out, was built alongside it.
Larch Valley was also seen (though not by many) in 2017’s disastrous The Mummy, with Tom Cruise.
Frustrated by her enforced isolation from the world, and against the warnings of her guardians, Maisie cycles into town.
The little girder bridge she crosses is where the old Nicola, Kamloops & Similkameen Railway crossed the Nicola River just south of Petit Creek Road, west of Canford.
This railway, which ran between Spences Bridge and Merritt, opened in 1915, and was abandoned in 1991, when the track was removed. Sadly, in 2021, the bridge was washed away by severe floods.
In the Theatrical Cut, Maisie’s bike ride seems fairly pointless but the Extended Version sees that she's stopping in town to buy a Hershey bar at Ponderosa Sports, 1914 Voght Street in Merritt.
On the return journey, Maisie takes time out to show the workers at a lumber mill how to coax a stray Apatosaurus, and its mate, away from their property.
The log yard is Nicola Valley Custom Lumber, 1195 Houston Street, on the banks of the Coldwater River on the west side of Merritt.
Enough of snowy ‘California’, now we’re off to the sun-drenched wheatfields of ‘West Texas’, where crops are being attacked by a swarm of suspiciously huge locusts.
Believe it or not, this is really sun-drenched Buckinghamshire, southeast England. That archetypal 'Midwest' landscape is farmland near Aylesbury, where the barn was built for the film and, with a full year's planning, a field of Rye was grown.
Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is called in to investigate the suspicious phenomenon, and the second strand of the story is launched.
After collecting DNA from one of the giant insects, which appear to have been genetically modified, Ellie needs a witness to help her get samples for comparison with specimens at a company called Biosyn company, which seems to be implicated.
And who better than Alan Grant (Sam Neill)? You see where this is going?
The 'Utah' dig, where Alan is still doggedly trying to convey to young people the sheer joy of digging up old bones, is in Malta. There’s a good reason for this. The central section of the film is set on the Mediterranean island so, economically, it’s also used to double for the rocky southwest USA.
This is the Għar Tuta cave, north of the tourist destination Mellieha in the far northwest of Malta. It's apparently quite difficult to find, in a rocky area popular with climbers.
When Alan reluctantly agrees, the two need to take a charter flight from the 'US Wildlife Relocation Facility' in 'Pennsylvania'.
This high-security complex with pens of dinosaurs waiting to be flown out to the Biosyn safe haven in the 'Dolomite Mountains' is, once again, in the UK.
In the story's other thread, Maisie has been spirited away by Delacourt’s ruthless band. Claire, with Owen, contacts her old friend Franklin, now working at the CIA's 'Dangerous Species Department', where she learns that not only is Delacourt in Malta, but that the CIA has a mole inside his organisation. As if that is going to deter the pair from their quest to find Maisie.
The 'CIA' HQ is, yes, still in England. It’s Building 9 of Chiswick Business Park, Gunnersbury, W4, a business complex built and expanded between 2000 and 2015 on the site of an old bus maintenance facility in West London.
On board the flight heading toward the Biosyn complex, Ellie and Alan gaze down from the plane on the snow-capped Dolomites. It really is that range – although it’s the Swiss Dolomites, captured by a Second Unit.
The exterior of the 'Biosyn' HQ is an outdoor set at Pinewood, but the white spiral interior – looking like a mini-version of Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum – is the Blavatnik School of Government, a part of the University of Oxford, Oxford, and considered one of the most prestigious schools for public policy in the world – even though it doesn’t house giant locusts in its basement.
The controversial building, described by some as "a concrete marshmallow" in the heart of historic Oxford, was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and completed in 2015.
The lecture theatre, in which Ellie and Alan catch the end of Ian Malcolm's (Jeff Goldblum) lecture, is also part of Oxford University. This is the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium of Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford, much older than the Blavatnik school, this dates all the way back to 2013.
On the trail both of Maisie and of Beta, Blue's young offspring, Claire and Owen arrive in Malta.
The Malta sequence is a locations nightmare – for starters, the underground market is a huge set, and travel restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic meant that – astonishingly – none of the principal cast travelled to the Mediterranean island.
To get around this, sections of Valletta’s streets were built at Pinewood, the bike chase was filmed with Chris Pratt riding a static bike on a treadmill, with digital surroundings added, and stunt performers in Malta were disguised with sophisticated digital face-replacement.
Yes, it's a nightmare.
The first aerial view of the island is of Xatt Juan B Azopardo, on the waterfront of Birgu, a city across from Valletta Harbour, where you can see the piers of the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina.
The entrance to the secret ‘dinosaur market’ appears to be (with a little digital tweaking of course) on Triq Il-Mandragg, the coast road beneath Santa Skolastika Monastery, south of Fort St Angelo on Birgu Harbour.
And it’s beneath Fort St Angelo that the illegal market seems to be sited. The fort, at the centre of the Grand Harbour, was built in the 12th century as a castle, and rebuilt, between the 1530s and the 1560s, by the Order of Saint John as Fort Saint Angelo. Its current appearance dates from a major reconstruction in the 1690s.
Although Fort St Angelo suffered considerable damage during World War II, it's been restored and is now open to visitors.
Owen and Barry Sembène (Omar Sy) are – seemingly – keeping watch on the place from the roof of the Baroque Church of Our Lady of Liesse, 63 Liesse, which is actually across the other side of the harbour in Valletta itself.
When chaos breaks out, the relentless Atrociraptors are released, programmed to follow anything targetted by a red laser dot. And that includes Claire, who escapes by running across the roof of St Lawrence's Church, Birgu, leaping onto the roof of the Maritime Museum alongside and finally falling into the conveniently parked truck of pilot Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise).
The truck races through the narrow streets of Valletta, including St Nicholas Street and St Ursula Street.
Also targetted, Owen is roaring through the same streets, though with all the digital additions, it’s very confused.
Owen finally bursts into the dinosaur-infested St George’s Square, located in the heart of Valletta, emerging through Victoria Gate to catch up with Claire and Kayla at the airstrip.
It's not all plain sailing from here. As they enter Biosyn's airspace, Kayla loses control of the plane carrying Claire and Owen. That frozen dam it seems they're destined to crash into is Switzerland's Grande Dixence Dam, on the Dixence River at the head of the Val d'Hérémence in the canton of Valais. At 935 feet high, it's the tallest dam in Europe. This is another Second Unit shot, added digitally (the actual crash site is a set at Pinewood).
One last practical location is the forest, in which Claire and Owen search for Maisie, which is the Cathedral Grove forest in MacMillan Provincial Park, a rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Some of the 250-feet-tall fir trees are more than 800 years old.
Once again, no actors were involved in the shoot. This too was filmed by a second unit, this time using drones, and added digitally.
All the story strands come together at the 'Biosyn' facility set at Pinewood Studios.