Before we dive in, I want to give some perspective and context to my mindset while writing this article. I worry that perhaps the intent may be lost due to a lack of eloquence of writing on my part while crafting this, so this forward of sorts felt necessary. While this article will surely be interlaced with personal opinion and critique, it’s not a sanctimonious attempt to make a statement of authoritative opinion. Rather, it’s meant as an explanation for my and so many others reactions to the Fallen Kingdom trailer, and most of all, to pose my worries that the followup will try to answer these concerns by showing far too much of the film, rather than addressing these concerns in a more graceful fashion.
I do not think a poor trailer equates a poor film, and am not judging the film off of the trailer itself. But promising words from filmmakers can only go so far, especially when you’re shown the exact opposite in execution. That is why this trailer failed to resonate with me – but make no mistake, I’m still looking forward to the upcoming sequel, and cannot wait to see JA Bayona’s vision put on screen.
Now, let’s get to the point. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt seen the Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Trailer which released online early this month, making waves across the internet. For posterity’s sake, we’ve got you covered:
After viewing this trailer, I’ve come to the conclusion whomever cut it loves Jurassic Park for very different reasons than most others – this trailer was all the most controversial parts of Jurassic World, multiplied with far too common elements of modern Hollywood blockbusters; the hybrid nobody asked for. Now one can argue that it’s a matter of taste and personal opinion, but there is no getting around that it so strongly conflicts with the messaging the filmmakers pushed prior to its release.
So why didn’t that trailer work for me?
What Was Promised:
Well, for starters the entire awareness lead-up to the trailer was virtually nonexistent, seemingly cornering Universal into a position where they felt forced to show too much from the film (I’m looking at you, stampede setup and payoff, plus the Carnotaurus and T. rex showdown). In what appeared to be a further reaction to the lack of longterm lead-up, they also released almost everything from the trailer in a week-long awareness campaign. While it was certainly fun during, it took the wind out of the trailer, showing most of its bigger moments prior to release. However, the real issue as stated prior, was it completely went against everything the filmmakers promised with this film.
Colin Trevorrow and director JA Bayona have promised numerous times that Fallen Kingdom would be a return to Jurassic Park form, delivering on more intimate thrills and character drama. Rewinding back, Colin Trevorrow shared this about the Jurassic World sequel a little over a year ago in our interview with him (paraphrasing):
‘This movie doesn’t need to be ‘bigger’. It’s not about ‘bigger better dinosaurs’ or ‘bigger action sequences’. Colin brought up Raptors in the Kitchen scene vs Indominus Rex Helicopter explosion, and how the simplicity of the former is just as effective – if not more.’
Colin went on to say:
“It will be more suspenseful and scary. It’s just the way it’s designed; it’s the way the story plays out. I knew I wanted Bayona to direct it long before anyone ever heard that was a possibility, so the whole thing was just built around his skill set.”
Speaking to El Mundo, Colin had this to say:
“The dinosaurs will be a parable of the treatment animals receive today: the abuse, medical experimentation, pets, having wild animals in zoos like prisons, the use the military has made of them, animals as weapons. [Fallen Kingdom] will be a very different, more complex movie that will explore new paths. For that reason, it was clear that it needed to be Bayona who would direct it, in order to have it grow and evolve with his very personal vision.”
“You need to be faithful to the legacy, while bringing new exciting [things]” – JA Bayona:
“That’s a good question! I think somehow it’s both. It’s a very good question, and what we’re doing is a sequel to Jurassic World, but it’s definitely the fifth chapter of a longer saga. It’s very interesting. It’s always tricky, but you need to find a balance in what people expect to find, and the new stuff you’re bringing to the story. And I think the story is looking for a connection between Jurassic World and Jurassic Park — more than what Jurassic World did.”
Finally, Colin Trevorrow set the groundwork of our expectations in 2015, while speaking to JurassicCast Podcast:
“It will get to be a different kind of film. The audience has given us permission to a certain extent to take this to the next level, and I don’t necessarily mean in scale, I feel very strongly that it’s not about more dinosaurs or bigger and better dinosaurs, it’s about using this as a starting point for a much larger story about our relationship with these animals and about animals in general and the dynamic created by bringing them back to life.”
“We’ve seen a lot of ‘dinosaurs chasing people around on an island’ movies. I think you guys and also the general audience is going to be down to explore where else we can go.”
“[Owen and Claire] opened Pandora’s Box in Jurassic World, and each of them are responsible for different elements of it in different ways, and I think the way that these characters are connected to the circumstances of what’s happening it’s different than the previous films. It’s not ‘Let’s manufacture a way to get them somewhere.”
