Universal hopes to recapture the wonder of 1993’s Jurassic Park, but can the excitement be brought back from extinction?
22 years ago, Steven Spielberg made us believe that dinosaurs could be brought back to life, and it would be simultaneously cool and terrifying. Jurassic Park demonstrated the danger of man’s hubris–believing that they could control the most fearsome creatures to ever walk the earth. And viewers bought into Spielberg’s vision–Jurassic Park netted more than $1 billion at the box office.
The tyrannosaurus rex, brontosaurus, and velociraptor became overnight stars. Who can forget the first time the dinosaurs appeared on screen? We were all like Dr. Grant (Sam Neill); speechless and awestruck. Sitting in theaters, we shared the wonder of seeing the long-dead reptiles live and in flesh, and we all felt the terror when the power went out and the dinosaurs took control. We all knew the science was unrealistic (seriously, DNA cannot live for tens of millions of years in a fossilized mosquito), but that didn’t matter. For just a couple of hours we were kids again!
And then something terrible happened. More specifically, two somethings terrible happened–The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. There is no getting around it, those movies were just bad, really bad. Now, 22 years have passed since the events of the first Jurassic Park and we return to Isla Nublar (not Isla Sorna where moves 2 and 3 take place). It is clear that the writers are hoping to pretend the events of the original sequels did not happen–something anyone who saw those movies can empathize with. And the producers are placing this billion dollar franchise in the hands of a director who has only one previous feature-length directing credit to his name. Colin Trevorrow helmed the cult dramedy, Safety not Guaranteed; a movie that grossed just over $4 million. Now, he is leading a movie that has a budget of more than $180 million. That’s a big risk…
When your movie stars Chris Pratt, it is a good idea to lead your trailer with him. Pratt has been on fire since 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, and cemented his status as a blockbuster star with last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In Jurassic World, it appears that Pratt may be the “Velociraptor Whisperer”, but Jurassic World is a much better title. And comes a scene that is at the center of some online controversy. Pratt is telling a scientist–played by Bryce Dallas Howard–how the dinosaurs are motivated by the need to hunt and…make dino-babies. Joss Whedon, the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, took issue with the scene, after a self-styled feminist pop-culture blog posted an article gawking at Pratt in the scene.
Now we get the see guests in the park that John Hammond envisioned more than two decades ago, and what’s not to love? You can take a motorized hamster ball and drive it among dinosaurs; you can observe a goat being eaten from the safety of a glass tube that is designed to look like a tree trunk; you can sit in the ‘splash zone’ for a show featuring a blood-thirsty, prehistoric, Shamu; and you can stroll down the park’s main street for some shopping!
We hear that the park was a hit, but people just are not impressed by dinosaurs anymore–large numbers of visitors only visit the park with the promise of a new exhibit. Now the company in charge of the park thinks they have a winning idea: they want to genetically modify dinosaurs!
A nameless scientist, portrayed by Omni-present B.D. Wong, says the new ‘attraction’ was “designed to be bigger than a T-rex!’ And apparently she really wanted to be an only child, because she ate her sibling. The brains at corporate also decided to make their new pet smart–she removed a tracking implant that she shouldn’t remember having implanted. As if that weren’t enough, she is like 19th Century American frontiersmen–she kills for sport. How do the humans respond to the threat? By using a two-pronged approach: one, loosing Chris Pratt and his band of velociraptor hunting buddies; and two, allowing Vincent D’Onofrio to unleash everything but tactical nuclear weapons to stop the beast.
Will it Suck?
Is there any demand for another Jurassic Park movie? Can the movie rise to the nostalgia-inflated heights of the original film? Will a new generation buy into the idea of a dinosaur theme park? Those are some big unknowns confronting a blockbuster in a summer as jam-packed as 2015. Last year, this movie cruises to a huge box office total. But this year, movie-goers have so many options–Avengers 2, Mission Impossible 5, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, etc. If this trailer is any indication of what we can expect, the biggest crowds for this movie, may be in the movie. The trailer had plenty of action, but by creating a monster, you lose what captured the imaginations of audiences with Jurassic Park–the most fearsome animal ever gets loose and we can’t stop it! In 2015’s Jurassic World, Godzilla-lite causes chaos on some remote island.
Jurassic World releases June 12.