Who Should Direct ‘Jurassic Park 4’?
Directing a film starring the king of the dinosaurs is no easy task. For every good dinosaur film out there, there’s at least 5 or 6 bad ones… in fact, I’m fairly certain the Jurassic Park films are the only good pictures I’ve seen about dinosaurs. With that said, anyone who saw those rampaging reptiles rage on the big screen in any of the three entries in the series knows that sense of awe to see a dinosaur in front of you nearly if not actually, life size. For me, Jurassic Park is up there with Lawrence of Arabia, for must see big screen experience. Being the first moving images that passed in front of me on that silver screen, I hold all entries in the series, to some integrity to maintain and rev the nostalgia of my childhood. Playing with plastic dinos in an unfinished basement, and stampeding around my living room pretending I was a T-Rex chasing a jeep, were just some of my activities after seeing Spielberg’s adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel. I have high hopes for the fourth film, blockbuster sequels of recent have been welcomely surprising (Men in Black 3, Rise of the Planet of the Apes). But I have drifted off course, dinosaurs, not an easy subject to work with. Following is a humble collection of filmmakers I feel have the ability to capture these prehistoric titans truthfully.
12. Peter Jackson
His resume is the dream of any filmmakers, and while there’s a current toss up about the quality of his latest cinematic endeavor, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is more good than bad. Is there any real question why this guy shouldn’t take the lens on this. He worked with Spielberg on The Adventures of Tin Tin, and King Kong has bigger and better dino action than any of the Jurassic Park films. King Kong was also based on previous work and was an incredibly human tale. I’m not sure if I want to cry over the T-Rex they have to put down because he broke out of his electric fence. But I do want to see mega dino action, that Jackson will provide, along with the human element. Plus I think the guy needs a break from Hobbits.
11. David Slade
So the guy may have sold out directing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, but I’ve seen the first three films in the series, and that’s the best one, though that’s not really saying much. Since then he’s stuck to television, perhaps reeling from his shame. Well it’s time for redemption, like a poorly titled sequel, Mr. Slade make your amends with Jurassic Park 4. Make it real, make it bloody (as much as you can for a PG-13 flick), make it scary again. 30 Days of Night is a pretty bad ass vampire flick, granted half the work was already done when they peeked a look at the graphic novel. As that helpless Alaska town falls prey to the vampire squad, Slade communicates that massacre with deadly effect. He can communicate large scales of destruction smoothly, not that I want to see a T-Rex stomp around San Francisco again. But let’s look at the similarities. We have an annexed piece of land, where a group of people are trying to survive with limited supplies and communication, and everything around them is trying to eat them. 30 Days of Night and Jurassic Park are like… the same movie. Spielberg’s original intent with Jurassic Park was to create the Jaws effect with dinosaurs. Slade could bring that back to the series.
10. Roland Emmerich
Mr. Emmerich may have a hard on for destroying mother-earth-critical-flop blockbusters, but if you remember a film called Independence Day, likely you’ll agree that it’s a fun picture to return to for those who grew up with it and enjoy seeing the world saved by Will Smith. It’s got a little of everything, action, humor, suspense, Emmerich keeps the gears turning. He’s got a bit of experience with overgrown lizards too. 1998’s Godzilla is bastardized by critics, fans, and even the filmmakers, re-dubbing the monster in the film by the short hand of Zilla. Now despite all this flailing streams of hate, I like the 98 reincarnation of Tokyo’s favorite monster. It’s charming, and how can you not bask under the projection of a giant dinosaur running around Manhattan annoying grumpy New Yorkers that don’t want to be stuck in Jersey. I also find it fascinating that America hasn’t created a monster they couldn’t destroy. There’s a scene in the film where helicopters chase Zilla through New York, the buildings surround them like impossibly large walls. They navigate the streets never seeing the ground, until the city becomes something less of a marvel and instead something more terrifying, a labyrinth. The king of the monsters is quite a daunting task, but the king of the dinos is a little less intimidating.
