Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park is a masterclass in direction, set pieces, and thrills. To this day, the special effects look incredible, and it warms my heart when new audiences find it.
But Jurassic Park is sort of a slow burn. In fact, the original takes 45 minutes to get to the Tyrannosaurus rex flipping the car scene. This is not at all like modern blockbusters. Most action movies go full-tilt from the opening scene.
When they rebooted Jurassic Park to Jurassic World, the filmmakers made sure to include way more thrilling moments in the first act to remind everyone the story would go sideways. And other modern action movies, like the John Wick series, rarely slow down, if ever. They're non-stop action movies. And supposedly, Jurassic World: Dominion follows that theme.
Sam Neill, who starred as Dr. Alan Grant in the original and is back for the latest, was interviewed by Variety recently. He questioned the modern audience's palate for Spielberg's original slow-paced style.
“An audience 30 years later wouldn’t find that pace acceptable," he said. "As a result, this has action from the moment the lights go down. Though of course, it has quiet moments.”
The newest edition promises a roller coaster ride from start to finish.
How much action do you need?
But the original conversation is an interesting one, especially from a writing and directing standpoint.
How much action needs to be promised in one of these movies? I think the answer lies in the budget.
The bigger the price tag, the more people expect. They don't usually want a lot of talking.
The first movie had a theme about the ethics of science, while these movies have a surface-level debate and a lot of action. That trend started in the early 2000s, when we wanted movies to travel internationally. Studios generally favored movies with less chit-chat and more action.
Soon, it became a trend to spend a lot on action that never stopped, with infrequent breaks to relay the plot. As Jurassic World rebooted the world, they favored this trend, which continued into Fallen Kingdom.
As writers and directors, we have to find a way to balance all of this with the creation of characters people love and care about. But if the trend is nonstop action, we maybe need to do a pass to make sure that action is happening fast enough and consistently enough. Also, maybe there's room to buck a trend or a trope with a lower budget idea that burns slower.
At the end of the day, the sky's the limit.
Let me know what you think in the comments.