We’ve only got a trailer (and a pre-trailer) for Jurassic World at this point, but we’ve already got a wealth of discussions and criticism pouring out about a return to Jurassic Park next summer. The oddest I’ve seen so far comes the scientists and smart folks who are having some issues with the way the dinosaurs are being portrayed on film.
He’s talking about a fake dinosaur, by the way. I’ll give it a pass because it is a stupid plot point, but it is still a bit of nitpick in my eyes.
This kind of criticism is nothing new if you’ve seen the old movies and pay any attention to our advances in knowledge on dinosaurs from over the years. We know more now, we’ve got more evidence now, and all of that is a problem for a movie that tries to hold close to science. Just not too close.
It’s why Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick allegedly wanted to get an insurance policy on 2001: A Space Odyssey, just in case we encountered alien life before the movie was released. Steven Spielberg didn’t do the same thing, but he did take creative license way back with the first movie and it has continued since. From Mental Floss:
Spielberg insisted on using dramatic license when it came to some of his prehistoric stars’ appearances. Take, for example, those T. rex teeth. Bakker sent over diagrams of the chompers—which, in reality, were banana-shaped— but “the powers that be didn’t like the real tooth shape,” Bakker told Popular Mechanics. “The CGI rex and the robot had their fangs sharpened.”
The most famous example is probably Spielberg’s Velociraptor, which more closely resembles the Deinonychus. A major source for Crichton’s book was Gregory Paul’s Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, which labeled the Velociraptor as a Deinonychus subspecies; real Velociraptors weighed less than 50 pounds and had feathers.
But in a bit of good fortune, a new, much bigger species called the Utahraptor was discovered during Jurassic Park’s production. In the forward of Raptor Red, Bakker wrote about a call from Dr. James Kirkland, who was part of the team that discovered Utahraptor:
“Jim!” I yelled. “You just found the giant raptor Spielberg made up for his movie.” Jim thought I was daft. He didn’t know about the other phone call I had gotten about giant raptors that morning. It was from one of the special effects artists in the Jurassic Park skunkworks … the artists were suffering anxiety about what was to become the star of the movie—a raptor species that had never been documented by a real fossil. … Just before Jim called, I’d listened to one artist complain that Spielberg had invented a raptor that didn’t exist. … He wanted hard facts, fossil data. “Yeah, a giant raptor’s possible—theoretically. But you don’t have any bones.” But now Jim’s Utahraptor gave him bones.
That dinosaur, discovered in January 1992, was almost exactly the same size as Jurassic Park’s big female.
So that’s why you have to take these science complaints with a grain of salt. These dinos haven’t been too real since the beginning, much like the shark from Jaws wasn’t real either.
I know it’s always popular to confront the scientific shortcomings of films, but that doesn’t mean the movies will be bad. I just wish they’d wait until the movie actually hit theaters. Here’s some of the other criticism. First up is the lack of feathers, something that was a bit of hitch back when the movie was announced.
I can buy that one and can see where it is an issue, but I think the next is a bit of a stretch since the productions have always notably had input from scientists and paleontologists:
It fits in the with the parameters of the Jurassic Park lore, so that’s all I need. If it doesn’t fit in science, let’s have a friendly debated and try not to lose our heads.