We’re living in the age of sequels and reboots. People have called it The Age of Fan Fiction, and many applaud that notion. My feelings about this are complicated.
What I find is that, too frequently, beloved fantasy material of the past gets reinterpreted by other, less maverick creators for the sake of box office bucks, providing audiences with a faded, inferior copy of the original experience.
That said, I have to admit that when I heard the Blade Runner sequel news this week, I wasn’t put off. It would have been nice to see Ridley Scott reimagine his own material as he recently did with Prometheus, a movie I really enjoyed. But even if he doesn’t direct this sequel, Scott remains on board as a producer, and I’m still curious about what they could possibly do to continue this story. I won’t deny that a sequel made more than 30 years after the original does seem wrongheaded, especially as we’ve almost arrived at 2019, the year when the original is set.
One thing seems clear: If Harrison Ford is on board, Deckard couldn’t have been a Replicant. They don’t age, right?
Speaking of Ford, on Friday we’ll get to see the first Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens trailer. Director JJ Abrams is the most notorious fan fiction creator in Hollywood. It’s my opinion he single-handedly soured another science fiction property with his Star Trek Into Darkness. Will his Star Wars will even approach the quality of the original trilogy? That’s likely impossible, but he couldn’t do worse than what Lucas did with the prequels.
So, there you go. When it comes to fan fiction, it’s a case-by-case basis.
What I really wanted to talk about today is my strong negative reaction to that brand new Jurassic World trailer:
I understand that a trailer is not a movie, and marketers are putting this together to make us have a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings relating to the previous entries in the series, and that’s supposed to get us excited for another helping of the same candy.
But not one moment in this trailer looks like it wasn’t calculated to regurgitate what the previous films, especially the first two Spielberg movies, did first and did better.
The oft-revised script for Jurassic Park IV has been floating around Hollywood for years. When I interviewed American indie filmmaking icon and genre screenwriter John Sayles in 2008, he admitted even he had taken a swing at writing it.
And now it’s finally coming out, a spliced-together story where the IMDB credit listing includes those who wrote an “earlier screenplay”.
In the trailer we’re introduced to a new kid going to the Jurassic World park—without his parents. Evidently someone decided it was safe to finally build that dino-centric theme park, and they’re obviously gonna regret it. We get the very familiar montage of Isla Nubar scenes—including the one where the ostritch-esque dinos run past a jeep—all pinned to a score doing its best to ape John Williams.
The only thing missing from the trailer is where someone stares at something large off-screen in slack-jawed awe, and Jeff Goldblum offers his creepy laugh.
That’s followed by the appalling Great White Shark-dangling-as-bait-for-a-sea-monster scene. Maybe if actual sharks weren’t threatened with extinction this might seem like scary fun. Or is the movie cleverly playing with this real-world fact—at Jurassic World they’ve conquered extinction, after all. I don’t know that I’d credit it with those kinds of smarts.
Then the trailer presents as the male lead recently minted star Chris Pratt, who joins Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine as the blonde, superheroic, constantly working cinematic Chrises of the moment. More safety in repetition.
Then there’s concern over a “kinda dinosaur they cooked up in that lab”. Gotcha! Genetic manipulation is very wrong! Could be the movie is anti-science. I suppose that goes along with Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton’s initial thesis: Technophilia + Hubris = Self-Destruction.
But that’s just the thing: There’s not a whiff of originality in this. How can they keep making the same movie over and over again and expect people will keep going?
Think about it when you choose what to see in June 2015. How much more sameness do you want to put up with?