Jun 26 2012 10:00am

5 Ways Not to Screw Up Jurassic Park 4

5 Ways Not to Screw Up Jurassic Park 4

The track record of screenwriters assigned to pen new installments of beloved franchises can often let fans know which way the wind is blowing in their favorite fictional universes. In the case of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, the choice of Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindeloff gave savvy moviegoers the impression that the script would favor style over substance, which, while not unsatisfying, ended up being true.

Last week, news emerged that Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver—screenwriters of the surprisingly decent and intelligent Rise of the Planet of the Apesare writing the fourth Jurassic Park film. As a fan of Jurassic Park and the new Apes movie, this is very good news! Now, I just have five pieces of advice for them and everyone else involved on how not to screw it up.


5.) Have Jurassic Park 4 take place in Jurassic Park

In terms of narrative back peddling, the Jurassic Park sequels are in a tricky spot. Though destroyed in the novel, the actual park is simply  abandoned at the end of the movie. Sure, there are dinosaur tracks somewhere, and the secret shaving-cream can containing dino DNA is not recovered, but by and large most of Jurassic Park itself is totally over because everyone runs away and all the dinos will supposedly die fairly quickly due to their built-in lysine deficiency.  Notably, neither of the two sequels actually returns to Isla Nublar, but instead take place on Isla Sorna or “Site B.” I guess this was to avoid having to worry too much about continuity from the first film, but ultimately Jurassic Park 2 and Jurassic Park 3 do not take place in Jurassic Park! This is a bummer; mostly on an emotional level. I think a basic foundational error of the sequels was a desire to not mess up the continuity of Isla Nublar, but in doing so, they made movies which were less satisfying.

A sequel should go back to Jurassic Park proper, because we want to know what happened to the place depicted in the first film! If you change a few things, we’re not going to care. Just show us that big gate again.


4.) Don’t Reboot It

Lately when screenwriters take on these kind of established-continuity projects some kind of sideways reboot, “companion piece,” relaunch, or reimagining occurs. But they’re all squeakquels to me, because in a sense, a reboot/reimaging feels like a cop-out. Put it this way: The Wrath of Khan is a direct sequel to the Trek episode “Space Seed.” In the movie Khan remembers Chekov (who was not even in the original episode) and he owns a movie-era Starfleet insignia, which he shouldn’t have been able to have. None of the people on Ceti Alpha V look at all like the folks from the classic episode. But no one in the audience cares. It all works, because the script is extremely confident in these decisions and reimagines the source material to make it work with the sequel. The only people pointing out these details are super-nerds like me, and I still LOVE the movie.

Right now the zeitgeist is lousy with reboots, meaning it would actually be a little innovative and fresh to do a seemingly straightforward sequel. Jurassic Park 4 should just be Jurassic Park 4. But they should write it like it’s a sequel to the first film. Have it set in present day (or the future!), bring in new characters, have cameos from the old characters, whatever you have to do, but make it a true sequel. In other words, think of it as Jurassic Park 4: The Wrath of the Raptors. (Or maybe The Return of Nedry.)


3.) Do Something Different With the Dinosaurs Other Than Having People Run Away from Them

A strength of all of the Jurassic Park movies is the joy of watching dinosaurs (things we all love) attack human beings (thing we are.) Most monster movies create a great dichotomy of confusing the audience as to who they should root for. In the Jurassic Park world, the biggest conflicts usually involve the dinosaurs coming after us or causing lots and lots of problems. But, it doesn’t always need to be like this. It may sound ridiculous, but what if our main characters teame-up with the dinosaurs? It’s one thing to see those kids running with the Gallimimus; it would be something else entirely to see them RIDING them.

I’m not saying you would want to develop super-intelligent dinos or anything like that, and certainly not advocating a dinosaurs-as-weapons-of-war-created-by the government. But some kind of interaction between the humans and the dinosaurs which wasn’t simply humans running away from dinos, might be awesome. Take the Brachiosaurus sneezing scene from the first movie, only make it more active.


