Some Ideas for the Velocicoaster

Universal has finally revealed that the Jurassic Park roller coaster that they’ve been building in plain sight for months is, in fact, a Jurassic Park roller coaster! Check out the teaser video:

Being somewhat of a theme park fan and an occasional Jurassic Park enjoyer myself, I thought I’d offer Universal some more ideas of my own that could help make this attraction more authentic.

•Before boarding your vehicle, you have to spend several months growing a relationship with it, just like Owen did with the Raptor Squad. You didn’t think you could just go running with a dangerous vehicle like a roller coaster without gaining its trust, did you?

•Every time you tell someone you liked the ride, the first thing they say to you is that it should’ve been called a Deinonychoaster or a Utahcoaster, because Velocicoasters weren’t that big in real life.

•You leave the Fallen Kingdom portion of the ride and begin to approach the Dominion portion. The next part of the ride will enter unknown territory and you don’t know what to expect. Everyone around you loudly decries the Fallen Kingdom part of the ride, and talks about how Dominion will surely be even worse. You begin to sweat.

•The ride takes you to the other Jurassic Park land in the other Universal park, titled The Dinosauring World of Jurassic Park.

•Actually, it’s just another Harry Potter attraction after all. They know where the money is.

•The ride takes you through exciting raptor-related locations from the movies, such as a kitchen, an abandoned shack in the middle of a jungle, and some long grass.

•The story for the ride is that you’re the pig from the raptors’ first scene in Jurassic World. It’s a thrilling chase that ultimately doesn’t end very well for you.

•Alternatively, you are the raptors, and the ride consists of Owen training you. “Forward”, he says, and the vehicle nudges forward by a couple of feet. “Good, now back up”, he says, and the vehicle slowly retreats. It’s not very exciting, but you find the sound of his clicker oddly rewarding.

•They reuse one of the raptor animatronics that was taken out of the California ride during its remodeli– never mind, that’s too unrealistic, we all know there won’t be any animatronics. Joy is dead. Look at all these screens and enjoy it.

•The volcano they’re building the coaster around will erupt in 3 years and destroy Islands of Adventure, requiring a group of the park’s creators and workers to go on a last-ditch rescue mission to bring all of the animatronics to the mainland. The last thing that anyone will see in the park is the Cat in the Hat standing on the dock, surrounded by flames.

•Dr. Grant declares in the preshow video that “no force on heaven or earth” could get him to ride the coaster. When you get to your vehicle, he’s seated next to you, holding several thousand dollars.

•Just like Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, you get to choose which music you want to listen to during the ride. The options include all of the famous songs from the franchise, such as “Big Hat, No Cattle” by Randy Newman and… actually, that’s it.

•During the preshow, one lucky child is selected to have the life scared out of them with a raptor claw!

•It’s just a recreation of my first experience with Jurassic Park River Adventure when I was 7. You receive no indication that this ride will be anything other than a peaceful cruise past some friendly dinosaurs. You begin to rise along the first lift hill. You remember how deathly afraid you are of large drops. Your parents’ frantic attempts to console you are no good. There’s a giant dinosaur in front of you– wait, there’s no way past that dinosaur except down. After the giant drop, you wail in terror, swearing that you’ll never go on that ride again and that you hate Jurassic Park. You have no idea of the direction your life will take later.

Do you have any ideas for the ride, or thoughts on what it’ll be like? Can you get me in contact with Universal’s theme park division for a job opportunity? Do you know someone who you could somehow, some way, convince to put an Ian Malcolm animatronic in this thing? Let me know in the comments!

Camp Cretaceous Review (Spoilers!)

Man, that was a long nap. How long was I out?… Two years? Wow, I can’t wait to go outside, see all my friends, travel, and see some movies in theaters!

Kidding. This blog kinda fell by the wayside while I finished college and did some other life stuff, but now that so much more is starting to happen in the JP franchise (and now that I have a lot more time on my hands, for obvious reasons) I figured I’d try to breathe some life back into it. After my review, I’ll include a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to since we last talked.

