Oh Hollywood, to raise my hopes and then crush them so. Life found a way to see fit to give us another, much-anticipated Jurassic Park sequel in the shape of next year's Jurassic World. But the influence of cigar-chomping Hollywood executives seems likely to set any chance of it being half-decent on the path to being extinct.
A little disclosure up front. I'm one of the world's biggest Jurassic Park fans. It was my Star Wars growing up -- I was the perfect age to become infatuated with the dazzling dinosaur effects in the film and at a susceptible age to totally buy into its merchandising blitz: I had the video games, the toys, the wallet, the posters, the T-shirt. Heck, I still have the T-shirt, and my most prized possession is the "fleshy" rubber-skinned Jurassic Park T-Rex toy that takes pride of place on top of my bookshelf. In fact, were someone to get me the Command Centre this Christmas, I'd still probably jump with glee much like I would have done as a seven year old.
So, you can probably guess at how excited I am about Jurassic World. It's lining up to be pretty darn good -- Colin Trevorrow (responsible for the best film no-one saw, Safety Not Guaranteed) has co-written and directed it, Steven Spielberg (who brought Jurassic Park to the silver screen originally) is producing, and star-of-the-moment Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Recreation) is set to lead. So far so good.
Except for one detail: it will have genetically modified dinosaurs in it. It's long been rumoured (a script circulating a few years ago hinted at "weaponised" dinos). This has seemingly been confirmed by a tie-in Jurassic World LEGO set featuring a so-called "D-Rex" (ugh), with translucent skin and red eyes. Here's a picture of it (well, the toy anyway), courtesy of GrooveBricks / IGN:
No, no NO! Keep this Steroidsaurus shit out of it! When you're making a monster movie about the coolest creatures to ever walk the Earth, why the fuck do you have to go and redesign them? Though it's only loosely a "science-based" fiction, you take the franchise into a whole other direction with such inventions. You may as well be watching Pacific Rim.
It's not as if dinosaurs weren't already lethal predators, terrifying enough to have Star Lord shitting his pants as he runs through the jungle. If the movie-makers are looking for a fresher dinosaur than the tired-old T-Rex, why not give some screen time to the recently-uncovered "Gore King"?. And if you're looking for a scene-stealing 3D spectacle, what about the 65-tonne Dreadnoughtus, the largest dinosaur ever? Not only does it really have that badass name, but it's another recent, incredible find by real-world paleontologists:
Why revive Jurassic Park at all (it'll have been nearly 14 years since Jurassic Park 3 came out by the time Jurassic World hits cinemas) if you're not going to bother keeping what made those films so special in the first place -- the dinosaurs?
I don't get this obsession with ramping everything up to excessive levels -- what's the D-Rex going to do that a T-Rex can't? Talk? Breathe fire? Go watch some shit like Dragonheart for that. It's making the assumption that those troublesome millennial kids with their Instagrams and Call of Dutys and YouTubes and Sexting won't care or be able to pay attention unless their senses are bombarded with total synaesthetic bollocks. The D-Rex, to me, has a whiff of "Star Wars-prequel syndrome" to it -- all CGI flash, but with none of the heart of the originals.
Jurassic Park, for me and my similarly-aged school friends, meant so much, on levels I only appreciate fully now that I'm older. It was majestic, full of creatures so incredible that it blew our little minds to think that they'd ever actually lived, and taught us an appreciation of natural history that no museum trip ever could. I realise now that it was also a celebration of the nerd, the geek, the scientist -- the hero is a paleontologist, and the film itself couldn't exist without the pain-staking efforts of hundreds of years' worth of dust bowl digs at paleontology sites. Start adding fictional creatures into the mix, and it undermines a legacy 65 million years in the making.
Update: So, after this was published last night, none other than director Colin Trevorrow himself got in touch over Twitter to set the record straight, and get us even more excited about next year's film. We're having trouble embedding tweets at the moment, so here's a few screengrabs of the brief exchange:
So! "This is exactly what our movie is about". A cryptic response! Will its GM dinos be sending poor old T-Rex down the Job Centre? Or is Trevorrow hinting that, yes, the film will make sure the real dinosaurs maintain top billing? We'll have to wait and see when the film releases here on June 12th, 2015. If anyone can win me over and prove me wrong, Trevorrow is the man to do it.
Update 2: The full trailer is unleashed! So what do you think?