A man stalks through the jungle, hunting an animal. He feels something drip on his hand and looks down. Blood. The droplet runs left off, down the wrist. Another drop hits – this one falls right instead. It’s just like that really great scene in Jurassic Park, but instead of water; blood.
I went to see Jurassic World at the weekend.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad either. It was terrible mediocre, but it got me thinking. The dramatic tension in the film was undercut at every possible moment by a reference to the original. So we have the visitors centre, the goat, chaos theory, even the jeeps from the first film make an appearance. All seemingly there to say, ‘Hey guys, remember this? It was pretty good, wasn’t it?’ Jurassic World, as it turned out, wasn’t there to outdo Jurassic Park, but exists soley to remind us that Jurassic Park was a really really great film.
That isn’t the point of a sequel, or at least, it shouldn’t be. Just take a look at Terminator 2, or Aliens. Films that expand on the original premise, move it forward into new territory. Those films don’t look back.
Looking back is the worst thing a sequel can do, and yet, looking back is something we do all of the time now.
We are in a world now where our favourite childhood games are remade, our favourite films have sequels upon sequels upon remakes upon reboots upon prequels, Where bands can reform and play through your favourite album on a tour, and Buzzfeed rolls out lists bemoaning the lack of pogs in society these days.
It might seem nice and fun, but isn’t it all just fanservice on a huge scale?
Timehop notifies us about our past. Five years ago you took a photo of a wall, and five people liked it. Ten years ago you had fun somewhere. Do you remember having fun somewhere? Thirty years ago you were born; wasn’t it nice, being born?
In film, television, games, comics, music, and books, nostalgia has a grip on us. We yearn for more sequels, more adaptations and that yearning forces original work to the back of the line. Cinema sends us notifications every summer about our childhood, about our teenage years. Want to reclaim them?
Next year we’ll be getting sequels to Ghostbusters, Independance Day, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Finding Nemo, Zoolander. We’ll be getting a remake of Final Fantasy 7.
Shouldn’t it all just stay in the past?