The core concept of a dinosaur theme park that goes haywire has been done twice now. Both Jurassic Park and Jurassic World have done that story. Jurassic Park saw the park never open, while Jurassic World showed us why that was probably a good thing. Both are fantastic, the first being my favorite movie of all the time.
The problem is that you can’t open the park a third time. After two failed attempts, no one would go to that park again. It would stretch the disbelief a little too far. The Lost World: Jurassic Park came up with a good reason to get people back on the island, the idea that companies would try to pillage the remaining dinosaurs for profit or that our human curosity would be too much to not study them. Jurassic Park III, well, it’s certainly a movie, isn’t it?
I think that third film showed the problem with having a remote location to keep the dinosaurs locked away. I could watch people trapped on a dinosaur island every day for the rest of my life and never get bored, but you start running out of reasons to get them there. How many helicopters/planes/ships can crash with a crew of interesting characters who have skills able to keep them alive from Velociraptors? Five? Eighteen? It’s a finite number, I’m sure.
So, I think, you have two options. One is to set up permit residence on the island. Come up with a reason people are living on that island, despite the dinosaurs. That’s hard, because something has to go wrong, otherwise we’re watching Dinotopia, which would be my jam as well, but that’s it’s own franchise. In Jurassic Park, people have to get eaten. It’s important. To me.
The second option, which I would have never thought I’d be down for, is to let the dinosaurs loose in the world. And that’s what Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom sounds like it’s setting up, even if the “world” is just mainland military bases and neighboring towns. But, from there, the sky’s the limit!
What I’ve been thinking is that, maybe, it’s time for the franchise to shake up the status quo. When Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released, it presented the apes that gain intelligence as a localized occurrence in the here-and-now. In order for it to be conceivable that the planet could become theirs, there needed to be another force to lower the human population and even the playing field. The Simian Virus in that rebooted series shrunk the human population, creating a dystopia where a few hundred intelligent apes were dangerous and becoming the dominate species.
Jurassic World introduced us to the idea of extreme genetic manipulation with dinosaurs, creating the Indominus Rex. In the sequel, it sounds like humans, specifically the movie universe’s now seemingly evil company InGen, aren’t done messing with DNA. What if, in doing so, they ended up creating a virus like that in the new Planet of the Apes films. What if humanity is no longer plentiful and dinosaurs roam the earth?
I love that idea.
To be fair, I probably love that idea because it’s not unlike Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. You’d have a reason why a T-Rex could be loose in suburbia and we couldn’t stop it. Sure, those humans that are still alive have weapons, but the world doesn’t work the same way anymore. And humans are panicky primates. If you have an assault rifle and a Spinosaurus started charging at you, I’d be surprised if you didn’t start running, fully loaded gun and all.
How far should this world go? Makeshift cars akin to Mad Max? The toys alone would be fantastic! Domesticated dinosaurs? We’ve seen trained raptors, so why not? InGen could still be around, maybe as a paramilitary force keeping most people under their charge. Sure, that would start to turn them into the Umbrella Corporation from the Resident Evil movies, but even bad movies can have decent ideas.
Yes, doing any of this would change the franchise forever. But, with a title like Jurassic World, the concept of going expansive is set. And change is good. It’s chaotic, it’s evolution. The plots would be forced to deal with the human characters and their motivations, while still including the prehistoric carnage these movies have always been so good at delivering. We’ve had four (and probably five) movies set in a slightly grounded dinosaur populated universe. Let’s go big.
This episode we talk about Michael Crichton’s newest posthumous release, Dragon Teeth. We also talk about your other favorite Crichton posthumous releases, Micro and Pirate Latitudes. And then things get away from us as we imagine the Lizard sharing clothes with the Hulk.
Needless to say, I find more reasons to talk about Jurassic Park. And if anyone thinks that the Timeline movie is better than The Lost World: Jurassic Park, let me know because I will physically fight you outside the location of your choice.
I reviewed Dragon Teeth here on the blog, so if you want something a little more detailed, check it out. A quick summary is that I enjoyed having a new Crichton book, but it’s not a fantastic story. If I had to rate the books released after Crichton’s death, I would pick Micro, Dragon Teeth and then Pirate Latitudes. And Micro seems a little unfair because it was actually intended to be released. I’ll read anything they find on Crichton’s computer, but I don’t think we need to any more.
See you next week, podcats!
I read Dragon Teeth months ago because I got a Advance Readers Copy because I’m a librarian, but I’m talking about it now because I’m a bad blogger.
So this is a western, using dinosaur bones as a means of getting me to read a genre I tend to avoid. In fact, this might only be third western I’ve ever read (the other two being Doc by Mary Doria Russell and Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker, both recommended). I can’t say I’m not disappointed by Dragon Teeth, because what I wanted was dinosaur-facts and paleontology. And, to be fair, the cover wants so badly to remind us of Jurassic Park that we can’t be faulted for expecting something else.
But what about this book as it is? It reads like Crichton’s early work, having more in common with The Great Train Robbery than Jurassic Park. This is history brought to life through action and characters that are almost on tour through the world’s events. Our main protagonist, William Johnson, is that classic Crichton non-character, a cipher for the world and ideas the author wants to explore. Johnson is our lead because he has to get to the dinosaur bones, because he has to get to Deadwood, because he has to meet Wyatt Earp. He’s not going down as a great character, but then, which Crichton characters do we remember apart from their movie counterparts? Even Ian Malcolm is more of machine to ramble chaos theory than a living, breathing character.
The action is fine in Dragon Teeth, this isn’t a book of ideas but history and the history never stands out. You miss the depth of research presented in Crichton’s other work, those wonderful paragraphs of information that trick you in to learning.
But we have to be patient with this book. It’s not like Crichton wanted this read. He didn’t submit this to be published. It strikes me that he finished it, decided the Terminal Man and Congo were better and simply moved on from this draft. Reviewing this book feels unfair because what we’re reading is a draft, written by a younger man who learned better from it.
While it’s incredibly sad for me that this will be (most likely) the last book we see published under Crichton’s name, it’s not the best one to go out on. But being a book that was written so early in his career, there’s a nostalgia to it as well. It almost brings all his work full circle, asking us to start all over again.
New week, new podcast episode! Another round of Who’s First Line is it Anyway? and more good stuff!
And if you missed the last few, we talked about Batman, Superman and Anime in the previous episodes! But the long geek trek is over and we’re back to business.
Also, I really think Nic is trying to take over Book News for himself. This is my struggle.
See you next week, podcats!
Boring genre TV like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Walking Dead, having to see my wife watching Lost on Netflix and a general lack of involvement on my part, has made me long for a reboot of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. Seriously, why can’t this cartoon be resurrected, either as a TV or movie? Not like Terra Nova, please, anything but that. But with the last Jurassic Park having come out twelve + years ago, there’s a distinct lack of dinosaurs in our media.