Welcome to Spling Movies

Welcome to Spling Movies

Custom Search
Banner
Banner
Jurassic Universe... from Jurassic Park to Jurassic World


The Jurassic Park movies are a thinly veiled collection of answers to the same question: “In how many places and ways, in and out of the park, can we get dinosaurs to chase down our main characters without them dying?”. And they’re awesome. We’re all set to get the next instalment; Jurassic World: Dominion, sometime in the next year, having gotten the short film Battle at Big Rock to tide us over. But, what can we expect from the film, considering the trajectory of the franchise so far?

It’s hardly necessary to describe anything that actually happens in the original Jurassic Park, everybody’s seen it! If you haven’t, congratulations, you have one of the great simple joys of the movies to look forward to. It’s a perfect monster movie, emphasising exhilaration over scares, with interesting characters whose arcs don’t get in the way of the real focus here; great thrills. It’s a classic that just stacks terrific moment after moment on top of each other; tense, funny, sentimental, exciting, sharp. A combination of mixing effects and hiding imperfections means that the '90s CGI still holds up pretty well, especially in the action scenes (where Dino’s moving fast means there’s less time for you to pick apart how they look and more time to worry about the kid who’s about to be munched). A scantling of viewers and critics weren’t impressed by what they considered “flimsy” characters, overpowered by the special effects. I can’t imagine how they felt going forward.

The Lost World is an overly maligned sequel. Many of the essential ingredients of the first film are here. Same director, same screenwriter, arguably a better cinematographer, and the same all-important composer (half of Spielberg’s fortune should be in John Williams' pockets). Yes, it’s not as good as the first one, but how many movies are? People forget that this is still a Spielberg movie, and he lends his flair to what could’ve been uninspired sequences. The T-Rex overturning the RV and leaving it dangling over the edge of a cliff with Malcolm and others inside, stands up to any sequence from the original film. And whilst Malcolm is a less satisfying protagonist to spend an entire film with, he’s still funny, and the addition of his daughter, a kid who’s not such a nuisance, is a welcome one (yes, Velociraptor vanquishing gymnastics and all). It overstays its welcome to include a second climax involving a T-Rex parading around San Diego. All in all, it’s a second rate Jurassic Park, but that’s hardly a bad thing.

Third rate Jurassic Park on the other hand. Jurassic Park III is largely still the worst of the bunch, regardless of the ludicrous antics of the latest films. It’s a repetitive franchise, but here it really feels like everybody involved was going through the motions. Not excitedly scheming up new perils, but reaching forgone conclusions. Less “Oh, OH- What if..!”, more “Well… we haven’t done anything with Pterodactyls yet.” It’s also the first film in the franchise to jump the shark and decide that the old dinosaurs are boring now, we need super dinosaurs to convince the audience that it’s actually dangerous this time, because the filmmaking sure isn’t going to do that job. So we get a scene where the main bad dinosaur, a Spinosaurus stalking the characters like a shark in a Jaws sequel, conveniently kills a T-Rex. “Okay guys, this is serious, this dinosaur, this one, is actually super dangerous.” Jurassic Park III was made by a new crew noticeably picking up the reigns from visionaries. The “Park” trilogy, sputtered to a conclusion.

Jurassic World is an excellent example of a basic reboot. It is, on a tonal level, just the 2015 version of the original film. It is bigger, it is bombastic, it swaps out the cantankerous main character for a suave but obnoxious Chris Pratt stock performance, and most of all; it is dumber. That is not the worst sin a dinosaur action movie could commit. A woman outruns a T-Rex in high heels. The super dinosaurs are now genetically advanced. The Velociraptors help out the heroes. It was an absolute smash hit, and audiences were largely won over by its formulaic but impressive spectacle. It’s hard to resist the idea of seeing Jurassic Park, but this time the park is open, and crawling with customers. It is perfectly acceptable escapism. You’ll have a decent time, and forget nearly everything about it once you’re done. The film even seems to want to address that its over the top additions don’t improve upon the original (whose spirit it slavishly attempts to recapture). The original film’s T-Rex comes out and serves an ass-whooping to the new genetically enhanced Dinosaur, with some help from the Velociraptors. Nevertheless, fun.

Fallen Kingdom seemed to get over its hang-ups about ridiculous over the top additions, because that’s mostly what it is. Volcanoes! Underground dinosaur black market! Genetically enhanced... little clone girl? The writers were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. Despite this, it manages to be more forgettable than Jurassic World and approaches Jurassic Park III levels of mediocrity. Nothing much new is happening between the holdover characters from World and some of the new side-characters are genuinely annoying. There’s not much to say other than that it’s basically a bridge film to get us to the upcoming third instalment, now that dinosaurs have been set loose on mainland USA.

So what we should expect in Jurassic World: Dominion is a world overrun with dinosaurs. Not in cities necessarily, but in nature or suburban areas, invading roads and camp grounds. Sounds crazy enough. The architect behind this World trilogy, Colin Trevorrow, has said that this is the movie he’s wanted to see, and it took the two other to get there. At least we know he’s excited. All of the movies have their moments, the only real concern we should have is their ever expanding scope. There will be a ceiling where it stops being dumb fun and starts just being dumb. But, we’re not quite there yet. Jurassic Park, uh.... finds a way.