9. Tibor Takacs
Sci-Fi original movies spell schlock for audiences, and offer little entertainment than mild amusement or distraction. Letting those Sunday themed marathons play while one cooks an early pasta dinner. Every once in a blue moon though you get a film that grabs your attention above the others. Weather it’s the ridiculously titled Mansquito, or the conceptually absurd Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, the filmmakers behind these hits are of another dimension of logic. Tibor Takacs has made several horror films, including the cult hit The Gate, he also shot a sci-fi original film titled Mega Snake. Sure with a title like that the quality is bound to somewhere in the shit poor range, but I implore you to watch it. Mega Snake is surprisingly well done. Despite it’s zero budget special effects, and laughable script, Takacs plays the whole film straight. He tells a story with real characters that arc and are flawed no matter how sophomoric or goofy they are. The content is there, the opportunity for Takacs to grapple with something more mature is what he needs. Not that Jurassic Park is meant to be some aged source of wisdom. At heart it’s meant to be roller coaster ride, I’m pretty sure Mega Snake eats one in his titular film.
8. Steve Minor
This is the guy who introduced Jason Voorhees to the hockey mask, he also reunited Michael Myers and Laurie Strode for the first time in 20 years. It’s not these films that have me considering him for the job, it’s a little direct to video remake of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, that I found to be about as much fun as actually smashing in the brains of reanimated corpses. It’s actually less of a remake and more of a prequelish thing but none of that matters right now. Also on his long list of directing endeavors, is a little killer croc cult film called Lake Placid. Alright, so Lake Placid is a disaster, but it’s got a certain charm, like Anaconda or any of those other giant reptile movies. I’m sensing a trend here. Mr. Minor could pull that charm present in Day of the Dead and Lake Placid into Jurassic Park 4. Give the audience a good time.
7. James Gunn
Recently slapped onto Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn has done a certain horror action film that’s possibly the most overlooked film of the decade for genre fans. If you’ve never seen Slither, and you hunger for the exploitation exploration conducted by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, then you certainly need to hop on dat shit. He knows how to have fun, and by evidence of the Scooby Doo movies, perhaps maybe too much fun, luckily he only wrote those. Back in 93 when Jurassic Park started hitting the theaters, an independent knock off titled Carnosaur made it’s rounds. A film where an evil scientist tries to seed women with dinosaur offspring, dawning a new age of reptiles. Roger Ebert gave it two thumbs up. It’s grotesque, explicit, everything Jurassic Park isn’t. If Carnosaur was actually made well, then perhaps James Gunn’s version of Jurassic Park 4 would be much like it.
6. Chuck Russell
Chuck Russell hasn’t been seen on the big screen since The Scorpion King (yikes). But relax, remember a little series by A Nightmare on Elm Street? The fan proclaimed best film in the series, besides the original of course, is part 3, subtitled, Dream Warriors. Partial success is possibly due to the fact that Frank Darabont wrote the script, but Chuck gave it the direction. It’s arguable that Frank Darabont is a better match for this position due to his current position of rewriting a certain giant monster movie script, but it’s rare that Darabont directs much other than Steven Spielberg adaptations. I love to see directors of small horror films get upstreamed to large budget action films. The talent is there in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors. Besides is The Scorpion King really that bad? It’s a film that embraces it’s laughable tone, and it’s good action, so is his Schwarzenegger vehicle Eraser. No one said this new Jurassic Park had to have a mind.
5. Joe Johnston
I haven’t seen Jurassic Park 3 in a good while, but I don’t remember it being that bad. I also really like Captain America: The First Avenger. I thought it was the best of the solo superhero films to precede The Avengers. It’d be nice to see him pick up where he left off, we’d also have two films directed by Spielberg, and two by Johnston. They’d be like two dueling entries to the franchise and fan boys could argue over which director did it best. Although I’m not so sure there are any Jurassic Park fan boys out there, excluding myself of course. While big dinos are what make up the skin of the Jurassic Park series, character is their soul. Johnston’s got that covered. Jumanji is a fabulously touching film, even the brief live action sequences of The Pagemaster, which Johnston directed, are memorable.
