Many believe the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies have little worth. They’ve stretched out a premise that was great in Steven Spielberg’s first movie of 25 years ago, and nothing good has been able to come out of the idea since. The fifth installment of the franchise shows that these movies can still show some creativity, though, especially if they’re made by a director as inspired as J.A. Bayona.
With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Bayona pays so much more homage to the original while also carrying forth influences from comedy, horror, and adventure classics. His sequel looks amazing and deals with more interesting themes than maybe all the other parts, including the first. And it’s silly and dumb at times because it should be. That’s why this week’s list of Movies to Watch After… is a varied selection of great and also goofy titles.
Some of the below picks are acknowledged directly by Bayona as having informed his work on Fallen Kingdom. Also worth checking out are his previous features, since his latest seems like a combination of The Orphanage (haunted house horror), The Impossible (natural disaster movie), and A Monster Calls (giant monster fairy tale). Here are this week’s recommendations:
The Lost World (1925)
Long before Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and the Michael Crichton novel that it’s based on there was The Lost World and the Arthur Conan Doyle novel it’s based on. The silent feature is about an expedition to a land where dinosaurs still exist, and it showcases some remarkable early stop-motion animation effects by Willis O’Brien, who would go on to work on King Kong. While hardly as realistic as today’s movie magic, the old dinosaur fights here are still awesome.
The Lost World also brings one of the prehistoric creatures, a brontosaurus, back home to London for a change of scenery and extra damage in the real world (Tower Bridge is falling down, falling down…). Fallen Kingdom may seem like a rehash of The Lost World: Jurassic Park by transporting dinos to the mainland, but this nearly hundred-year-old movie did it too, as did all the versions of King Kong that walked in its bronto-sized boots.
Seven Chances (1925)
If you’re not seeing the humor in Fallen Kingdom, maybe you’re not familiar with the work of Buster Keaton. While not too heavy on the slapstick or comedy in general, the Jurassic World sequel is still pretty funny at times, and that’s no accident. In an interview with Den of Geek, Bayona recognizes Keaton’s influence on at least one moment in Fallen Kingdom:
“I started to watch a lot of silent movies, Buster Keaton movies, and movies like that in order to get inspiration. There is a moment that I love in the set piece of the volcano, where the characters hide behind a long log, and the log is being destroyed by dinosaurs. That felt like one of those slapstick moments, like a silent comedy moment.”
That sort of irony-induced slapstick is indeed common to Keaton’s movies, and I would love to just recommend them all. There are great bits in the battle sequence in The General that I think relevant, as is the natural disaster action of Steamboat Bill, Jr. But Seven Chances, the feature where he’s chased by tons of women who wish to marry him, is most fitting for its falling rocks sequence. Look for similar instances where he tries to hide behind or on something that gives way.
The Birds (1963)
Here’s the master of suspense with his own dinosaur attack movie. Wait, no, Alfred Hitchcock never made a movie featuring dinosaurs. But birds evolved from certain dinosaurs, including velociraptors, right? So The Birds, which is about birds inexplicably attacking people in coastal Northern California (where much of the action of Fallen Kingdom also takes place) is the closest thing Hitch got to making his own Jurassic Park.
It’s also just the closest thing to him doing a monster movie in general. And since Bayona has also cited the famous filmmaker as an influence on his Jurassic World sequel, the shoe — or talon — fits. The Birds isn’t one of Hitchcock’s best, but it’s one of his most appealing to a mainstream audience, with its horror plot and big explosion sequence. Presumably, the next Jurassic World sequel will resemble its out-in-the-open attacks more obviously.
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
I would never have thought of this movie in a million years, but apparently Fallen Kingdom co-writer/producer Colin Trevorrow was inspired by a couple spy movies when working on the script for the sequel to his own Jurassic World. He told CNET of the influence of Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor:
“It’s one of those places where you think you know what the score is, and then everything changes, and then suddenly you don’t know who to trust.”
Trevorrow also cited Bridge of Spies, one of the more recent directorial efforts by Spielberg, who is also an executive producer on Fallen Kingdom. He told CNET he was “fascinated” by the true story based Cold War period drama for the way it involves two separate storylines that “collide in the middle and move on together.” Fallen Kingdom sort of does that too.
This is another movie that Bayona has directly acknowledged as an influence. Why not the 1931 version of Dracula or Nosferatu or any of the other many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel? John Badham’s remake starring Frank Langella as the iconic vampire and Laurence Olivier as Van Helsing is the one Bayona saw as a five-year-old kid and had nightmares because of. He told Vanity Fair:
“I had a window in my bedroom and I was convinced that Frank Langella was gonna come and sneak through it. I couldn’t sleep for months…When I read the [‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’] script there was a brief moment that I decided to make into a big moment.”
The big moment is one that made it into the trailers for Fallen Kingdom. The Indoraptor scales the Lockwood mansion and then climbs into the bedroom of young Maisie like the nightmare creature she is. A hybrid dinosaur is far scarier than Langella with big hair and a cape, of course. Now it’s Bayona’s turn to really keep five-year-old dino fans from sleeping for the next few months.
Anna to the Infinite Power (1983)
As much as I enjoyed Fallen Kingdom, I also thought it would be interesting enough to just follow the story of Maisie and what life was like in the Lockwood estate. If anything, I could have used more Geraldine Chaplin, but also the reveal of Maisie being a clone is almost too understated despite how obvious and pronounced it is. And then it only seems to be a thing to give reasoning for a decision to let all the dinosaurs loose out into the world.
Well, if you want a feature about a little girl who discovers she’s the clone of a woman who died long ago, the TV movie Anna to the Infinite Power should suffice. As per most television productions of its kind of the time, it’s not too flashy, and that’s a good thing so that the compelling story comes through as all that we need. In this, the young prodigy discovers she’s not the only duplicate either, and that has me also wishing we could see other attempts to make Maisie, a la the faulty Ripley clones in Alien: Resurrection.