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  • Uh-uh-uh, you didn't say the magic word.

  • - Please! - Uh-uh-uh.

  • - Uh-uh-uh. - God damn it, I hate this hacking crap!

  • "Jurassic Park" has defined, for decades, what we call a blockbuster.

  • It's as near a perfect film as you can find.

  • And yet, in the five attempted sequals, despite almost a billion dollars being spent, none of them possess even a shred of the imagination and ingenuity of the original film.

  • Released in 1993, directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by David Koepp, and based on Michael Crichton's 1990 novel of the same name, "Jurassic Park" became the quintessential summer movie.

  • And all the parts were there to make the engine run:

  • An expert filmmaker at the top of their game, top-tier effects studios ILM and the Stan Winston company,

  • John Williams writing the score, two lead actors who embodied their characters in Laura Dern and Sam Neill,

  • and two future cultural phenomenons in Jeff Goldblum and Samuel L. Jackson.

  • Life, uh, finds a way.

  • It was the amber-encased thrill ride that movies would pull from for decades, including its own franchise.

  • Everything about this movie just works, and audiences responded.

  • It was the highest-grossing movie of the year, beating out the number two, "Mrs. Doubtfire", by over $100 million.

  • People wanted to see this movie.

  • They wanted something only the original movie has deliveredspectacle and wonder.

  • The wonder of "Jurassic Park" is really such a simple idea that it's almost impressive none of its sequels have been able to replicate the formula.

  • Present the audience with a relatable idea or memory, say, a theme park, maybe, then introduce your lovable and slightly naive characters to the familiar setting.

  • Only in this world, their wildest dreams are true.

  • Let the audience revel in their awe and wonder.

  • Then let them see what happens when that wonder becomes a horrific nightmare.

  • And "Jurassic Park" definitely and precisely steers that question, whereas the sequels seem not to have as much of an interest in asking you questions as much as cheering along with the audience.

  • After the worldwide success of "Jurassic Park", Michael Crichton agreed to write a sequel in 1995 that went directly to the studios and was loosely adapted into "The Lost World: Jurassic Park".

  • "The Lost World" was the first hint at the franchise's future, bending over backwards to accommodate us, not inspire wonder.

  • Screenwriter Koepp has often told a story about receiving a letter from a fan saying,

  • "Don't have a long, boring bit at the beginning that has nothing to do with the island."

  • The writer has spoken often of keeping that letter while he wrote the sequel, a sort of anchor to remind him of the audience's wants.

  • So, Koepp starts us on the island, but then quickly bends to trends of the time.

  • With disaster movies running rampant in the box office in the mid-to-late '90s, "The Lost World" was borderline pushy to tack on a rampant dinosaur lose in the city.

  • Where the first film showed something comfortable and then warped the idea to engage us, "Lost World" finds itself tethered to its own success, afraid to venture into the uncharted waters of uncertainty.

  • Released in 2001, "Jurassic Park III" was directed by [a] friend of Spielberg, Joe Johnston.

  • In another attempt to latch onto what it thinks made the original important, "III" focuses on familial connections.

  • It lays its thesis of "everyone needs family" front and center by having Grant visit Sattler and her nuclear family at the movie's opening.

  • Then there's the usual setup of "Grant needs money for science", which makes him agree to a flyover of the island that turns into a rescue mission.

  • And that rescue?

  • It's for a separated couple to find their lost child.

  • Of course, through "III's" narrow vision of family, the couple must get back together to save their child, and not just co-parent.

  • Only "Jurassic Park" was never about blood familyit's power laid in found family.

  • We saw people work with one another and survive for each other all out of a shared love, a feeling that brought those people together and made us cheer for them.

  • Whether you believe Sam Neill's Dr. Alan Grant and Laura Dern's Dr. Ellie Sattler had been romantically involved in the first film,

  • this movie almost demands that Grant pines over a memory that was never stated as existing, only inferred by some fans.

  • - Look at the extrao⏤ - What'd you do?

  • He touched it. Dr. Grant's not machine-compatible.

  • They got a dead for me.

  • For a while, it seemed like that might be it, until "Jurassic World" in 2015.

  • Spielberg had said he originally had an idea for a fourth installment in 2005 but was too busy.

  • The film was delayed and rewritten again for almost a decade until Colin Trevorrow helmed the reboot sequel, based on none of Spielberg's original ideas.

  • "Jurassic World" is a movie that goes out of its way to shoehorn the idea that "Jurassic Park" happened, and therefore, all its equals.

  • Whereas the first movie contemplates whether or not that was a good idea, "Jurassic World" says, "We know it's a bad idea, but shut up. Dinosaurs."