But enough about me. Camp Cretaceous, the much-hyped Netflix series starring very realistic dinosaurs and very cartoony people, has finally come out! Of course I like it, since it’s Jurassic Park and it has all of my favorite dinosaurs in it and all, but I also enjoyed it as an overall experience. Story-wise and visually, it definitely fit in with the new trilogy, and although some of the more intense aspects were scaled down, I could definitely enjoy it as an adult viewer.

Overall, I’d give it an 8 out of 10. There were parts that I didn’t enjoy, but a lot of those were just due to the fact that this is intended to be a kids’ show, and I find some elements of kids’ shows kinda annoying. (The whole Sammy/Yazmina subplot, as well as the constant “woot-woot!” type of humor, stick out the most.) However, there’s an abundance of things that I did enjoy. Even though the sentimentality was over-the-top at times, it just meant that the show had heart, and some of it did affect me. (The shots of Darius’ room in the beginning made me teary. That was my room as a kid!) I really liked Darius as a main protagonist, and I liked that the show only had one character from the mainline films in it, as well as its own main villain dinosaur. The fact that the franchise’s spinoffs are diversifying like this is really exciting; it gives me hope that we’ll see more different dinosaurs in the future (maybe some of the more obscure ones that Mattel has made as toys) and that this universe will be fleshed out in a ton of fun ways. Hopefully this sets a precedent for another piece of spinoff media that isn’t set on one of the islands, and maybe is even less connected to the films.

There’s not a ton that I can say, besides “it was awesome” at various volumes, but here are some thoughts that I had throughout the show.

•This is like a stripped-down version of JP where all the pretensions are gone and everyone acts in just the bluntest way possible. People like to criticize the JP movies because “uhh that’s so dumb, why would they do that” (like Timmy not handing Lex the gun) but these kids have zero self-preservation instincts. They’re diving into enclosures and sneaking into secret labs (although Brooklyn trying to leak JW secrets on Instagram is not unlike some things that other influencers have done) as soon as it becomes physically possible. There’s no pretension– we get one obligatory Magic And Wonder scene and then people start getting nearly killed by raptors.

•This was also sort of a subversion of the usual JP cast formula– instead of a cast of adults and a kid or two, it’s mostly kids with a couple of adults. If we didn’t already know Maisie would be in Dominion, I’d say that this was a way of compromising, so that the next movie doesn’t have to have kids in it for young audiences to relate to.

•The “based on the novel by Michael Crichton” at the start of the episodes made me wonder what Crichton would’ve thought of this. I can’t imagine that he’d be thrilled that his cautionary tale about playing God was turned into a brightly-colored cartoon about the power of friends sticking together.

•The fact that the kids kept pointing out how things were broken or didn’t work in the park would’ve been good commentary… if this were set in the original park (where nothing worked, as a foreshadowing tool) rather than this one (a wildly successful park that’s been running for 20+ years). I completely get why it was included, but it didn’t land as well as it could’ve.

•Dr. Wu is pretty overtly evil in this, and reminds me of how he is in JW Evolution, where he commands you to sell dinosaurs, make them fight, and deliberately make them unhappy. Obviously he’s gotten to be pretty nefarious in the movies, but he really struck me with his overt lack of compassion for the dinosaurs, just like in the game. I know he wasn’t doing anything here that he wasn’t doing in the movies (like creating weaponized dinosaurs for Hoskins) but his “new” personality really shone through here. Then again, this show didn’t show him arguing with Masrani about ethics– it just showed him being mean to a baby.

•In the storm in the Gyrosphere scene, the Sinoceratops getting worked up because of the barometric pressure, like other animals do, was a good touch. I like when mundane animal things are applied to dinosaurs. The same is true for when Toro first saw the Indominus. It’s easy enough to think they’re just roaring at each other because that’s what dinosaurs do, but it was probably more like Toro saying “hey, this is the only territory I’ve ever gotten to call my own, and it’s my turf! Stay away!”

•I’ve always wanted to see an herbivore menacing someone (besides that Lost World scene) and shy of straight-up having someone get gored, this was a pretty cool way to do it. It makes sense that a peaceful herbivore like Sinoceratops would have to be pretty heavily provoked before it started yeeting people and destroying vehicles. At the end of the day, they’re just animals who want to be left alone– they’re just capable of making their point in a slightly more violent way. Oh, and speaking of which, I noticed that there were two new colors of Sinoceratops in this. The grey one was in the toy line, and it’s possible that it was in Fallen Kingdom too, but I’ve never seen the orange one before. I wonder if, before Wu started making hybrids, he made some recolors of his dinosaur OCs first.

