It’s weird to think a movie that’s on track to make over $110M this weekend is facing low expectations, but that seems to be the case with Jurassic World. Fans are skeptical, for obvious reasons. This is the fourth installment in a series that some would argue died after Jurassic Park: The Lost World ‐ although those people are dead wrong, because that movie is much better than it’s given credit for. In reality, it was the third film that gutted this franchise.
Now, almost 14 years after Jurassic Park III, it’s co-writer and director Colin Trevorrow’s responsibility to make audiences fall back in love with Jurassic Park. Trevorrow’s film gives us new characters, the park reopened, and a new story. It’s an almost impossible task to capture the same sense of wonder Steven Spielberg accomplished on the first movie, and that expectation, ultimately, worked in the filmmakers favor.
“One of the first lines in the movie is, ‘Nobody is impressed by a dinosaur anymore,’” Trevorrow says. “We recognize the audience is coming in skeptical, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve kind of embraced the lower expectations for the movie. It’s kind of working in its favor, in what we’re trying to do. We know how you’re feeling going in. We know you don’t see any way how you’ll feel excitement, on any level, for this particular kind of movie. Ideally, halfway through the movie, you’re in this story and you’ve forgotten you’re watching the movie. By the end of the movie, ideally, you’re cheering.”
Trevorrow achieves that effect come the third act. The final set piece is a blast, which contains an unexpected showdown and satisfying closure to Owen’s (Chris Pratt) relationship with his pack of raptors. Anyone who believes this franchise is dead in the water might have their mind changed by the end of Jurassic World. If there’s someone who believes Trevorrow did his job, it’s Spielberg.
“To have someone enjoy a movie on a pure level without stripping it down is a big challenge,” Trevorrow adds. “Actually, my biggest victory in the whole process was when Steven watched the movie for the first time. He wasn’t on set, so he had been watching dailies. We were pretty far along in the process when he watched the movie at his house. He said about a third of the way through the movie he forgot he was watching a movie he was involved in, and then halfway through, he had forgotten he was watching a movie. He got so engaged he didn’t write any notes. Based on the context of our little creative team, that felt like a real victory.”
Enjoying a movie on a completely visceral level is a rare experience. We recently got Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie so breathlessly paced and thrilling that not for a second does one consider the nuts and bolts of it all, but George Miller’s action extravaganza isn’t the kind of movie that comes around often.
A week later we see an audience have a completely different experience with Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, which got torn to shreds by some for its loose ends and plot holes. There have been acclaimed blockbusters with far bigger plot holes in their scripts, and yet Bird’s wonderfully sincere movie got the belt for it, both from critics and at the box-office. At the end of the day, it’s all about how much a filmmaker can hide their cheats from a modern audience that often seeks them out, and that’s almost always a challenge on a major blockbuster.
“What if there’s a movie that can make audiences not do that?” asks Trevorrow. “That’s my version of Tomorrowland: what if there was a film that could do that. That was my mission, because I see how cynical we are and what we do. I don’t want to call it ‘hate,’ because we love these things and we love these movies from our childhood so much. We take great offense when someone has the arrogance to try to recreate that feeling that we had. The prestige of this movie is that, if you are a magician, you say, ‘Look at this hat. This hat is empty. You and I both know there’s no rabbit in this hat, but wait a minute, there’s the rabbit [Laughs].’”
Jurassic World opens in theaters June 12th.