I’ll start this piece by admitting I hated the movie Jurassic World. The fourth installment of the franchise turned out to be the first movie with different kids. Everything, from the hamster ball, to the running through the jungle in high heels, to training velociraptors with a clicker, was so far beyond the realm of believable that it pulled me out of the movie. Even Chris Pratt’s magic abs couldn’t save it for me. It wasn’t a dinosaur movie; it was Godzilla with fictional dinosaurs. I think Trevor Valle, the paleontologist on the panel, felt the same way given his beautiful snark on the subject. Rachel Pendergrass took the biology angle on different aspects of the analysis.
First, they tackled velociraptors. Valle asked for help from the audience to demonstrate just how far off the raptors actually were. He asked the 5’4” volunteer to raise his hands over his head to demonstrate how big raptors were in the movie—over 6’ tall. Then, he asked the volunteer to get on his knees and stoop down to about 2’ tall. Not only did they triple their size, but they skinned off their feathers. Velociraptors looked more like angry turkeys than man-sized lizards. The Utah raptors, on the other hand, are 6’–8’ tall, and they still have feathers because raptors are birds.
Then, we have cuttlefish. In the movie, they compared the ability of the Indominus Rex to disappear in its pen. Pendergrass explained that cuttlefish are covered in ink spots that work like LED lights allowing the skin to change color and texture rapidly so it can disguise itself from a predator. However, it’s not translucent and it wouldn’t be invisible to infrared. So, the answer must be that the Indominus Rex is ectothermic. If the I-Rex were ectothermic, it would be able to hide from an infrared camera. The problem is, Ingen was supposed to have the best technology on the planet. So, it’s not like they’d lose a 50’ dinosaur because it wanted to play hide and seek.
Another issue the panelists (and audience) took with the Indominus Rex was its behavior. Near the end of the movie, the I-Rex began talking to the trained attack velociraptors. A socially isolated dinosaur bred in a containment area too restrictive for its size decided to talk to other dinosaurs and was able to because they had shared DNA. Again—genetics solves all.
Then, we come to the boss battle at the end of the movie. T-Rex vs. Indominus Rex vs. velociraptor vs. mosasaurus. So, the velociraptor, because he’s BFFs with Chris Pratt’s character, turns on this “alpha” and pairs up with the T-Rex to save the humans. Then, we have the mosasaurus, which is not a dinosaur incidentally. Proportionately, this thing turned out to be about 630’ long—longer than the Space Needle is tall. It popped right out of the water to eat the Indominus Rex and save the day. It looked more like a Godzilla movie than a dinosaur film. Oh, and lest we not forget the head nods. The raptor and T-Rex share a moment, and then, the raptor and Chris Pratt share a moment. Human and dinos are now best friends forever because—genetics solves all.
So, all in all, if you went to munch on popcorn and be entertained, you probably had a good time. If you were expecting anything remotely like reality, or even consistency within the Jurassic Park franchise, you were probably sorely disappointed. But, as they said in the movie—“focus groups don’t want reality; they just want more teeth”—and with this movie, they got it.