There are, it has to be said, few blockbuster franchises as dependable as Universal’s Jurassic dinosaur series. With each installment, whether it’s from the original Jurassic Park movies or the revived Jurassic World edition, audiences are guaranteed three things:
- The spectacle of dinosaurs terrorizing humanity.
- Small children—who aren’t as charming as it seems—to be terrorized.
- A series that fails to understand its own premise.
Based on the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the series may be evolving—e.g., terrified scientists seem to have replaced underage kids as the screaming sidekick of choice. But any change is happening about as quickly as a dinosaur. At least that’s thematically appropriate, I guess.
Don’t get me wrong; Fallen Kingdom seems to be more than just a retread of 2015’s Jurassic World, thanks to a plot that sees Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have to bicker and pretend to share romantic chemistry while saving dinosaurs this time around. But so much of what was glimpsed in the new trailer appeared to be cribbed entirely from a playbook created by Steven Spielberg for the first movie in the series all the way back in 1993.
That feeling of déjà vu wasn’t helped by the return not only of the primary cast from the last movie, but also of Jeff Goldblum, who appeared as Ian Malcolm in the first couple of installments of the series. Yes, he seemed as gloriously out of it as he did in Thor: Ragnarok—Goldblum, especially in his current state, always seems to be beamed in from another, altogether better movie, no matter what he’s in—but nonetheless, he’s just underscoring the primary problem with this franchise: Every single installment feels interchangeable with any other.
More than almost any other blockbuster franchise (and, considering Jurassic World was the fourth-most successful movie of 2015, it’s definitely a blockbuster franchise), Jurassic keeps to a formula: There are some dinosaurs, some of which are helpful and at least one of which is a deadly killer, and they’ll interact with a scientist and a naturalist who are good guys, and probably eat a hunter or otherwise greedy bad man, and there’ll be an unforeseen disaster, some shots of people sweating in a dimly lit room with a siren or emergency light and at least one transport vehicle will be plunged into disaster. The end. Based on this trailer, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is going to tick all of those boxes.
It’s ironic that this is true of a franchise where the main concept is literally all about the dangers of cloning and trying to recapture old glories, but it’s also oddly reassuring at the same time. As Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady puts it, “I know why we’re here.”