Sequel Saturday: Jurassic Spark, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi


On June 12, 2015, Jurassic World gets a nationwide theatrical release. The trailers feature Chris Pratt (Wanted) on a motorcycle with a pack of velociraptors in tow. It appears to be the only movie in the series set during a time when the titular Jurassic Park is actually open to the general public. We’ll have to wait until next week to see how Jurassic World turns out. Let’s take a look back at the original trilogy.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the original Jurassic Park. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Always), this adaptation of a Michael Crichton bestseller featured a heady mix of special effects both practical and computer-generated. An early sequence featuring the protagonists arriving on Isla Nublar to see a group of brachiosaurus eating leaves from trees. CG creatures at the time were more of a novelty than anything else; this scene featured very realistic creatures in broad daylight. The combination of memorable performances from the likes of Laura Dern (Wild at Heart) and Wayne Knight (JFK) paired with a thrilling story packed with suspense sequences and a stirring John Williams score made for a memorable flick indeed.

Just four years later, Spielberg returned to direct the sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Crichton also wrote a book titled The Lost World, but the film doesn’t really resemble it. Not too many cast members from the original return for this entry. We get Richard Attenborough (Brannigan) reprising his role as John Hammond for a short expository scene not too far into the film, but the majority of the action follows Jeff Goldblum (The Tall Guy) coming back as Dr. Ian Malcolm along with a new cast of characters. The plotting is all over the place. Too much plot and too many characters make for a more bloated narrative than the original. An extended Godzilla homage near the end of the movie does little to help things.

Another four years passed before the third entry came along, titled Jurassic Park III. Directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji), it’s an improvement over the second entry. Sam Neill (Dead Calm) brings some warmth playing Dr. Alan Grant once more. The tone is brighter, and the action scenes are more fun. Things get a bit goofy at the end, but at least it’s a fun sequel.

Jurassic World shows some promise with the previews, even if the premise has scenes that remind of Jaws 3-D. Will it kick off a new wave of dinosaur films or be an odd sequel several years after the last entry that nobody will care about? Only time will tell.

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