There are plenty of other quotes out there pushing similar messaging, but that should suffice as a crash course for everything Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom prior to the trailer drop. Full stop – it’s intermission time. As a palate cleanser, check out the behind the scenes piece, which does a far better job selling the movie and its themes:
Where Things Stand:
Movie trailers are more than a marketing tool, they’re an art form, and they’re very easy to get wrong. Movie trailers in themselves should serve as a thematic short story, leaving you both satisfied, yet wanting more. The first, and arguably most important element is how to open it, and grab the audience; the hook. For reasons I’m unsure of, the hook for this trailer is not the status of the dinosaurs, Jurassic World, or the impact the events of 2015’s film had on the world… but rather Owen and Claire, particularly their hamfisted and less than nuanced romantic issues.
“Do you remember the first time you saw a dinosaur?”
The behind the scenes trailer companion piece opens on an entirely different hook (above), and arguably one infinitely more successful. Mystery, intrigue, wonder, and nostalgia interlaced with a tone both fresh, yet familiar to fans of the franchise dictates the flow of that piece. It opens on new a locale, recognizable music, and catches the attention of the audience with a pertinent question invoking familiarity, while promising the unknown off the cusp.
Movie trailers, once they catch your attention, should begin to ramp up in the scale of events – and there is no denying the trailer does that, as things become rather explosive and bombastic. However, they should also expand in themes and story elements, and despite the disembodied voice asking if dinosaurs deserve the same rights as animals, we’re treated to a visual spectical meant to look cool, rather than tragic or terrifying. For a movie about animal rights, it sure shows a lot of them die terrible deaths, and nothing about the execution implies the heavier themes promised on the surface level.
The way the trailer frames the movie implies a simple point a to point b plot: recruit for a rescue mission, debate the ethics of saving the dinosaurs, arrive on the island and begin capturing dinosaurs, and the volcano erupts during the climax putting our heroes in peril. So many people took to social media to complain not only about the simplicity of the plot, but the fact that they felt whole thing was spoiled that Colin Trevorrow shared this tweet to ease minds:
Everything in the trailer is from the first 57 minutes. https://t.co/9GCJkrSpZg
— Colin Trevorrow (@colintrevorrow) December 8, 2017
I land in the ‘less is more’ camp for trailers, but this trailer didn’t show less, it just showed a whole lot more about one particular element of the film, and did a poor job selling the vision and story the filmmakers wish to take us on. Strangely, the easy to miss synopsis of the film handled the themes at play in a much better way, promising more to the story with the final sentence:
It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles.
When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.
Conspiracy that pits the themes of conservation and empathy against greed and exploitation? Now you’re speaking my Michael Crichton infused language. The best part is, the synopsis doesn’t spoil who or how that conspiracy plays out, we simply know that not everybody plans to save the dinosaurs for the right reasons. Is every character who they say they are – and just what is that conspiracy – and what happens if those less than savory sorts succeed? That is what the trailer should be hinting at.
The next trailer has its work cut out for it: it needs to show the grander themes at play, without spoiling the finer details of it. It needs to deliver on the promises of a more intimate and suspenseful film akin to Jurassic Park. It needs to excite, and show something new, without giving away the plot elements. Most of all, it needs to wash that generic big budget CG flick vibe away, and not show anymore spoilers like the Carnotaurus scene. (Seriously, way to make the most anticipated dinosaur by fans since 1996 feel pointless now that we know how its big scene plays out.)
“What we tried to do was find the animal in the dinosaur, as opposed to the monster in the dinosaur. The idea was not to make them any less threatening, but rather to keep them from doing as much monster ‘schtick’. For our human characters, we wanted their situation to be more like they were being stalked by an animal that is a carnivore, as opposed to something that is psychopathic and just out to get them.” – Production Designer Rick Carter in ‘The Making of Jurassic Park’
Ultimately, for me dinosaurs are animals, not monsters. That was the defining element of Jurassic Park, and was no accident, as every behind the scenes interview or feature from that film will assert. The movie executed the concept beautifully, from the design to the behavior. One of my holdups, and this is something that some others share, is that Jurassic World depicted most of the dinosaurs as heroes, villains, or set pieces. Pets, or monsters. I had hoped Fallen Kingdom would perhaps handle those concepts in a more subtle way, and while it is certainly too soon to judge, scenes like ‘Deus Rex Machina’ didn’t quite bring me where I hoped to be.
We know the next trailer is coming during the Super Bowl, and we know those trailers are usually quite bombastic, so this message is to the marketing team: please do not spoil the movie. We’ve already seen too much, yet not what I wanted. I know I’m personally excited for the film, and can’t wait to see more – but that first trailer was like jumping into ice cold water, it was not what I expected or hoped for, and I needed time to adjust.
While many members of the Jurassic Outpost team share these opinions, it’s worth noting we’re a diverse site with differing opinions – and I am not asserting every opinion of mine reflects that of the entire site. Nor am I asserting it reflects that of the readers – so sound off, join the discussion, and let us know what you think!