Last week was a huge week for film fans who grew up primarily in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The brain-children of frequent collaborators Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, JURASSIC PARK and STAR WARS, went head-to-head across the intertubes as both franchises presented trailers for their latest instalments.
In 2015, JURASSIC WORLD and STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS will arrive in theaters and genre fans across the globe will be gleefully in tears. Some of those fans are right here amongst the writing crew at Hi-Def Ninja, so we decided to chime in and give our opinions. Joining myself are Matt Coomber, Robert Beardsley and Michael Madison. We hope you enjoy our thoughts and we look forward to reading yours later below!
Though I was born in the ‘80s, my most memorable time during my childhood came in the ‘90s. That means that I connect more to the films that were released then, especially in the earlier ‘90s. When JURASSIC PARK was released in 1993, my Dad was very excited to see it as he was a fan of many of Spielberg’s earlier films including JAWS. My brother and I wanted to watch SUPER MARIO BROS. instead, so my Dad made us a deal: we’ll go opening weekend to SUPER MARIO BROS. if we go to JURASSIC PARK the following weekend. This was one of those times where I realized how clever of a man my father is. JURASSIC PARK scared me to the death, but I was in complete awe. Come to think of it, it was most likely JURASSIC PARK that made me love film as much as I do today (I hum that wonderful John Williams theme every single day). I love JURASSIC PARK, I love THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK and I love JURASSIC PARK III. Each film has memorable moments and great characters and I’m on the edge of my seat every single time I watch them. I’ve never understood the hate for the two sequels. To me, they were both incredible fun, though the first always held the title of best.
For over a decade, I’ve patiently waited for a fourth adventure to the land of the lost. Honestly, I don’t know why Universal waited so long, but JURASSIC WORLD is finally coming. The trailer felt familiar yet very different at the same time. I’m happy to see that it’s aged in real-time, though it was strange not seeing any familiar faces for the first time ever (being that it aged in real-time, I really expected the fourth film to follow the adult versions of Tim and Lex, John Hammond’s grandchildren from the first film). The Mosasaurus looked amazing and the new big bad — a genetically modified dino that’ll most likely splice a T-Rex and raptor together — definitely intrigues me. There’s a lot of people hating on the idea, but I don’t know why. These aren’t real dinosaurs, after all. As Dr. Alan Grant perfectly put it in JURASSIC PARK III, they’re “genetically engineered theme park monsters”. The music sounds epic, the new cast looks great (Bryce Dallas Howard is like a fine wine, only bettering with age) and Colin Trevorrow looks like he’s on the right track. I can’t wait!
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS
I’ll be straight-up honest: I never grew up on the STAR WARS films. My father never owned them and being that I was born in 1982, I grew up thinking Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones before I even knew Han Solo existed (though, funny enough, I watched the EWOKS films on a yearly basis when I was a youth, not even knowing that it was a STAR WARS spin-off). Hell, I even watched SPACEBALLS not having a clue that it was based off of STAR WARS. I didn’t discover STAR WARS until the ‘90s, a couple years or so before THE PHANTOM MENACE. I watched Episode IV to VI and thought they were all very good. They didn’t thrill me, but I enjoyed them. Yoda was obviously my favorite character while I thought Darth Vader was a very menacing villain. My brother, on the other hand, absolutely loved them. It was his love of the series that kept me interested in it afterward. I watched Episode I and II in the theatre and truth be told, I hated both of them (okay, that’s harsh — I greatly disliked them). Darth Maul and pre-TAKEN Liam Neeson were awesome in THE PHANTOM MENACE, but it was so boring and Jar Jar Binks made me want to purposely choke on my popcorn. ATTACK OF THE CLONES was absolute garbage, in my very honest opinion. It was like watching one of my Mom’s soap operas in space. Safe to say, I skipped Episode III in the theater and instead stayed home to watch the original trilogy instead. When I finally watched Episode III on VHS, I was actually surprised to see that it was the best out of the new trilogy — though it was still very far from the quality of the original films (I never thought I’d ever see Darth Vader scream, “NOOOOOOO!”)
EPISODE VII is something I’m very, very excited for. First, there’s new blood involved. It’s great that George Lucas finally let his ego go and gave the series over to people who’d give the fans the justice they deserved. J.J. Abrams was a perfect choice for director, though the selfish side of me was angry because the third STAR TREK would be left in the hands of someone else (I’m not a Trekkie, but I sure loved Abrams’ new TREK films). The thought of seeing the original cast on the screen again is very exciting and watching the Millennium Falcon zoom by the screen, flipping the audience all over the place — that was just thrilling! I’m quite excited to see John Boyega in the film as a storm trooper, too, as he was awesome in ATTACK THE BLOCK (hush up, racist STAR WARS fanatics). Overall, I’ve never been this excited for a STAR WARS film, though I’m still going to list it behind next year’s JURASSIC WORLD and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
WINNER: JURASSIC WORLD
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS
I’ve never liked STAR WARS, so the release of the new trailer honestly does nothing for me. I will admit I cracked a slight smile when the Millennium Falcon appeared on screen, accompanied by the familiar theme tune. Other than that, it didn’t really interest me. Will I see it when it’s released? More than likely. Am I excited by it? Not at all.
