Try and tell me you didn’t get a little nostalgic watching this.
The font. The familiar sounds and dinosaur screeches. The faint playing of Jurassic Park’s classic theme song.
It’s all there and it’s been revamped and juiced up, much like the Jurassic series itself, which will re-launch in 2015 with Jurassic World. The film, starring Chris Pratt (in the skeptical Jeff Goldblum/Sam Neill-ish role) and Bryce Dallas Howard (in the dangerously naive but hopeful role, like Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond) will set itself a real-time appropriate 22 years after the events of the first movie, which was released in 1993 to a then-record $914 million worldwide.
In ’93, humans only had things like Ford Explorers (not even sure they called these things SUVs then) and cautious hunters named Robert Muldoon to protect them from Hammond’s theme park. It really was stupid, when you think about it, to just send a bunch of people – and his own grandkids – to a secluded island near Costa Rica with a T-Rex and an infinite supply of Velociraptors, and just hope something wouldn’t go wrong.
But technology was so new then, in the computer-y sense, that just being a hacker gave you the ability to slouch your way into the movie’s bad guy role.
Wayne Knight, as Dennis Nedry, used a simple bit of online trickery to steal dinosaur DNA and shut off the park’s power. And then Hammond’s granddaughter Lex got the park up and running again because she was a nerd, or something.
And the audience bought it because, well, it’s not like they even knew what the ‘Shift’ key was in 1993.
But fast-forward two decades – forgetting when the T-Rex conquered San Diego and whatever happened in the forgettable Jurassic Park III – and it seems our artificially intelligent world has roped history’s greatest killers in.
In the trailer above, theme park goers are transported past a family of Brachiosaurus in little floating pods. High-speed trains whisk tourists between the attractions they need to see, and Great White Sharks are hung over a Megalodon’s water tank to be eaten while the audience is splashed and thrilled, like some sort of twisted, wacky Sea World.
(And don’t think that wasn’t an intentional display of comparisons, either. The most feared killer in our world today is just chum and a chew toy for what ruled the Earth 65 million years ago? Perfect.)
But there does seem to be one notable difference between World and Park.
Michael Crichton, of course, wrote the first two Jurassic Park novels, including the sequel The Lost World. The books were a metaphor, a cautionary tale for human thats, no matter how close their brains could get them to God (in a figurative sense, because this movie is about evolution and scientific theory), they couldn’t try to play nature for a fool. Because the Earth and evolution is an elastic band and, if you pull it hard enough one way, it will snap back and destroy the other side.
And while Steven Spielberg’s films took Crichton’s work and added a whole lot of popcorn and box office to it, they never really deviated from that main message.
Remember Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, reciting with rapid fire in his chair while he became the first of the visiting crew to really slam Hammond’s idea – “The history of evolution has taught us, it’s that life will not be contained, life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers – painfully, maybe even dangerously, but…
“I’m simply saying that life finds a way.”
But in this one – in Jurassic World – at least by the trailer, it seems that message is out the door. Not just for the movie’s plot but for what’s being passed onto the audience, as well.
We don’t have a Goldblum or a Sam Neill. What we do have is Chris Pratt and a couple ominous warnings – “You just went a made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea” – to prepare us for the disaster about to unfold.
It doesn’t seem anyone’s paying for tempting fate by playing God, not this time.
It seems the message in 2014 is: humans are so powerful, they’ll let their own ambition destroy themselves and everyone around them.
Oddly, that’s closer to a Cold War-nuclear holocaust theme than it is to Crichton’s.
But it should be a hell of a ride all the same.