Jurassic World was the much-heralded return to the land of the dinosaurs, and it's little surprise that the movie became a box office smash upon its release in 2015. The original Jurassic Park franchise was revamped, rejuvenated and reborn. Chris Pratt took on the central role of raptor expert Owen Grady, opposite Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, the operations manager of the now open and functioning Jurassic World Theme Park. One could argue that the dinosaurs were the real stars, of course, and they were certainly impressive; especially in comparison to the animatronic and (then) state of the art CGI dinosaurs that appeared in the original 1993 movie.
Jurassic World enjoyed an impressive $1.67 billion worldwide gross, and enjoys the accolade of the highest grossing movie in the Jurassic Park franchise. To the surprise of no one, a second Jurassic World movie, Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom was announced, and is set to arrive on our screens in June 2018. Colin Trevorrow, who co-wrote and directed Jurassic World, once again shares writing duties for Fallen Kingdom, as well as executive producing alongside Steven Spielberg. This time, the directorial duties fall to J.A. Bayona, who also helmed A Monster Calls in 2016. Pratt and Howard reprise their roles, and, to the delight of pretty much everyone everywhere, Jeff Goldblum also returns as Dr. Ian Malcolm, though sadly his role is said to be little more than a cameo.
Jurassic World Is Stagnant
With Fallen Kingdom's release imminent, a third Jurassic World movie has now also been announced, to release in 2021. That will be the sixth Jurassic Park movie to be released, but is it really necessary, or, like the dinosaurs themselves, should this franchise now become extinct? When Jurassic Park took the world by storm, it was a phenomenal moment. Michael Crichton's book of the same name had done well, but Spielberg really worked his magic, and the movie brought dinosaurs into the mainstream in a way they hadn't been before. Prior to that, dinosaur movies were for the ultimate nerds. To like them simply wasn't cool. Suddenly, there was a T-Rex stomping through the undergrowth, prowling for its next prey while 2 kids hid nearby. Goldblum was cooler than cool, and if he wanted to be in a dino movie, then it must be worth watching.
Since then, the innovation within the franchise has waned with each passing release, to the point that Jurassic World really offered nothing more original than a couple of different types of dinosaurs. The plot was virtually the same as always: humans try to make dinosaurs into zoo animals and it backfires spectacularly. Howard's character, the cool and aloof Claire, was the adult who carelessly lost her nephews in the park, while her impending attraction to Pratt's Owen was obvious before either of them had uttered a line.
Sure, the CGI was impressive, as one would expect, but the plot was formulaic, dull, and uninspiring. It's a given that the magic of the original can never be matched, but Jurassic World felt like a Jurassic Park/ Lost World remake; capitalism is bad, adults are careless when it comes to kids in their care, the military has power over technology, and dinosaurs are ancient wild creatures who will never be tame.
Jurassic World Holds Back The Dinosaurs
In actual fact, the Jurassic Park franchise does dinosaurs a huge disservice. They're a fascinating part of history, and one which is thoroughly enjoyable to explore, both in study and in fiction, but the Jurassic Park movies present a very one-dimensional view of the creatures. T-rex was only ever painted as a fearsome warrior, without ever examining her existence in more detail. Then there was the creation of the Indominus rex. Supposedly a hybrid created in the Jurassic World lab, Indominus has the DNA of the T-rex, Velociraptor, and Cuttlefish as well as the Carnotaurus, Giganotosaurus, Majungasaurus, and Rugops. The resulting creature in the movie was a dinosaur with long arms and raptor claws, with the ability to walk on all fours but also to push itself up using its claws. While its creation for the movie was obviously an attempt to make a point about man's interference in genetics, it seemed needless when there were, in reality, so many other dinosaurs that actually existed that could have been brought into the public's awareness.
Then there's the now known historical facts that have completely failed to find a place in Jurassic World; it is now widely believed among scientists, for example, that many dinosaurs were in fact covered in feathers, and that our modern-day birds have evolved from them. That could have been an avenue to explore in Jurassic World, but it seemed as though the movie was so set on being a hybrid of the original trilogy, that it forgot that our knowledge of these prehistoric creatures has moved on since the nineties. Within the Jurassic Park franchise, especially with two more movies (at least) remaining, there must be room to present dinosaurs in a different light and to examine different aspects of their existence.
The synopsis for Fallen Kingdom doesn't sound any more original and inspiring than Jurassic World, either. With the dinosaurs now roaming freely on the abandoned Isla Nublar, Claire is heading up a dinosaur protection agency, when she discovers that an impending volcanic eruption could end them. Enter Owen, who tries to help Claire get the remaining dinosaurs off the island. Because nothing could possibly go wrong.
Part of the problem surely lies in the assumption that the Jurassic Park franchise is a money-maker. It seems as though, with Jurassic World, Trevorrow played it safe, in the hope that those who watched in awe back in 1993, now have kids of their own to take to the movies, and were eager for them to have the same experience. Well, it worked, but will it work again? The trailer for Fallen Kingdom have been wholly uninspiring, and don't lead us to believe that there's anything worth coming back for. That may not be the case, but given that a trailer is supposed to highlight the best bits, it seems pretty likely that an original, daring, entertaining adventure is not going to be what's played out on screen. In Jurassic Park, Spielberg created a movie that will go down in history; a true classic. But the franchise had its time, it's moment of glory, and now it's limping along to an unsatisfying, pitiful end.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) release date: Jun 22, 2018