•It’s cool that Darius is on the Jurassic World forums and that they’re full of Dr. Grant fans. Neat little bit of worldbuilding– I’ve thought about the pop culture surrounding JW in this universe sometimes. I wonder if there’s a dedicated group of Malcolm fans who like to troll there.

•Dr. Sattler’s column on microfossils was also a cool mention. The Lost World novel mentioned her giving long lectures on pollen microfossils, so that’s a cool callback. I also like the idea of Darius, a kid with a dinosaur obsession, excitedly reading a long-winded diatribe on microscopic pollen grains just because the lady who wrote it saw some raptors once.

•Wow, okay, they had multiple people and dinosaurs get killed just slightly offscreen. The kids thought they watched a friend die and then had to deal with the fact that they couldn’t go back to save him. People wanted horror in this, so there it is. I wondered if the killings were appropriate for a kids’ cartoon at first, but then I realized that any kid who’d be interested in this has watched at least one JP movie, and this is much better than watching two T. rexes play Lady and the Tramp with a person.

•This really didn’t shy away from the emotional stuff, either. I really didn’t expect to see a man dying of cancer in this show. It’s nothing that kids couldn’t handle, but some moments got an audible oof out of me. Just look at Brooklyn’s face when she realizes she’s about to be buried alive:

•I alternated between liking and hating Brooklyn. The whole egirl act with the constant unboxing jokes is annoying; kids could’ve enjoyed this show even without an influencer character or copious references to cell phones, regardless of what “this generation and their phones” type people might think. Having her frequently use her phone worked as a plot device, like when she snuck pictures of top-secret intel or when Sammy stole it, but it could’ve been done in a less ham-fisted way. However, I love how savage she is. She met Dr. Wu and 10 seconds later she got right under his skin:

•The kids besides Darius, and Kenji to a smaller extent, know barely anything about dinosaurs. At first I thought that was implausible, but it goes back to Claire’s line in the first JW movie– kids in this universe think dinosaurs are as common as a rhino in a city zoo, and their dinosaur awe is mostly gone. In our world, not too many teenagers are huge rhino fans, but they’d still think it was pretty cool to ride a zipline over a herd of them, so it makes sense.

•Previously, I wondered how this would fit in with the timeline of Jurassic World‘s events; I said before this came out that I wanted a map of where Indominus went on the island and at what time. I’m glad that this gave a direct answer– she attacked the camp right before killing the ACU troopers in the jungle. Since at that point, she hadn’t finely honed the art of killing yet, it makes sense that she just kinda ran up and ate those guys without sneaking at all, and then ripped a couple of buildings apart in a pure unthinking frenzy. (In JW, it was emphasized that she was scary because of her intelligence, not necessarily because of her pure strength. I’d never considered before that she’d be strong enough to literally rip apart giant metal structures. Since she’s like a bigger T. rex with better arm strength, I’m willing to tentatively believe it.) Now I just want to see where the events of the live stage show fit into that timeline.

•This may come as a shock to some of you, but I love Bumpy. I knew I would from the get-go because she’s a cute baby dinosaur, but I love her. I don’t even care that she grew absurdly fast over 3 days. I don’t care that she was included for the sole purpose of making us go aww. I love her. I love how she wiggles when she gets petted and returns Ben’s hugs, I love the little noises she makes, I love how she roars at the Indominus, I love how she runs when everyone else is running because she thinks she’s just playing with her friends. I will dutifully buy all of her merchandise and defend her to my last breath.

•I wonder how much of this was written or changed during the pandemic, because Ben’s copious use of hand sanitizer, as well as some of his dialogue, is very timely.

•Speaking of which, why didn’t anyone even try to help grab Ben’s arms when he was falling off the train? Brooklyn and Kenji were standing right behind Darius and they definitely could’ve helped. Multiple people have pointed this out on Twitter.