Well a little more enthusiasm from me I guess, however, it’s not positive. I’ve watched the development for the fourth instalment of the JURASSIC PARK franchise ever since the rumblings first started; it seems an age since that all started those years ago. JURASSIC PARK I remember watching at the cinema and to this day, it still holds up as a fantastic movie and in my opinion, is some of Spielberg’s finest work, being one of my favourite movies. I’m quite fond of THE LOST WORLD, but not as much as the first. JURASSIC PARK 3 — yeah, well, I won’t say too much about that one. That leads me on to JURASSIC WORLD. Watching the teaser trailer for the trailer (which Hollywood is doing more and more and it really gets on my tits), I looked at it and thought, “Hmm, okay, this has piqued my interest,” and I will admit I was very curious to see the full trailer. Once that hit, I have to say I was severely underwhelmed. I don’t know if it’s the CGI in the trailer, or that I feel the movie has taken too long to be released or the fact that they are using HYBRID DINOSAURS!!! Hybrid Dinosaurs?! C’mon! The scene with Chris Pratt riding the motorcycle alongside the Raptors… it suggests to me they are going to be running away from something bigger. Will it be the awesome T-Rex? No, it’ll be a stupid hybrid dinosaur! I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Pratt take the lead in the movie, and it is one I’ll be going to the cinema to watch, but needless to say my expectations are low. My opinion will probably change once I’ve seen the movie, but at the moment, this isn’t as high on my list to watch for next year. Save those spaces for TERMINATOR, AVENGERS and HUNGER GAMES!
WINNER: JURASSIC WORLD
JURASSIC PARK was ultimately one of Steven Spielberg’s finest hours. I still have very fond memories of seeing it in 1993. I have similar fond memories of when THE LOST WORLD was released in 1997, as well. JURASSIC PARK 3, not so much sadly. I had followed the development of JURASSIC PARK 4, but from a distance. I tried to avoid the trailer ‘trailer’ (a practice I absolutely loath in Hollywood and what personally hampered PROMETHEUS for me), but I caved and saw the brief 15-second glimpse. It was only when I had some downtime at work a few days later that I flicked onto Facebook and saw that Universal had released the full trailer two days early (hurrah!).
My first impressions of the trailer was that we finally get John Hammond’s dream realized and in the flesh. We see the crowds gathering to experience real-life dinosaurs with oohing and awing, and then there’s running and screaming! For me, this is what I wanted to see with the sequels (which never got past the ‘isolated island’ environment) and it looks like director Colin Trevorrow might have delivered something on par with the original. Certain highlights include Star-Lord himself (or is that Dino-Lord now?) Chris Pratt leading the sequel in a role that seems to mirror Bob Peck’s character in the original. The Mosasaurus eating the shark was a huge WOW moment for me. The interesting aspects of the trailer was the mention of genetic modification and a hint at what’s rumoured to be the show stealer of the film called the ‘D-Rex’. Hopefully it won’t look like the silly looking Spinosaurus from JURASSIC PARK 3. The shot of Chris Pratt riding into battle on a motorcycle with an army of Raptors behind him raises a few questions as in to what exactly JURASSIC WORLD has in store for us.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS
This was the biggie. Finally, a new STAR WARS film is coming next year. Right from the original announcement there was a little part of me that screamed ‘yay!’ but the rest of me still carries scars from the ‘Prequel’ Trilogy which wasn’t a total disaster, but failed in quite a lot of areas for me personally. The cherry on top was that J.J. Abrams was behind the camera for Episode VII and the original trilogy characters were returning had me on rebel base number 9. Could this actually be true? I still remember the hype around THE PHANTOM MENACE. The few photos that Empire Magazine published when production had started and seeing the first, epic trailer on BBC’s Blue Peter at work and going to see THE PRINCE OF EGYPT that weekend to see it on the big screen. I even had a mate do me a VHS copy of it and added various other STAR WARS trailers that were shown on TV and watched it regularly. This was the day when you had to actually go to the cinema to see the latest trailers, not just click on Youtube. Having my tickets booked for the opening day’s first showing (a tradition that I will be repeating for this instalment), it was a proper cinema event. Even though the film wasn’t exactly perfect, the surrounding hype and anticipation made it memorable.
