It’s rare that you have two intellectual properties dominate the cultural discussion at any time. It’s even rarer that each comes from the mind of one man. Michael Crichton, the man responsible for both “Westworld” and “Jurassic Park” (and many other things) carries that distinction after this weekend. “Westworld” just concluded it’s 2nd season, with many on the internet discussing the positives and negatives of what occurred on the cerebral series. Meanwhile, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” took down the Box Office with a massive $150 million dollar opening weekend in the US. While each holds down a peak on the pop culture mountain range this week, there’s a fair question as to who actually did it better. So, in a battle of Crichton properties, who deserved the right to get off the island? Westworld vs. Jurassic World begins now.
Part of what makes “Westworld” so intriguing is the cerebral elements at play. What it means to be human is a huge question, and if the hosts, including Maeve (Thandie Newton) and Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) can only interact with other robots, who is their true foil? The concept of robots escaping captivity and making it the real world is a Sci-Fi trope (e.g. “Blade Runner” & “iRobot“), so seeing the struggle with these characters would be exciting. Also, if the story continues to be based around MacGuffin-driven plots, the show will eventually get boring.
There are many more plots to explore in the Delos Incorporated theme parks. After all, our brief forays into Shogun World and “The Raj” were exciting to witness. There’s definitely a lot more meat on the bone in the individual parks, and extended journeys into other worlds could be a smart way to go. This could also become repetitive, so that’s an issue that the show could potentially face.
How realistic is it that these dinos have not already gotten off the island? It’s a concept Crichton laid in the very first pages of “Jurassic Park” and the “Lost World” novels years ago. Think of some of the dinosaurs like rats, who literally could store away and make it to the Costa Rican jungles. Pteradactyls and Pteranodons can fly, which should make the migration process easier. Plus it would actually serve the story well to move to locations that are not quite so familiar.
The results with the dinosaurs off the island have not been good. Dare we think about the T-Rex terrorizing San Diego? Or even in the most recent film, which doesn’t really let the dinosaurs do anything but roar at a lion? Can this group of storytellers, starting with the great Steven Spielberg, find a compelling story that would mandate these dinosaurs no longer be on the island? This seems like a simple enough task, but if the results are what they’ve been recently, I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of patience.
Overall, there’s not really a strong candidate either way. The edge goes to “Westworld” because ultimately, I’ve seen this story before from other writers. Is there a chance that we screw it up? You bet. After all, Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan like to overthink things sometimes. However, other than jumping into other worlds, there is not much of a reason to return to Westworld after the finale.
Despite this, the idea of dinos getting off the island is an intriguing one. It’s likely a smart move for the franchise in the long term. Yet, there will always be doubt that this is actually worth the risk. Especially given the fact that all we’ve gotten so far is a T-Rex breaking a gas station, and an Indoraptor playing hide-and-seek in a museum.