Friday, December 14, 2007

Jurassic Park 4: Dinosaurmaggedon

As some of you may well be aware, Jurassic Park IV: Dinosaurmaggedon is fast approaching. From what I've read on the interweb, the film is, at the very least, in pre-production. I've read at least three "insider"treatments of the screenplay, most of which involve the dinosaurs getting off the island(s). Raptors in central park? Pterosaurs torturing little-leaguers? The possibilities are endless. I'm sure my readers are well aware of this, but the Jurassic Park series just gets a little worse with each passing sequel. The first film blew my mind like no other had. The second film was...well...it was there. The third film made me laugh.* But now that the rumor mill has started back up for Jurassic Park 4, I fear that When Raptors Attack may not be that far off. What would I like to see in JP4? And more importantly, what would I be adverse to?

1) Don't hire Jack Horner as your consultant. There are many strikes against using Mr. Duckbill, including the awful JP3 DVD interview in which he lies to us by making mention of reasonably complete Spinosaurus remains (which he calls a "superpredator"), and then remarking how he basically stood by and did nothing while the animators showed him a clip of the bulky giant running faster than it probably could in real life. Also, did anyone see those chiropterosaurs?** I was mortified, but maybe flying reptiles aren't Horner's field...

2) Jurassic Park was good partially because, at the time, it successfully blended current scientific knowledge with monster movie fare. Yeah, Deinonychus might not have hunted in packs, but if you strip the feathers off (and snarling lips), that's basically what it looked like. The Lost World used basically the same dinosaurs, but added an interesting hunting method for the dromaeosaurs and parenting techniques for the tyrannosaurs. I do not object to any of this. In fact, The Lost World may be the best attempt at scientific accuracy in the series. But by the time JP3 comes along, it's clear that the effects team was shooting from the hip, making the dinosaurs more movie monster than living, breathing animal. Let's get back to the basics. Dinosaurs were living animals, and they were awesome. In fact, they were awesome without any Hollywood flair. Keep that in mind, movie-people.

3) A larger focus on herbivorous dinosaurs would be appreciated. Again, The Lost World leads the way here, showing what happens when you mess with a cow Stegosaurus. I dispute the idea of parental care by a thyreophoran (no evidence for it), but the scene in question demonstrates that it isn't just the theropods that were dangerous. There was a scene in the second book where a dude is stuck in a jeep that's surrounded by pachycephalosaurs. I would like to see that scene. I'd also like to see a large ornithopod get attacked by a single large carnivore or a group of small ones. That would utterly kick ass.

4) Please, please, please give us some new dinosaurs. If you have to keep the raptors, at least give them feathers. The technology must be there by now. While it's true that feathers are much more difficult to render and animate than mammalian hair, I'm sure you've got the money. Anyway, oviraptoroids might have been mean buggers, troodontids too. Or what about a roving gang of Coelophysis? Those guys fight dirty.

5) It doesn't have to be a humans vs. dinosaurs story. I've always thought it would be cool to make a movie about humans documenting life on the islands, Planet Earth-style. The humans could have adventures in getting the awesome shots or whatever. All people are seeing the JP films for are the dinosaurs, not the intricate plotline or Oscar-winning script!

6) My brain is not tricked by CGI. I know it's not real. However, I can easily discern when something is a model, and I appreciate the effort required by modelwork a lot more than I appreciate a polygonal image. The original Jurassic Park used mostly modelwork, to wonderful effect. The new Star Wars trilogy made me gag from GCI overexposure. I'd like to see some more modelwork, and less CGI.

7) The original cast does not have to be involved. No, really, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblume can have the day off for this one--new characters are desperately needed to move the franchise forward.

8) Dennis Nedry's shaving cream can had a 36-hour expiration date. Here's the proof. The DNA is not viable anymore. Do not retrieve the can.

9) No hybrid dinosaurs or genetically engineered raptors. Dinosaurs would make awful military weapons, as they are made of flesh and bone. Please do not turn Jurassic Park into Aliens.

10) I swear to Bokonan, if I see one pterosaur flying like a bat and picking people up off the ground, I will firebomb Universal Studios.

How about you, readers? What would you like to see, or not see, in the next Jurassic Park movie?

