— The following post contains minor location and dinosaur spoilers for Jurassic World 2.
REVISITING THE PAST
Here we go again, right? Yet another post pointing a critical finger at Jurassic World.
I think, however, that I’m safe in saying I can speak for a significant number of fans with this particular critique: where it really mattered, Jurassic World’s nostalgia factor was significantly mishandled.
True, some of the smaller nods to the series’s past were reasonably satisfying, but the two biggest throwbacks — the old Visitor Centre and the original T. rex — were distinctly underwhelming. Jurassic Park’s ruins were so overgrown that even longtime fans had trouble picking out discernible features, and the identity of its tyrannosaur — the significance of it — was lost on the vast majority of folks who didn’t go into the film already knowing who she was.
The small stuff was okay, but the real meat and potatoes felt phoned-in, perfunctory.
Initially, I thought that was that. By all accounts, future films would move away from the islands: the opportunity to do right by nostalgia had passed.
Now, however, I’m not so sure. The seeds of hope have been planted.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Said seeds were first scattered last summer, when it was confirmed that Jurassic World 2 would film, at least partially, in Hawaii — the islands of which, for those who might not know, have so far represented both Isla Nublar (Jurassic Park, Jurassic World) and Isla Sorna (The Lost World, Jurassic Park III), respectively.
Speaking sometime after this news broke, Colin Trevorrow refused to confirm which Hawaiian island the sequel would film on, believing that fans would be able to deduce where the sequel was heading. Though understandable, Trevorrow’s coyness has, in recent weeks, been rendered utterly moot. Photos of the construction of one of Jurassic World 2’s sets in the U.K. — taken by some enterprising fans — all but confirm the return of a familiar location.
The article in which I learned of these photos has since been taken down, but, with a little searching, I managed to find one of the images.
Readers familiar with Jurassic World’s Main Street will no doubt note the similarity between the larger, tilted structure in the background and Jurassic World’s Pterosauria IMAX Theatre.
Whilst impossible to 100% confirm just yet, it certainly seems as though a version of that building is being constructed — which means that we’re heading back to Isla Nublar, and Jurassic World itself. Given the aforementioned tilt of the structure, the park might well be in a state of significant disrepair.
This alone is interesting — but it also, I think, gives Jurassic World 2 a second chance to get nostalgia right.
On the one hand, returning to Nublar could allow for a more meaningful visit to Jurassic Park, but — despite sincerely wishing it wasn’t the case — I suspect that ship has sailed. Seeing more of Hammond’s park would be wonderful, but when I talk about Jurassic World 2 ‘getting nostalgia right’, I’m referring to Jurassic World. To quote a certain Captain from an entirely different franchise: ‘I know. Odd, isn’t it?’
But here’s the thing: I was dissatisfied with how Jurassic Park’s Visitor Centre — and, later, the gate Zach and Gray burst through — looked, but my overarching problem with Jurassic World’s attempt at nostalgia was how phoned-in it felt. Others may, of course, feel differently, but for me, there was no weight there, no meaning.
If Jurassic World 2 can bring both to its return to Jurassic World, then there’s every chance that its nostalgia could be a lot more potent than its predecessor’s.
That, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. In Jurassic World, the new park itself wasn’t particularly well presented, much of it glossed over to get swiftly to the next piece of action. In potentially showing us more of it — albeit in ruins — Jurassic World 2 could succeed where the first failed: it could give us a reason to care about its park.
If it can, if it handles its correctly, if it underscores the fact that, in reality, Jurassic Park — John Hammond’s dream — failed again, then I reckon Jurassic World 2 could pack quite a punch.
On a more selfish note, returning to Nublar also means we might well get the next best thing to something I’d sincerely hoped Jurassic World would provide, but — understandably — didn’t: a shot of an overgrown, dilapidated park gate.
Imagine a group of characters making their way through a wild, overgrown Nublar, eventually stumbling upon one of the monorail track’s support columns. They pause, look up, and see Jurassic World’s gate towering over them in the canopy, a shadow of its former self — perhaps we hear a sombre echo of Giacchino’s theme, too, barely discernible over the sounds of the jungle.
I reckon that could make for a pretty great scene, but before I get too lost in whimsical possibility, there is another area in which Jurassic World 2 could address the shortcomings of its predecessor.
‘WE HAVE A T. REX.’
Although you might argue that it was obvious given the film’s return to Nublar, Colin Trevorrow recently confirmed — via Twitter — that Jurassic Park’s original Rex will make another appearance in Jurassic World 2.
Confirmed. Tell her when she wakes up. https://t.co/d39LBJ7LK5
— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) 3 April 2017
Like the inclusion of the park, this opens the door to a number of possibilities, the first of which is one I’d really like to see, but which I don’t consider particularly likely: that the Rex’s model is reworked so she looks a little more like her old self.
Jurassic World’s rendition of the Rex bore little resemblance to animal she once was, which, for me, took something away from her return. She may have borne the scars of her encounter with the Raptors, but — both when I first saw the film and in all the time since — I’ve never felt that I’m looking at the same dinosaur that once ripped its way out of its paddock and attacked a lawyer on a toilet.
As I said, though, I don’t really expect that particular issue to be addressed. I wouldn’t bring it up at all, in fact, if it weren’t for the fact that continuity has very much been given the finger throughout the Jurassic films thus far.
As for the second possibility: tell the audience that she’s the original Rex.
I still can’t quite believe that Jurassic World neglected to do this; all it would’ve taken would’ve been a line heard over a tannoy system whilst Zach and Gray were in the Rex’s viewing area. Similarly, a throwaway line is all that’s required for the sequel — just something that’ll clue casual moviegoers in as to what they’re seeing. There’s always something to be said for subtlety, but I think — in some cases — films need to show things, to state them.
Of course, this is assuming that the Rex is still alive. She was pretty banged-up at the end of Jurassic World, and, if as much time has passed between the events of the film and its sequel as in the real world, there’s every chance that — if she was left on Nublar — she’ll have run out of food, not to mention found herself in competition with quite a few younger carnivores.
It’s an undeniably depressing thought that an icon of Jurassic Park might well get the chop in Jurassic World 2, but time and again I bring up my desire for scenes with more emotional impact, and a shot of the original Rex, curled up, dead — having taken refuge in the ruined Visitor Centre as the end drew near, perhaps? — would certainly have that.
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?