Anghus Houvouras on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom…
I watched the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer, laughing like a loon at how completely bereft of ideas this terrible looking sequel has. The terrible trailer was launched this past week and was the most troubling two minutes of 2017 that didn’t involve the words ‘Donald’, ‘Trump, and ‘thermonuclear annihilation’.
This trailer was bad. So bad. And you know you’re in trouble when you can’t find two good minutes to string together for marketing purposes. The most glaring flaw wasn’t the return of Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt’s chemistry-free characters, but a plot which feels so redundant that they might as well have called this movie Jurassic World: The Lost Park.
Sequels usually suck because studios are afraid to go somewhere new. Most follow ups are so obsessively devoted to the original blueprint that they never build anything new. It’s why Anchorman is so loved and Anchorman 2 is so loathed. The belief is that sequels need to be bigger. You take the pieces that worked in the original and exponentially expand the scope. Did you like that scene in Anchorman where the Channel 4 News Team fought a bunch of other news crews featuring some hilarious cameos. Well, in the sequel we’re going to have twice as many news crews fighting and 10 times the cameos. With the exception of penises, breasts, and nuclear warheads, bigger is rarely better.
So many studios fail franchises by not attempting to ‘right-size’ the story. They believe the only way to succeed is to give audiences larger portions and engage in a sensory overload that leaves your brain a lethargic mess. This is why Jurassic World decides that the way to make things better is to double down on the disaster movie plot by adding an active volcano to an island populated by dinosaurs.
Jurassic Park is one of those franchises that has never found a new direction. The plot is pretty much the same. An island, dinosaurs and a bunch of people desperate to survive the inevitable prehistoric uprising. There are so few wrinkles and the story is rarely taken anywhere new. Because studios fear the new like vampires fear the sun.
I actually like Jurassic World, even though it was dumber than a box of Trump supporters. There were a couple of potentially interesting wrinkles thrown in. Genetically engineered dinosaur killing machines for one. Chris Pratt’s ‘alpha-male’ Velociraptor pack leader for another. Both of these plot points are ridiculous, but it felt like a direction that most franchises don’t even bother with. The Jurassic Park franchise feels like Transformers or Terminator; there’s nothing new happening in these subsequent sequels. Terminator films are always about SkyNet, judgement day, time travel and different murderous robots.
Supposition: wouldn’t the Terminator franchise benefit from eventually destroying SkyNet and ending the prospect of Judgment Day?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if our heroes successfully prevent Judgment Day and destroying SkyNet, but a new threat emerges? A new A.I. that decides to destroy the world using something other than nuclear missiles? Or does every Terminator film have to feature the exact same plot points that feel contractually mandated?
Terminator: Salvation was not a great movie, but I liked the idea of moving away from John Connor and focusing on a character like Marcus. I also liked the idea for the original ending where Connor dies and Marcus that cyborg ends up putting on Connor’s skin like a suit to carry on the battle. The execution was flawed, but there were at least the prospect of new ideas and stories there. They could have jettisoned all the Kyle Reese nonsense, but then they couldn’t have their callback to the previous films.
Callbacks are another reason I hated the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom trailer so much. You get the great Jeff Goldblum back into the franchise and have him say THE EXACT SAME SHIT HE SAID IN THE FIRST FILM. How did you not cringe when you heard him utter that line? They’ve turned Jeff Goldblum into a catch-phrase spewing machine so they can keep selling LIFE FINDS A WAY T-Shirts.
Regurgitated ideas. An unnecessary, creatively bankrupt story way too reliant on the original. Jeff Goldblum reprising a classic blockbuster role. I’ve seen this movie before. It was called Independence Day: Resurgence, and it was like an acid bath for your eyes and ears. This is the bar Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom aspires to reach.
I would call this derivative looking garbage another example of studios going back to the well, but the metaphor doesn’t feel dire enough. This well is bone dry. Hollywood has decided to dig deeper and begin fracking to try to extract something that resembles a marketable franchise sequel, hoping that the pockets of odorous gas and useless debris one day produce gold.
I have a feeling Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t it.