(Warning: This story contains plenty of Jurassic World spoilers)
With Jurassic World’s monstrous, record-setting opening weekend, the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, is going to want a sequel as soon as humanly possible (the CGI dinosaurs are ready to go at any time). But unlike superhero franchises that always have another evil villain to thwart, there’s no obvious set-up or place for the next Jurassic film to go — which puts its producers in danger of repeating the mistakes of the series’ past.
It took 14 years for the franchise’s fourth movie to finally hit the big screen, and it acts as a sort of more grandiose version of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original film: In Jurassic World, the dinos are brainer, the kills are grislier, and the action sequences are way more elaborate. But after surviving the park, where do World’s survivors — including Chris Pratt, who’s reportedly signed up for more dino-adventures — have left to go? There’s no chance that they’ll rebuild the film’s titular adventureland (the insurance costs alone would be prohibitive). And bringing the dinos to the mainland seems like a dicey idea, both for the characters and the franchise. After all, that’s what happened in 1997′s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, a box-office hit that found a T. Rex stomping through San Diego, and which has aged poorly — so much so, the producers of Jurassic World essentially retconned it out of existence.
So where should the next Park open? Can the franchise open up new worlds, or are these characters stuck on an island forever? If so, can someone at least get Bryce Dallas Howard’s character some decent flats?
Gwynne: World director Colin Trevorrow — who won’t be involved with the sequels — has said that the Jurassic World movies will be more of a continuous story arc. And based on how frequently the idea is raised in Jurassic World, I’d guess that we’re going to see genetically modified dinosaurs go to war. Maybe against humans? The problem is that this sounds like Planet of the Apes. In fact, every idea that I can think of for the Jurassic future sounds like another existing franchise. Dinos go rampaging through a major city? Godzilla. Lots of dinosaurs with crazy tech modifications wreak havoc? Transformers. The T-Rex builds a war machine and rides it through the desert? Mad Max. Kidding about that last one, but you see my point.
After aping the original Jurassic Park so closely, these movies need to find a clear direction of their own. So what can the future Jurassic films do to set themselves apart from all the other effects-heavy tentpoles?
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Jordan: My initial idea was to have a legal thriller about all the lawsuits that will inevitably come out of the Isla Nublar massacre, though perhaps tourists had to sign a waiver before going on to the island.
But in all seriousness, I don’t think there’s much they can do to avoid seeming like another franchise, but that probably won’t hurt them much — we’ve been watching the same few stories on the big screen for years. Especially the last 20 years.
Weaponizing dinosaurs, which Trevorrow has spoken about, almost turns it into Jurassic Park III — but scarier, since the dinosaurs in this new storyline will have been trained to kill, not just stomp around and look in windows. Dinosaurs could go to war against each other, but that is actually a lot like the latest Godzilla film, which made humans basically bystanders caught in the middle of a re-ignited pre-historic war. And the problem with that is that the newest Godzilla film stunk (and I’m a huge fan of the fire-breathing dragon).
Maybe the dino eggs that have been smuggled out of Jurassic World hit the black market, and start hatching throughout the world? Or perhaps Pratt has to go around the world collecting them, sort of like a In-dino Jones?
If you could model the next Jurassic film on any other sequel, what would it be?
Gwynne: Were it up to me, I’d move the next Jurassic World movie a few years into the future, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes-style. I don’t mean that there should be a crazy apocalypse; I mean, let’s see the world that exists as a consequence of what happened in the first film. The genetically modified dinosaur eggs have been moved off the island, and we know there’s military and corporate interest in the technology. That means the modern world could be inundated with custom dinosaurs.
And it might not be a total disaster! (At first, anyway.) Trevorrow has spoken about the idea of Jurassic Park technology going “open source” in the sequels, creating opportunities for dinosaurs to be used in “agriculture, and medicine, and in war.” There are ripe possibilities there to take the Jurassic World films in more of a sci-fi direction. And since my favorite thing in Jurassic World was the amusement park itself — a super-detailed, futuristic spin on Disney World — I’d love to see how those same designers tackle a dino-inhabited culture. I’m imagining Apple stores stocked with personal assistant dinosaurs (Siri-saurii?), farmers riding dino-plows, Pteranodons used as private helicopters… Basically, the whole world becomes Jurassic World. I’d pay to see that!
Related: 60 Awe-Inpiring Facts About the Original 'Jurassic Park’ Trilogy
The problem with my pitch, though, is moving the franchise into the future would leave Jurassic World’s characters behind. I doubt they’d make another one without Chris Pratt, and the kid, Ty Simpkins, is definitely contracted for a sequel. I’d like it if Omar Sy — who plays Pratt’s raptor-skilled assistant — came back.
But I’d be perfectly happy never to see Howard’s character, Claire, again. She might not have been so offensive to me if the movie showed her being competent at … well, anything. How did she get that high-powered job when she has zero leadership or decision-making skills, not to mention a total lack of knowledge about dinosaurs? Too many scenes in this movie boiled down to “The man is right, and the lady is wrong.”
What do you think: Are any of the surviving Jurassic World characters worth building a sequel around?
Jordan: I dissent from the critical consensus that Howard’s character was a flimsy one. Claire has basically the same arc as Sam Neill’s Alan Grant did in the first film: A work-obsessed nerd with little use for children who then learns to loosen up and bonds with kids during a massive dinosaur outbreak. I don’t think the character was particularly charismatic to watch, but I also don’t think she was offensive, per se. The main character always has to be flawed to grow. And I think Chris Pratt’s character — having no arc at all, and being weirdly perfect — made her seem worse in comparison.
Now back to the sequels! As for a storyline: Having dinosaurs as active in agriculture and those sorts of jobs sounds a lot like Pixar’s upcoming film, The Good Dinosaur. It would take some major training, and I can’t imagine them being more efficient at jobs that humans or machines … though they would make pretty good sacrificial weapons in a war. Maybe two major superpowers start using dinosaurs in combat, and we get some crazy dinosaur battles. Or terrorists get control of dinosaurs and attack cities.
Oh, maybe we get a human-dino hybrid. I’d be down with that.
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Gwynne: Human-dino hybrids would be cool. You know what else would be cool? More prehistoric creatures. As long as we’re chipping away in amber, let’s bring back the wooly mammoths and the giant ground sloths! In my opinion, Jurassic World’s aquatic mosasaurus was a lot more interesting than the fictional Indominus Rex — so why not mine that obscure-ancient-creatures vein for all it’s worth?
Jordan: They really might bring wooly mammoths back, so it’d be timely!
Gwynne: We are in complete agreement on this. It could be Jurassic Frozen. Or maybe they should take a cue from the mosasaurus and move the next Jurassic World movie underwater. (Jurassic Abyss?) Obviously, the possibilities are endless. They just need to find the courage to take the movies in a new direction, rather than recycling the same story (again). And I can see how that’s a challenge: resurrecting old things is, quite literally, in this franchise’s DNA.