Photo by Juliana Cortés, via Flickr.
I don't hate Jurassic Park. I may have a complicated relationship with it, but that's pretty common. Even if Colin Trevorrow had announced feathered theropods would be part of JP4, anyone would be wise to keep their expections low for a long-delayed continuation of a franchise of such severely diminishing returns. If you're one of those who has no problem with naked dromaeosaurs in the next movie, more power to you: I hope you enjoy it. I really do!
Andrea Cau's comment on my recent post about the latest JP4 news is one that I've seen others raise in other places on-line. I'll quote it here fully:
There is no reason to show feathered raptors in JP4, because in the world of JP raptors are those seen in JP1 (and I'm not among those mentioning genetic mutations or frogs as a justification of that look: simply, JP is a 1993 movie and represents that epoch iconography).These are fair enough points, and as I said above: if this is your expectation for a new JP movie, I hope this one satisfies you. For my part, I don't really care about the Jurassic Park universe or canon or iconography (now that I think about it, changing the design of the Jurassic Park visual identity would offend me more than altering creature design). In his post at Laelaps, Brian Switek ably shows that neither, apparently, do the filmmakers.
I hated the "crested" raptors in JP3 because they differed from those in the first movies. I'm happy dinosaurs in JP4 will retain the look of the first movies: JP is not a documentary, and should not be forced to be "updated" to the "real world". In the JP-verse the dinosaur look is the one shown in JP1 and must remain that one until the end of the saga.
Sequels must follow the original style, since they are part of the same "universe". Otherwise, they are not sequels.
Do you want feathered dinosaurs based on 2013 science? Ask for a reboot.
...the franchise has already changed its dinosaurs several times with no explanation. The first sequel introduced new color palettes for the dinosaurs, as did the third film. (Not to mention the fact that Jurassic Park III raises the mystery of why Site B contains species that InGen didn’t clone, and never actually resolves this point.) If the dinosaurs are changing from film to film to start with, why not take a jump and show audiences something they have never witnessed before?If it's intricate world-building I'm looking for, I've got plenty of other places to find that these days. Still: there are plenty of ways that a good writer could not only incorporate the new science of feather origins in Jurassic Park 4, he or she could make it work thematically. One general scenario that springs to mind would be that the film could use changing science as a way to mirror uncertainty and progress in the lives of human characters. The characters are now faced with animals that blur the line between "reptile" and "bird," animals InGen rejected and hid from the public. How would Grant - if he was part of it at all - react to this? How would he transition from his "I'm out of a job" attitude to a realization of just how twisted from reality the animals he faced on Isla Nublar were? What wonder would he feel faced with a resurrected but abandoned ecosystem of feathered, fuzzy, prickly, spiny, dinosaurs?
Though Andrea dismisses it, the fact is, Jurassic Park contains the seeds of changing creature design in the canonical fact that the animals were engineered to satisfy public perception. There's terrific stuff there to write for! After all, suspense and fear are a huge part of the cinematic experience of Jurassic Park, and fear of the unknown, of the ground shifting under our feet, is a big reason a large part of the public distrusts, rejects, and ignores science. If you think this is all too heady for a Jurassic Park film, I'd disagree: a book and film that introduced me as a teenager to paradigm shifts and chaos theory has plenty of room for such philosophical content. The fact that Jurassic Park III lacked this element is part of what makes it such a forgettable movie. Trying something like the concept I sketched in broad strokes above could result in a Jurassic Park movie as meaningful to its time as the first one. That's not something worth shooting for?
The fact that I've written three posts about this new revelation about JP4 should show how much I really do love the original Jurassic Park. I was a confused, awkward kid when the book came out. I read it repeatedly during the summer of 1992. In the summer of 1993, I saw the movie repeatedly. I was in love with the SNES game. As I wrote almost three years ago, regarding the scene at the lagoon right after the party arrives on the island,
The moment seared into my memory, when a movie actually made me see the world differently, was the first time I saw that shot. Certainly, Mr. Brachiosaurus showing off by standing on two legs was impressive. Absolutely marvelous. But it was just a set-up. When that shot was projected onto the screen, it was a punch to the gut. Suddenly, dinosaurs were alive again, and how I'd always dreamed of seeing them: casually going about their lives. Moving like animals move, with weight. Rendered a bit hazy by the distance. Put into better perspective by little white specks of birds flying over sparkling water. As if I was out hiking, and happened across the scene upon cresting a hill. It was a rush. A deep, satisfying realization of a wish I knew was foolish. And I realized it as it was happening: this is the closest you'll ever get to it.In my brain, I'd be happy for JP to die and let someone new figure out a way to make a big Hollywood dinosaur movie. Forget reboots, forget sequels, leave Jurassic Park trapped in the amber of the 1990's. Reinvent big dinosaur adventure totally. In my heart though, I'd like to return to Jurassic Park. I just think we've grown apart.