For Ill Or Nil, My Childhood Makes A ComebackPosted: November 28, 2014
Throughout my childhood…. oh who am I kidding, throughout my LIFE Star Wars and Jurassic Park have stood tall as some of my all-time favorite stories. They not only completely captured my imagination as a kid (along with the likes of Batman and James Bond) but continue to excite and entertain me to this day. As a result, this weekend is something of a geek overload for me, as we have finally received our first glances at Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They couldn’t arrive a moment sooner too, as both of these films have been shrouded in secrecy and obfuscation throughout their respective productions. Now the trailers are here, and the films are visible on the horizon. And this article originally started as a more heady piece about whether or not my nostalgia was influencing my interest and whether these films seem to be taking the franchises in the right direction, but then I saw the Force Awakens trailer and I’m too fucking excited to care much anymore.
Let’s start with Jurassic World, if only because that trailer contained more concrete information about the story, and gives us more to build on when it comes to our presumptions on the film. It certainly seems like Colin Trevorrow is on the right track, and everything we know about the film so far suggests that he’s working from the same sort of thematic focus that was the heart of the original Jurassic Park. But even better than that, he’s doing so in some very audacious-looking (and risky) ways. While some people might get anxious about the idea of designer dinosaurs, I can see that as a natural extension of the same scientific/corporate hubris that lead to the original Isla Nublar disaster in the first place. And while some people might worry about the apparent ridiculousness of Chris Pratt’s Raptor Buddies, I can imagine ways that they might tie into that theme as well… not to mention, how the fuck do you watch this and not think it’s AWESOME (not judging, I just legitimately don’t understand):
I’ve watched that trailer at least 10 times so far, and every time it gives me goosebumps, every time it makes me smile, and every time I mouth along when Totally-Not-Benedict-Cumberbatch says “The dark side… and the light.” As many are already pointing out, the world on display here feels very much to be the same one as the Original Trilogy (albeit through an effective JJ Abrams lens) as opposed to the phony and austere Prequel atmosphere. It tells us much less about the story- it confirms the rumor that John Boyega’s protagonist starts out as a stormtrooper, we can infer by setting that he and speeder-driving Daisy Ridley will be the first to team up, and Oscar Isaac gets to fly an X-wing at some point- but it certainly says a whole lot about the style and the atmosphere, and they got that part right enough that I have no reason to not be as excited as ever for this movie.
Through this excited buzz of fandom there is also a part of me that worries that my nostalgia for these franchises may already be trumping my ability to properly judge their latest entries. And as I’ve discussed here before, there’s possibly reason to worry about the sublimation of original talent into the franchise system, perhaps at the cost of exciting new material. On the other hand, seeing these great ongoing stories being handled by very talented filmmakers who are legitimately enthusiastic about the material is very reassuring, and suggests that there will be a real vision behind it other than a desire for merchandising. Plus, we certainly won’t be at a loss for large-scale original stories next year (Jupiter Ascending, Chappie and Tomorrowland, among others) and there are some stories and worlds that are worth revisiting and exploring and expanding. At the end of the day, while these might be continuations of things I loved as a child, I am still excited for them now as an adult, and my excitement for these new installments is less about regressing to my youth and more about finding more fun in film, and the fact that these are worlds I’m already familiar with just adds another layer of enjoyment to it all.
So while the Internet Cynic in me tries to undercut the Internet Fanboy, I will take the excitement I feel at face value, and embrace my old favorites as they return to the spotlight. Based on these quick glimpses, both Jurassic World and The Force Awakens will be fun and exciting adventures that stay true to the stories that have preceded them while also taking their worlds in new and distinctive directions, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.