So the trailer for the new Jurassic Park film has been released, and it looks like full steam ahead on the monster-movie angle. Although they apparently do have a scientific advisor, they may as well not have.
People who are into dinosaurs have had mixed reactions, ranging from “looks cool!”, to mine, which is “looks unbearably stupid in every conceivable way”. Nobody defends its accuracy, but plenty of dinosaur enthusiasts think it will be a fun monster film anyway.
What I find interesting is the flurry of articles and comments that are making fun of “nerds” for caring at all about the accuracy of the animals in Jurassic World (here's an example from Gizmodo). Ha ha, stupid nerds, caring about stuff we don't care about, they're so funny.
Well, the “nerds” complaining about this are those who spend a good deal of time trying to articulate an accurate and interesting view of the past. We do this for the sake of giving people a picture of the world and our place in it. It may seem strange and esoteric to some, but being ignorant of prehistory is not really any different from being ignorant of history, or geography, or any other field.
Our knowledge of dinosaur appearance has changed drastically over the last twenty years, and keen as we have been to convey that to wider world, we’ve only made small inroads. Strangely, museums and documentaries have been slow to adapt to this drastic overhaul of dinosaur appearance. Most people still don’t know about feathered dinosaurs, for godssake! It has been frustrating.
So when a new Jurassic Park film (that has a bigger budget than the entirety of vertebrate palaeontology) comes along, we might hope that it will be like the first one. Up-to-date, challenging people’s old notions, and leaving a fresh impression of what the word ‘dinosaur’ actually means. Not perfect (the original wasn’t!), but an authentically enthusiastic look at what we know about these strange animals.
Instead, we’re getting a film which pays absolutely no attention at all to what we now know. It’s all ‘haha! MONSTERS! AWSUM!’ Which is disappointing, if not unexpected.
I’ll leave the final words to Will Svensen, who has summed this up better than I could:
“The original Jurassic Park felt like a love letter to paleontology. This trailer, with its blatant favoring of masturbatory nostalgia over any attempt at scientific accuracy, feels more like a middle finger.”