•I gotta say I’m disappointed that Sammy was a spy for some other company called Mantah Corp, when it would’ve been incredibly easy to have her work for Biosyn instead. That would’ve tied this in neatly with Dominion, since Biosyn will be in it. It’s possible that Mantah Corp will show up in Dominion anyway, as one of the many companies that will be getting their grubby little paws all over the dinosaur DNA that was taken from the Lockwood estate. By the way, nice choice for a name, considering Jurassic World was about a man-eating chimera-type creature.

•As cool as I think the underground river is and as much as I enjoyed that scene, it was never mentioned in any of the in-universe promotional material for the movie, like the Isla Nublar site. (There was a kayak river in the original JW movie, but it was shown to be above-ground.) It’s possible that this was a very newly developed attraction that just hadn’t opened yet, but it seemed too well-established for that. I don’t necessarily like that new attractions are being retconned into Jurassic World, because I like consistency in canon. However, since dinosaurs like Jeanie from the live show are being retconned in, that might be something I’ll have to get used to.

•Speaking of the kayak scene, it was one of my favorite parts because it was a big reference to the original Jurassic Park ride at Universal. It was a boat ride where a Parasaurolophus popped out of the water, and there was a big drop at the end. The attraction was even called River Adventure.

•Toro was a great addition overall. I’ve been wanting to see a Carnotaurus in a Jurassic movie for a while, and I was pretty disappointed by her role in Fallen Kingdom, so it was great to see her getting to do actually cool and menacing things– she deserved a spotlight. (I wish she’d been able to camouflage like in the Lost World novel, but Indominus already has that.) Plus, it’s kinda funny to think that there was another huge predator running around the island for the entirety of the JW movie, but the Indominus raised such a big stink that nobody even noticed Toro.

•My other favorite part was the Toro chase in the tunnel, in the last episode. Why was Toro so hell-bent on getting these kids, anyway? Did she not get fed that day? Was this the first environmental enrichment she’d gotten in a long time? Did the kids just piss her off a bit too much in her first scene? I’m willing to put aside these questions because that was cool as hell.

•The ending made sense (gotta set up for season 2, baby!) but the fact that the kids were all so optimistic and cheerful was kind of dissonant with the situation they were in, almost to the point of being funny. They’re still trapped on the island, and their last hope of escape for a long time just left, but it’s okay because they have each other!

•Ben is going to end up like a much more stressed-out Eric Kirby by the time Season 2 rolls around. He’ll have to forage for food and mask his scent with T. rex pee, or he’ll just run and hide in one of the Main Street buildings. Either way, I bet he regrets giving away those carob bars.

Of course, something we all wanted to see in this were references to the movies we love so much. I didn’t notice a ton (which is good– let this stand on its own!) but there were a good few. Some were obvious, like the wrecked gyrosphere and aviary from the first JW movie and the tunnels from Fallen Kingdom. Eddie, the man with arguably the worst birthday ever, was killed under a car– just like the Indominus’ first kill, right out of her enclosure, in the first JW. Brooklyn’s phone alerting the Indominus during one of the suspense scenes could’ve also been meant to evoke Grey’s phone doing the same thing, during the Gyrosphere scene.

Here are some of the references to the original trilogy that I noticed:

Must go faster!
This reminded me of Malcolm getting injured during the T. rex breakout scene.
Very similar to Lex shining her flashlight out of the car, but intentionally this time.
“We can make it if we run!”
“Well, we’re back in the car again.”
Dieter Stark’s spirit lives on.
“If we could just step aside and trust in nature, life will find a way, and surely the dozens of un-fed carnivores on this island will trust us back.”
This last one is a reference to the fact that, when I went to go buy the Camp Cretaceous Happy Meal toys, the McDonald’s workers all thought Bumpy was a turtle.

So, overall, I really enjoyed Camp Cretaceous. I love the fact that the Jurassic universe is expanding this much, and that we’re getting so much new and cool content. I’m looking forward to what the future holds, including Season 2! What do you think about the show– do you agree or disagree with me on anything? Did you notice anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

As for my non-Jurassic (or tangentially Jurassic) adventures since I last updated, here’s a few. In addition to getting my biology degree, I’ve gotten to do some real paleontology!

