The trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has just been released, and to say the sneak peek wasn’t worth the wait is an understatement; it’s a bad trailer that represents everything problematic about modern sequels. Set four years after its predecessor, Chris Pratt’s Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire are making a return to the infamous Isla Nublar (willingly) by way of a rescue mission.
But let’s stop right there. It’s the instigating narrative hook that pits Fallen Kingdom into the spectrum of sequelitis, and though the negative reputation that sequels are often marred by isn’t necessarily a given (see The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2: Judgement Day), the same unfortunately can’t be said for J.A. Boyena’s (literally) explosive sequel.
Read More: Jurassic World 2 Synopsis
Great films have been defaced by their sequels. The Matrix, The Exorcist, Jaws… on their own, they’re cinematic marvel but paired with their successors, their reputation crashes and burns. The first Jurassic World was no Citizen Kane, but the trailer for Fallen Kingdom can’t help but feel like a cheap carbon copy of industry desperation (and that’s saying something considering the “original” was really Jurassic Park 4). There was never any doubt that this franchise would continue churning out sequels (World made over $650 million at the domestic box office alone), but that’s also not the problem here. The problem is how hamstrung this trailer feels on account of servicing the worst sort of sequel tropes.
The Problems With The Jurassic World 2 Trailer
The Trailer Makes The Plot Feel Contrived
No matter how exciting it might be to revisit beloved characters in a franchise, plot always takes precedence. Unfortunately, judging from the trailer, the creators of Fallen Kingdom didn’t seem to get the memo. The first Jurassic World ended with some unique potential for a sequel (militarizing dinosaurs being the standout), and while those loose ends may still find some footing later on in the franchise, the setup for Fallen Kingdom seems to come out of the blue.
Owen and Claire have reset their relationship (think Dewey and Gale in Scream 2), and for whatever reason, the two have completely 180’d on their relationship with dinosaurs. Owen’s now jaded and disinterested, while Claire is desperate to recruit him for a dinosaur-saving rescue mission (think Jurassic Park III, but instead of a pubescent Trevor Morgan needing rescue, it’s an entire island of dinosaurs). A stratovolcano is on the brink of eruption, and their paleontological rescue squad returns to the island to save the day.
But who are we kidding? The volcano is a clear McGuffin to initiate the transplanting of dinosaurs from “isolated island” to “all-you-can-eat human buffet“; the odds of eruption make it feel forced, to say the least. There may be an explanation in the film for why it’s going off, but in the trailer, you’re expected to just buy John Hammond built his theme park on top of an active volcano. Besides, while we want to believe that our heroes from the first film are still just as heroic – if not more so – facing a 99% likelihood of magmatic death for a mission that can only end badly is giving humanitarianism a run for its money.
Nothing Matches What Colin Trevorrow’s Promised
2017 hasn’t been kind to Colin Trevorrow. First, he lost his gig as director on Star Wars: Episode IX. Then, he had all of his hype for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fall flat. This is a hat that all producers have to wear at some point during the development of a movie, but insisting that this sequel will be “using more animatronics,” while feeling like a “a Spanish horror/thriller,” feels more like BS than PR. The trailer for Fallen Kingdom is nothing more than a typical Hollywood explosion of CGI, and while the plot is still mostly in the shadows on account of it being a teaser, nothing that Trevorrow hinted at feels present in the slightest.
This film’s director, J.A. Bayona, is a skilled filmmaker. He’s tackled heavy drama with The Impossible, horror with The Orphanage, and fantasy with A Monster Calls, so by all accounts he should be a perfect fit for this franchise. Unfortunately, though, Fallen Kingdom can’t help but feel like a studio movie in the worst way possible. Skilled filmmakers have been ruined by studio interference in the past (David Fincher’s Alien 3 comes to mind), and judging by the trailer alone (which, yes, you can argue is hardly enough to judge the potential of the final product), his fingerprints don’t appear to be anywhere close to this movie.
It Disrespects Its Predecessors
If there was one thing to be excited about in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it’s the return of Jeff Goldblum. He’s a major staple in the franchise who’s been sadly missed in the last two entries, but he’s back! However while his inclusion in the trailer, brief though it was, nicely ties this new trilogy to the original, the result was a misfire.