*So, remember the scene in JP3 when Alan and...that guy...are looking at the spinosaur tracks, and Alan asks what kind of dinosaur it is? And the guy says Suchomimus, but Alan says "think bigger." And his idiot grad student says Baryonyx, a spinosaur that's actually smaller. I laughed so hard in the theater, but I was the only person laughing. My friends gave me a wierd look, and then again when I explained it afterwards. And now that Suchomimus is probably synonymous with Baryonyx, a whole new level of hilarity is added to that exchange.

**The Pteranodons in JP3 must have been reproducing with bats, because the Pteranodon in the final scene in The Lost World is great and completely accurate (although landing on a branch seems like a stretch). Anyway, JP3 gave us inherently evil pterosaurs...with teeth. Ironically, Pteranodon means "winged and toothless," so that's ONE strike against the film's portrayal. They also weren't flying like bats or carrying kids that were likely just as heavy, if not heavier, than they are off to their nests. And how was this Pteranodon flock living before those moronic humans stumbled into their enclosure? They're caged in, for pete's sake, so where is their food coming from? Also, the Pteranodon sequence has the film's stupidest scene: After an adult pterosaur is seen trying to carry off Grant's grad student, a pterosaur in the foreground turns its head and looks straight at the camera (and the remaining people) as if to say "You're next." Awful, awful film.

8 comments:

Paul said...

I agree wholly about removing Horner from the consultant position. For him to sit there and call T.rex the barely functional retard of the animal kingdom and then call a far structurally clumsier and notably bigger animal a nimble predator is silly, at best. Get Currie (would be my personal pick) or even Bakker.

Personally, I want to see T.rex redeemed after Jurassic Park 3. I'm a bit biased, as tyrannosaurs are my generally favorite group, but regardless that was still a bit low to have the T.rex in 3 dispatched so easily by such a horrible candidate (if it were Acrocanthosaurus or Giganotosaurus in 3, I wouldn't be complaining, but Spinosaurus was an awful choice from an accuracy standpoint).

A minor nitpick on my part, but I want to see them build on Grant's statements in 3 that these animals were mutated by the cloning process. Jurassic Park's gotten stuck into a certain "dinosaur canon" by the first three films and it'd be abrupt for the Dilophosaurus to magically be nonvenomous and the Velociraptor to have feathers, so I want them (cheap though it may be) to cover all of that by calling it a flaw in the cloning process. Dilophosaurus was made venomous by dart frog DNA, the Spinosaurus was made stronger and more aggressive to make it a more marketable animal from an entertainment standpoint, and the frog DNA left to bald Deinonychus (as in, I want then to 'fess up to InGen following Greg Paul's taxonomy).

Wu mentioned something very similar in the first book, so it's not an unreasonable request.

New species would be nice, but I don't want something new to just magically appear. There've been numerous animals that have been mentioned in population counts or only seen briefly that never got any spotlight, and 4 should be their turn to shine. Herrerasaurus, Ceratosaurus, Baryonyx, Apatosaurus, Muttaburrasaurus, Ankylosaurus, they've all been confirmed by one source material or another to exist on the islands, but we've hardly seen them.

If they're really hurting for a new lethal predator to pimp, a pack of mid-size theropods like Allosaurus or Albertosaurus (again, tyrannosaur bias on my part, but I'd love to see it) could ve every bit as deadly as a pack of 'raptors or one big predator.

As for the plot, I agree that maybe we shouldn't have a humans-against dinosaurs plot this time. I'd be elated if they pulled from the Lost World novel and just had an observation party camp out on the island, or maybe a preservation team sent out to remedy some mysterious plague that's decimating the population. Maybe (again, like the Lost World novel) have a small poaching subplot, but keep it relatively out of the way.

I'd have to disagree about returning characters, though. I'd like to see at least one or two characters return just to maintain continuity, though we certainly shouldn't have too many. I think bringing back Grant or the kids would be out by this point, but having Dr. Sattler as a consultant for a scientific expedition or Malcolm come back for being familiar with the territory (and because I admit to being a big fan of Goldblum) wouldn't hurt. Or even better, bring back one of the minor characters, like Wu or the hunter, Tembo. Just one or two for continuity's sake, and then put someone new as a starring role.

Christopher Taylor said...

I seem to be one of the few people who actually liked The Lost World - the trick is to approach as a big, dumb monster movie and nothing more. The first Jurassic Park actually strikes me as a little ponderous these days, and has plot holes you could ride a Brachiosaurus through.

Jurassic Park 3.... the pain, the pain!

Paul said...

Personally, I adored Lost World, and nowadays enjoy it about as much as I enjoy the original.