Those last two are microscopic snail shells that I found in some sand from the Galapagos Islands. Speaking of which, here’s a few places I’ve been over the years:

The Galapagos, where the mammals are much bigger than they were in the Mesozoic, and much less amused.
Meeting her great-great-great […]-great grandson.
This really cool T. rex exhibit in NYC!
Alcatraz, The Rock, fossil joke, etc.
I was lucky enough to go to Disney one of the last possible days that it was safe to do so.

It’s great to be back, and I’m looking forward to writing more about all of the awesome Jurassic content that we’ll surely be getting in the future. See you all soon!

No, wait, you have to look at these pictures of Bumpy before you go.

Jurassic World in Japan

Last week, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Tokyo with my boyfriend just as Fallen Kingdom was about to premiere there! Promotional material for the movie was everywhere, including posters:

20180708_190740

20180709_100821

Gashapon (basically gumball machine) keychains:

20180711_132826

Toys in UFO catcher machines:

20180708_182457

20180708_182501

A convenience store lottery where you had a shot at winning a huge Blue statue:

20180711_234049

And, my favorite of all, a Jurassic-themed cafe in Ikebukuro! I went there on my first full day in the city. The first thing I saw when I arrived on that floor of the building was this huge photo op.

20180709_115634
“Road show” just means “movie release date”. Unfortunately there was no dinosaur musical revue.

As soon as I walked into the cafe, I was greeted by this amazing life-size Blue statue!

20180709_120414
The reason so many of these pictures are so blurry is because I was so excited that I was physically incapable of holding still.

20180709_124036

20180709_124107

20180709_124142

Especially because of Blue, the decorations of the place weren’t all mind-blowing, but they were pretty thorough and the theming was well-done. There were DPG posters around the gift shop and the entrance to the sit-down area, and the restaurant itself was themed to look like a jungle, with pterodactyls and foliage hanging from the ceiling. Music from the new trilogy played, and TV screens showed menu items and clips from the trailers.

20180709_115810

20180709_121154

20180709_124154

20180709_124256

20180709_124300

They also used a few of the Mattel toys as decorations, which was probably a lot cooler to the Japanese people there than it was to me. American toys are about as uncommon in Japan as anime figures are here in America.

20180709_124041

20180709_124304

20180709_124317

We sat down and were given menu full of Jurassic-themed food. You could get a burger, curry, or some other kind of meat dish.

20180709_121317

20180709_121300

20180709_124333

For dessert, you could have a cake where you brushed away “dirt” (Oreo crumbs) to reveal some kind of dinosaur skeleton cake, a chocolate cake that looked like a volcano, a parfait, or a cake that looked like a dinosaur egg. You could also get a peach cake that was shaped like a dinosaur head.

20180709_121332

20180709_121325

Their drink menu included latte art of the pastel dinosaur designs that the cafe used for some of its merchandise, but from the first moment I knew this cafe existed, I knew that it was my destiny to drink the mosasaur juice.

20180709_122400

20180709_122423
People joke about me saying that I want the mosasaur to eat me because I love her so much. Well, joke’s on you, because I ended up drinking her.

For our main course, my boyfriend decided to get the lava-charred burger, complete with dinosaur claw marks. He describes it as “pretty lean with a lot of toppings […] a pretty standard Japanese burger aside from the presentation” and patiently allowed me to take pictures of it before eating.

20180709_122138
At least I don’t Instagram my food, right, honey?

As contrary to my usual self as it was, I decided to eat the egg with the baby dinosaur in it.

20180709_122211

The little Rexy that I brought with me looked on in horror as I committed the heinous crime of eating the child.

20180709_122229

As it turned out, the egg was made of very rich peach cake with peach jam in the very center, and the little dinosaur eye and claw were made of thin chocolate. There was some kind of fluffy chocolate icing around the edge of it, and it was surrounded by some kind of flaky cereal. They gave me a little vial of peach sauce to drizzle over it. The kids sitting next to us had the parfait and the cake that you could dig up, and I would’ve liked to try those too, but I’m glad I got what I did.

