Friday, November 15, 2013

(Unproduced) Screenplay Review: Jurassic Park 4

"Whenever a new organism, especially a predator with no natural enemies, is introduced into an ecosystem, the result is disastrous."

Premise: A former Navy Seal is recruited for a top secret project, that involves turning John Hammond's revived dinosaurs into trained soldiers.

Written by: John Sayles

Technical: 116 pages. Early draft.

Keep in mind that this is a first draft.

Nick Harris (ex-Navy Seal) is approached by Jeb Overton (his old captain) about a job. The client is John Hammond. He wants to create highly aggressive, reproductively-neutered dinosaurs, and mix them into the current dino population, to cut down the birth rate. The only way to do this is to go back to Isla Nublar (supposedly clear of dinosaurs), where some important embryos have been left behind. The bottom line is, if Hammond can retrieve the material, he can put his plan into action. Grendel International, who took over the island, is looking for the genetic material for themselves. But the only one who knows where it is is Hammond. He wants Nick to go to the island and get it. Nick takes the job, because he's offered a boatload of cash, and in his words, he's done worse for less.

Nick goes to the island and finds the canister with the genetic material. It's all typical Jurassic Park; there's plenty of thrills and chills on his way out of Isla Nublar. There's killer dinosaurs leaping out of bushes, skeletal remains that pop out of nowhere, Nick stumbles across giant eggshells, and shadowed creatures follow him in underground tunnels. He eventually makes it back to the beach, but his escape plan falls apart. A kronosaurus (a gigantic sea-monster dinosaur) smashes up the plane that comes to get him. Nick then is rescued... but by some of the island's inhabitants.

After a long game of cat and mouse (in which Nick hides the canister, in a small island resort, after he escapes the Grendel helicopter).... Nick wakes up in a medieval castle, on a mountainside in the Swiss alps. Nick is met by Adrien Joyce, a man from his past. Adrien explains that his current employer (Baron von Drax) is the principal stockholder and CEO of the Grendel International Corporation. Joyce says that they want the embryo canister, and that they will match Hammond's offer. And also, they want Nick to work for them. Joyce gives Nick a tour of the dungeons under the castle, where there's a confined dinosaur, covered in armour. We meet Sherman and Maya, who are also part of the project.

Joyce emphasizes that they are training the dinosaurs they have (correcting the notion that the dinos are in captivity). According to Joyce, they've placed implants strategically within the dinos, to control the hormones by radio signal. So they can induce specific emotions in the dinosaurs. During the tour, Sherman is despicably cold, only fascinated with the control aspect. Maya is more sensitive, repeatedly showing care for the dinosaurs' well-being. At the end of the tour, Maya slips Nick a piece of paper, warning him not to give these guys the embryos.

Until this point in the screenplay (opening scene aside) none of the script is cheesy. But past here, the script is bland. Then, it quickly turns into Jurassic Park ridiculousness, and beyond. The Grendel Corporation has raptors that can blend into their environment with chameleon-like accuracy. All the dinosaurs are rewarded with serotonin (at one point, a character voices their concern that they're turning the dinosaurs into drug addicts.)

At one point, to show Nick that they do have control of the raptors, Joyce deliberately sets the raptors to maximum kill mode, and he sends them at their own mercenaries, in a cage. The mercenaries are almost killed and everyone there (except Joyce) is terrified that they are losing control of the dinosaurs. Then, Joyce's plan is revealed: he wants to use the dinosaurs as soldiers.

To test the dinos out, they go on a mission to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy Frenchman. They're going to send the dinosaurs in to the waterfront quarter where she is being held. And it's here that the script goes from ridiculous to outrageously bad. Like, Super Baby Geniuses 2 bad. Let's see. The dinosaurs have names, reminiscent of Ninja Turtles (the leader is Sparticus). They wear flak vests. They go through an obstacle course to prepare for the mission; moving across a log bridge, hurdling through trenches of fire...

The raptors are trained to rescue the little girl alive, and to kill anyone or anything else that gets in their way. During the mission, the dinos are pimped out with night-vision video cameras, mounted on their shoulders. They climb fire escapes. Nick talks to them ("All together, boys.") Afterwards, the dinosaurs literally exchange war stories, through chirping and clicking noises. I could go on.

I did get a good laugh out of some parts. Whether this was the author's intention or not.. who knows. But preposterous doesn't even begin to describe the last two thirds of the script. I'm surprised that the dinosaurs didn't start talking. I don't understand what the writer was thinking. The first third was not bad for a first draft, but then the quality deteriorated rapidly, and it just kept getting worse.

For anyone curious, or interested in reading this, save your time; unless you don't mind slogging through it for a few good laughs.

About: This is the infamous, scrapped, "dinosaurs with guns" Jurassic Park 4 script. This was also how I knew it before I read it. But let me make a correction: the dinosaurs do not have guns in this script. They do not shoot guns, and they do not have guns attached to them. So describing this script as "dinosaurs with guns" is incorrect, and misleading.

This project is now scrapped. The next Jurassic Park film is titled "Jurassic World" and is scheduled for release in 2015.

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