Jurassic World: Dominion is about to roar into theaters and we’re excited for the latest chapter, which reunites the iconic trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum for the first time since the original film. It’s been 30 years since they were first invited to tour John Hammond’s prospective dinosaur theme park and discovered that “they do move in herds.”
Since then, cloned dinos have wreaked havoc across multiple islands and even San Diego. So much has happened it can be hard to keep track of everything between the running and the screaming. Which is why we created this nifty guide to refresh your memory. We revisited all five movies to fill you in on just how many T-Rex battles there’s been. So cue the theme song—doo-doo doo doo doo, doo-doo doo doo doo—and join us as we head into the wild expanses of the Jurassic-verse. Just remember not to make any sudden movements. And hold onto your butts.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Stream it on: HBO Max
Firstly, if you haven’t seen the one that started it all (or if it’s been a while) you need to go rectify that immediately. We’ll wait. No doubt you’ll agree that the original still holds up, even after all this time.
In case you weren’t already aware, the movie was based on a novel by Michael Crichton and brilliantly brought to life by Steven Spielberg with CG effects that were cutting edge for their time. It’s set on an island called Isla Nublar, about 120 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. In what should have been flagged as a terrible idea from the start, a rich and overly ambitious man named John Hammond (the late, great Richard Attenborough) discovers a way to bring back dinosaurs by harvesting their blood, containing “dino DNA,” from mosquitos trapped in fossilized amber. Does he use this revolutionary scientific discovery for the good of mankind? Of course not! He uses it to create a dinosaur theme park.
But before the park is ready to open to the public, Hammond’s investors require a team of experts to sign off on it, including paleontologist Alan Grant (Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Satler (Dern), and Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), a mathematician who specializes in chaos theory. Hammond also invites a few members of the target audience, his two grandkids. And the bad ideas just keep piling up like a hill of dino dung.
The timing of their visit couldn’t be worse, as disgruntled computer programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) chooses that exact moment to do a little industrial espionage and shuts down the entire park security system so he can smuggle out some stolen dinosaur embryos. Thanks to a literal storm and Nedry’s malfeasance, the park’s dinosaurs escape their pens and start to behave like dinosaurs. You already know what happens next.
Even after their harrowing escape, somehow not all of the survivors realize that opening a theme park with ancient carnivores running through it is a terrible idea, which leads us to…
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Stream it on: HBO Max
Far more loosely based on Crichton’s sequel novel, The Lost World flash forwards four years and finds Hammond and his company, InGen, facing a bit of strife after the dino disaster. It turns out there’s another nearby island called Isla Sorna, where the experimental dinosaurs have been left to thrive unchecked, happily eating unsuspecting tourists. Hammond is concerned about the dinosaurs’ safety—Really Hammond? Even after the first film?—and asks Dr. Malcolm to go check on them. Like any normal human being would, Malcolm declines, but eventually has to go to rescue his girlfriend, paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore). Once again, everyone has to run for their lives, and there’s even more bloodshed and grizzly deaths than in the first film.
Since the concept of a dinosaur theme park on a remote island isn’t lucrative enough, Hammond’s greedy nephew manages to capture a T-Rex and its baby and bring it to San Diego to create a Jurassic Park there. The nephew eventually meets his end at the jaws of the T.Rex, but not before it runs amok in the city. The governments of Costa Rica and the U.S. jointly decide to get involved to end this madness once and for all and declare both islands as “natural preserves.” They even pass a law against dino cloning to prevent another catastrophe. Does it work? Well, this is only the second film in a six-film franchise, so take a wild guess.
The Lost World was met with mixed reviews, and still remains a divisive film today. But even after all of that, these folks still haven’t learned to just leave dinosaurs alone, which leads us to…
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Stream it on: HBO Max
The first in the film series not based on one of Crichton’s novels, Jurassic Park III struggled from the start. Spielberg did not return to direct, and without the two names most associated with the series, Jurassic Park III is a little lost.
