Anghus Houvouras is getting a sense of deja vu from Jurassic World…
1999 was a great year for blockbusters. Everyone was talking about game changing cinema like The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense was a monster hit. It was almost enough to make you forget about just how terrible The Phantom Menace was. For my money, the most entertaining film of that summer was Deep Blue Sea. Renny Harlin’s insane, over the top survival thriller about genetically altered sharks trying to escape the oceanic facility that houses them.
I’m sure I don’t need to recount the plot points of this classic. A young, determined Scientist played by Saffron Burrows tries to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s using smart sharks. Thomas Jane is the bad ass with a checkered past charged with keeping these hyper-intelligent killing machines in check. Samuel Jackson is the investor caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. And LL Cool J is the most super fly chef and provides the now-famous theme song where he declares ‘My hat is like shark’s fin’.
A classic in every sense of the word. I didn’t initially see the correlation between Deep Blue Sea (or DBS as we superfans call it) and Jurassic World. But damn if the marketing team isn’t working overtime to connect those dots. First there was this awful, awful scene released featuring Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt. There was something… familiar. The rhythms. The characters. The entire interaction felt like a scene right out of Deep Blue Sea.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s character seems cold and rigid, balanced by Chris Pratt’s anti-authoritarian where every sentence drips with cynicism. He outright mocks her, righteously so, for trying to create mutant, super-dinosaurs and rattles off some typical alpha male platitudes about instinct and animal urges. This scene feels a lot like a similar exchange from DBS, where our hunky hunter played by Thomas Jane gives scientist Saffron Burrows the business about the dangers of creating smarter versions of the nature’s fiercest predators.
In Deep Blue Sea, I can understand the fictional movie science at play. An obsessed scientist wants to cure Alzheimer’s because it impacted a family member. There are personal stakes at play. Much in the same way Rise of the Planet of the Apes stole the same basic dynamic, making it even more dramatic by letting us see the ravages of the disease rather than just be told about it. I’m not exactly sure why scientists need to develop super-dinosaurs. I would have thought just bringing dinosaurs back from extinction would have been enough to put asses in seats at the world’s most perilous theme park. But it seems like people got bored with seeing regular old dinosaurs and required something newer and more disastrous to compete with Shamu at SeaWorld.
So there is already plenty of exculpatory evidence linking Jurassic World to Deep Blue Sea. The kind of familiar trappings that one can find in almost any modern, brain free franchise. Then they release this new poster teasing the next trailer…
It’s like the producers are daring us to connect these dots. A giant aquatic dinosaur about to swallow up a Great White Shark. Come on. This is slowly creeping from ‘marginally amusing connections’ to a bold-faced declaration of just how unoriginal Jurassic World might be.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.