Hello! I see you’ve clicked on my inflammatory headline. I apologize if it has caused you any grief. You have such fond memories of Jurassic Park, after all. The melting ice cream! The Jeff Goldblum laughs! Your summer camp boyfriend — you held hands once; it was serious — took you to see Jurassic Park III without any parental sign-off at all, and, wow, the pterodactyl on the bridge and almost but then definitely not touching another human being’s knee for the first time … it was all so brave. And then they brought the series back in 2015, with whirly glass tubes and Chris Pratt speaking raptortongue and a pretty lady learning not to wear high heels in the jungle — it was great. I agree! Long live Jurassic Park.
But the dinosaurs? Absolutely not. It’s time for them to die.
On Friday, the latest edition of the Jurassic Expanded Universe, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, will debut. From what I can tell by watching the trailers — no spoilers here of anything but the four older movies, and of mankind’s prerogative to stop dying horribly —the story has Pratt’s Owen Grady and said post-heels lady, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), return to Isla Nublar, a.k.a. the Jurassic island that we’re told is somewhere off the coast of (and, critically, the property of) Costa Rica, to save as many dinosaurs as they can before the volcano at the island’s center erupts. There is a secondary plot involving conniving capitalists who want to, and apparently do, get the dinos to the American mainland for their own nefarious devices, but this — Save Dinos! — is the basic gist of it.
Which is to say our heroes are about to make the same boneheaded move that every other Jurassic movie has been predicated on: The humans are going to go back to see the dinosaurs again, instead of light them up from the big blue sky with 10 kilotons of mankind’s finest enriched uranium and then go home safely to their beds — and, if we’re being serious, probably to a ticker-tape parade.
The first Jurassic World built in some callbacks to the 1993 original, including a scene in which characters briefly take refuge in the run-down remains of a structure from Dr. John Hammond’s woulda-coulda-shoulda-not-used-frog-DNA park, Jeep and all. For raptorheads, this was a lovely bit of fan service. But it also accomplished something more important: establishing that the Jurassic World movies take place in the same contiguous universe as the original Jurassic Park trilogy. In other words, every person in the new movies, from Chris Pratt and Scary Global Subsidiary Man on down, has (or had, in the case of SGSM) every reason to know exactly how this will end.
I do not know for certain that Fallen Kingdom will feature Pratt delivering a speech about the sanctity of wild things and the rights of dinosaurs to tropical vacations and squealing mammal snacks as he vanquishes the conniving capitalists once more. But I would say that the odds of this are good, as are — given that Jurassic World 3 is slated for a 2021 release — those of a dramatic rerelease of dinosaurs to a post-volcanic Isla Nubar, where they might continue to screech and murder in supposed solitude. Perhaps you share this opinion. Dinosaurs: wow! Dinosaur park: how cool! Let the dinosaurs have their island forevermore.
You are mistaken.
The O.G. Jurassic Park gets a free pass: This is a “fool me once” sort of deal, and Dr. Hammond could not have counted on Newman breaking bad during a hurricane (a real one!). There were, according to some fairly terrifying anthologists on Quora, five human deaths on Isla Nubar before evacuation was completed, and as the survivors were choppered away and John Williams’s score soared, we could all reflect on the folly of ever daring to mess around with giant reanimated lizards.
This would have been a good time to annihilate the island and everything on it, accepting it as a sad and failed experiment and mourning all those tragically lost as a golden firebomb enveloped the jungle of doom.
And yet man — or more specifically a bunch of Brits, who never saw a place that wasn’t theirs that they didn’t feel compelled to sip champagne on — dared the giant lizards once again. This, you might say, was Missed Payload Opportunity No. 1.
1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park picks up a few years after the shutdown of Isla Nubar’s park. A British family anchors a yacht at Isla Sorna, which was, unbeknownst to them, used as a breeding ground for the nearby Nubar’s stock of death monsters. Fair enough! It was an honest mistake. Plus, the little guys were kind of cute for a second there.
A lawsuit ensues, and this is where things go off the rails. The best solution the powers that be can come up with is to deploy a ragtag team of scientists to Sorna — the Spanish word for “sarcasm,” by the by — to “document” the dinosaurs for some vaguely explained public awareness campaign.
Does this plan go wrong? Does anything ever not go wrong when there are goddamn dinosaurs running around?
Kill count: nine.
This would have been a good time to abandon ship on the whole dino experiment. Humans were a whopping 0–2 on extended Isla stays, and that zero was derived not simply from the dinosaurs trying to eat people. When things went wrong, they went really wrong: chaos theorist Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore (playing a behavioral paleontologist, natch) being nudged off a cliff, a T. rex getting loose in freaking San Diego, reptile man bits growing suddenly and disastrously out of thin air, etc. But no: As The Lost World wound down, the American and Costa Rican governments jointly agreed to turn the island into a nature preserve. Missed Payload Opportunity No. 2.
Do you know what happens when people aren’t sufficiently afraid of the wrath of God and/or nature? That’s right: parasailing.
Oh, look, it’s Isla Sorna! You know, the place where dinosaurs killed nine human beings just years earlier, leaving untold tenure-track university postings abandoned? Ah, yes, what a lovely place for a joyride.
Jurassic Park III is a rescue mission: Find the parasailing father and son before they are eaten. One way to keep them from being eaten would have been to eliminate the horrible apex predators who were candidates to do the eating, but that is just my two cents.
It all goes horribly wrong, and yes, of course there are raptors in the room with the hatched raptor eggs, Téa Leoni, give me a freaking break.
Deaths: six. Here is the face one of them makes when something called a Spinosaurus (Latin for spleen separation) attacks:
And still the authorities did nothing. The U.S. armed forces rescued the survivors (not many!) and then … left. Missed Payload Opportunity No. 3.
And then, of course, Jurassic World turned up to revive the prehistoric death wish, with a new theme park, Jurassic World, welcoming Midwesterners and their small children to gaze upon a Mosasaurus doing tricks, i.e., eating smaller dinosaurs, on good ol’ Isla Nubar, in the Jason Voorhees alternative origin story we never knew we needed. And when it — repeat with me — all went horribly wrong, and 22 people departed this earth, plus heaven knows how many in the pterosaur-prompted stampede, what did the U.S. government do?
Diddly gosh darn squat. Zippo. Nary a nuke on an Isla. Payload Opportunity No. 4, was again Missed.
We now have two Costa Rican islands that have, through a series of unsanctioned and reliably ill-fated scientific experiments, claimed the lives of a minimum of 42 mostly decent people, and created an unholy biodome of death. You can pass through on a park excursion, or a scientific study, or a rescue mission, or simply on holiday, and 100 percent of the time, something very bad will happen.
And here we are on the precipice once again. If Fallen Kingdom hews as closely to The Lost World as Jurassic World did to Jurassic Park, we can expect gobblings both on the cursed island and, inevitably, once more when the big giant gobbler itself gets loose in some nice coastal city. It would be a reboot except that we know that all these disasters befell the same world.
Enough is enough. We must end the Jurassic experiment before it ends us. Fellas — get the payload ready. (Or, better yet, maybe just let the volcano do its thing.)