Review of Jurassic World by Thomas Holtz
Submitted by Ralph E. Chapman, Los Alamos
OK Los Alamosians,
As I have yet to see Jurassic World because of other commitments (soon, I hope) and there is lots of stuff (and crap) circulating around the web, I have assembled the review of a good friend of mine – Dr. Tom Holtz, a.k.a. King of the Dinosaur Geeks – from his Facebook posts and submit them here for you to read. He gave me permission to send them to the LADP.
These days it is almost impossible to keep half up with dinosaur stuff unless you do it full time and even my paleontological interests are far too wide to just limit myself to dinosaurs. Tom is a specialist and great at this sort of thing. He is also a good friend and one of my favorite people. So I know what he is saying comes from a huge knowledge base without the over-geek.
Tom teaches at The University of Maryland, by the way, and specializes in tyrannosaurs. So, here you get the movie review from a real cinema nut to start (he is like me in this way as well), and the scientific analysis of the movie afterwards. I have not edited the latter as I figured you might want to see how paleontologists (paleo-geeks) talk with each other in life – this is how we sound (and I guess it ain’t pretty).
If you are really concerned about spoilers, do not read until you have seen it, although not a real lot of them here that you couldn’t figure out from the ads.
An alternative decent review is at https://theconversation.com/jurassic-world-reviewed-by-a-dinosaur-expert-it-isnt-faithful-to-science-but-so-what-43271 by Stephen Brusatte.
Anyway, here is what Tom had to say after his first viewing. All material hereafter is ©Dr. Thomas Holtz, 2015 except my notes – as ed. notes – are listed where needed.
Post #1 – The Review:
First, the review of the movie. Second post will be review of the science.
In my opinion, this is the 2nd best of the franchise. The first one will always be hard to top: it was truly ground-breaking for a number of reasons, and has had a big cultural impact in ways that the sequels just don’t. The comparison might be with Star Wars (the movie that came out in 1977, before it got retitled…) to subsequent sequels.
Despite the fact this is the first JP movie to not have a paleontologist character, it is the only one with a REAL paleontologist on screen!
Hollywood requires pretty boys/girls as their leads, so no surprises there. The gender politics I had heard about (who “ice queen businesswoman has to literally remove her business attire step-by-step and embrace ‘real womanhood’ by looking after kids”) was there, but not as egregious as I thought it might be.
I liked a lot of the secondary characters (Masrani himself was a different kind of capitalist than Hollywood normally shows). The kids weren’t as annoying as some movie kids are, at least to me. I like how they showed-but-didn’t tell how the younger one was definitely on the autism spectrum without making it a big
Nicer pacing than some of the others: establishing how the park works well in advance. Nostalgia to the first film at lots of time; very nice to see the ruins of the old park facilities.
A problem not unique to this movie (I’m looking at you, Pacific Rim…) is that in this day and age, any rich organization working with big monsters should have fleets of cheap drones to send out so that you have visuals from many multiple angles of the same site. (Yeah, okay, Indominus was basically a stealth dino,
but they should have such equipment on hand anyway).
Given my particular interests, I of course loved the climax and the final scene… As I said before, manly tears of joy…
So I’m definitely seeing it again. (No surprise there.)
My #JurassicWorld review, part II: The Science
I believe this is the first mention of Archaeornithomimus on either the big or the little screen.
Nice mention of Schweitzer et al.’s work on iron as aid of preservation of soft tissue. (ed. Note that is Dr. Mary Schweitzer, now in North Carolina – a good friend of both of us)
Wu did state that none of the animals in the park are actual real dinosaurs (or other fossil animals), and they have all been altered from their real appearance. That was very nice to hear.
So this following is moot, but still have to do it. The problems with the critters have generally been addressed elsewhere, but here are some of them listed:
- Pterosaurs: (ed. notes: the flying reptiles, not dinosaurs) why the same colors for all the species? Mix and match! Also, the crests of the Pteranodon were all the same shape: show some potential sexual variation. Furthermore, not only would pterosaurs be unable to pick up and lift people, they were probably pretty fragile. A solid punch would crumple the Dimorphodon skull, and you should be able to snap even the Pteranodon apart pretty easily.
- Mosasaurus: grossly oversized, but no doubt designed so. Should have had a forked tongue. Obviously force-grown, because a big lizard like that probably took many, many decades to reach that size. (ed. notes: the big aquatic lizard that eats the hanging shark)
- Tyrannosaurus: as always, has fared fairly well in JP movies. Is this indeed the baby from The Lost World? The age would be about right: even a non-modified growth scheme would have it full grown by now.
- Raptors: nothing to say about them that hasn’t been said yet. One of these days we may see a dromaeosaurid in a Jurassic Park movie, but we haven’t yet… The trained pack is very believable in the context of movie raptors (as I dubbed them decades ago, Thaumatoraptor nublarensis): they imprinted on Star-Lord, they are intelligent, they have a dominance hierarchy etc. (ed. Note: Star Lord is a reference to the lead actor’s role in Guardians of the Galaxy).
- Gallimimus: naked, arms grossly shortened and attached in the wrong place. The models for the original were vastly better. Stills of the new models show teeth in those jaws, but thankfully they go by too quickly to see in the movie. (ed. note, all but the most primitive ornithomimid are toothless. The exception has a large number of very small teeth)
- Dilophosaurus: screwed up as ever, but fun to see its virtual cameo. (ed. note: the falsely frilled dinosaur from the first movie)
- Apatosaurus: nostril in the right spot. Didn’t get a good look at the front feet to see if they got the eusauropod manus condition correct. I don’t mind them as grey if they could at least color some of the other big herbivores; instead, we had less color than among large modern mammals. (ed. note: manus is the hand and the eusauropods is the group that includes all the brontosaur-like dinos)
- Triceratops: babies were cool, having the upwards-curved horns seen in juveniles. (But would they be able to support a person at that size? Maybe). Close up of front paw was not accurate. Adults seemed to have the wrong position and shape of their epioccipitals (they had the really triangular ones of young ones). (ed. note: the epioccipitals are the spikes on the top and side edge of the frill)
- Stegosaurus: Great, galloping Stegosaurus. Umm… no. Just don’t. The ones near the river course didn’t look too bad; the downward-tail ones in the plains were not so good. I wonder if they even used the same source model? (ed. note: in other words, a real mess)
- Pachycephalosaurus: quick shot of it, too big.
- Ankylosaurus: classic mid-century version with nodosaurid lateral spines. (ed. note: he means real out-dated models)
- Hadrosaurs (ed. note: the duck-billed dinosaur): The Parasaurolophus chewed wrong. Look, lambeosaurines only do two interesting things: toot with their crests, and chew. Get that right!! smile emoticon
Did I miss any taxon here?