It's time for the Jurassic World trilogy to ditch Colin Trevorrow as director. Trevorrow's vision is the guiding light behind the Jurassic World franchise, and it's true that this vision has been a box office success. 2015's Jurassic World grossed over $1.6 billion in the global box office. The sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, has netted a domestic opening weekend of $150 million, with a staggered global release meaning the film has already grossed more than $700 million worldwide.
Given those figures, it seems strange to be talking of a change in direction. That's presumably one reason it's already confirmed Trevorrow will be returning as director of Jurassic World 3. But the truth is that there are troubling signs. That $150 million opening weekend is considerably less than Jurassic World, which grossed $208.8 million in its opening weekend. Meanwhile, critical reaction to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hasn't exactly been positive, and criticism has been falling heavily upon the film's many plot holes and inconsistencies. Trevorrow may not have been director of Fallen Kingdom, but he was co-scriptwriter, and that film is his baby.
So is it actually time for the Jurassic World franchise to part ways with Colin Trevorrow? Here's why we think it is.
- This Page: Colin Trevorrow Wasn't the Best Pick for Jurassic World
- Next Page: The Jurassic World Trilogy Is Half-Baked
Colin Trevorrow Wasn't the Best Pick for Jurassic World
In recent years, (no doubt inspired by the success of Christopher Nolan), big studios have looked to fresh, up-and-coming talent to handle big franchises, hoping for them to inject new life. Universal chose Colin Trevorrow to helm Jurassic World, whose only previous experience was 2012's Safety Not Guaranteed, which had a budget of just $750,000. Hired three-and-a-half months before production, Trevorrow insisted on rewriting the script and by all accounts took a major creative rein of the film.
Now, there's no denying that Jurassic World had some inventive ideas, but as time has passed, audiences - who may have initially simply wowed by the special effects - have become more critical. The film's plot has holes large enough for a Mosasaurus to swim through, and character-work is paper-thin. There are numerous callbacks to the original Jurassic World, a deliberate attempt to capitalize on nostalgia, yet the movie never quite hits the high bar its set itself. The film was essentially critic-proof (and got fair reviews regardless), but as time's gone by it's clearly just another Jurassic sequel. And given Trevorrow's creative hold on the project, much of that must fall to him.
Trevorrow's next project, The Book of Henry showed further storytelling and tonal problems, with a story of abuse framed with indie quirk sending many critics into a rage. Worse still, the problems with The Book of Henry stemmed from the script - and script problems were at the heart of the critical response to the first Jurassic World film, too. Trevorrow was later fired from Star Wars: Episode IX, with recent reports suggesting he was a difficult man to work with. This creates a picture of a film with massive success, but only from the branding.
Page 2 of 2: The Jurassic World Trilogy Is Half-Baked
The Jurassic World Trilogy Is Half-Baked
According to Colin Trevorrow, he always imagined Jurassic World as a trilogy; one big story told over the course of three films. Unfortunately, that means we're now two-thirds of the way through and thus in a position to assess just how effective the Jurassic World story really is. It's fair to say the dinosaurs and the CGI that brings them to life is spectacular, but the actual plot - both of individual movies and overarching series - don't offer much. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom suffers from the saggy middle syndrome, a phenomenon where a writer has a strong vision of the beginning and the end of their story, but doesn't know how to connect the two. As though lampshading the problem, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom actually tries to shift genre halfway through.
Making matters even worse, Jurassic World 2 doesn't even succeed as setup: the film's ending, which aims to set up Jurassic World 3, literally makes no sense. Dialogue from Ian Malcolm strongly suggests we're supposed to view the dinosaur breakout as a sort of dinogeddon, with humanity and dinosaurs now forced to coexist. And yet, what the film shows falls well short of that; only 11 species are released into the wild, with probably less than 50 specimens, and all have trackers implanted within them. It would hardly be difficult for the authorities to track the creatures down. It genuinely feels as though the movie thinks it has set up a literal "Jurassic World", when in reality it has fallen far short of that.
It's too late to address that disconnect, and perhaps not worth it; the idea of dinosaurs and humans coexisting is a tremendously attractive one, and deserves to be explored. But that weakness is clearly linked to Colin Trevorrow's vision, as well as to his writing.
Who Could Replace Colin Trevorrow?
Hollywood tends to go through fashions, with the latest being for blockbuster franchises to pick fresh-faced directors, although there are signs this is finally coming to an end. After a number of high profile snafus, most notably in the Star Wars franchise (including Trevorrow himself), studios are leaning back on reliable talent. While it's great to see rising talents given a shot - and the payoffs both creatively and financially can be massive - not every new director will be the perfect fit for a multibillion-dollar franchise. Universal would be wise to follow this lead with Jurassic and pick someone with skills more established.
In a hypothetical world where Trevorrow is replaced on Jurassic World 3, top of that list would undoubtedly be Matt Reeves, best known for tremendous monster movies like Cloverfield and for the Planet of the Apes films. Of course, Reeves is currently working on the Warner Bros. movie The Batman, so that would rule him out. Another good choice would be Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who's also proved he can handle a blockbuster monster film with the tremendous Kong: Skull Island. Vogt-Roberts invested a great amount of time and effort into making Kong feel like a character in his own right, and that translates well to the Jurassic World franchise, where Blue the Velociraptor is currently one of the most well-developed characters.
In truth, it's unlikely that Universal will ditch Trevorrow. Jurassic World 3 is due in 2021, and - as he's both writer and director - parting ways with him at this stage would be a risky move. After all, while we've focused on the director, the studio would also need to find a new scriptwriter, and that involves a lot of possibly already-moving parts. Colin Trevorrow is safe with the dinosaurs. Only time will tell whether or not that's to the detriment of the franchise.