There are two reactions in a theater when watching a sequel or a remake. Either you have been injected with a high dose of nostalgia and loved the movie or you feel like the franchise has been destroyed. Fourteen years later, the Jurassic Park franchise decided a fourth installment was in order and while many were expecting to be disappointed, Jurassic World took over, quickly becoming critically and commercially acclaimed.
There were several things Jurassic World could have improved on but the way they tackled bringing out a sequel a decade and a half later and still connect with the audience that grew up with it makes it a success in it of itself. They effectively achieved this by:
1- Referencing the original movie without being cheesy:
We see these movies because it makes us nostalgic for a certain time in our lives when we were impressed by an original concept. You want to be reminded of that but you don’t want to be beaten over the head with it. At one point, too many catchphrases can become boring and even cringe worthy.
Jurassic World knew how to reminisce on the past in an natural way to the story. We see elements that are still relevant to the modern park, like the ancient mosquito, a t-shirt with the old logo or bringing back the cunning raptors.
They even bring back certain scenes that closely resemble the original movie, like the kids being in danger from the monstrous dinosaur while being trapped in some sort of vehicle. There are trinkets here and there accompanied by a piano rendition of John William’s original score. It’s fun to spot them but it’s not trying to yell at the audience Remember why you liked this!
2- Reminiscing but it focusing on the present story
A sequel can talk all it wants about the good ol’ day but if it doesn’t bring anything new, it will quickly become extinct. Jurassic World reminds us there used to be an old park –or the start of one- and it has a tragic past no one wants to mention again. It has been forgotten and left into ruins in the jungle while the sleek new amusement park was built around it.
The movie still brings back certain themes like humans manipulating nature to their benefit and whether it’s okay to bring back prehistoric creatures to present times. But it starts to focus on new problems that arise from the accepted presence of dinosaurs in this world. For some, it is nothing more than a zoo and will quickly lose its novelty. For others, the dinosaurs can be deadly weapons used in wars if only they can be controlled. Overall, there are various points of view treating the dinosaurs as money making machines and then there is the moral voice fighting to show they are still animals with emotions and high levels of intelligence. If you abuse them enough, they will resist.
3- Knowing when to bring back old characters and when to start fresh
This one could be tricky and it depends on the franchise. Nobody wants to see a new Rambo without Sylvester Stallone… that is if anyone is demanding a new Rambo. At the same time, nobody wants to see Lloyd and Harry twenty years later being exponentially dumber. It makes no sense and it ruins the first movie.
For Jurassic Park, enough time had passed to bring a new set of actors into this new phase of the storyline. Sure, maybe it would have been cool to have a surprise appearance from Jeff Goldblum, but would that have enhanced the story? Apart from a brief moment of satisfaction, would it result in anything interesting?
It’s good when a movie can distinguish between making a good movie and over pleasing a nostalgic crowd. Bringing back the entire cast would make no sense for these characters who have had more than enough of their share of danger with giant reptiles. Only a younger group would be able to repeat the mistakes of the older generation and once again misunderstand completely the vision behind Jon Hammond’s dream.
For a more in-depth look, check out my full review of Jurassic World without any spoilers.