Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Welcome to Jurassic Park 4?


Unless you’ve been so far out in the field that you haven’t been able to receive the latest news via the blogosphere and media news pages, then you will know that Steven Spielberg has announced plans for Jurassic Park 4. Spielberg made the announcement during the San Diego Comic-Con and was quoted as saying:

“We have a story. We have a writer who is writing the treatment and hopefully we are going to make Jurassic Park 4 in all our foreseeable futures, hopefully in the next two or three years.”

The first thing to say here is that I wouldn’t hold your breath because JP4 has always been two or three years in the making since JP3 was released way back in 2001. The rumour mill has been rife throughout the following ten years with all sorts of possible story lines, directors and actors – all of which have turned out to be meaningless rumour. But assuming that Spielberg is true to his word, then we can expect another film in the franchise around 2014 which will almost certainly add to the significant global takings by the other three films of $1.9 billion and will no doubt be swelled yet again by the trilogy being released on Blu-ray for the first time later this year.

What has surprised me, however, is the amount of people demonstrating their opposition to the film being made at all, and that is without the criticism of the project that has been demonstrated on social networking sites, blogs and also by the paleocommunity at sites such as the DML. I understand people wanting to protect the legend of the original Jurassic Park but it was inevitable that sequels would be made and that the franchise would escalate. Incidentally, I don’t think the sequels were bad films anyway – they were good fun and entertained people, which brings me too the main point of this post.

The central focus for the anti-JP4 group seems to be the fact that the films were not and will not be scientifically accurate despite the fact that there have been some superb consultants involved from day one including palaeontologists such as Jack Horner. When the original Jurassic Park was released back in 1993, the standard of the effects, attention to detail and scientific accuracy was unmatched – at that time. Subsequently the film was methodically scrutinised and taken apart by both expert and amateur alike and it seemed that, all of a sudden, the film that broke the mould was considered flawed.

By the time JP2 was ready for release the critics were waiting with their sharpened knives in hand, ready to get stuck into it and, unfortunately, the film gave them plenty of ammunition. The biggest concerns at that point were that the raptors were still featherless since the first dinosaur fossils with feathers were already being recovered in China. There’s something about dromaeosaurids portrayed without feathers that really annoys some people – and I mean annoy!

When JP3 went into production it was already being ripped to bits as snippets of information regarding the script leaked out. The film makers were on a hiding to nothing as far as some people were concerned and, despite doing good box office business, the film left a little to be desired as far as some critics were concerned. Although the raptors in JP3 did sport some quills, this was by no means enough.

Now that JP4 has been announced (again) the knives are out once more and you have to ask the question – why? Some people seem to forget that the Jurassic Park movies are made to entertain the public at large – entertain, not to be as scientifically accurate as possible although we would all like to see the situation improve. Not that it would matter if it was accurate since our science is moving so rapidly these days the chances are that a scientifically perfect Jurassic Park would be obsolete within 24 months.

Now I would love these films to be as scientifically accurate as the next man but I accept that this is unlikely because these films are being made to entertain the public at large. Time is money and I suspect that scientific accuracy is somewhat down the priorities list when it comes to getting the film finished and on public release. Even then, these films are a quantum leap better than anything else made and you cannot help but be impressed by the sheer scale and the standard of special effects.

Do I have issues with the Jurassic Park series? Well of course I do and if I am to be pinned down to one inaccuracy it would have to be the Spinosaurus / T.rex conflict in JP3 – not good. That might have worked if the film makers had not depicted the T.rex holding the spinosaur by the neck in its jaws and letting go with absolutely no after affects. In reality the power of the tyrannosaurs jaws would almost have certainly mashed the neck to pulp, perhaps even decapitated it. There would have been no fight to be honest.

The other issue that needs to be raised is that I find it difficult that people see fit to criticise a movie for not being accurate when nearly every single “serious” documentary on television is so often inaccurate, sensationalistic, repetitive and downright misleading. I am always critical of documentary’ s that portray possibility and theory as fact since that is misleading the public in every sense of the word. Most people are not bothered when they are watching the Jurassic Park series since they are at the cinema for the ride – except for us palaeo-types of course!


Come on everyone, film entertainment is exactly that – entertainment. Let’s try and not take them too seriously and enjoy them for what they are. Perhaps when all the serious documentaries are correct then we may have an argument to concentrate on getting the movies right. Incidentally, the two new big television dinosaur documentaries are not too far from broadcasting now and both Planet Dinosaur and Dinosaur Revolution are looking the part. Let’s hope the science is equally as good as the CGI.

10 comments:

Andrea Cau said...

