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Jurassic World

I finally saw Jurassic World.

It was pure entertainment.

An action flick or a monster movie. Lots and lots of carnage.

...but not really in league with the original Jurassic Park. There is no sense of awe, like the first time I saw the Brachiosaurus rear up.

Definitely not sci-fi.

There is a ton of articles written by prominent palaeontologists on the internet already about the scientific inaccuracies of JW, so I'll keep that brief, and maybe touch a bit more on the sci-fi and plot aspects that JW missed. Obviously, SPOILERS!

But first, the obligatory palaeo-sins (like cinema sins):
  1. The dinosaurs all look rubbery and early 20th century like. Never mind the featherless-ness, these dinos looked worse than how they looked in the original 1993 JP. You can really see what I mean in the skin texture of the herbivores like Triceratops or any of the sauropods, especially in the scenes with the gyrosphere. The JP Triceratops and Brachiosaurus didn't look like that, so why do this? If the decision to omit feathers was to keep the aesthetics in line with the JP franchise, then why not keep the aesthetics in line with the JP franchise?
    • OK - so Dr Wu actually said that if the dinosaurs were genetically pure, they will look very different. I can buy the featherless raptors due to this in-universe explanation, but I don't buy that the early 20th century look is by corporate or consumer demand...
  2. Raptors have snake eyes. Phylogenetically, you'd think raptors would have bird eyes, which ironically (considering all the hate), JP3 gets right (or close enough)! Aesthetically, I like the JP3 raptors the best - despite the weird lacrimal horns, they have lower and longer skulls, more in line with what you'd expect from a large dromaeosaur. Plus, some of them had feather-like integuments. So much for the continuity argument for featherless raptors...
  3. Theropods hold their hands in the wrong way. Palms shouldn't face down, but facing the midline of the body. Raptors also shouldn't be folding their wrists that way, pronated and palm-wards (although this is true for all JP movies). In reality, dromaeosaurs would have folded their wrists along the same plane as their elbow movement. Next time you have chicken wings, play with the wrist joint. It doesn't bend like us, or how JP/JW raptors bend their wrists.
  4. Pterosaurs looked kind of weird. I can't put my finger on it but they looked really weird somehow...all wrinkly perhaps?
  5. Why did the pterosaurs fly straight to the congregation of park visitors and started randomly attacking them? And why did not one, but multiple pterosaurs tried to eat that poor woman? They can't possibly swallow her whole nor can they bite or chew. Were they gonna peck her? 
  6. Mosasaur is way too big. And why does it roar? Having said that, I did like the fact that they even had a mosasaur in the film - I can't remember a mosasaur featured in any movie before...
  7. How the hell did the Tyrannosaurus rex and Blue the raptor end up cooperating against the Indominus rex? I thought it was pretty well established in the first film that the T. rex wasn't all that smart.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the story.
JW is essentially a monster flick: a genetic hybrid they've created is way too clever and unpredictable to contain, and it runs amuck, leaving a trail of carnage behind. While I admit, this was quite exciting, I think there could have been better themes to explore.

I genuinely think that JW missed a valuable opportunity to be a solid sci-fi film, with substance, exploring some important or thought provoking theme.

Some of my favourite sci-fi films are District 9, Minority Report, and Children of Men, just to name a few. All these films use scientific themes or technological advancements as a plot device to make a point about something substantial, whether it be discrimination and social segregation, a out-of-control police and justice system, or dystopian future due to unexplained infertility. Each film explores human morality and actions given some sciency situation (stranded alien race, pre-crime technology, unexplained infertility).

The science and technology established in the JP universe provides an excellent opportunity to explore various ideas, consequences and human actions. Having said that, JP films have addressed certain ideas, or maybe a single idea: that man should not meddle with nature.

JP films have always portrayed scientists and innovators as arrogant, irresponsible and immoral. Ian Malcolm in the first JP film constantly challenges John Hammond about it and repeatedly beats the audience with his moral compass. JP and JW both warn that meddling with and attempting to control nature has unpredictable and undesirable consequences.

I have issues with this message. Nothing in our modern lives is entirely natural, which in most cases is a good thing. We don't die from preventable diseases or are constantly worrying about clean water. Science and technology are not bad or immoral. I think we've heard enough of this disinformation and it's time to explore new ideas.

Genetic manipulation gone mad, or man playing God, is an interesting idea, but we've seen that in films like Splice, but more importantly, I feel it really doesn't fit well as a Jurassic Park film. Dinosaurs are fascinating and awesome as they are, we should be focusing on telling a story about what would happen if we were to perfectly clone a dinosaur (no hybrid - I mean, come on, by the time JW is open InGen must have perfected their bioengineering technology; in fact Dr Wu claims exactly that in the film and in the promo video):
  • Can we keep them alive?
  • How do they respond to today's climate?
  • Would Isla Nublar be big enough for dinosaur ranges?
  • Can you keep large carnivores like T. rex in solitary paddocks, and only fed goats?
  • How intelligent are they and what kind of problems will confinement have on them?

Maybe these aren't movie worthy topics and more like a biologist's thought process, but surely a creative and talented screen writer can write these things into a story. I can see that JW kind of tried to address some of these questions especially in the scene where Owen Grady was inspecting the Indominus rex's solitary confinement. Maybe they could have put that aspect, that Jurassic World staff were abusing their animals by raising them in solitary confinement, which leads them into madness, as the main plot line, instead of focusing on the unpredictable traits and super powers of I. rex. It could still be full of action, tension and bloodshed, but it's gotta be put together in a clever, coherent plot line. JW as it is, is just a big lead up to the final showdown between the T. rex - raptor team vs I. rex. Basically, the whole film is just an excuse to have the awesome tag match at the end. It's like fantasy Jurassic fight club.

...but it's gotta be said, I did thoroughly enjoy the film despite the flaws. Having said that, Jurassic World could have been a much better film. I do hope future Jurassic Park films take on a more serious and thought-provoking sci-fi route...though maybe that's asking too much from a dinosaur/monster can dream....


Craig Dylke said…
I had the thought the working theme park was the only thing going for the film. I thought there was potential in that, and they needlessly threw it away with little payoff by the end (only the pterosaurs really went wrong with the crowds involved)

Have the whole film from the point of view of the Dino containment battalion and/or the vet staff, and have an eco terrorism group attack the park's security. Thus setting up an undermanned struggle against the Dinosaurs, and having stakes other then the stereotypical kids in peril. I'd love to see commandos having to save tourists throughout the park. There is potential for herbivores to be threats too... The gentle giants thing wore very thin, I refuse to accept large herbivores would tolerate the gyro-spheres getting that close to them.

I guess I'm a little biased on the dino battalion, if you pay attention to their life signs screen I'm the second one to die :P
Raptor's Nest said…
I hadn't noticed when I saw the film, but it appears there was indeed a 'Craig' in the ACU team!

I totally agree that the whole working theme park collapsing down by a single dinosaur gone rogue, and the only way the visitors got affected by was through that pterosaur attack sequence, is lame. There could have been more variety in how the park devolved into chaos, maybe through a cascade of events, much in the spirit of the original film and novel, which ironically didn't really depict chaos theory very well either. So maybe one dinosaur (Indominus) escaping causing other incidents, malfunctions, etc that eventually cascades out of control.

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