When we think about Jurassic Park sequels, we think about the convoluted premises, striking such a contrast to the original’s high-concept. In The Lost World, the team is sent to the island because the bad guys are also going to the island in order to steal dinosaurs and rebuild the park. In essence, a reset. The entire film is based on undoing the havoc of the first go-around. Jurassic Park III sees two worried parents tricking Dr. Grant into escorting them through that same island. That’s what it takes these days — maybe for any of us. So maybe the problem with the first Jurassic Park was that it ends in cataclysm. The whole thing is ruined, so if you want further adventures, there has to be some overhaul.
The trailer for Jurassic World opens with something I didn’t expect. I don’t know why I held off on seeing it until yesterday — was it indifference, maybe even anger? Hell no — what the fuck do I care about the Jurassic Park property? The name mostly means one thing: dinosaurs on the silver screen. The last time that happened for me was almost ten years ago, in King Kong (and that was only the middle hour!). I’d like it to return, even if it’s not nearly as magical as the 1993 edition. Or maybe because it won’t be…
Regardless. I assumed the trailer would feel like another Godzilla (2014) scenario, and I’ve been pretty spot-on in terms of feelings on trailers correlating to the movie (so Jurassic World will be above average), and with Godzilla, it looked very bland, nothing doing. But the formula for Jurassic Park hasn’t been done however many times Godzilla has. Opening with a sea of people at a seemingly successful Jurassic Park? That’s actually novel, despite how obvious it is.
It’s like all my Operation Genesis dreams have come true. But this spoke to me in an even more encouraging way, particularly when we get word of a new kind of dinosaur.
We establish that Jurassic Park is operational. This is our setting now. It’s a park full of dinosaurs. And then we say: a new kind of dinosaur has been made, and now it’s on the loose.
What this said to me was ‘episodic.’ Suddenly Jurassic Park, a franchise with T-rex arms for legs, grew some Gallimimus legs for legs. The caveat being, we return to Jurassic Park each time, but have a smaller adventure in that setting. Like, monster on the loose. Not, bring down the island.
That’s exciting, because that’s what I’ve always wanted. We’ve seen how many movies with how many conflicts set in LA? Now let’s put some of those conflicts in fucking Jurassic Park.
Granted — the director was talking about trilogy. Everything’s a damn trilogy. Unless you split the third movie into two movies. So ultimately my hope is that the film nor series is the latest victim of the wishful thinking trilogy structure (see: Prometheus, World War Z, and their wonderful endings).
But what about the dinosaurs?
This article from The Guardian does a good recap of an angle on the reaction to the Jurassic World trailer, which featured a step backward from where we were in Jurassic Park III, and the CGI documentaries that followed, particularly Dinosaur Planet (as narrated by Christian Slater). Writer John Conway has this:
“Understandably, many paleontologists and other dinosaur enthusiasts expressed this disappointment on Twitter, Facebook and their own blogs. This led to some ridicule in the media of the “Boffins Blubbering about Jurassic World” variety. What a silly bunch of nerds, caring about something that we don’t care about! Don’t they realise it’s just a film?
Of course we realise it’s a film – but we also recognise the power it will have to shape people’s ideas about prehistoric animals.”
The worry is that we’re regressing, and this is a situation that’s right up the alley of the BBPX. The images of featherless dinosaurs represent ignorance of the latest science, and this is reaching a new generation of children — already has. You see how many views that trailer accumulated?
However. I’ve heard some speculation that maybe they’ll explain the sans feathers in the movie. And it’d be easy. It couldn’t come solely from dialogue — they’d need to show pictures — but so long as they establish that this is a theme park meant to appeal to the common masses… it would make sense. And given the plot details I’ve skimmed, Jurassic World will poke fun at the lowest common denominator, insofar as the audiences depicted in the film are burnt out on the resurrected dinos, and need a new monster to grab their attention. Apparently there’s a moment where a kid is taking a selfie, with his back turned to a Tyrannosaurus.
It’d be logical if they explained their dinosaur depiction away with ‘we wanted Animal Kingdom, not Epcot.’ And I doubt Mr. Safety Not Guaranteed anticipated the paleontologists on the Internet to be so loud.
And in terms of feathery velociraptors? Kyle Bradshaw put it best — nobody would be afraid of a terrifying bird.
Dinosaur/human hybrid? Well… I’ve read at least one comparison to Alien Resurrection. And frankly, Americans suck at designing monsters. Remember the MUTO? Christ, remember Cloverfield? An otherwise pretty good movie (the little Cloverfields were legitimately cool), but we got a repeat of that design in Super 8. The Koreans got lucky with The Host, but the Japanese have always (usually, sometimes) been on point.
I’m not expecting to be blown away by the new creature in Jurassic World, but the idea of a new creature is positively plussing. And if the formula as I posit actually comes true, and this drear-speak of trilogies is just make-believe, my excitement will be matched by product.
The last time that happened?
Jurassic Park III. I was seven.