Let’s shift focus onto this trailer then. I was in a shopping centre car park when my friend texted me saying, “HAVE YOU SEEN THE TRAILER?!” I whip out my Nokia and make my family wait until I’ve seen it. It doesn’t really show a lot (compared to the first trailer to PHANTOM MENACE), but that isn’t criticism. It’s what a teaser trailer is supposed to be like. It gives us a very, very brief glimpse at two of the main characters, a vehicle (some pimped up heavy duty landspeeder?), a dark mysterious character with a lightsaber that could be called ‘Sithscalibur’, a rather cute and funny-looking service droid, and finally the money shot: The Millennium Falcon in full glory, dynamically taking on a bunch of Tie Fighters over what looks like the sand dunes of Tattoine with John Williams’ Star Wars theme blaring in the background . Cue big beaming grin. My inner geek was in total utopia. I’m what I like to call an ‘Original’ STAR WARS fan. I still call A NEW HOPE ‘Star Wars’ and I won’t watch the DVD or Blu-ray versions as I still prefer the original version (I do have a soft spot for the 1997 Special Edition of the trilogy, as well) as the additional changes in the latest versions got a bit too much for me. The prequel trilogy looked too cartoony for me (EPISODE II and III especially), but with the statement that was made that the new trilogy will go back to basics and not rely on green screen and use different forms of special effects (practical and CGI), that does fill me with confidence that EPISODE VII will be a cinema event to remember.
WINNER: STAR WARS
The two trailers that have released have me a little more psyched for the 2015 movie line-up. They are JURASSIC WORLD and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.
This is a movie that I’ve been a little skeptical about since I heard the announcement a while back and to be honest, the trailer hasn’t completely sold me on it. The JURASSIC PARK series has been a bit of a roller coaster for me as a fan: I loved the first, the second was good until the unnecessary ending, and I liked the third with the limited technology available to the survivors (minus the super evolved raptors thing… still can’t get my head around that). The way this movie seems to be playing out is that director Colin Trevorrow may be throwing a lot of CGI and effects at a not-so-interesting story. This is his first dip into a large-franchise film and it reminds me of the fake director Damien Cockburn from TROPIC THUNDER: that he is just hemorrhaging money to get the film in to theaters so let’s get Chris Pratt to wrangle in some comic and comedy nerds and create a hybrid super dyno. So I’m not really the optimist with this trailer and I really hope I’m wrong, but we shall see when it hits the theaters.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS
I have been excited about this movie ever since I found out Disney bought the rights to STAR WARS. I was also extremely excited when J.J. Abrams jumped ship from the Trek to the Wars because I have been a fan of his since the days of the ABC Series ALIAS. Fast forward some years and he successfully made STAR TREK X. He has a great way of telling stories and loves mixing practical effects with CGI. Now, I know how Abrams thinks and this was the exact trailer I was expecting from him. He hit a few key points that made the trailer entice a wide audience:
1. Real storm troopers – None of this all-CGI soldier crap that EPISODE II and III had. It never made any sense to me to not use real people in the uniforms, but “to each their own” I guess. The first shot is an enlisted storm trooper, not a clone, and he is in a real costume. A little later, they show that the helmet has changed since the end of EPISODE VI and it’s a smart move. I would be disappointed if the helmets remained the same after decades.
2. Technology and costume changes – Abrams always likes to keep a foot in the nostalgic, but he made some smart decisions such as the uniforms that the X-wing pilots are wearing in the shot of the pilot in the cockpit. He kept the orange, but there are some subtle changes. There is a shot of a speeder bike (vehicle) that looks like nothing we have ever seen and, like the storm troopers’ helmets, I would be disappointed if all of the vehicles looked the same as any of the previous six films.
3. Showing the Millennium Falcon – This was a given. It is one of the most recognizable vehicles in cinema, so showing this would make any person watching it interested.
4. Showing of the lightsaber- There are a lot of theories flying around about why the lightsaber in the trailer is what it is. My take is that it’s a really old version of the “modern” saber. If you look closely, the beams look like it’s one of the earliest models of the weapon. Like an old claymore from when the Jedi and Sith were actual warriors. So with changing technology over a thousand years, the blade or beams became smoother and cleaner to resemble the blades we see in EPISODE VI.
I’m sure not everyone will agree with this, but overall, I’m incredibly excited to see this on the big screen and how the story will play out.
WINNER: STAR WARS
So, there you have it; between the four of us, it looks like it’s a draw. I guess it all comes down to which franchise you grew up closer to in the end. I’m sure that’s the way it’ll go next year, though it’d be silly to assume that JURASSIC WORLD will outdo STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS at the worldwide box office.
First, there’s the fact that JURASSIC WORLD will be opening up in the middle of the summer against an onslaught of blockbusters including the sure-to-be-a-behemoth AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII will be opening up in December and with THE HOBBIT series wrapping up this year, the entire 2015 winter will belong to STAR WARS. Not that it really needed that excuse, though; it’s STAR WARS… the biggest film franchise of all time.
If you’d like to see the trailers again, visit JURASSIC WORLD’s here while the trailer for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS can be found here. Don’t forget to chime in below with your own thoughts!
JURASSIC WORLD opens in theaters on June 12, 2015, while STAR WARS: EPISODE VII will juggernaut on to the big screen on December 18, 2015.