At first, seeing Goldlum and hearing Goldblum was a treat. That goes without saying. Where the fire fizzled out, sadly, was in the final moments of the trailer when his voiceover recreates his most famous line from the original movie. In Scream 4, Sidney tells the killer, “You forgot the first rule of remakes: don’t f*ck with the original.” While the new Jurassic World trilogy isn’t a remake, it works in a similar mold – not unlike the new Star Wars films. So, with that in mind, the quote still applies. What’s worse is that it isn’t recycled from the first movie, but recreated; this time abandoning any of Goldblum’s trademark broken emphases that fans have come to love and expect.
His inclusion is to excite viewers, and that’s fine. But disrespecting a film as beloved as Jurassic Park for a lazy nod to the past just feels cheap.
We Now Have Friendly Foes
Dinosaurs aren’t monsters, but that’s not to say they subscribe to human law. They’re wild. They (the carnivores at least) eat meat. So, to a human, the term “monster” doesn’t seem so far off.
In Jurassic World, caged dinosaurs are treated like circus lions. They’re well-fed, trained, and, to an extent, capable of being tamed. However, despite the fact that Owen’s remaining raptor-pal Blue went so far as to backhandedly “save” them at the end of the movie, she and her crew still had no problem turning on their human colleagues and eating them for dinner. In Fallen Kingdom, this plot thread returns.
The only difference this time around is that their relationship is evolving, which touches on yet another sequel faux pas. Too often, sequels have this trend of turning old foes into new friends; a trend for which seemingly nobody ever asked. The Terminator did this with Arnie, X-Men did this with Mystique, and Power Rangers couldn’t help themselves with Tommy the White Ranger. In Fallen Kingdom, the torch is passed to the raptors, the once ferocious beasts-turned BFFs. If the movie wants to subvert our expectations by having Blue attack Owen, thus highlighting the franchises’ theme of giving nature the distance it deserves, then that would make for an exciting twist – but let’s not hold our breath.
Page 2 of 2: Can Fallen Kingdom Fix The Trailer Problems?
It’s Worth Giving Fallen Kingdom The Benefit of the Doubt
Now, movies (and the trailers attached to them) are meant to incite emotions. Especially with something like the Jurassic franchise, the bar is high. That said, though, trailers aren’t always the best indicator as to whether or not a movie will be good or bad. Sometimes they’re oversold, sometimes they’d undersold, and in this case, the latter could very well be the case.
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom can still be a solid movie. In fact, most of the what we saw in the trailers could easily just be mass-marketing at its most unhinged. This itself is a sequel issue. Studios are desperate to win over audiences (not just the loyal fans, but the general public – remember the trailer debuted on Thursday Night Football), so they sell spectacle over story. If the financial return doesn’t meet expectations, then studios have every right to panic. So, when it comes to marketing, it makes total sense why they’d go all in. For that, this movie does deserve the benefit of the doubt. But can it deliver on hope?
Jurassic World Could Go Back to Its Roots
Both Trevorrow and Bayona have indicated that Fallen Kingdom will return to the franchises’ roots in various interviews, and despite what the trailer showed, this could still be the truth. While it’s a major topic of debate whether it succeeded, there’s no denying Jurassic World had affection for the original. And applying that to analyzing what’s here, we could have a different scenario on our hands.
Trevorrow has said on Twitter that “everything in the trailer is from the first 57 minutes”, meaning it’s not totally representative. For example, the volcano scene (which feels like it’s been taken straight out of a Transformers movie) may look like computer-generated chaos, but it really is just one sequence. Per the synopsis, military intervention is the meat, meaning the pace could alter drastically. As for effects, these are early days – the film isn’t out for another six months – and if there’s a varied, less explosive plot, there can be room for those animatronics; one behind-the-scenes featurette drew attention to a lot of the practical work, and considering the horror talk maybe we are getting a return to Spielberg’s wonder and dread.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will naturally follow traditional sequel procedure. The stakes will be higher, the fate of characters will be unpredictable, and the setup for its subsequent final chapter will be inevitable. As Owen said in Jurassic World, “They’re dinosaurs—’wow’ enough,” hinting at the fact that people seem to only ever want more. But the franchise has already exhausted elevation. If it’s smart, it’ll change the formula and, even in the context of a sequel, give audiences something truly original.
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