Like a lot of people, the original Jurassic Park is one of my favourite films. If I were to ever make a top 10 list, it would surely be on it. I have such fond memories when I was a wee lad of watching the film and obsessing over every bit of it. But I think we can all admit that after Jurassic Park, things haven’t been… great in the franchise. In this piece, I want to talk about why a franchise I once loved and adored is now one I no longer want to share in… and why that’s okay.
So I love Jurassic Park, and personally, I also have a place in my heart for the sequel. I stand by the opinion that The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a good movie. Does it have flaws? Absolutely. But the film had the impossible task of having to follow one of the greatest blockbuster movies of all time, and even with Spielberg returning to helm the sequel, it was never going to be a film that would please most.
But I’ve returned to The Lost world a number of times over the years and while I can see the glaring flaws – the stunted pacing and the severe structural issues all play into a film that struggles to find a consistent rhythm – but the characters on offer; the set-pieces it provides and the expansion to the story of the doomed amusement park, all make it a film I still enjoy watching. It’s a darker sequel that shows other aspects to the hopeful but naïve dreams of John Hammond, and for me it’s a film that holds up to this day.
Unfortunately, that’s sort of where the positive talk about the Jurassic Park franchise comes to an end. Jurassic Park 3 is… well… it’s a movie. I remember being so excited for the film. Another chance to return to the land of dinosaurs was something I was beyond excited to do; and that Sam Neill was returning to reprise his role as Dr. Alan Grant was something I was eager to see. But, we all know how the movie turned out, and I don’t really think it’s worth talking about the total mess of a film that it is. I’ll simply say: Talking Velociraptor and leave it at that.
But now we come to the main crux of why I wanted to write this piece in the first place. I vividly remember going to see Jurassic World. My expectations were tempered. I wasn’t going to let the same thing that happened with Jurassic Park 3 happen this time, but I’ll admit everything that I read and saw leading up to Jurassic World had me quietly confident.
This was a film where Steven Spielberg himself had handpicked and signed off on Colin Trevorrow directing the film. I mean, if Spielberg thinks he’s up to the task, then surely we’re in good hands. Trevorrow himself went on the media rounds touting his love for the franchise. How he had grown up with the films and was excited to get the chance to tell a “new” story in the franchise. Everything I was hearing/reading seemed to suggest that the long-awaited new film in the franchise was on track to be a return to form for the dormant dinosaur extravaganza.
And then the trailer came out and… it wasn’t terrible. Elements of it had me concerned; the Indominus Rex being the main thing. But everything I saw looked to be a compelling and atmospherically enticing experience – plus, it had Chris Pratt who was fresh off the unexpectedly successful Guardians of the Galaxy film, so yeah, everything was looking good. But again, I was remaining cautiously optimistic and not allowing myself to get invested – and I’m glad I did.
As you can probably guess, I didn’t like Jurassic World. I remember sitting there in the cinema, slumped down in my chair, getting angrier and angrier at the insulting movie that was before me. Whenever I talk about this film, insulting is always the first word that comes to mind. I feel it aptly describes the majority of elements in Jurassic World and why I didn’t like them.
There are the paper-thin, unlikable characters who are nothing more than vehicles for the plot. A plot that is both dumb and frustrating. Weaponizing dinosaurs, the whole Indominus Rex plotline, the bizarre villainization of Dr. Henry Wu, it was all so… unlikeable. And then there were the points in which the film almost seemed to trample on the original film – figuratively and literally. I feel I could go on listing points, but time is precious and we’ve all got places to be.
It felt like everything leading up to Jurassic World was full of lies – Colin Trevorrow being the primary distributor of those lies. The final product was a soulless, joyless film that failed to understand anything about the originals and what they were about.
I’m not someone who gets angry when a film in a franchise is bad. I’m never someone who would claim that my childhood has been ruined because of a bad movie. I simply step away from the franchise and find comfort in other films. It’s something I’ve done with Star Wars and also the Alien Franchise. But I remember at the time that Jurassic World hurt. The original movie was a defining film in my youth. While I’ll never stoop to the lows of some people on the internet who feel it’s okay to berate and harass people because they were involved in a film they didn’t like, I do want to say my piece when it comes to the state of the Jurassic franchise.
I saw the trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and beyond thinking how awful it was, it relit my dislike for Jurassic World. It reminded me of how I felt sitting in that cinema with my head in my hands and an emptiness in my heart. I don’t want to support this franchise anymore. I don’t want to sit in the cinema and know that I contributed to there being more of these films.
I still have and love Jurassic Park (and even The Lost World: Jurassic Park) and I continue to treasure those films. They don’t stop existing and they don’t stop being wonderful pieces of cinema. My larger point in all this is that even if a new film comes out and it isn’t what you wanted it to be, that doesn’t mean you can’t still love the films and the many memories and experiences you’ve had, and will have with them. Just like with Star Wars and with Alien, I have said farewell to the Jurassic franchise. I’m sad to see it go but I know it’s better this way. Farewell old friend.
There will be other instances similar to the Jurassic franchise. Hollywood’s ability to suck any goodness out of a franchise is something they’re quite adept at. But I find solace and happiness in the fact that I still have so many wonderful films to look back on and enjoy, and there are new, wonderful films coming out every day, and who knows… maybe one of them will light a new fire of love and admiration in me, just like Jurassic Park did all those years ago. Here’s hoping. Thank you for reading this rambling nonsense and I hope you have a fantastic day!
Also… I hope there was a point to all this rambling nonsense.