Jurassic World Can Make Dinosaurs Scary Again
So, can Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fix what's been broken? When the first teaser trailer dropped in December, the verdict was in the air. Most of the footage revolved around Owen and Claire's reunion, a return to the island, and the erupting volcano. In fact, not only was there a shortage on horror, the tone in the teaser felt more madcap-action than anything else.
That said, the Super Bowl spot ultimately set things straight. A drastic change in tone was already evident from the first shot alone, showcasing a young girl alone in her bed while the film's new genetically mutated antagonist—the Indoraptor—prowls forward, arm and claws outstretched. Whether or not this new teaser was structured solely as a response to negative criticism aimed at the first teaser remains to be seen, but there's no denying the fact that "horror" is most definitely taking center stage in this go-around.
If the bulk of Fallen Kingdom maintains the sort of tone introduced in this brief opening alone, there may be hope after all. That's not to say that there aren't components in the upcoming sequel that will inevitably keep dinosaurs from reaching their full, unnerving potential (see: Blue the Raptor becoming Owen's partner in crime), but if the Super Bowl spot is anything to go off of, audiences looking for something closer to what the series ought to represent may be pleased with the final product.
J.A. Bayona Is A Proven Horror Director
There's a reason why so many directors who started out in horror do so well in the action genre—they've got a perfect handle on pacing. Peter Jackson made the plunge with The Lord of the Rings, Sam Raimi did it with Spider-Man, and even James Wan became an accomplished genre hopper with Furious 7 and the upcoming Aquaman. So, in bringing director J.A. Bayona on board for Fallen Kingdom, the Jurassic franchise feels as though it's really in capable hands.
Though Bayona isn't an all-out horror director, he's well-acquainted with the genre. In fact, though his last two features revolved around drama and fantasy, his debut feature film The Orphanage was strictly horror. He even got the official blessing of Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, who helped produce the film. By comparison, the last two directors in the franchise simply weren't up for the challenge.
By the time he directed JP3, Joe Johnston had made a name for himself with films like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Jumanji. So, going off his personal experience in bringing horrific elements to the screen, he had long been limited to PG-friendly material. He was quite experienced at producing thrills and adventure, but not with establishing the necessary dread that a movie about feral monsters requires. And the same goes for Colin Trevorrow, who helped reignite the franchise with Jurassic World.
In 2012, Trevorrow broke out with the indie darling Safety Not Guaranteed. It earned the attention of Hollywood's bigwigs, and before long, he was hired to director Jurassic World, his second feature length film (not counting his made-for-TV movie Gary: Under Crisis). While it might have been inspiring (and even inspired) to see major studios putting their faith in small-time filmmakers, the result wasn't quite as promising as most might have hoped. The film did manage to rake in a pretty penny (over a billion dollars internationally), but that's arguably less to do with Trevorrow's direct involvement and more to do with the fact that people were hungry for more dino-drama.
Trevorrow's handle on the material simply didn't result in the most engaging final product. Whether or not that directly resulted in his removal from Star Wars: Episode IX's director's chair remains to be seen, but the criticism aimed at him couldn't have made the aforementioned bigwigs feel especially confident in their gamble. So, post-Spielberg, the franchise is 0 for 2, but having a director brought on board who has already proven numerous times that he can perfectly balance style and substance is certainly cause for celebration.
Jurassic World's Threats Aren't Dinosaurs
While the Jurassic franchise has dealt with antagonists in the form of InGen's exploitation of dinosaurs to the dinosaurs themselves, Fallen Kingdom has a shot at shaking things up. Between the mysterious and corrupt Wheaton (played by Toby Jones), the volcano, and whatever malcontent might be brimming in between, there is plenty of room for the dinosaurs to simply be scary.
The best sort of horror is the kind that only pretends to make the MacGuffin seem vital. For example, in The Silence of the Lambs, the focus was on Buffalo Bill, but Hannibal Lector ended up stealing the show. This is where Fallen Kingdom can really thrive. And in a way, this is where Fallen Kingdom can even take advantage of the fact that previous installments in the franchise didn't quite nail the "scary" elements when it came to dinosaurs. Audiences are already well aware of what they'll be getting once the dinosaurs show up on screen, so to pull the rug out from underneath them—to shock them with a truly terrifying experience—is this franchise's ace in the hole. Whether or not they take advantage of it is the big mystery.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) release date: Jun 22, 2018