Steven Spielberg's original Jurassic Park predicted the future when a young volunteer at Alan Grant's dig site accuses a Velociraptor for not being scary. As he would soon find out (and as the audience later saw), he was wrong, and Grant's explanation of just how scary dinosaurs can be definitely hit home. Three movies later, however, things have started to come full circle, and we all might feel a little like that incredulous kid who wasn't familiar with the dangers of a raptor claw.
From The Lost World to Jurassic World, the dinosaurs onscreen went the way of most cinematic villains: they lost their luster. What once seemed impressive became dated, and what once seemed scary became familiar. In a lot of cases, reboots (or in the case of this franchise, long-delayed sequels) typically do their best to reinvigorate the key elements that made a series so good to begin with. That said, Jurassic World missed the mark. Following the "bigger is better" mindset, Jurassic World ultimately neglected returning its dinosaurs to their terrifying roots.
So, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, director J.A. Bayona may well do justice to the scarier elements of the franchise. The series has already proven its ability to show off groundbreaking effects; now it has to leave its audience on edge, clinging to their armrests.
This Page: Yes, Jurassic World Should Be Scary
Yes, Jurassic World Should Be Scary
Spielberg isn't strictly a horror filmmaker, but he's no stranger to the genre. Jaws, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and even Poltergeist (which he may as well have co-directed), Spielberg has expertly crafted memorable cinematic scares over the past forty-odd years. So, when he loosely adapted Michael Crichton's novel, Jurassic Park, he took some artistic liberties, condensing the story to its most vital elements and whetting the scares to a sharpened point. From there, he set a franchise standard - a standard none of the sequels have managed to reach.
The entire hook in Jurassic Park is that humans must pay the ultimate price for tampering with nature. By so doing, man is no longer at the top of the food chain - which, by extension, makes the dinosaurs strategic, cold-blooded killers. In fact, some of the most standout moments in this franchise have to do with thrills and chills in the first film alone (see: Lex and Tim against raptors in the kitchen, the Dilophosaurus attack, and "Clever girl..."). The sequels aren't completely void of tension, but the traditionally horrific elements are few and far between.
The action/adventure elements in this series is already well observed. Now, it's time that filmmakers treated these movies like the creature features they are. The "wow" factor in terms of visuals is difficult to achieve these days, but keeping audiences terrified is as doable as it is necessary. These aren't the dinosaurs from The Land Before Time, they're genetic abominations. It's high time the filmmakers treat them accordingly.
Dinosaurs Have Become Less Scary... And Jurassic Park's Gotten Worse
There was an obvious shift in tone in Jurassic Park's sequel The Lost World. Spielberg was still in the director's chair, but it was clear he was gravitating toward something more monumental than monstrous. He wanted the dinosaurs off the island, so as to elevate the series and push boundaries. And while he did manage to weave in some genuinely suspenseful sequences (Raptors in the tall grass, T-Rexes vs. the trailer), it never recaptured the "magic," or the chills, of the first.
This carried over to Jurassic Park III, where the dinosaurs are mockeries of their former selves. Two prime examples include the Tyrannosaurus Rex being unceremoniously sidelined for the Spinosaurus and Velociraptors going from cruel and ruthless to fair and family-oriented (without precedent). By Jurassic World, it only gets worse. At this point, the animatronics that made the first film so impressive have been reduced to a CGI overhaul, and any semblance of suspense or tension has been replaced with loud noises and chaos.
While there is definitely a fine line that filmmakers need to walk when it comes to maintaining spectacle and dread, the Jurassic Park sequels hardly seemed to bother creating a balance. The monster movie elements have taken a backseat to the "blockbuster" elements, which is a shame, considering that Jaws—a film that balance these elements perfectly—was what literally coined the phrase "blockbuster" in the first place.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) release date: Jun 22, 2018
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