Welcome Back to Jurassic World
Finally. After what has felt like sixty-five million years of speculation amongst the Jurassic fanbase, it has at last been confirmed that the long-rumoured J.A. Bayona will helm the sequel to Jurassic World, which doesn’t yet have a title — though I think we can be fairly certain it won’t the stand-in I used in writing the first draft of this post…
Bayona will be taking the Jurassic reins from Colin Trevorrow, who, while stepping down as director, will pen the screenplay for the film with writing partner — and Jurassic World collaborator — Derek Connolly.
The latter still worries me. Jurassic World had its share of issues, but easily the biggest of them was its lacklustre script. As much as I hate to say it, that script seriously shook my faith in Trevorrow and Connolly. Nevertheless, I can’t help but remain hopeful. There’s every chance that the screenplay will be stronger this time around — but even if it isn’t, perhaps Bayona can salvage the situation by adding a little flavour of his own into the mix. If his past work is any indication of what to expect, that flavour is one I’m rather fond of.
Though I can’t claim to have known of the man prior to the surfacing of the rumours tying him to Jurassic, I was already familiar with some of Bayona’s work. My first exposure to it came with 2013’s The Impossible, and my second with the first two episodes of supernatural drama Penny Dreadful. In a spectacularly ironic turn of events, my third — and latest — taste of Bayona’s work came, at the time of writing, just this morning.
Last week, there was a considerable amount of excitement in the Jurassic community over the possibility that Universal would announce the latest director to take on the franchise at CinemaCon. Impact tremors were well and truly felt, but — as we’re painfully aware — no new information was revealed. Nevertheless, I was fully caught up in the hype of it all, and, in the hours leading up to the non-announcement, hastily began to put together a draft of this article, intending to post the first few paragraphs before going off to watch/re-watch Bayona’s work so that I could add some impressions later.
Having them to hand, I re-watched Bayona’s episodes of Penny Dreadful that night, but when no announcement came, I grew complacent. I honestly didn’t expect that we’d get any news until June at the earliest — around the time of Jurassic World’s one-year anniversary — so I consigned this post to the Drafts folder, to be picked up whenever the fancy took me.
That just happened to be this morning. With my laptop busy exporting a lengthy video, I sat down in front of the TV, downloaded Bayona’s El Orfanato (The Orphanage), and set about the watching of it. Despite having some reservations about the use of a child’s deformities to inspire fear, I enjoyed the film. It was full of a truly unsettling sense of dread, and an apparent refusal to resort to the typical sort of scares you’d expect from a film of its kind, despite there being ample opportunity for it to do so. It was also, like Penny Dreadful and The Impossible, beautifully presented.
That, among other things, really gets me excited. From a purely visual standpoint, Jurassic World, with its crisp, vibrant image and satisfying grain, was beautiful, but that beauty was hamstrung by an overly teal colour palette and serviceable, but by no means inspired, camera work. The idea of a Jurassic film as thrilling in its visuals as its action is enough to set my mouth watering — and that’s only over what the film might look like.
The Orphanage proves that Bayona can handle suspense, dread — The Impossible that he is more than up to the task of delivering spectacle without losing the human focus. And both films demonstrate that he can work well with children. For good or ill — I’m not sure I want to see kids in the next film, myself — children have always been a part of the Jurassic series, and knowing that its latest director is no stranger to, and can direct a realistic, non-infantilised performance from, them is comforting.
All three of the aforementioned projects show something else, too — something I think is integral to delivering a more visceral, frightening Jurassic film: that Bayona doesn’t shy away from the realities of certain situations. The gruesome injuries in The Impossible — the shocking, and in no way glossed-over, resolution to the central mystery of The Orphanage. Though his take on Jurassic will probably be limited by its age rating, I’m truly looking forward to seeing what Bayona will do with the more frightening aspects of this film.
And I’m also looking forward to hearing it. Both of Bayona’s currently released films, as well as the upcoming A Monster Calls, feature music composed by Fernando Velázquez. I enjoyed the music of The Orphanage as I watched it, and that of The Impossible is incredibly emotional, so I can’t help but think that another collaboration could serve Bayona’s Jurassic film well. (Unless he can get John Williams. In which case: get John Williams!) Though I felt the score as a whole was a bit hit-and-miss, Michael Giacchino provided a wonderful base with his main, overarching theme for Jurassic World, and I cannot wait to hear what that music will evolve into.
So, as everyone’s favourite chaotician would say: there it is. Our as-yet-untitled sequel finally has a director, and a tremendously promising one at that.
2018 cannot get here quickly enough.