  • When "Jurassic Park" showed the dinosaurs, there was a reverence in Dean Cundey's cinematography.

  • Both Spielberg and Cundey are on record having said they wanted the camera to be a character, so Cundey put the camera low.

  • Dinosaurs walked past almost godly in their indifference to man, and we felt small around these creatures, not scared.

  • But "Jurassic World" wants you scared.

  • Not because it wants you to question your own place in orbit of these dinosaurs.

  • It wants you to feel powerful when you inevitably learn: They can be tamed.

  • Which brings us to our main character, Owen, an animal trainer whose sole characteristic seems to be making dinosaurs submit.

  • Where the first movie gives us endearing scientists, mathematicians, and eccentric millionaires with childlike joy,

  • "Jurassic World" gives us a shockingly ripped member of "Parks and Rec" racing dinosaurs on a motorcycle.

  • So, cool, I guess.

  • It is, again, hammering home the idea that joy and wonder are gone from the franchise.

  • In their wake, wish fulfillment.

  • Our introduction to Owen is witnessing a weak, scared employee being eaten by a raptor.

  • We're shown the danger of these creatures, but the movie insists we are in safe, reliable hands when Owen subdues the creature.

  • "Jurassic Park" raised questions about humankind's responsibility and power.

  • "Jurassic World" seems to think the power rests in dominance.

  • It is genuinely offensive to be told by the movie: This is you; this is what you want, right?

  • There's definitely no wonder or blanks to be filled.

  • Where we once had characters in awe of what they see, here, we have characters who insist on control.

  • You know, when the plot demands it.

  • They will absolutely be helpless when another action scene is needed despite any previous information or character traits.

  • The movie wants us to empathize with these people not because it has put in the work, but because the movie says so.

  • Then we have "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."

  • In an attempt to course-correct again, "Fallen Kingdom" revisits horror.

  • They hire J.A. Bayona, director of "The Orphanage" and "A Monster Calls".

  • On paper, it sounds like a good idea.

  • Only in the original, Spielberg deftly managed the horror with awe, where "Fallen Kingdom" doesn't have anything to say about the majesty of these creatures, just the terror.

  • "Jurassic Park" genuinely pondered the delicate balance between humankind and nature.

  • It wondered how those ideas coexist in a delicate symbiotic relationship.

  • But there's no balance in "Fallen Kingdom".

  • We're left with the idea of power, and that power rests solely on humankind, represented by animal trainers and business managers.

  • Trevorrow has stated that he believes the main character is Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, as the park's operation manager.

  • Dearing is given the familiar trope of a workaholic who has no time for a family without exploring the ideas of whether she wants a family or what family means to her

  • other than the rigid traditionalism the movie thrusts on her more often than the high heels she's forced to wear the entire time.

  • But why, then, did the writing, directing, and audience itself push Owen to the forefront?

  • Honestly, it seems to be the new movie's fear of questions.

  • It can be complicated to talk about family, parenthood, and relationships.

  • There's subtext and nuance around these ideas, and, by the movie's own marketing, it's a lot easier to focus on the hot guy riding a dirt bike.

  • "Jurassic Park" did become the cautionary tale Crichton set out to write, even if it wasn't the caution he necessarily intended.

  • That movie is more than the sum of its parts.

  • It exists as a creature feature, a thriller, a scientific morality play, an unapologetic story of found family, and most importantly, it's the story of characters in wonder of the world they have found themselves.

  • The original "Jurassic Park" was released in 1993, and as we approach 2023, the world is a different place.

  • We genuinely hope the new "Jurassic World: Dominion" will use the wonder and awe of "Jurassic Park".

  • Quite honestly, it's something we need right now.

  • The world can feel big and scary with leathery skin and large teeth, but the answer isn't "Lost World's" cynicism, it isn't "III's" insistence on genetic family, and it sure isn't something you can bend to your will.

  • And "Dominion" seems, at least on the surface, to agree.

  • With Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum returning to revive their characters, maybe we will get the deft slight of hand of the original blockbuster, but...

  • while this is the first time all three have been together since the original, it's not the first they've appeared.

  • There was an optimism for the world through Spielberg's lens, a question posited and answered very simply.

  • When you see something so beautiful, so fantastical, even if it seems big and scary, how can you look upon it with anything other than wonder?

  • Hopefully, the new movie believes that as well.

  • So, what do you think?

  • Will "Jurassic World: Dominion" retain the original's magic?

  • Does it matter if there's still the original for you to hold near and dear to your heart?

  • Or is the magic wrapped up in our own nostalgia?

Uh-uh-uh, you didn't say the magic word.

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Why Is It Impossible To Make Another Good Jurassic Movie?

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    たらこ posted on 2022/08/03
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