Jurassic Park IV is trying to catch a ride on two separate waves. One wave, the Jurassic Park franchise, died down a decade ago. The other wave, that of leading star Chris Pratt, may backfire on Pratt's career before lifting the franchise back up to prominence. Will Smith is living proof that you can be a sure-thing to cinematic success for years and take one or two wrong roles and plummet. I still trust Smith, and I still love the Jurassic Park franchise, but something seems fishy about this film, and I'm not talking about the massive mosasaur.
This film seems to be going the route of poorly rushed horror movies looking to make a quick buck. In fact, the Jurassic Park franchise is fairly embedded in horror. Many of today's respected and acclaimed directors have had a toe dipped in horror at one time or another throughout their careers, and this shows in their works that aren't technically classified as horror. Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi...they all have benefited from horror films in the infancy of their directing careers.
What we often don't notice as movie patrons and critics while watching these directors' films is the dabbling in the art of horror to deliver a story in films otherwise not categorized as such. E.T. was inspired by a horror concept Spielberg had previously been working on, the best Spider-Man film to date (Spider-Man 2) boasted Raimi's satirical horror cinematography in various scenes, Scott's Alien and Cameron's Aliens were catalysts for the scifi/horror and action/horror genres, and Jackson's gore effect work in the Lord of the Rings films was clearly inspired by his early projects.
Many "sophisticated" movie patrons hate horror films and degrade them on a regular basis, but they applaud the directors that often use the genre as their muse. Jurassic Park is no different. It was a higher caliber version of Jaws with the same balance of audience appeal and horror influence. And it flourished. Then it spawned sequels that, like other famous horror icons of the 80's, lacked less and less luster with each release. And now, as the 2000's attempt to recreate their own cinematic Lazarus with old franchises, we are left with poor attempts to respond to a tsunami that has died down to ripples on the surface.
So here we are. We have Chris Pratt training raptors, and genetically engineered dinosaurs that scoff in the face of paleontologists everywhere that dreamt of one day seeing high-quality manifestations of the creatures they gave their lives to study. I'm not giving up on this film. We'll likely see it opening night with a childlike excitement that only prehistoric monsters can stir. But it was worth putting the soap box to good use, if for no other reason than to give credit to the horror genre where it is due.