2.) Bring in a Really, Really Big Name Actor (With Genre Credibility)

If Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern all agree to come back, then you’re totally fine and this really doesn’t matter. Just make the movie about them. But, assuming you can’t get all of them for some reason, then the film needs some kind of big draw. This isn’t to say Robert Pattinson should play a hot paleontologist or Blake Lively should be a raptor-tamer, instead, it would need a big, probably older actor who has some pull with genre fans and non-genre fans alike. Sigourney Weaver is the first person who springs to mind here, though Michelle Pfeiffer could work, too. Also, for whatever reason, I really feel strongly about Ewan McGregor being in a movie with dinosaurs. I feel like riding that fake lizard in Star Wars: Episode III wasn’t quite enough. I think Ewan should get to ride a real dinosaur.

The reason having some kind of big star with nerd appeal in the movie is important is because the sequels have all been really, really bad, and it’s mostly because it seemed like no one could get excited about them. It isn’t fair or right, but everyone would get excited about Ewan McGregor or Sigourney Weaver. What I’m saying is, dinosaurs aren’t enough. Rise of the Planet of the Apes did well party because of James Franco, but the John Lithgow thing really sealed the deal for me in terms of nerd appeal combined with an awesome actor. Jurassic Park 4 needs to find its John Lithgow. Naturally, Jaffa and Silver don’t have anything to do with this, but it’s still imporant.


1.) Avoid Too Much Rumination on the Ethics of Cloning

Science fiction, for whatever reason, has some kind of weird duty to actually talk about the crazy issues it depicts. This is partly why some people hate science fiction; it gets preachy to a nerdy choir. The original Jurassic Park is teaming with ruminations on life and our ability to create it. Should we bring back these creations that were wiped off the face of the Earth? Are we being punished by our creations? Have we upset the natural order of things?

Sure, these notions are a normal part of the conversation, but they don’t have to be the only conversation. The notion of something being a usurper to the natural order of things, and then having that usurper suppressed and restoring the natural balance is older than Shakespeare. Do we have to keep doing that? Must characters who create dinosaurs be punished?

The more important questions about the cloning of dinosaurs for me have little to with the ethics of the ability to create life or not, but instead the motivations as to why we’d want to do it in the first place. In the Crichton books this is explored a little better, but even in the existing films it seems like there are three basic reasons to clone dinos: 1. Entertainment, 2. Sinister Profit, 3. Scientific Research. (The last one is best and most interesting option.)

Now, the folks who wrote Rise of the Planet of the Apes seem to be able to do a big Hollywood movie, which does focus on science-type stuff. Yes, James Franco’s character was an unethical scientist, but we wasn’t a bad person. This could be done with paleontologists, too. What I mean is the movie wouldn’t need to have a big corporation or human hubris be the antagonist of the movie. Instead, maybe it’s just something we didn’t expect. Maybe a new science thing happens with the dinosaurs, and that’s the conflict. (Mutations, hybrids, something cool.)

But for those ideas, I’ll leave it to the big Hollywood screenwriters. Imagination-on!

Your move Jaffa and Silver.

Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. The new Jurassic Park movie better have stegosauruses all over the place.

Mike Lanser
1. MikeLanser
I don't know about the reasoning behind 3 going back to Sorna, but I'm pretty sure 2 went there because the book it was based on (The Lost World) went there as well, not just because of continuity.
2. DustinMetzger
Looking for continuity between Jurassic Park and The Lost World (the books) is a fools errand. In book one the old guy who funds it all is an exploitative jerk looking out only for himself and he dies, yet he's back as the friendly old grandpa in movie two. And I believe the author's correct, they've never been back to the main island since the first movie. They've only been to Sorna or the mainland. Michael Chrichton never wrote a book sequal to Jurassic Park, he wrote a movie sequal. Big distinction.
craig thrift
3. gagecreedlives
I might have to dust off my copy of the Lost World but I thought the old guy remained dead and it was Ian Malcolm that was brought back

I think the movie had both characters in it though
Mike Lanser
4. MikeLanser
Having read both books, that description didn't sound right, so I went to Wikipedia for a brush up. The old guy from book 1 (Hammond) is definitely still dead in book 2, though Ian Malcolm was claimed to be dead in 1 and is in fact still alive in book 2. Other than that change, I don't see a lot of failures in continuity.

