The first Jurassic Park movie should never have spawned a sequel, let alone four. The films have steadily declined in quality, and if the rumors hold true (raptors as WMDs?), the already-greenlit fifth film won’t reverse that trend.
But I know what direction the franchise should take. I even have a title: Jurassic Parks. Here’s a synopsis:
Soon after the events of Jurassic World, dinos escape from InGen’s research facility in the remote American West. Within a few years, the multiplying dinosaurs have completely overrun every wilderness area in the continental U.S. The government has abandoned its National Park system; America’s crown jewels—Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier—are overgrown and infested. Hundreds of tourists have been savagely killed by the unchecked dinosaurs (we’d get a flashback montage of dinosaur mayhem in iconic settings). The public now refers to these no-man lands as the “Jurassic Parks.”
After laying this groundwork, Jurassic Parks would follow a crack dino-hunter team, tasked with reclaiming the frontier for the public. They infiltrate Yellowstone, America’s first national park, as a symbolic beachhead. Havoc inevitably ensues, and, in a twist ending, the mission completely fails. For the first time since the Wild West era, America cedes its wilderness to other species.
Here’s why this approach could work:
- It sidesteps the “Why not just nuke the island?” question. After two horrific disasters (and two films) centered on Isla Nublar, it would make no sense to return there again. After all, Jurassic Park itself would likely be firebombed. But the U.S. government couldn’t justify destroying the beloved National Parks.
- At its best, the Jurassic franchise celebrated the park more than the dinosaurs themselves. The first film’s most memorable scenes captured the Disneyesque wonder of a primeval fantasy world. But that card has long since been played; there are only so many new dino-rides we’re interested in seeing on film. But by transplanting the creatures to iconic wilderness locations, the fifth film can recapture this touristy magic. Imagine raptors, swarming across the prairie and hunting down a thundering bison herd. Or picture a T-Rex, emerging from behind Old Faithful with a bellow. Maybe the Yellowstonian supervolcano would pick just the wrong time to erupt and add a dash of chaos to the mix.
- This Jurassic Parks concept ditches the fourth film’s silliest plot line: the dino WMDs. Dinosaurs are interesting because they can’t be controlled or tamed. Training velociraptors flirts dangerously close to parody; think “sharks with frickin’ laser beams mounted to their heads.”
- This plot makes room for Chris Pratt, now apparently a fan favorite, to reappear. Pratt’s character, Owen Grady, understands raptor behavior, and he’s already battled the beasties. So it makes sense that the dino hunter team would recruit Grady as a consultant.
- Finally, done right, Jurassic Parks would have something to say. If Jurassic World critiqued our thirst for spectacle, Parks would explore the theme of our relationship to the wild.
In recent years, efforts to repopulate the wilderness with apex predators like mountain lions and wolves have stirred controversy. On the one hand, we want to restore the ecosystem to balance; on the other, we struggle to relate to a natural world in which we can’t exercise absolute control. Jurassic Parks might make the case that our attempts to micro-manage nature are futile. That we’re better off approaching the dark wilderness with humility and fear.