Can Jurassic Park bite back?

Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb

Mark Hughes writes for Forbes, speculating about the director of the upcoming Jurassic Park IV film…

Jurassic Park

I’ll start the speculation rolling by suggesting J.J. Abrams might be high on Spielberg’s list of choices to helm the film. Abrams has obviously more than proven himself capable of handling a big effects-and-action driven franchise, and he has a working relationship with Spielberg. Abrams’ style also reflects influences from Spielberg, of course, so that would lend the film some added sense of continuity with some previous entries in the series as well.

Read the full article here.

I am a conflicted person. In one respect, Jurassic Park remains my favourite film. My criteria consists of how often I have watched a film and remained a fan. Jurassic Park was viewed weekly for at least a year, and my brother and I never complained. Sometimes we would forward the first hour and watch the film from the T-Rex attack, but in general we would watch the entire film – quoting and laughing time and time again. Having said that, Jurassic Park III I did not even view at the cinema. Even at the age of 16, I knew from the outset that it would be weaker than the previous two. Its early days yet, but it could go either way for Jurassic Park IV.

With regards to Mark Hughe’s article, J.J. Abrams I can imagine taking the reins. Over the multiple coffees Spielberg and Abrams shared on the Super 8 production, I would hypothesize they discussed the future of the series. In the first respect, at least it is categorically named Jurassic Park IV, rather than Jurassic Park: A New Beginning or simply The Jurassic Park – hinting at a clear reboot. Other directors who could handle the film include Gore Verbinski (he can tackle action and adventure in lush, green landscapes), Rupert Wyatt (Hughes notes his success in directing Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Gareth Edwards (his Monsters bears more than hint of influence of Jurassic Park) and, obviously, Joe Johnston and Steven Spielberg himself are always in the running – though it is unlikely Spielberg himself will return.

A major problem lies in the return of characters. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Alan Grant (Sam Neill), though they have both impossibly revisited the dinosaurs, it is almost part-and-parcel of the series that the characters leave the islands clarifying how they will “never visit the island again”. This means it is necessary for some convoluted reason to ensure the characters return – and I do believe that no characters returning would be a tragic loss to the series.

Sam Neill in Jurassic Park IIIIt is also worth noting how long ago the previous film was (and yes, it does make you feel old) – it was 2001. Over 12 years ago! I can imagine that, rather than a plot that ‘continues’ the story, it is going to become more of a fun ‘revisit’ to the island; almost a tongue-in-cheek adventure movie rather than anything continuing the series. More like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and American Reunion. In this time of ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ products, films like nothing more than glorifying a film as soon as possible – and you can see it now, characters quoting lines in different manners, almost identical to the first film – even the whole ‘science’ argument becoming ‘revamped’ with a snarky social-media comment from a brain-box in some vain attempt to modernise the story. They could also imagine a world whereby, 12 years since Jurassic Park III, things have changed. Maybe a montage of small parks opening up all over the world – and the film shows, on the mainland, “nature finding a way”. Or perhaps an opening montage showing parks opening up across America, and then falling down and unleashing the dinosaurs upon the world – and the film is set in a world whereby humans are already the prey and we follow a small band of characters as they try and survive in a post-apocalyptic world. There is real scope to play with the “12 years since…” dynamic.

In all fairness, we are in a time where, for better of worse, Hollywood generally seem to understand how to make good sequels – they understand what audiences expect to see from a sequel. In 2001, they were still a little unsure (“Lets get a dinosaur bigger and better than the T-Rex!” – eugh), but now with the continuity of comic book films, they know we want to see characters – and actors – returning, at the very least for a cameo. We want to see a respect for the series – and crucially the first film. Part of the problem of The Lost World: Jurassic Park was the completely different location – I wanted to see the torn up visitors centre and those green-and-yellow cars twisted and destroyed. Indeed, in Jurassic Park IV they truly could do this.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the films development – but rest-assured, if it starts to go south, I think we can all sleep easy and just place the film alongside Jurassic Park III and the ‘dino-human’ plot that was thrown on the scrap heap. Jurassic Park remains an important film – and a fourth one won’t take anything away from that.

How do you think Spielberg and Universal will continue the Jurassic Park series? Let us know your thoughts…

Simon Columb

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