It’s hard to believe that in just seven months, we’re going to see a new Jurassic Park movie in theaters. And if the rumors are to be believed, we’re going to see a trailer for the movie later this week.
If you’re as big of a Jurassic Park fan as I am, that’s both exciting and nerve-racking. Jurassic Park is my favorite movie of all time, and it’s very close to my heart. It seems like it’s going to be basically impossible for any sequel to be able to top that movie, and, in fact, the sequels we have seen haven’t been great. The Lost World was basically a mediocre action movie, and Jurassic Park 3 took the series into absurd b-movie territory, though it was definitely fun to watch as a silly popcorn film.
But Jurassic Park isn’t just a fun blockbuster. It’s a smart, well-crafted movie with great characters, dialogue, humor, social commentary that isn’t forced and some seriously kick-ass action. It’s the model for what summer blockbusters should be: popcorn entertainment that doesn’t treat us like idiots and feels like a well-oiled machine. It’s everything I love about movies all in one.
Jurassic Park 4 had been talked about on and off for about a decade, and it’s finally happening with Jurassic World coming to theaters this June. The film will take us back to Isla Nublar, where a fully functioning Jurassic Park theme park has opened. It will be directed by Colin Trevorrow, who sounds like he has a real respect for the series but whose only directing credit so far has been the indie filmSafety Not Guaranteed.
To determine whether the movie has a chance at being truly great, we need to examine that first movie and what made it so good. With that in mind, here are the top 10 things Jurassic World needs to get right.
Good human characters
Every character in Jurassic Park is well written and serves a purpose. The movie really spends its time developing them, like in the great opening excavation scene. This is the kind of scene a lot of lesser blockbusters would skip over, but seeing Alan and Ellie interacting normally in their natural environment, we’re already on board with them.
Then of course there’s Ian Malcolm, who is hands down one of the most entertaining characters in a movie. He’s so fascinating and kind of insane. You can’t take your eyes off him and you never know what he’s going to do next, with his funny way of talking and doing weird experiments about chaos theory on Ellie’s hand. Even the side characters like Dennis Nedry and Ray Arnold are great, with Samuel L. Jackson basically not doing much more than being the IT guy but the movie somehow manages to make that memorable. It’s just an absolutely fantastic lineup of characters that we care about so that when the action hits, we’re really invested.
Meanwhile, we need look no further than Jurassic Park 3 as an example of what not to do with Jurassic World. Aside from Dr. Grant, the characters pretty much range from really stupid to really annoying to just unmemorable. In this movie, it’s more like we’re watching a slasher movie with dinosaurs. We barely care about the people, so when they’re in danger and getting picked off, we’re usually just laughing along. In the original Jurassic Park, we can’t take our eyes off the screen, terrified of what might happen to these people we’ve grown to care about. Jurassic World needs to recapture that.
The special effects
Over 20 years later, the dinosaur special effects in Jurassic Park still hold up. That’s mostly because the movie makes great use of animatronics. Watching the behind the scenes for the film, it’s clear how much work went into physically crafting the dinosaurs to look good in front of the camera.
In the later Jurassic Park sequels, the special effects actually got worse. Part of this is because of the use of CGI effects which don’t really hold up now, but even some of the animatronics in the sequels kind of suck. Take a look at this scene from Jurassic Park 3. There are shots here where the Spinosaurus basically looks like a giant toy that a kid is playing with, just standing there stationary with only the head moving back and forth. Going back to the original T-Rex scene from the first movie, there’s just no comparison.
The good news is that it seems like Colin Trevorrow understands the importance of this, and, according to Screen Crush, Jurassic World will apparently be making use of animatronic dinosaurs. That’s a really good sign, and hopefully the movie will be able to mix practical effects and CGI pretty well. If everything ends up looking just like a CGI creation, that could potentially be a disaster.
This might not seem important, but the score is a vital part of what makes Jurassic Park so effective. So many of the best scenes in the first movie are so powerful because of John Williams’ music. Take the classic “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene. The theme plays so beautifully as John Hammond says his line and the music immediately swells as we get our first real look at the dinosaurs. It’s an absolutely magical moment of movie music working so well and making a scene effective. Even the music during the action scenes is excellent, being both very thrilling and memorable as music by itself.
In Jurassic Park 3, the score was completely unmemorable. It did its job, but it’s essentially just generic action music with no song that sticks out.
Unfortunately, John Williams is not doing the soundtrack for Jurassic World, as he’s a little busy with theStar Wars franchise. But we have the next best thing, as Michael Giacchnio will be doing the score for the film, as Classic Fm reported. Giacchino is easily one of the best composers currently working, so this is a great sign. What’s so important to get right is the sense of emotion and magic from the originalJurassic Park score, and emotion and magic is something that Giacchnio is great at. I have basically no doubt that this aspect of the movie will be incredible.
Jurassic Park has some of the most well directed and thrilling action set pieces of all time. An obvious highlight is the insane and tense T-Rex escape sequence, but I’ve also always loved the tree scene. It’s such a brilliant setup with these two characters we care about trying to get down from this tree and this giant object hanging over them waiting to fall. It’s so tense, starting off pretty slow but quickly escalating to the point where we realize they have seconds left to get out of the car’s way.