It's actually kind of funny, but while I've always liked Lost World, I came to appreciate it more after this one review I read online, that took a rather unique approach to the movie: view the dinosaurs as the protagonists, and all but one or two human characters as antagonists. The animals simply want to survive, while everyone else is incessantly poking and prodding them; there are the greedy entrepreneurs who want to exploit them (InGen), the hunter that wants to kill them (Tembo), the environmental terrorist with an overriding political agenda (van Owen), the technophile that just wants to field test his vehicles (Carr), the bad scientist who deliberately disrupts the environment around her (Harding)...only Malcolm is respectable out of the human cast because he's the only one with sense and respect enough to want to leave the animals alone and just let them be. And aside from him, the only other half-respectable character is Tembo because though he seeks to kill the dinosaurs, he still respects them as animals and fellow living beings, where everyone else but him, Malcolm, and Hammond just view them as objects to exploit/experiment on/use as a cheap political piece.

Damned if I could actually track down that review again, as I think it was one some old Angelfire site, but it really made me think about Lost World a different way, and probably allowed me to enjoy it greatly in the long term.

I don't think anything but some serious retconning could save Jurassic Park 3, though.

Julia said...

See I liked JP3. By the time I watched it I'd met Jack Horner and Dave Varricchio (who was the inspiration for Grant's student) and I could appreciate the irony (and it has my favourite line ever - "Well technically it's all rock"). It was The Lost World that I didn't like. Paul's young cousin loved it, or at least the bit in the DVD where T. rex is running riot round San Diego.

I heard that JP4 was going to have domesticated elite Velociraptor special forces teams and involve the United Nations. I would LOVE that to be true.

Billy (A Liberal Disabled Vet) said...

I don't know if I look forward to another one or not. If I took bits and pieces of each of the first three, I could probably create a movie with no cringes on my part.

The first one (I think the best) had a major cringe moment when they are feeding the dinosaurs from their perch in the tree, and the palaeontologist says something along the lines of, they won't hurt you, they are herbivores.

I have a friend who used to work in a zoo. She suffered such severe injuries from an animal that she no longer workds in zoos, she is a high school bio teacher. Her injury was caused by one of the two most dangerous zoo animals. Not the hippo, but a zebra.

I have heard similar statements by visitors at National Parks. From my outdoors experience (usually during forest fires out west) I am more concerened with moose and bison than I am with bears (okay, grizzlies concern me, but black bears can be dealt with).

Sorry for the rant. Again, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. We'll see.

Brad said...

I like all of the JP movies, so I hope they do make another one. They should add a pack of Microraptor or Rahonavis- imagine the bird attack in the latest Resident Evil movie, but with flying dromaeosaurs.

Brian said...

I actually liked the Lost World best; it's just fun, especially the tribute to the b&w Lost World film at the end with good ol' 'rexie. The dinosaurs in the third one are the only reason I put it on, and while the first one has held up I'm with Gould in that it really pales in comparison to what have been done if they stuck to the book more closely (likewise with the 2nd movie too, I guess). I'll look forward to the 4th one just so long as Stan Winston's dinos are back; I know I'm going to see #4 no matter what, though, as I can't say no to dinosaurs.

Traumador said...

Lost World is my fav hollywood Dino effort, though it is dwarfed completely by the various BBC walking withs and prehistoric park.

I still have a soft spot for the first JP as well.

3 ranks as my least fav dino movie of all time. even below sound of thunder (which is actually my fav BAD movie ever... so bad it's awesome. if you haven't seen it rent it. i gurantee best comedy of the decade!).

bit of a plug i reviewed the JPs on my blog at http://traumador.blogspot.com/search/label/movie%20review just keep in mind this is a funny silly blog not to be taken ubber seriously.

FIRE HORNER! His duckbill nesting theories are as fictional as his spinosaur! (He has through the politics of academia managed to bury at least two papers disproving him! I know one of the authors... who I won't name on the net, but if you want to know who email me).

I want to see JP4 deal with Grant's line about the UN banning peopl from going there.

Have that film crew go there illegally, and get cut off. JP4 is their adventures and misadventures among dinos with the human plot being the rescue effort thwarted by the international incident caused by their trespassing on the island.

Though I'm not a big fan of them some prosauropods would be amazing. Their the only dino group i can think of without ANY descent secreen time in anything. Walking with dinos cameoed them brutally to 30 seconds of long shot.