If anything, the movie was changed from the book for a happier ending. In the book, Hammond and Malcolm die at the end after the Costa Rican air force annihilate the island, and everyone else is implied to be indefinitely detained by the Costa Rican government.

That being said, Crichton didn't write the Lost World until after Jurassic Park was in theaters and Steven Spielberg pressured him to do so (at least according to Wikipedia).
5. BrandiV.
I agree with sending the movie back to Isla Nubar. And the main trio (Neill, Goldblum, Dern) would be a huge selling point for credibility. I hope they don't screw it up--Jurassic Park 1 is one of my favorite movies of childhood. It would be awesome to see at least one other really great, fun Jurassic movie.
6. GuruJ
Ah, Jurassic Park (sniff). Oh for the days when Michael Crichton wrote science fiction plausibly enough to be legitimately scary/creepy, and wasn't just writing his next $100m movie script (with blockbuster effects) in book form.
7. Natenanimous
I think the problem with a Jurassic Park sequel is that it can never be Jurassic Park again. It can never again be a movie about a dinosaur park where things go horribly wrong, because things already went horribly wrong and the status quo was never reset. That's not a bad thing, it just means that any sequel has to be a different kind of movie. It can't be about dinosaurs escaping, it has to be about going to a place where dinosaurs are already roaming free ... and that's what JP2 and 3 did.

So you need something new. Personally I think Ryan is right about the idea that you could have some new science thing happen on the island, but honestly I think that if any human characters started riding dinosaurs I would throw up my hands in disgust. It sounds like the sort of thing you'd see in a modern day Lucas movie or one of those adventure kids movies starring The Rock. Dear script writers: don't listen to him, riding dinosaurs is way too indulgent.

That said, the idea of the people interacting with the dinosaurs on a non-chompy-runny-bitey scale has merit. The first idea that comes to mind is humans trying to help the dinosaurs from some new science thing that is a threat to them (not trying to help them from other people, that was done in JP2). I wouldn't call it "teaming up" with the dinosaurs, that sounds juvenile, but having to help them in a way that shows the dinosaurs more as living creatures than as scary monsters might be an idea with legs. Particularly for the raptors; those guys get a scary rap, but they're just doing their thing. Fish gotta swim, raptors gotta hunt.

At the end of the day, they have to capture the first movie's sense of wonder and awe without being able to use the first movie's plot. At first blush, I'm imagining something where the raptors who were on the boat at the end of JP2 (the ones we never saw but know must have been there), which escaped into the city, have all been rounded up now by authorities but there's something wrong with them. Something in their genetics or somesuch is off and they're beginning to suffer horrible, wasting diseases.

It's assumed that the ones still on the island must have the same issues. Some people want to just let them all suffer and die, but others mount an expedition to return to the original island in order to introduce a cure into the ecosystem and save the dinosaurs and the unique heritage they represent. The plot goes from there with the standard run of problems and issues and even, yes, trouble with dinosaurs. Maybe even their wasting disease starts to affect the humans, so that we have a common enemy. But despite all the trouble they give us we need to save them anyway, and maybe some of them even seem to understand and appreciate our help. The solution the characters bring to the island doesn't work, and they have to come up with something new, where it turns out that something in the dinosaurs themselves is the key to curing the disease, which will save not only the dinosaurs but also the humans, and maybe all humans as the disease is spreading on the mainland due to the raptors as well. And by the end when the humans triumph and save them (and maybe ourselves too), the movie celebrates the fact that these are unique and wonderful creatures and that the world would be a poorer place without them.

... or something like that.

P.S., I hate to be that guy, but when you say "The original Jurassic Park is teaming with ruminations on life and our ability to create it", what you mean to say is "teeming". I'm sure you knew that, it's just one of those slips that peeves my pet.
Sean Vivier
9. SeanVivier
I think Crichton got away with a living book-Malcolm in the sequel because his death was basically, "And then he shut his eyes." Obviously meant as him succumbing to his wounds on the helicopter, but still the easiest retcon ever.
11. FuckingSpock
I disagree about not rebooting the franchise. Let's do a little "Where are they now?"

Jeff Goldblum Rachel Berry's gay father on Glee.
Sam Neil is Mr. Cryptic on Alcatraz.
Laura Dern is...dead? She's probably alive, but I ahven;t seen her since the West Wing.