The movie is just filled with these great action moments. There’s the “must go faster” sequence, the electric fence, the door locks and, of course, the raptors in the kitchen. Each of these scenes is well directed and thrilling, with real stakes and some incredible tension. Jurassic World absolutely needs to nail these sequences, setting up a tense scenario with characters who we care about trying to escape, and a major concern is of the movie just becoming a generic blockbuster about people running away from dinosaurs and eventually getting eaten by them (Jurassic Park 3).
A sense of discovery
Part of what’s great about Jurassic Park that the sequels couldn’t capture is the sense of discovery. Learning about the inner workings of this park for the first time is magical, and some of my favorite scenes of the film are in the opening half before the action even starts. We get to go on the tour with Mr. DNA, find out how Jurassic Park got started, go behind the scenes with the scientists, and it feels like going to Disney World for the first time and just being amazed by everything you’re seeing. The movie gets across this great feeling of magic and of learning of this amazing place, something the sequels definitely didn’t have.
With Jurassic World, we’ll be seeing an actual, fully functioning version of Jurassic Park, which is honestly an amazing idea. We got to see the park in its very early stages in the first movie, but the idea of seeing it fully operating could recapture that same sense of discovery and magic, reminding us of the first film but introducing us to this whole new world. One of my main hopes for the movie is that it takes a while for any action to actually happen. At least a solid 35 minutes of the movie should just be devoted to setting up the characters and exploring the park, like the movie is taking us on a virtual tour through this new world. The action is far less important than this.
Jurassic Park is often a pretty hilarious movie, with great, funny lines and jokes thrown in throughout. The funniest character is definitely Malcolm, with lines like “eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your … on your dinosaur tour, right,” followed up by Hammond’s “I really hate that man.” The humor is actually a really important part of the movie, keeping things light and fun and getting us on the characters’ side. Aside from Malcolm just being funny for the sake of amusing the audience, his quips and weird asides make us love him, and that makes the last third of the movie when he’s in serious danger that much more tense.
Jurassic World being overly serious would be kind of a problem, and it should have that same sense of light fun, at least in the first half of the movie. Hopefully the casting of Chris Pratt, who has proven himself as a great action-comedy lead in Guardians of the Galaxy, indicates Colin Trevorrow is taking the movie in this direction.
Have a message without being forced
The original Jurassic Park has a lot of themes about man’s hubris and about trying to control nature, as well as more individual character themes like the journey of becoming a father in Dr. Grant. But none of the commentary in the film feels forced. Even in the scene where Hammond and Dr. Malcolm are basically debating the film’s main theme about controlling nature, this still feels like an argument these two men would naturally get in, and not like the movie beating its point into us.
Jurassic World also sounds like it’s going to make similar points. According to Slashfilm, the film will deal with the idea of money being the catalyst of our biggest mistakes, and the idea that when there is a huge profit to be made off something, no one can resist things that will probably end horribly.
The other idea that sounds pretty interesting is the idea that we’ve become numb to the wonders around us. Trevorrow has said the movie will explore the idea that science has created these incredible dinosaurs that walk the Earth, but people are indifferent to it. He descried the image of a teenager texting with his back to a T-Rex.This is a pretty interesting idea, and I love the concept of exploring how cynical we’ve become as people to the point where it takes so much to really impress us. But the concern is that these messages will feel heavy handed, like “hey, do you get it? Kids are cynical and distracted!” The first movie was able to weave its themes into the plot without being obvious, and hopefully Jurassic World can do the same.
Don’t set up any sequels
The most worrying bit of info I think we’ve heard about Jurassic World is that Colin Trevorrow said that they’re already talking about sequels, The First Showing reported.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but the worry is that the studio will be so focused on setting up a new franchise of Jurassic Park movies that this will take priority over this just being a good movie by itself. The original Jurassic Park got two sequels, but it never had to have another installment. It stands completely on its own and doesn’t leave anything dangling. If Jurassic World doesn’t function completely by itself and doesn’t wrap every plot point up by the end by throwing in some lame cliffhanger or after credits stinger, it’s going to be a huge mistake.
Pay tribute to the original
The movie shouldn’t feel like a reboot refusing to acknowledge that there were other Jurassic Park movies before it and that this is a follow-up to it. It should feel like a new thing, but some winks and nods to the original Jurassic Park without being too blatant would be great for long time fans. It seems like this is probably going to happen, as in the teaser poster, we see a velociraptor standing on what appears to be the same truck that Dr. Grant and Tim ran down the tree from in the first movie.
We don’t need huge tie ins to the original, but there should at least be a few nods like this for the older fans. At the same time, we do need something new.
Do something new
Jurassic World should also do its own thing and feel like its own movie, not just being Jurassic Parkagain. That movie still exists, it’s still great and it doesn’t need to be done again. What we need is a totally new, original movie that pays tribute to everything that makes Jurassic Park great, but which still surprises us with its own thing. If the movie is disappointing but tries something new, I’ll at least appreciate Colin Trevorrow’s willingness to try and not just recycle the same thing.
The movie should play on all of the things that made the original great, with great characters, action, and humor, but it should also feel fresh and new. If it can manage to do that, we might finally get the worthy sequel to Jurassic Park we’ve always wanted.