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Jurassic World: Just Think Of It As a Really Expensive Mash-Up of Jurassic Park & Deep Blue Sea

Wouldn’t it be funny if they made a Jurassic Park movie in which nothing went wrong? What if they made an Adventureland-like drama focused on the love lives and coming of age stories among the Park’s young employees? Or something like Gareth Edwards’ Monsters which is essentially a road movie about a man and a woman falling in love in a world in which CGI monsters occasionally pop up in the background? Or maybe instead of Wally World the Griswolds in the new Vacation movie are on their way to Jurassic Park, and they again arrive on a weekend when the park is closed but force a John Candy-esque security guard to let them in?

Yeah, but if they did any of those ideas it wouldn’t really be a Jurassic Park movie, would it? First there was a park where shit went down (Jurassic Park), Newman got acid in the face, Samuel L. Jackson lost an arm (and his life), Jeff Goldblum rained down classic one-liners (e.g., “Must go faster,” “Will there be any dinosaurs on the dinosaur tour?”, “Just because you could doesn’t mean you should”), and the velociraptors scared the living hell out of us. Then there was (in The Lost World) a “Site B” island where dinosaurs had been roaming free ever since the first movie, and Jeff Goldbum, his black daughter, Julianne Moore, and Vince Vaughn really sucked at stopping military guys from pissing off those dinosaurs. By the end, a T-Rex did a decent Godzilla impression during a nighttime stroll through San Diego. Lots of people died. Then (in Jurassic Park 3) there were some stupid thrill-seeking tourists who paraglided near the “Site B” island causing William H. Macy and Tea Leoni to trick Sam Neill into helping them rescue their young son from the dinosaur-infested island. Also, we found out that Laura Dern and Sam Neill didn’t end up together despite their happy ending in the first movie, but there’s still love there – she saves the day completely off-screen after a desperate call from Neill motivates her to take action and call in the Marines and Navy for a last second rescue. Still, a lot of people died.

From the looks of it in the new trailer, a lot of people are going to die in Jurassic World as well. What’s different this time? The main villain, a role filled by the T-Rex in the first film and the Spinosauraus in the third, is a genetically engineered super smart dinosaur, Chris Pratt can somehow control velociraptors, and rather than a park yet to open or a relatively remote island the setting will be a fully operational Jurassic Park packed to the brim with dinosaurs and slack-jawed tourists staring at said dinosaurs. Other than that, no one’s really learned that they shouldn’t play god, and Joss Whedon thinks it looks 70s-era sexist (although he now regrets saying that).

I rolled my eyes around a year ago when the plot details were first leaked, assuming talk of velociraptors working alongside Chris Pratt’s character in their fight against a genetically engineered super dinosaur was pure fan fiction or something out of a SyFy original movie. And then director Colin Trevorrow more or less confirmed it was all true, signaling to me that they are falling into the same Terminator: Geniysis trap of restarting a franchise with an idea so insane it will most likely either really work or completely fail.  Once the first teaser arrived, I kept seeing flashes of Deep Blue Sea, the 1999 Renny Harlin B-Movie in which Saffron Burrows plays a scientist who genetically modifies a group of sharks as part of her Alzheimer’s research (Return of the Planet of the Apes used the same general idea).  She turns into a woman of action, striving to survive along with everyone else.  However, as is typical of such a character in a B-movie, she ends up in just her bra and panties while evading one of the sharks:

sci-fi-gratuitity-deep-blue-sea-saffron-burrowsBryce Dallas Howard’s Jurassic World character is also responsible for genetically modifying something she shouldn’t, in this case dinosaurs, although more as a corporate type than scientist.  She will become a woman of action, as well, and at some point she will look like this.  I wouldn’t regard this as gratuitous, just a tad familiar considering her similarities to the Saffron Burrows character:

Bryce-Dallas-Howard-Jurassic-World2She will be an ice queen verbally sparring with a cynical “bad ass with a checkered past charged with keeping her hyper-intelligent killing machines in check.” He’s a real man’s man type who doesn’t think “her playing god” is a good idea.  He will, of course, most likely melt her heart, with Trevorrow pointing to Romancing the Stone as a model of what they’re going for.  In Jurassic World‘s case, that man will be Chris Pratt; in Deep Blue Sea, it was Thomas Jane:

thomas jane Deep Blue SeaIn fact, that terrible Chris Pratt-Bryce Dallas Howard Jurassic World scene Joss Whedon regarded as sexist is remarkably similar to the way Burrows and Jane interact throughout Deep Blue Sea.

There’s also the additional element that in its quest to one-up Jaws Deep Blue Sea delivered a bigger shark (three of them, to be exact) and added genetic modifications to make things a bit more unpredictable, and Jurassic World is doing something similar to one-up its prior films.  Of course, you could make the counter-argument that Deep Blue Sea was itself a variation on Jurassic Park, at least the humans-playing-god-and-paying-for-it part, and that aside from everything I’ve already pointed out the plots of Deep Blue Sea and Jurassic World are quite dissimilar.

However, the more I think about it the more I lean toward the conclusion that Jurassic World seems so familiar simply because it is of a now somewhat standard nature-fights-back subgenre of B-movies (and the ice queen/bad-ass guy pairing is kind of a general action movie cliche).  All of the Jurassic Park movies are really just glorified B-movies, Spielberg repeating the same trick he made with Jaws and turning a B-movie into something which seems slightly higher-minded, looks amazing, and positively thrills audiences.  Well, Jurassic World only has Spielberg as a producer (so do the Transformers movies, if that matters), but it does have every chance of delivering great special effects and thrilling action sequences.  However, like a quintessential B-movie it also looks like it’s going to have terrible dialogue, cliched acting and characterizations, and a very familiar plot.

I actually kind of enjoy Deep Blue Sea because I think it absolutely knows what it is, and Samuel L. Jackson’s death scene is among the best scenes of its kind.  Still, I only enjoy it in the “I watched it when it came on TV” or “I streamed it on Netflix” kind of way.  Jurassic World carries with it the burden of being from a film franchise draped in nostalgia and known for its amazing visuals.  What they’ve made, though, sure looks like a lot like a standard goofy survival thriller that podcasts love to mock (such as How Did This Get Made?, We Hate Movies, both of which have funny Deep Blue Sea episodes).  That could actually be a lot of fun if they realize what kind of film they’ve actually made.  If not, well, it’ll still be fun, just not always intentionally.

Jurassic World comes out in the US on June 12th.

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    1. The Spielberg thing is what I am trying to get past. I am trying to not think of this as a real Jurassic Park movie, but instead a very expensive version of Deep Blue Sea with dinosaurs instead of sharks yet all of the same B-movie trappings. As such, I am leaning toward this being a “so bad it’s good” kind of film that just so happens to share a title with some pretty good movies Spielberg directed over 20 years ago. That’s my way of coping and making sense of the trailers we’ve been given to this point. That coping is much harder when the first trailer featured that sad version of the iconic Williams score from the first movie.

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