That isn't exactly star power.

I want a reboot that is a little more true to the book. I want the scene where Grant and the kids run from pterodactyls.
I want Hammond to be a total ass and get eaten by compys.

If there isn't a reboot then I want an all new cast. Aside from Ryan's two suggestions I think Susan Sarandon, Liam Neeson, and/or Sandra Bullock would be good. I could see Neeson being the mean corporate guy and Bullock being the friendly scientist.

@staceybrook Agreed! John William's score should be reused and unaltered.
12. Gerry__Quinn
Well, if the dinosaurs were supposed to die at the end of the first film, clearly they mustn't have, or there wouldn't be a sequel. Seems to me you could have a perfectly good setting involving a well-armed scientific mission landing on the island to find out why. Of course things will go pear-shaped with communication getting cut off and people getting eaten.

As for the solution, could be some biological SF thing, or a supervillain/government breeding the dinosaurs for nefarious purposes, who knows...
13. SKM
SeanVivier, not quite. There is a specific mention made at the end of Jurassic Park that "the bodies of Hammond and Malcolm" are airlifted to the mainland. So, no, there was no dramatic death scene, but the fact that Malcom is dead is perfectly explicit.

I like all the suggestions except for riding the dinosaurs. Ugh, no. Leave that crap to Lucas.
Sky Thibedeau
14. SkylarkThibedeau
The dinosaurs start showing up in Costa Rica like in the beginning of the first book. Grant et al are called in to help the authorities get them back to the Island as they are declared an endangered species.
Ryan Britt
15. ryancbritt
Liam Neeson, yes. BUT, only if he fights the raptors with his bare hands in the snow.
16. nancym
@Natenanimous, I like your idea of having the dinos be "in trouble"- a disease or something else threatening them, and humans needing to help them, opening up the question of Should we or shouldn't we? save these creatures. I would also be upset if I saw them being used as transportation, seems like a cheesy cheap development to me.

@ryancbritt- YES, Liam Neeson!
17. FuckingSpock
@15/RyanCBritt Yes, but only if it is an Albanian raptor.
18. schannepj
Having the characters ride dinosaurs has to be the worst idea ever for a Jurassic Park movie. Maybe you should be rooting for a Dinotopia adaptation instead?
19. RaptorHChrist
Riding dinosaurs? No. Not feasible. Not even funny. You might as well throw the entire franchise in the toilet, again.

The plot should ramp up the security aspect of having carnivorous apex predators being tranquilized and taken by foreign governments to be used for purposes unknown. The plot would take place on BOTH islands, perhaps at the same time with seperate 'away teams' or perhaps one then the other. One team of badguys on the hunt to find that can of dino DNA, its the Pandora's box of the gen.engineering community and the obvious resounding loose end of the franchise so far. Also we need to have the return of a few choice characters (Vince Vaughn, the environmentalist photographer from Lost World: survived on camera, as well as Doctor Grant, who has come full circle and now advocates for protection of the species) who come to throw up a human shield to protect the last of the dinosaurs from imminent carpet bombing courtesy of the Costa Rican government's star-spangled overlords. Raptors need to be featured prominently and could be seen to aid a character or two in a small but tense moment. Not a big moment, like the scene at the end of JP3 with the raptor calling, but more of a beat-type moment when the protagonists are losing badly to Generic Thug who is then brought down by that very badass female raptor from the first installment. Also I would like to see the Spinosaurus get served by a mating pair of Trex's because Trex does not get moped out like that. This should happen early, to restore the Trex to its place of glory and dominance.
Thomas Simeroth
20. a smart guy
@10 add Neanderthals with Homo Erectus. That is another ethical dilemna: should we put our ancestors into a zoo? Also, wooly mammoth vs. T-rex.
Kay Shapero
21. Anansii
I'd like to explore the contact problem we were left with at the end of JP3 - now that we know the velociraptors are a species of pack hunting sapients, rather like we are, let's talk to them...
22. Peter247
They could try and throw global warming into the equation, and make the story take place years after the last events. It would revolve around the idea that dinosaurs are the more efficient life form in a warmer climate, as mammals only took over due to the climate change that came along with the Ice Age. Thus Dinosaurs would try and claim back their reign over the ecosystem displacing other species.
The setting would be about humans trying to find a way to coexist in this new ecosystem.
They could expand the franchise in this direction way better than they did with the whole people stranded on a small island idea.
23. spinosaurus
Agree with the Liam Neeson idea. ''The dinosaurs have my daugther''..But Ewen and Liam would be great addisions.
24. ThatkidSmit
If possible, I wouldn't mind seeing a greater diversification of dinosaurs. I mean sure, defiantly, defiantly keep the classics, raptors, brachiousaurus' (my spellings horrendous) and all that jazz, but I say introduce a little anarchy, and incorporate some water-based dinosaurs. I personally believe Pleisiosaurs would be a nice addition, except how they maintain their daily dose of licene, I'm not sure.I suggest also introducing a dog on the island, just to mix thing's up a bit, say they get in trouble and then baa baa ababa dadada dadada da (JP music enter) the dog comes in.

