Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Matt Singer writes for Screencrush about a new trend, whereby reboots ignore prior sequels and explicitly create a follow-up to the original film:
“But what Colin Trevorrow (and, by extension, Jurassic World) doesn’t mention is the fact that both movies (The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III) also conclude with scenes beyond the borders of Isla Sorna, and those scenes would make it almost impossible for Jurassic World to exist.”
Read the full article (and I recommend you do) here.
Singer’s article for Screencrush fascinated me. On the one hand, I absolutely agree with his “lazy-writing”/‘selective-sequels’ argument. Too often, reboots pick nostalgic moments to build from and ignore anything that doesn’t fit the new instalment. Indeed, the Fast & Furious series is so strong because of the detailed history behind each new adventure. Even X-Men: Days of Future Past, proud of pulling back characters from older and newer films, ignored key plot points of X-Men: The Last Stand. So, without explanation, Magneto had his powers back and Professor X was resurrected.
On the other hand, Jurassic World was a raging success – and rightly so. It’s the sequel we wanted back in 1997. My brother and I spent many afternoons in the 1990s imagining what was left on Isla Nublar. In fact, Jurassic Park: The Game (2011) utilised the dropped plot device of the Barbasol can from Jurassic Park – something I dreamed of seeing in a sequel. By going back, Jurassic World is the sequel we craved – so it doesn’t matter if it abandons the entire Isla Sorna continuation.
Of course, I can’t disagree with the ‘selective sequel’ nature of Jurassic World too much but, indirectly, there are hints at connections. Owen Grady’s (Chris Pratt) expertise and understanding of the Velociraptor is surely an inevitable consequence of Dr. Grant’s research into their methods of communication in Jurassic Park III. Separately, Vic Hoskins’ (Vincent D’Onofrio) militaristic intentions align nicely with Ludlow (Arliss Howard) and Tembo’s (Pete Postlethwaite) forceful approach in The Lost World. I’m sure story writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver could see these nods.
The truth is that the first film – and the events – happened over twenty years ago. In fact, it’s roughly 14 years since the previous ‘Jurassic’ exploit. That leaves a lot of gaps to fill. The beauty of fiction is how anything could’ve happened in the last decade. For example, the horror of San Diego in The Lost World, circa 1997, saw a T-Rex unleashed on the population. But this is also within a world whereby, for four years, people were aware that dinosaurs are back on earth – so those unconnected to the event probably rolled their eyes and thought, “ah, dinosaurs again”. And how do we explain the Pteranodons flying from Isla Sorna in Jurassic Park III? Perhaps they learned from the mistakes made in The Lost World, and a few helicopters were sent to pick them off. Dinos in the sea, end of.
But that’s not all. What if a Murdoch-a-like press-mogul has a vested interest in genetics and dinosaur cloning? With so much sway on the media, he might play it down. He, or she, could argue that dinosaurs are safe and that these were merely a few mishaps “years ago” and how “we’ve learned to be so much better now” (until Jurassic World perhaps…). Paraphrasing a line from Enemy of the State: “Credibility… It’s the only currency that means anything on this kind of playing field”. Maybe all the horror stories of Isla Nublar and Sorna were dumbed down in the tabloids. Muldoon could’ve been a drunk behind closed doors; Dr Grant and Satler always wanted the park shut down for the sake of his own job; and Ian Malcolm? Well, he was always a maverick. (Some ample opportunities for a well-placed cameo in a future film) Honestly, it’s not too big a leap – imagine such a character claiming global warming is a non-issue? Or how gun-control isn’t a problem in the USA? Remember folks, this is fiction – this type of character is a sly fox whose only interest is money.
The simple concept that Jurassic ‘anything’ will make money is the moral-capitalist message that Malcolm – and Owen – rails against in both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. The central theme about sacrificing ethics for money is key to the series – what better relevant topic than the press in 2015. InGen (unfortunately never as memorable as SkyNet or Weyland-Yutani) hovers over all the disasters like a bad smell and constantly justifies money over life. This is the hook that keeps the franchise moving.
So, shuffling my papers in my audition at writing the next script, here are three possible ‘loose threads’ that could simultaneously connect the dots – and move it forward…
- Set immediately after Jurassic World, a family are still on the island and the team have to go back. Simultaneously, a reporter joins the rescue mission whose primary mission, we find out later, is to dumb down the events and justify another theme park of dinosaurs (how great that, for a third time, we go back to Isla Nublar)
- Set immediately after Jurassic World, a ferry is misdirected (shown in a dino-attack opening sequence) and travels towards the closest island, Isla Sorna. Again, Owen and team need to save survivors (perfect large-group-killed-off-one-by-one situation here)
- Henry Wu (obviously) opens up an elite hunting range. Only the richest can go – no coupon day this time. Malcolm/Grant/[insert favourite Jurassic Park character here] is down on their luck and leads the hunting expeditions, because he/she needs the money. Something goes wrong (of course) and Owen is brought back to save the day…
‘Selective Sequels’ can be a little sneaky, but they are by no means the end. Jurassic World has reignited the franchise, meaning that Spielberg & Co, can plug the gaps in the next film however they wish. And I’ll be first in line to see it.
Simon Columb – Follow me on Twitter
Listen to the Flickering Myth Podcast review of Jurassic World using the player below: