Jurassic Park 3 Created The Franchise's Worst Problem
Jurassic Park 3 ushered in the idea of the evil dinosaur Big Bad, which the Jurassic World movies also did with Indomonus Rex and the Indoraptor.
Jurassic Park III created the franchise's worst problem: the series became glorified monster movies with a new Big Bad dinosaur the humans in each film must survive. Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park was adapted from the best-selling techno-thriller written by the late Michael Crichton. While Spielberg's film simplified and consolidated many aspects of Crichton's tale, it hewed closely to the book's plot. Thanks to the photo-realistic dinosaurs, which were a mix of revolutionary CGI and Stan Winston's ingenious animatronics, Jurassic Park was a global crowd-pleaser and became one of the biggest films of all time.
Naturally, Jurassic Park spawned a franchise. Steven Spielberg directed 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which was loosely based on Michael Crichton's sequel novel, but it wasn't as well-received by critics and audiences as the original. The franchise then re-calibrated and returned with a third film, 2001's Jurassic Park III, directed by Joe Johnston - and this was the big shift in the franchise's focus that turned the saga into monster movies. 14 years later, Colin Trevorrow rebooted the Jurassic movies with 2015's Jurassic World, which earned over a billion dollars worldwide at the box office and combined Spielberg's sensibilities with the monster-centric Jurassic Park III. Director J.A. Bayona's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom followed in 2018, which destroyed the island of Isla Nublar and unleashed the dinosaurs upon the rest of the planet.
In 2021, Trevorrow returns to the director's chair to wrap up the franchise with Jurassic World: Dominion, which unites the heroes of Spielberg's films, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) with the leads of Trevorrow's chapters, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). The Jurassic World films, especially the first one, soft rebooted Spielberg's original, and contain plenty of callbacks and homages. But most importantly, the Jurassic World movies conspicuously continued the major change that began in Jurassic Park III.
The First Two Jurassic Park Movies Weren't About One Dinosaur
Neither the Jurassic Park novel nor film was about an evil dinosaur relentlessly trying to kill the humans. Rather, it was a parable about the tragedy and havoc that can occur when humans use science to play God. In Jurassic Park, a combination of a hurricane and a plot by the programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) to steal dinosaur embryos shut down the park, trapping Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm with Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello), the grandchildren of billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), in the wild with the dinosaurs on the loose.
However, Jurassic Park didn't spotlight one particular dinosaur as the villain and the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptors emerged as the film's main dinos. The humans survived an unforgettable T-rex attack and they were stalked by a pack of raptors, but there were also plenty of heartwarming moments showcasing the majesty of the dinosaurs, like the gentle Brachiosaurus. Since they were more human-sized and were adept at problem-solving, the Velociraptors emerged as the most dangerous dinosaurs hunting Grant and the other survivors, but the T-rex even returned at the end and inadvertently saved the people from the raptors. Overall, Jurassic Park's prehistoric creatures weren't presented as monsters but rather as animals simply doing what came naturally to them.
This continued in The Lost World: Jurassic Park where the human mercenaries invading Isla Sorna AKA Site B sought to capture the dinosaurs and bring them to Jurassic Park: San Diego. The Lost World's dinosaurs were the victims; they were innocent animals being exploited by greedy executives. The Velociraptors did return and tried to kill the humans, but the sequel's T-rex was a mother looking for her kidnapped child. Even though the T-rex rampages through downtown San Diego in the film's climax, it's still just an innocent animal trying to understand the strange new environment it involuntarily found itself in.
The Spinosaurus Created The Jurassic Franchise's Biggest Problem
Jurassic Park III essentially laid out the film's new direction in one of its opening scenes. Addressing the audience at a lecture, Dr. Alan Grant declares that "What John Hammond and InGen did [at Jurassic Park] was create theme park monsters, nothing more." A monster-centreic theme park ride is exactly what Jurassic World III was: Grant was bamboozled by Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his ex-wife Amanda (Tea Leoni) to accompany them to the dinosaur-infested Isla Sorna to rescue their missing son Eric (Trevor Morgan). Soon, they are all trapped on the island and must face the slew of prehistoric creatures who live on Site B, especially the Spinosaurus, which was the film's main villain.
Unlike the T-rex, which the Spinosaurus killed on-screen in a 'passing of the torch' moment, the Spinosaurus was the Big Bad that existed to torment the heroes relentlessly. There were other monsters on the island, like the winged Pteranodons, but the Spinosaurus wasn't presented as an animal just going about its business; the super predator was a malevolent beast that chased Grant and the humans all over Isla Sorna. The Spinosaurus changed the Jurassic films because every movie that followed had to introduce a new supervillain dinosaur. And, true to Grant's prediction, Jurassic Park III was very much structured like an elaborate theme park ride, and so were the films that followed.
Moreso, Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World movies had to literally invent new dinosaur villains to be his films' Big Bads. Jurassic World was destroyed by the rampage of the Indominus Rex, which was bred to be a cross between the size and power of the T-rex and the guile of the Velociraptors. The Indominus Rex could even camouflage itself so that the super predator the size of a building could also somehow go undetected when the plot called for it. Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom then introduced the Indoraptor, which was a pure nightmare fantasy creature that rampaged all over the Lockwood Mansion but could still creep into Maisie Lockwood's (Isabella Sermon) bedroom and stalk the little girl in her bed.
How Jurassic World 3 Can Correct This Issue
Thankfully, Jurassic World: Dominion is poised to not be a mere monster movie. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ended with the proliferation of dinosaurs across the planet and, in addition, the code to genetically engineer dinos is out in the wild. With the addition of Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm to the story, this hopefully means the film will resume the original Jurassic Park's perspective on the dinosaurs as animals loose in a world that they don't understand and isn't prepared to cope with them. However, the fact that anyone can now create their own dinosaurs could also mean Jurassic World: Dominion will introduce yet another hybrid beast to terrorize humans.
The Jurassic World movies have also leaned hard into the idea that dinosaurs can be weaponized for military uses and this, unfortunately, could be something Jurassic World: Dominion goes all-in on. Since the final film of Trevorrow's trilogy is no longer reliant on the 'dinosaurs in an island' and 'dinosaurs in a mansion' tropes, Jurassic World: Dominion global story could finally deliver on the saga's absurd concept of armies using dinosaurs on the battlefield. But perhaps the original Jurassic Park's themes will find a way to be restored and Trevorrow's movie will treat the dinosaurs as animals again, with the heroes trying to solve the problem of what place dinos have in the world.
In Jurassic World, Claire Dearing said that people were getting "bored" of real dinosaurs, hence InGen had to create the Indominus Rex. This was Trevorrow's movie actually admitting the franchise's fears that the classic dinosaurs were played out and that audiences wanted freakshow monsters instead. But if Jurassic World: Dominion really will bring the saga full-circle, the dinosaurs will hopefully have their natural awe and wonder returned to them instead of relying on a supervillain dinosaur to create fleeting thrills and chills, which began in Jurassic Park III.