Then, of course, it was time to go to the gift shop! The cafe had a few pieces of merchandise that probably weren’t being sold anywhere else. Primarily among these were the pastel dinosaur keychains that were available in the gacha machines.

20180709_115719

20180709_115958

There were also some cool papercraft scenes from the movies available, as well as other mechandise.

20180709_120021

20180709_120026

20180709_120145

20180709_120219

20180709_120225

20180709_120336
Some Japanese baseball teams had crossover T-shirts for sale.

My favorite part was this toy display, showing off a playset and some mini figures made by Takara Tomy.

20180709_115736

So, mentioning that, here’s my JP haul from the trip! I’m sure most if not all of this is exclusive to Japan. I know the toys, coaster, and keychains are for sure.

Finally, a couple of days after I went here, Colin Trevorrow tweeted about the pop-up cafes and the cool food they serve.

I replied to him with some of what I’d seen.

Then, amazingly, he replied to me!

So I finally got the director of Jurassic World to reply to me directly.

And he said to me: “the burger.”

Fallen Kingdom Round 2

I went to see JWFK for the second time today, this time with my mom, who kept whispering “awesome… awesome… DOUBLE awesome” during the end scenes. Here are some observations I made during my second go-around. There are also lots of spoilers in this one, so don’t continue if you haven’t seen Fallen Kingdom. Seriously, go see it! Right now!