One last thing. I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have is a very select set of skills. Skills I have developed over a long career. If you let the dinosaurs roam free, I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but If you let people ride dinosaurs. I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. (Taken-Liam Neeson)
25. Joshua20
Actually, I think the only way not to screw Jurassic Park up is to NOT produce anymore films. Though I would love to see more of JP, I'm kinda afraid it wouldn't live up to expectations, and come crashing down (just like most sequels, and reboots and whatnot). JP and JP 2 were awesome, but JP 3 was bland at best :(
26. Scienceficgurl
I do agree with this article a little bit like lets replace it back on the first movies island. But lets not forget dinosours didnt just live on land? Now did they no they had aquatic dinasours lets says theres aquatic dinasours all around the 3 islands hmm... and lets say the people are stuck on the 3rd island and need to get back to the first movie island so how they gonna travel without helicopeters and such you guessed it a Boat and on their way lets say they get attacked by an auqitic dinasour yep. Lets put good old kornosouraus in there hmm? but lets instead of the humans getting eaten (the thing not to do in JPIV #3) lets have an auquitic battle but one of the dinasours sides with the humans and that dinasour would be the liopleurodon. I know there both carnivours but still have a battle kind off like the tyrannsouras rex and spinosouraus. I hope this is fine.
Bill Capossere
27. Billcap
What if some huge spacecraft comes to find the intelligent dinosaurs from ages ago but their probe is destroying the world's civilization and so somebody has to find actual dinosaurs to talk to the aliens and . . .
28. Mathew S
There is no way Alan Grant or Ellie Satler would go back again to any of these islands, and Ian Malcolm only went back to get his girlfriend in the second film. We never fear for these 3, we always have a knowledge that they wont die, so if any of them have a reason to go back to the island then i think one should be killed to shock the audience.

So who would go back out of the original cast and why?

Lex comes to mind and being the child computer hacker in the first film, is all grown up now and an idea is her wanting to go back to Isla Nublar with a team and salvage whatever they can from the computers hard drives etc for reasons not thought of yet, or possibly try to get it up and running again in an attempt to recreate her uncle's vision.

Perhaps the movie could start at the scene in the first JP where Nedry is attacked in the jeep by a dilophosaurus. We never saw him die he was just attacked so the scene could extend after what we saw in the first movie and show Nedry cut up and bleeding and grabbing a shotgun and shooting the Dilophosaurus. Now let your imagination run wild! I think something like that would be an exciting start to the fourth movie.

I was rooting for Nedry in the first film because if it wasnt for him the dinosaurs would'nt be running loose! The good guys cant always win eh?

I would also like to see people actually unload rounds of bullets at the dinosaurs instead of running away all the time, make it like the dino crysis games on ps1.
29. Adam Hunter Peck
Please no riding, no shotguns, and no underwater adventures!

Idea 1: Raptors on the mainland


- In Jurassic Park (the book), Grant sees raptors stow away on a ship heading for the mainland. Through the whole story, he's under time pressure to get to a radio to call the boat back before it reaches shore.

