Jurassic Park certainly has evolved since its first film conception in 1993. Now rebranded as Jurassic World (bigger is always better, after all…), evidence from the newest trailer would suggest the franchise has taken a (somewhat) new direction. Seemingly expanding on the ideas from A Lost World (1997), dinosaurs are being relocated to the mainland, but themes of betrayal and corporate greed are intensified, and bigger and badder dinosaurs are introduced as the franchise continues to expand its boundaries. This confident stride out of its comfort zone is, however, a substantial risk, one which could make or break the franchise.
On the one hand, the creators of Jurassic World have recognised that the franchise needs originality to maintain its momentum. Whereas the Jurassic Park trilogy was essentially the same film repeated three times (with slight adjustments to the setting, cast and apex predator); Jurassic World (2015) successfully managed to bring the franchise into a modern era, brilliantly redesigning and polishing it for a new audience, while achieving a refined balance between ingenuity and nostalgia. It's sequel, Fallen Kingdom (2018), may achieve this same feat, again pushing the franchise out of its comfort zone, while using 21st century techniques to manifest new threats and obstacles that were not possible during the Jurassic Park era.
On the other hand, this push into new territory may also backfire. One of the original trilogy’s biggest strengths was that it was relatively grounded and had a real sense of believability to it, probably due to the major influence of the brilliant book of the same name, written by Michael Crichton. Like Crichton’s novel, the Park films (particularly the first two) were released during the introduction of the new and controversial concept of genetic engineering, seating the films very firmly in the science-fiction camp. Jurassic World, however, does not have this foundation, and so its push for creativity may fail to captivate an audience if it stretches believability and farfetchedness past the point of no forgiveness. The creators of Fallen Kingdom will have to ensure that they have a tight grip on the franchise's latest outing in order to prevent it from getting away from them.
If Jurassic World can pull off the same feat twice, then Fallen Kingdom should prove to be an exciting and inventive action thriller that can hold onto the magic of the first three films, while simultaneously pushing the franchise further into the future. The film will be surely taking a leap into the unknown as its foundations get thinner and thinner, but a firm hand on the steering wheel of the franchise will hopefully be enough to keep it on the right track.
First thoughts: Fingers firmly crossed