  • A few movie critics have pointed this out already, but this film was really about the artistic retelling of both classic and new archetypes. Loading the dinosaurs onto the boat was the Noah’s Ark archetype, the Indoraptor’s story was the Frankenstein archetype, and you could even say that it was a retelling of the Jurassic World story, especially with all the cinematic parallels that I pointed out in my last post. My mom said that Indoraptor looked a lot like a dragon, and I do agree that it looks more like a fantastic creature than the dinosaurs we’ve always known. In other words, the movie is closely entwined with myths.
  • Speaking of parallels, I noted at least two very distinct instances where Blue did things that paralleled Rexy– standing on top of the Indoraptor’s body and roaring (on top of dinosaur bones, just like the ending scene of the first movie) and roaring towards the town at the end. Especially with the crucial role Blue played in this movie’s plot, I’m worried that the next movie will kill off Rexy and have Blue take her place as the franchise’s centerpiece dinosaur.
  • I noticed this last time but forgot to point it out: Claire, Owen and Franklin lying on top of the cliff, watching Wheatley and the crew loading the dinosaurs onto the Arcadia, was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the Lost World scene where Malcolm’s group watched Ludlow’s crew capturing dinosaurs in the valley. Also, at the end, Rexy and the carnotaur pulled Mills apart just like Eddie Carr, and then Rexy struck her signature pose from the end of the first movie. I feel like that was a bit much, but damn, was it awesome to watch in the theater.
  • I watched for pairs of dinosaurs that were taken to the Lockwood estate, and I saw pairs of, at minimum: Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, Compsognathus, Stegosaurus, and pteranodons. There was one baby trike and at least one baby stegosaur, so clearly I was wrong about the dinosaurs being sterilized. That means that at least the herbivores will be able to breed once they’re out in the wild, and that could cause various degrees of environmental disruption depending on how quickly they’re caught. I still think the dinosaurs will be rounded up quickly enough from the wilderness, and that the next movie will go back to focusing on the problem of re-cloning dinosaurs and using them for business purposes.
  • However, I think that compies will be much harder to catch than any of the other animals, and it’s a distinct possibility that they’ll breed like rabbits and integrate into local ecosystems. They’re decomposers and scavengers, so it’ll be a lot easier for them to fit into local food chains than, say, the triceratops. And if they start spreading as quickly as I think they will, since their whole modus operandi is living in large groups, it’ll be difficult if not impossible to kill all of them off.
  • I’ve seen many idiots online dismissing FK as being “too political” or “hamfisted” because they think Gunnar Eversol was supposed to be a stand-in for Donald Trump. I’ve talked to a few fans, and our consensus was that the scene where Eversol’s hair flew up as the Indoraptor roared at him was very Trump-y, but his character overall wasn’t a Trump jab. It’s true that the “nasty woman” line was there for a reason, but I think the political references ended there, and (to paraphrase) Ian Malcolm even said that our world is being torn apart by political arguments. (I think this is another nod to his lines in the novels; there’s a line in The Lost World where he points out that humans argue over beliefs because beliefs guide behavior, which determines survival.) Also, there have always been business-minded assholes who only care about money in JP movies– Gennaro and Ludlow for instance. This is just the newest incarnation of that character.
  • Maisie definitely has something special about her that makes her closely affiliated with dinosaurs. Or at least, the movie really wanted us to know that she’s tied in with dinosaurs in a way that no one else in this trilogy is. There was one scene where she was on one side of the glass and Indoraptor was on the other, and their faces sort of merged together; and, obviously, Indoraptor is a lot more delicate and curious with her, which is even more dramatic as opposed to its usual strategy of full-on hurling itself at whatever it wants to attack. She’s a strong candidate for being an animal behaviorist and having close ties with dinosaurs, just like Owen. I’ll be annoyed if she has super-special dinosaur whisperer powers and can talk a dinosaur down from killing someone, but her linkage with dinosaurs is intriguing and I’m excited for the next movie to explore it.
  • The part about the second viewing that hit me hardest was the foreshadowing of the Maisie reveal, where Lockwood tells her that she could be her mother’s mirror image.
  • If Baryonyx was so dangerous and man-eating, why on earth did they let it run around in the Cretaceous Cruise area while the park was still running? I mean, sure, it’s probable that all the fish died out and by the time the DPG got to the park, it was just really hungry. But that was definitely not a solely fish-eating dinosaur anymore.
  • Going by paleontological accuracy, all the JW dinosaurs are pretty emaciated-looking, but Indoraptor in particular looked very skinny. When he was laying down in the cage as Wheatley looked him over, I could clearly see the outlines of his ribs. That makes me think that Mills and Wu probably starved him to keep him angry and hungry, and that’s particularly sad. When you think of Jurassic Park, you think of “scary dinosaurs coming to eat people”, but this one wasn’t just hungry because of its beastly nature. It was hungry because of abuse.
  • Blue running away from Owen at the end was clearly a cinematic parallel to Jurassic World, but it also makes sense. Remember in the cage scene in JW, where Owen warned Hoskins’ men not to shoot the raptors because “if you [shoot] these animals, they’re never gonna trust me again”? Well, that’s exactly what happened. Blue was getting close to trusting Owen again, but then she got shot. And she didn’t have a lot of close bonding time with him since then, so regardless of what their bond was like before, he’s definitely lost a lot of her trust.
  • The scene where the camera panned up to Indoraptor standing on the roof in front of the moon, with the choir singing, was stunning. If I had to choose my absolute favorite shot from the movie, that would probably be it.
  • Henry Wu isn’t entirely evil, but he does have a pretty big ego. When he talked to Zia especially, it became clear that he’s starting to get drunk on his own power. He could do all sorts of things if he didn’t have bosses like Masrani and Mills to tell him what to create. I have no doubt that his role will be bigger in the next movie, helping to clone dinosaurs for businesses and the military.
  • Wu also had a line about Blue’s DNA being pure, and for some reason, that struck me as important. Genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, I really hope that the blood transfusion doesn’t lead to anything shark-jumpy, like Rexy’s DNA integrating into her somehow, or someone extracting her blood and getting Rexy’s instead.

I still really enjoyed watching Fallen Kingdom, and I’m really going to miss it once it’s out of theaters, because a lot of it is definitely best viewed on the big screen. What did you think of it? How many times have you seen it? Let me know here or on Twitter!

Fallen Kingdom: My First Impressions

I just got back from seeing the fifth Jurassic Park movie for the very first time! I’ll write plenty more in the weeks to come, but here are my initial thoughts. There are many, many spoilers here, so DO NOT proceed if you haven’t already seen the movie. You’re really going to want to go into this one and be surprised.