- In Lost World (the movie), a ship carrying a T-Rex in cargo and a mutilated above-deck crew crashes into the docks in San Diego... why? It's never been clear, but here's my theory: T-Rex would have been drugged and stored inside the cargo area. Imagine that a couple of raptors had snuck onto the boat and were hiding in the cargo hold. During the ship's voyage, the Rex wakes up, and is aggitated by the raptors. As the Rex bellows and moves around, the ship begins tipping back and forth. The crew opens the cargo doors to give the Rex another tranquilizer, but the raptors spring out on to the deck. One man closes the cargo doors as the raptors kill everyone on board (see: severed hand on cargo button). Before the ship reaches the docks, the raptors jump off the ship and swim to shore and retreat into the wilderness.

Concept for new movie:

Years have gone by and the raptors have mated and multiplied in the woods of California. Perhaps a number of joggers, cyclers, and hikers have gone missing. The raptors may begin to venture out into suburbs, attacking house pets at night. The plot could follow a family in the woods, or a group of rangers tasked with finding the missing people.


Idea 2: Jurassic Park Revived

A number of years after Jurassic Park, some arrogant billionaire (maybe one of Hammond's heirs, though Tim might be too obvious) decides to try again, and recreates Jurassic Park. This time, with more modern technology and stonger security, it actually works... for a while. The park is fully operational and families have been visiting for a year.

But of course, something goes wrong. Perhaps a Tsunami knocks out out the power and floods the park, or the raptors dig a tunnel out from their enclosure, or some mentally deranged person sabotages the security system. Whatever the catalyst, it's tourists vs dinos.

As much as I love the characters from Jurassic Park, I think it's better to let them go than drag them into another JP situation like JP3. This movie would have new characters. I'm imagining a family: maybe a mother, a teenage boy and two younger siblings. In the initial chaos, the mom would get separated from the kids, and the teenage boy - who is usually aloof - must take charge and protect his younger siblings; it's about his character arc to maturity and responsibility.


The best scenes in Jurassic Park (movie and book) all involve the kids almost being eaten: T-rex vs Tim & Lex in the car, Tim & Lex in the kitchen, and the classic river/waterfall sequence in the book.

Kids + dinosaurs is the secret sauce that they tried to add but didn't get right in the other movies: Ian's daughter is rarely in danger while the adults do the dirty work and then her gymnastics scene makes everyone groan, and the kid in JP3 apparently does all his cool surviving off camera and then doesn't leave his annoying parents' arms for the rest of the movie, aside from a Pteradactyl scene that jumps the shark.
30. fern1515
Jurassic Park 4...


The film makers will ruin it I think because they will go down an all too familiar path. Etc (keeping it brief so I can get to my main point...)

Jurassic Park 4 should be darker, more real. The way Christoper Nolan dis Batman and Superman - but with a touching, faux-true, believable heart wrenching story - like Water For Elephants.

Yes, that would be my ideal Jurassic Park 4 I think - perhaps set in the not too distant future, but far enough into the future that living breathing dinosaurs are no longer a thing of wonder. It's a future where dinosaurs have had their moment in the limelight and people have become bored.

Small dino's are kept in people's homes the way people keep Lizards, snakes and caged birds. Rich people hunt them for game in unfair, controlled, game reserves. A velocirapor head is the new trophy in place of the Rhino horn or the Tiger. The big dinosaurs are dragged around with circuses and displayed in Sea World type theme parks, or worse.

The story can perhaps then shift focus to the plight of a particularly unfortunate T-Rex, living in despair - like a giant dancing bear on a chain. We see see his capture as an infant, we see him brutalised by his keepers, worked like a Donkey. What will become of him - does he have a rescuer out there?

We, the audience, now see the dinosaurs as animals with rights - no longer the monsters escaping from behind a fence or wreaking havoc in a city. Now we care about them, we follow their journey which could potentially take any number of directions. Will dinosaurs ever be free of man inflicted horror?

In the end, will we be rooting for the dinosaur over the humans who created it?
31. fern1515
Sorry about the spellings and other errors above. Just read it back...

Ooops, a few clangers in there.
32. Ray-El
I would watch and enjoy anything with Sigourney Weaver in it. That was a great idea! Oh! How about alien/dinosaur hybrids!?!?! Okay... now I'm just having a geek attack.

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