Four years have passed since The Lost World, and Alan Grant makes his triumphant return. Like most academics, he’s willing to embark on a dangerous mission to secure funding for his research. But this time has some idea of what he’s in for. Grant is promised mucho dinero in exchange for taking a couple (played by William H. Macy and Téa Leoni) on a tour over Isla Sorna, He later learns the tour was set up to find their son, who crashed on the island after a parasailing adventure gone wrong. Once again, they have to run away from rampaging dinosaurs, who are somehow way more intelligent now. The velociraptors in particular have learned how to work together to set up traps. Grant and company do make it off of the island, and most of the specific details from the film are ignored in the next few installments—except for the fact that raptors are super smart. By the end of Jurassic Park III, it seems like the humans have finally learned to leave the dinos alone. But 14 years later, a new park will opened called…
Jurassic World (2015)
Stream it on: Apple TV
The franchise had a reboot of sorts in 2015, with this film being the first of a new trilogy. 22 years after the original Jurassic Park failed to open, a full-on theme park has successfully been established on Isla Nublar called Jurassic World. Because no one has learned a thing from the previous three films. Hammond’s dream has posthumously come to fruition, thanks to cross hybrid cloning from multiple species. Another forgotten lesson: never invite family members to visit, because that’s when everything will go wrong. Park Operations Manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) gets a harsh reminder when her two nephews decide to ditch their organized tour and go explore on their own.
Meanwhile, ethologist Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) is now training a pack of raptors, including his star pupil Blue, for “research.” At the same time, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong, reprising his role from the original film) has created an epic transgenic super dino known as an Indominus Rex. Grady points out that having a massive, unsocialized creature is probably not a good idea, and he turns out to be right when the beast escapes. It’s up to Grady, Dearing, and the rest of the team to take down the Indominus Rex before the two wandering brothers become dino dinner.
Grady decides to unleash his raptors on the Indominus Rex. Unfortunately, the Frankenstein creation has raptor DNA in him, and she becomes the alpha of the group. Blue’s training eventually kicks in and she proves to be loyal to Grady, though none of the other raptors survive. Dearing decides that T-Rex trumps Indominus Rex, and releases one to take the beast down once and for all. Everyone manages to make it off the island, and Jurassic World is closed once and for all. Or is it?
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
Stream it on: Fubu and Apple TV
Even after Jurassic World closes down, humans just can’t leave the dinosaurs alone. The looming threat of an imminent volcano eruption inspires a team to return to Isla Nublar to save the dino population from a second extinction, despite warnings from a certain voice of reason who knows a thing or two about letting nature run its course: Dr. Ian Malcolm (yep, he’s back!).
The government sides with Dr. Malcolm, but Claire Dearing learns that Hammond’s former partner, Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), and his assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), are planning to rescue the dinos and relocate them to a dinosaur sanctuary, which is apparently a thing that exists. Dearing jumps on board to help them, and so does Grady, who wants to save his old raptor pal, Blue. What they don’t know is that Mills has his own plan to sell the dinosaurs on the black market and has sent a team of mercenaries to complete the job. To make matters worse, Dr. Wu (who definitely should know better by now) reveals that he has made another genetic hybrid known as an Indoraptor, which also doubles as a weapon.
By the end of the film, it’s revealed that the authorities have all but given up on containment of these dangerous and persistent creatures. The dinosaurs have escaped into the wild, and humans are just going to have to learn to live with them. It’s this happy cohabitation that brings us to…
Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)
We only have a few details so far about the sixth and final film (at least for now) in the franchise, but they do paint a picture. The entire Jurassic Park gang is involved, mixing the cast from the original and new trilogies. We also know that the film takes place four years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and after the destruction of Isla Nublar. Dinos and humans are still living together, albeit not too well since dinosaurs have a pesky habit of hunting humans. There’s also yet another new dino monster to fight, the Giganotosaurus. But who will end up being the ultimate predator?
Jurassic World: Dominion opens in theaters on June 10.