Jurassic Park, like its director’s other indelible monster smash, Jaws, exists in a funny place in pop culture. Directed by Steven Spielberg, when it was released in 1993, it grossed a staggering US$900 million (Dhs3.3 billion), becoming the biggest movie ever until Titanic bobbed along four years later. The feelings the franchise evokes – in spite of two average sequels – is one of sheer nostalgia, such was its impact on young audiences. Even the director of this fourth instalment, Colin Trevorrow, remembers sneaking out of his parents’ house to watch it. But, just like Jaws, it has been so consistently riffed on – whether that’s with shots of rippling glasses of water or things coming up fast in rear-view mirrors – that it still feels fresh 22 years later. You might think, therefore, that making another one was easy. You would, according to the filmmakers, be wrong…
After the two previous sequels, the Jurassic franchise was extinct until 2007, when legendary indie director John Sayles turned in a script for Jurassic Park 4. So barking was it that it effectively parked all plans. In Sayles’ script, and we’re really not making this up, trained velociraptors went on a mission to take down a drug baron’s army. Laugh all you like, but something from that script has stayed – like a mosquito trapped in amber, perhaps – with Chris Pratt’s leading man here now a dinosaur wrangler, training four raptors called Blue, Charlie, Delta and Echo. The other new spin comes from Spielberg himself, and is brilliantly simple: this time, the park is open. What if Disneyland grew teeth and tried to eat you?
The latest example of Hollywood’s current fad for giving fledgling filmmakers ginormous budgets, this is only Trevorrow’s second feature. Just as Warner Bros last year gave Gareth Edwards the mega-budgeted Godzilla on the strength of his micro-budgeted 2010 debut Monsters and just as Twentieth Century Fox handed Josh Trank this summer’s upcoming Fantastic Four movie based on his 2012 indie smash Chronicle, so too did Universal hand over the keys to Jurassic World to a guy whose only previous movie was a tiny time-travel sci-fi called Safety Not Guaranteed (2012). That may have had a budget that wouldn’t cover the sandwiches on a studio tentpole, but Spielberg was so taken with it that for him there was no other choice, especially when Trevorrow first turned him down. ‘That was the toughest decision I’ve ever made,’ says Trevorrow. ‘But I felt that if I was going to do the movie the script had to progress. Thankfully, he agreed.’
Even without the rumours still persisting that he could be the new Indiana Jones, Chris Pratt’s recent rise nearly redefines the rulebook. Just two years ago he was the chubby standout in the respected but little seen Parks and Recreation TV show. Now all six-packed leading man, the past 18 months have seen him be the voice lead in the gargantuan The Lego Movie and the Han Solo-like hero (which is why he’s the perfect fit for Indiana Jones, by the way) of the colossal Guardians of the Galaxy. Next up he’s in the blockbuster remake of The Magnificent Seven, and this week he’s headlining what could well be this summer’s biggest hit. If he’s feeling the pressure though, he’s not showing it, having just released a tongue in cheek ‘advance apology’ for anything stupid he says on Jurassic World’s global press junket. ‘I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying during the forthcoming Jurassic World press tour,’ he wrote on his Facebook page. ‘I hope you understand it was never my intention to offend anyone and I am truly sorry. I swear. I’m the nicest guy in the world. And I fully regret what I (accidentally will have) said in (the upcoming foreign and domestic) interview(s). I am not in the business of making excuses. I am just dumb. Plain and simple. I try. I REALLY try! When I do (potentially) commit the offensive act for which I am now (pre)apologizing you must understand I (will likely have been) tired and exhausted when I (potentially) said that thing I (will have had) said that (will have had) crossed the line.’ Brilliant.
A massive event movie it may be, but Jurassic World isn’t all about the surface. Just as Trevorrow is preoccupied with the new generation of people who would rather take pictures of things on their iPhone than actually, well, look at them, so too is he concerned with the commercialisation of modern culture. And he’ll be damned if that’s something he’s not going to have a little fun with. ‘Really, this is a movie about excess, about how money has led us to ruin everything we used to love,’ he says. ‘Every ride [in Jurassic World] is branded and owned. The visitors’ centre [in the park] is actually the Samsung Innovation Centre. And then at the end, the oldest living creatures on Earth trash it all. It’s pretty satisfying.’
Jurassic World is out in cinemas across the UAE from Thursday June 11.
Promising more dinosaurs than any other Jurassic Park movie, as well as the returning raptors we are guaranteed some all-new beasts. There are the flying ones – the dimorphodon – who will unleash terror from the skies on the park’s many hapless tourists. There is the swimming one – the mosasaurus – who, as per an idea of Spielberg’s, eats great white sharks for lunch (check out the trailer to see him in action). But Trevorrow’s key twist, appropriately enough, is his genetic fiddling. Frustrated by the modern world’s increasing inability to see the natural wonder in things, instead spending their time with their faces in their phones, his movie posits a world where the park’s awesome residents are no longer enough to satisfy a generation obsessed by the new. Driven to embark on a little DNA-splicing to liven things up, they create various mutant strains such as the Stegoceratops, before they hit the big time. The indominus rex, their genetic masterpiece that will run gory riot, is, so the rumours go, bigger than a T-rex, has red eyes and can vanish into his surroundings with his chameleon-like abilities. Interestingly, to come up with the creature, Trevorrow watched the brilliant and terrifying killer whale documentary Blackfish (2013) for inspiration, to study the psychoses inherent in animals who have grown up in captivity.