4. André Øvredal
Okay, admittedly, one of my tricks while window shopping for directors was eyeing those that had directed actors with subjects significantly larger than themselves. With ten years between his two cinematic endeavors, Ovredal either chooses his projects very cautiously or simply doesn’t have much to say. While The Trollhunter is a found footage film, the same rules of story telling apply. I don’t know much about the director, other than he can make a solid film. The Trollhunter isn’t some hidden gem, it’s simply a really good monster movie. What if, Jurassic Park was turned into a found footage film, some lost tourists that were never found, but somehow their camera was. The idea has already similarly been attempted with dinosaurs in Area 407. The found footage hasn’t dried up totally, after viewing this years V/H/S, I was reassured that there were film makers exploring the sub-genre with fresh ideas and still making it fun. It can be done, and imagine if one was given the budget of a Jurassic Park film, get some real talent developing that and there’s a hit. It’s a shame that style of film making slipped into the hands of the broke and uninspired.
3. Andy & Lana Wachowski
Odd choice right? What could this odd pair bring to a sci-fi action film, well just look what they did for action films with The Matrix. Not only did they make one of the greatest films ever, they also changed assumptions of what an action film can do, and film in general. Unfortunately Hollywood didn’t follow their example and action films are still shit out the tail end of the studio system. They tried something totally different in an attempt to advance film-making in the right direction, toward how a film can effect it’s audience, borrow from films past, and recycle them into something original. Instead of using gimmicky 3-D or frame rate technical advances that push cinema toward the digital realm. What makes The Matrix so good? It’s the incorporation of kung fu, philosophy, religion, and pretty much everything else into a sci-fi action movie of all things. The morals of Jurassic Park are already shady, man messing with nature in ways that were never intended. You could dissect that philosophy for hours, imagine what the Wachowski’s could do with that. Jurassic Park with dialogue like The Matrix, presenting philosophies that serve the ideas surrounding the creation of a theme park that reanimates dinosaurs, and a radical group trying to stop the manipulation of nature, all covered in the gloss of a survival horror film. If we want a dramatic departure from the formula of the series, in the hands of these two is where we’re going to get it.
2. Matt Reeves
Although Matt Reeves has directed two pretty darn good films under the Hollywood banner, he has yet to take on a huge franchise or blockbuster of any kind. Childhood friends with JJ Abrams, what if the team tagged along together again for Jurassic Park 4. Imagine Lost but instead of a black smoke monster… it’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Reeves was able to make a movie about a giant sea creature pretty darn terrifying, not an easy task for a genre that is usually considered goofy territory. He also remade a dearly beloved Swedish vampire film and in some regards, made it better. While he’s attached to direct The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (which is funny because I thought rises happen before dawns), the age of the dinosaurs had to pass before the reign of the mammals begun.
1. Rupert Wyatt
I love Rise of the Planet of the Apes, my expectation that it was going to suck makes it only that much better for me. What convinced me that Mr. Wyatt is up for the job, is that he made a movie about monkeys taking over San Francisco not only believably, but well. His resume is short, which is always a good sign that he’s not yet exhausted his creative fuel, and whatever fuel he’s got is burning like tire shine. While I don’t expect a Rise of the Planet of the Apes version of Jurassic Park, I do expect a solid film from Wyatt. It doesn’t have to be this big epic, it can be like the first two films, a small group of survivors stranded on an island. That island has got to have dinos though, and with beasties like that it calls for a director with some skills outside the window of working with actors. This guy has got to have vision to imagine the unseen, I believe Rupert Wyatt’s got the goods.
What do you think? Leave a comment.