I love the inaccurate dinosaurs in the JP movies, because they allow me to write a lot of posts on the differences between fictional and palaeontological ("true" in the scientific sense of the word, that is: "pending new evidence") dinosaurs, so, I hope that a forth movie will give me new themes for my blog!

Mark Wildman said...

Good point Andrea - I'm sure that if the film does get made there will almost certainly be plenty of material there for you to blog about. By the way, enjoyed the recent Terra Nova post - more for you to get your teeth into!

Dr.Dino said...

I believe the age of the movies (the latest is ten years old!) play a part of such negativism for a future fourth movie. It's quite a surprise seen in today's days people saying Jurassic Park was never about accuracy when all three movies at their time are huge in term of putting out the latest paleontology discoveries and hypothesis to the public.
I believe most of these harsh criticism come from people who didn't experience the movies at the time of their release. Or as every fan community it's the new trend.

P.S.: Congratulations, Mark Wildman. Just discovered this blog and I'm liking what I read. ;)

Alessio said...

TOTALLY AGREE!

Great post, sir, a really great post indeed.

Mark Wildman said...

Thanks for the comments everyone - glad you're enjoying it!

Walter said...

Late to the discussion, but I stumbled across this post and couldn't resist commenting. I was a kid who read the book Jurassic Park when it first came out -- before Spielberg even announced a film -- and feel in love with dinosaurs all over again. I remember the movie being a disappointment -- not in the dinosaurs, which were great -- because of the otherwise small scale of the production. The sets were surprisingly sparse and really didn't come close to the size and scope of the park portrayed in the book. (Not surprising, given JP was a rush job for Spielberg, who made it so the studio would let him direct Schindler's List.) So count me in for remaking the original movie, given the FX technology has caught up with what Crichton originally envisioned. And, oh yeah, hire some decent writers this time.

But even more than a remake, I would like to see another dinosaur movie franchise launched. I've read pretty much every novel/comic about dinosaurs (the ones aimed a teens and adults, that is.) Here are a few suggestions for Hollywood:

1. Xenozoic Tales (aka Cadillacs & Dinosaurs). Crazy premise, but it works. A comic set in a post-apocalyptic future where every species that ever existed once again roams the earth. And there heroes driving around in Cadillacs, trying to prevent the bad guys from digging up ancient technology and using it to do bad things. Great pulp fun.

2. Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear. A sequel to The Lost World, but only in the lightest sense. It is about a boy who accompanies his father to return dinosaurs from a dinosaur circus to the lost world. Of course, things go wrong and they get stranded in the lost world. Not the best of Bear's books, but the story provides and excellent framework for a movie. Some dino snobs also might nitpick over some of its imaginary dinosaurs, which Bear imagines are the result of 65 million years of evolution.

3. Something something men hunting dinosaurs. There are several stories about time-traveling hunting expeditions to the past, so it is hard to say which could work. A Sound of Thunder already has been ruined. There are de Camp's Reginald Rivers stories, starting with A Gun for Dinosaur. No one story could support a full film but elements from several could be combined into a plot. I always had a soft spot for David Drake's Time Safari (later Tyrannosaur), esp. the latter two stories of the collection. David Gerrold has Deathbeast, but the characters are so despicable you root for the T.rex in the end.

Say what you will, but I bet any of those would be better than Hollywood's current plans for Aliens vs. Dinosaurs.

Mark Wildman said...

I think that if you have any interest in these sort of movies, and enjoy them, that you tend to often formulate stories and ideas for another one. My thoughts tend to revolve around the dino-action that I want to see and how to generate a story to serve as a platform.

I think I've come up with a couple of awesome ideas that would make great movies but they will, inevitably, remain in my head. We can all dream.....

Alessio said...

I'm strongly AGAINST a remake of the first movie (or remakes in general). I know it went out VERY different from the novel, but quite frankly i loved 'em both, two ways to narrate a wonderful story... A remake, if made these days, would probably cheapen the meaning of the first, legendary movie and would be just a CGI mess (maybe even in 3D... Argh!) with nothing of the sense of wonder we experienced when we saw JP for the first time in '93.

About new and fresh ideas for a 4th movie, eh, that's though. Another expedition to Isla Sorna? Hell no! Dinosaurs as the bad guys? Nope, they must recapture the original message (remember the scene with Grant and the kids on the tree?): dinosaurs are not monsters, but animals.
What about introducing Richard Levine (from the second novel) and closing the "Dodgson/Byosin storyline"? Afterall we haven't seen him after that brief scene with Nedry in JP.

Hammer said...

As of May 2013, it appears all is dead with JP4 from comments made from the "inside."

Mark Wildman said...

Nothing would surprise me with JP4!

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