Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In a world... a Jurassic World

Are you ready for another walk in the park?

The first full-length trailer for the third Jurassic Park sequel exploded onto the Internet today, and what a difference 13 years makes. That’s how long it has been since Jurassic Park 3 hit theaters. The movie didn’t go unnoticed, but audiences at the time were decidedly unenthusiastic about returning to the franchise. Some of it was an attitude of “been there, done that.” Dinosaurs were out. Dragons were in, or at least fantasy films were. The first Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films made their debuts that year, as did the first Shrek movie. It also didn’t help that audiences still had a sour taste in their mouths from the awfulness that was Jurassic Park: The Lost World. It was unfair, as Jurassic Park 3 was the better of the two sequels, but so it goes.

Jurassic World has enough time separating it from the sequels that audiences have largely forgotten their issues with those movies. The new sequel isn’t a reboot per se, but it is a relaunch of the franchise, this time imagining what Jurassic Park would have been like had it opened to the public. The trailer is fueled by pure nostalgia for first film, crammed with shots meant to invoke famous scenes from the movie:

And there lies my issue with the trailer. I don’t want a film whose main draw is reminding you of that great movie you saw as a kid. I want it to stand as a good film on its own. It is too early to say whether Jurassic World will do enough to distinguish itself from its predecessors, but for now I’ll just try to find happiness in the knowledge that next year we’ll get a big-budget dinosaur adventure in theaters.

I’ll have more to say on this on the future, particularly when it comes to what we may see in terms of dinosaur media around the release of the film, but here are a few quick thoughts:
  • There is no ignoring the elephant in the room: The CGI looks awful. Seriously, I’ve seen better work in TV programing — check out Primeval. Here’s hoping the FX wasn’t quite done by the time the filmmakers had to slap together this trailer, which is entirely possible given the movie is still more than seven months away.
  • No feathered dinosaurs. That’s disappointing. The original Jurassic Park was revolutionary not only for its special effects, but for its move away from portraying dinosaurs as tail-dragging sluggards to upright, active animals. It is amazing how much our understanding of what dinosaurs looked like has evolved in the 21 years since the first film. So with that in mind, why are those raptors naked? And don’t say the filmmakers needed to be consistent with the earlier films: The raptors changed in appearance in every movie.
  • Speaking of raptors, looks like Starlord has trained his own motorbike gang.
  • Cool to see a Mosasaurus, but it is way too big. And where did they get the DNA? Were there underwater mosquitoes?
  • Just because the first Jurassic Park had kids doesn’t mean every Jurassic Park film needs kids.
  • I’m not thrilled about the plot hinging on Jurassic World’s creators having engineered a new super-dinosaur from scratch. There are so many weird and wonderful dinosaurs we know from the fossil record, why invent a make-believe one?


Anonymous said...

The genetically-altered super-dinosaur idea is straight out of a SyFy Channel movie story line.

raptor_044 said...

"And don’t say the filmmakers needed to be consistent with the earlier films: The raptors changed in appearance in every movie."

While I do agree that they could've (& probably should've) feathered the non-tyrannosaurid coelurosaurs within the context of the franchise, the above quote is a bit misleading: In JP2, the only change was the addition of stripy males (AFAIK, JP2's females are the same as JP's); In JP3, we saw a different sub-species ( http://www.jplegacy.org/jpencyclopedia/?p=101 ).

"Speaking of raptors, looks like Starlord has trained his own motorbike gang."

Can't wait to find out the context of that scene.

"And where did they get the DNA?"

That's what I've been wondering.


Michael said...

Personally I don't understand the desire to see feathered dinosaurs. No matter how 'realistic' it is, it seems like it'll still look like giant chickens.

Of all the dinosaur properties I'd like to see 'done right' the first that comes to mind is "Land of the Lost"! :(

Unknown said...

The problem with "scientifically accurate, feathered dinosaurs" in movies and television is that we, as a global culture have absorbed very specific images of leathery, scaled dinosaurs since the dawn of cinema and comic books, for many generations/decades. Most people (the uninitiated masses) are not ready to accept this new information.