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Debate – Is Jurassic World Old Wine in a New Bottle?


Posted December 1, 2014 by

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Is Jurassic World Old Wine in a New Bottle?

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the apparently much-awaited sequel to the Jurassic Park series. The last instalment, Jurassic Park III, was released in 2001. It was not very memorable, and many expected it to be the finale. But, this being Hollywood, an unexpected sequel has been made, and its first complete trailer was just released.

Suffice to say, the trailer does its job. It establishes the world of the new entrant, the brand new characters (apparently the actors of yore have been cut out from this script), the special effects and the dire straits everyone gets into. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard as a scientist for the theme park and everyone’s new favourite Chris Pratt as a buff guy employed by said park, Jurassic World looks to be an exciting, entertaining and ridiculously silly fun film.

However, while watching the trailer, I couldn’t help but feel the story looked familiar. An isolated island; a scientist messing with nature; her creation becomes a super-smart carnivorous animal; everything is hunky-dory for a while; the creature escapes; gruff salt-of-the-earth dude states the obvious; all hell breaks loose.

Yup, that sounds awfully like the 1999 Renny Harlin film Deep Blue Sea. Now, I’ll admit that film was ridiculously silly, but incredibly fun. I’ve watched that one a few times; it’s a veritable guilty pleasure of mine. I have a love-hate relationship with sharks, and Deep Blue Sea happens to feature supersized, super-scary versions of Makos (I have a special bond with them).

But, the storyline is very close to that of Jurassic World. In Deep Blue Sea, Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) breeds three specialised Mako sharks in an attempt to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. Her project is noble but her fearless right-hand man, Carter Blake (Thomas Jane), never ceases to tell her that this is a bad idea. He turns out to be right, of course, when the sharks begin displaying a form of intelligence far beyond their means.

Things go sideways quickly. One of the doctors is injured because the shark he was petting was playing possum, their lab is destroyed (these sharks believe in revenge) and the sharks start swarming the place.

Carter tries to save everybody, because he’s the toughest guy on set. Lots of cool special effects (for the time, anyway) show off the sharks being scary.

Granted, I may just be reaching here, I’ve only seen one trailer for Jurassic World. And a lot of people who will see that film have probably never even heard of Deep Blue Sea (to be honest, how can you blame them?). I will attempt to give it the benefit of the doubt. For all I know, I’ll love the film. But that doesn’t negate the overriding feeling that we just keep seeing recycled material on the big screen.

This reminds me of Star Trek (2009). Everyone loved that film. It was a brand new take on an old franchise. Gave Star Trek a good name. So on and so forth. But not all of us were enamoured of that film. Aside from its atrocious outlook on the much-beloved characters (not saying Kirk et al of The Original Series were saints, but they were improved products of their time), there was the big issue of the storyline. The central premise is a direct copy of the Star Trek: Voyager two-parter, Year of Hell. That particularly brilliant episode follows the exploits of an alien scientist desperately attempting to correct the temporal experiment that decimated his timeline, and hence his family.

2009’s villain suffered a similar fate and he uses his own faults as a ruse to kill Vulcans. I remember being outraged while sitting in the theatre. If they’d knicked the story from some obscure place it would not have been such a grievous sin (only because I probably wouldn’t have known about it). But stealing from the same franchise! No words can describe such utter laziness.

If it wasn’t evident already, film stories are becoming way too predictable to be fun. Sometimes a brand new take can overshadow a well-trodden path, but studios don’t bother with that route either.

This is always the case, of course. We still come across several refreshing premises, take Interstellar, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (okay, that’s based on a comic book, but still refreshing all the same) and Only Lovers Left Alive, these are just a handful of films released over the past year that didn’t tow the same old lines.

Shaking up the system of thinking might provide us with something different. Television is where they’re trying a whole bunch of new stuff – they’ve completely revitalised a dying medium. Time for Hollywood to look beyond for some new ideas.


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Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
Freelance Contributor

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