'I'M FAIRLY ALARMED HERE…'
Slowly but surely, things are heating up in the Jurassic world.
While ‘official’ updates concerning 2018’s sequel remain painfully few and far between, a steady stream of teases and leaks has nonetheless kept the community on its collective toes. Yesterday saw two such teases. Normally, for a community as content-starved as Jurassic’s, this would make for a resoundingly good day. Not this time, though. This time, the proverbial bag was well and truly mixed.
‘WHAT SPECIES IS THIS?’
The first of the day’s teases came when producer Frank Marshall took to Twitter to mention that filming for Jurassic World 2 is nearing the halfway point, something that is both incredibly surreal, and incredibly exciting.
Even more exciting, though, is the picture Marshall attached to his Tweet.
— Frank Marshall (@LeDoctor) 21 April 2017
Those are some really nice chairs. Look at them: the firm, charcoal-black fabric of the seats utterly free of blemishes; the bright, wooden arms providing stunning contrast as they perfectly capture the natural light of the — WHAT THE HELL IS THAT IN THE BACKGROUND?!
A dinosaur, certainly — but which one?
That, friends, is the question, because it’s not a species as easily recognisable as some of the others the Jurassic films have brought to the table.
There have been a few guesses as to its identity in the time since Marshall posted the image: Metriacanthosaurus, Acrocanthosaurus, Concavenator, and so on and so forth. I have no answers, just an observation:
Too small, obviously, but that fin- or sail-type protuberance along its back immediately reminded me of early Indominus concept art. pic.twitter.com/3YPnMJW5tl
— John T. (@JHNMCHLTNR) 21 April 2017
Whatever the case, I think we can be fairly certain that it isn’t a 'living' specimen. It clearly has the appearance of a statue — in fact, judging by some of the reflections in the glass before it, it seems to be in the same room as that equally mysterious ceratopsian skull from a few weeks ago. Perhaps it’s part of some sort of diorama… we’ll just have to wait and see.
For now, though, we’ll move on to the second — and considerably less exciting… — of yesterday’s teases.
OUT OF THE SUBLIME, INTO THE ABSURD
If you’ll bear with me for a moment, I’d like to preface everything I’m about to say with the following: yes, I know I’m probably making too big a deal out of all this, reading too far into it and so on, yadda yadda yadda. I’m also acutely aware that without actually hearing Cromwell speak, I lack a certain, vital context. That being said, however, there were a few things that stuck out to me as I read his comments, so I thought I’d sit down and dig into them.
Speaking with Collider about another project with which he’s involved, actor James Cromwell — whose Jurassic character is still a mystery — was asked, ‘What’s it like to go from something like this to doing something like the Jurassic World sequel?’
His response, which begins with, ‘It’s out of the sublime and into the absurd…’ is somewhat concerning. We’ll get into some of what he actually said momentarily, but, on the whole, I couldn’t help but sense an apparent lack of enthusiasm as I read.
You might say that this is where the above-mentioned lack of context comes into play, but that argument is, I think, dealt a considerable blow by Cromwell’s clearly enthusiastic response to a later question regarding his involvement in Star Trek. As for what he actually says about Jurassic… I won’t pretend there aren’t any positives in there, but they’re tempered by some fairly worrisome statements, the most glaring of which concerns director J.A. Bayona.
‘The director, bless his heart,’ Cromwell says, ‘was trying to fight off all of the executives. I probably shouldn’t say that.’
Oh dear, friends, oh dear. My heart sank several feet after reading those words.
Bayona’s vision, his style, is — for me — easily the most exciting aspect of Jurassic World 2. By all accounts, it’s a major part of what got him the job in the first place, and to hear that he’s actively having to resist executives sticking their fingers in the proverbial pie is deeply, deeply troubling.
On the reassuring side, though, Cromwell had nothing but praise for Bayona himself. ‘He’s wonderful,’ he said. ‘I liked him a lot… he evidently has a little recipe book of things to do to heighten an actor.’ We can only hope some of those executives came to share similar sentiments, that they stepped aside and let J.A. do his thing.
The next point I want to draw attention to is a little more subtle, but no less troubling, and just as context is important in other areas, it plays a role here, too. Speaking of his other project, The Promise, Cromwell says, ‘There was Terry… he’s a good writer and he did his homework, and he cares about it.’ Then, switching to Jurassic World 2, he continues, ‘And then, you go into this fantasy world and nobody has done anything. Well, that’s not really true. The prop people have made wonderful things. The set people have made wonderful things.’
‘… nobody has done anything…’
I don’t know about you, but, to me, that would seem to suggest Cromwell wasn’t particularly impressed with Jurassic World 2’s writing. You might think that a bit of a stretch, and, under different circumstances, I might be inclined to agree — but consider what comes before that statement, and after: Cromwell praises the writer of his other project, seems to criticise Jurassic, then goes on to praise the sets and the props. To me — and, again, this is just an interpretation; I’m in no way trying to put words into Cromwell’s mouth, or dictate the meaning of those he actually said — that reads like, ‘Well, the writing wasn’t anything special, but the props and sets were!’
Given that the generic, inconsistent, and occasionally downright poor writing of Jurassic World was its greatest flaw, I can’t help but be seriously worried by this. I’m more than willing to give Trevorrow and Connolly another shot, but my confidence in them was shaken to the core by Jurassic World, and this… well, it just doesn’t sound all that promising.
Then again, there's no law saying Cromwell has to be enthusiastic about the film. At the end of the day, it may just be another job to him, and his comments may simply reflect that. I continue to live in hope.
I may have concerns, reservations greatly inflated by my feelings about Jurassic World, but I won’t make any definitive judgements about its sequel until June next year, when I’ve sat down and watched it from beginning to end, start to finish.
Filming has almost reached the halfway point. I’m still excited. For the moment, that’ll do, pig… that’ll do.
2011. Yes, you read that right: 2011. That’s the last time there was a Jurassic game of any real significance. Whilst an enjoyable treat, LEGO Jurassic World wasn’t at all what the majority of fans have been waiting for, and with the commercial success of Jurassic World, it should have been but an appetiser for bigger, better things to come. Well… fire the waiter, and send some raptors into the kitchen to see what’s up, because we’re still waiting for the main course.
Jurassic is a franchise that lends itself to any number of genres, and there's certainly no shortage of ideas for possible games. It really is about time one came along. Yes, there are rights involved, deals to be made and permissions to be gotten, but, let's be honest: it's going to happen.
Life will find a way, and someone will make one. Why not you?