  • So, about that ending: the implication, I believe, is that the third movie will feature carnivores eating people in the wild and needing to be tracked down, or at least it will in the beginning. I was too busy losing my mind over Rexy and the carnotaur to notice how many pairs there were within species and therefore how many dino species are at risk for breeding in the wild. I did at least see two+ compies and two pterosaurs out in the wild, so those at least will probably start breeding and spreading.
  • I’m glad Blue didn’t die, I’m glad Rexy didn’t die, and I’m glad they didn’t put Rexy in a zoo.
  • That said, the scene with the brachiosaur dying was absolutely brutal. Especially when it hit me that a brachiosaur standing on its hind legs is both the first and last thing we ever saw on Isla Nublar.
  • This was chock full of little references that were put there specifically for us JP fans. The shot of the compies that panned up to the trucks driving through the jungle– that was right out of The Lost World, as was the “great white hunter” line about Wheatley. Franklin saying “thanks, dad” just like Nedry was pretty funny, and his “hacking” and rebooting the park system reminded me of Lex. Owen getting dino snot all over his face was a nice callback too.
  • I’m only a little surprised that they went with Owen and Claire being parents together. I knew their romance would continue, and these movies have always been about parents, so it’s only fair that Owen and Claire would take on the role of parents to Maisie. I’m glad they didn’t continue with the “Claire needs to have maternal instincts and must learn to love kids” thing. She took care of Maisie because it was the right thing to do.
  • As far as the romance went, it surprisingly didn’t feel too forced. They were back to bickering as soon as they saw each other, and there was no sappy “stay together for survival” moment at the end. Claire sleeping on Owen was cute. The kiss felt a little forced, but tensions were running high at the moment.
  • There were a ton of cinematic parallels to Jurassic World, especially Claire approaching Owen, panning up on Claire from her heels, and Blue’s roar at the very end. I think that was done both as a poetry thing– “it rhymes” just like the Star Wars movies– but as almost a comforting thing too, showing us familiar scenes within a very unfamiliar scenario for the franchise. JW and JWFK had a lot of the same bare-bones framework, but different things happening within them.
  • Ultimately, this really felt like a transitional movie. Like I’ve been saying for a while, its job is to bridge the gap between the island plots we’ve always had until now, and whatever will take place on the mainland. The reason there were so many callbacks and parallels is because of how many new things were being done. Especially during the mansion sequences, I kept thinking just how alien it felt to have the climax of a JP movie taking place inside a building in England. But just because it felt really different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Whether this was the re-invigoration the franchise really needed, time will tell.
  • Trevorrow described JW3 as a Crichton-type science thriller, and the only way I can envision that happening is if the plot revolves around the DNA that was recovered and brought away in the suitcase at the very end. I guess they’re going to be cloning dinosaurs again– maybe even making new dinosaurs to help hunt down the ones that have escaped. I mean, they did specifically mention dinosaurs in combat. Maybe that’s still a possibility.
  • Speaking of Crichton, I loved Ian Malcolm’s quote directly from the first novel! The one about sudden change being a part of life! Though it was short, I’m extremely happy with Ian’s part in the movie. He’s giving eloquent arguments, he comes across as genuinely impassioned and not majorly traumatized, and he gives reasons for letting the dinosaurs die other than “kill ’em with fire, they’re gonna eat as many people as they can” etc.
  • My dad thinks that Maisie’s cloning brings back the possibility of human-dinosaur hybrid cloning. I don’t think that’ll happen, but I think that human cloning being introduced to the franchise is very intriguing.
  • Eli Mills, like Peter Ludlow, made me genuinely hate him as a villain. We’ve certainly never seen a JP villain straight-up murder someone with their own hands before. The shot of Lockwood’s cane shattering afterwards was a little heavy-handed but effective.
  • Having the Indoraptor killed the way it was– that was sort of underwhelming, but there was no way they’d ever top the final fight at the end of JW, so they might as well go for poignancy instead of spectacle. Having her destroy all those dinosaur models in a symbol for how her creation destroyed the paradigm of “typical” non-hybridized dinos, and then having her get impaled to death on one of those very symbols– now that was good.
  • This really brought the scale of horror from the big to small, in a very dramatic way. The big scary reveal wasn’t “someone stole some bullets and that means we could seriously all die” or “the raptors are much smarter than we thought and so we could seriously all die”. It was “cloning is a lot more powerful and insidious than we originally thought, and you were brought into this world much differently than you thought you were”. Having Mills try to talk down Claire and Owen by saying “you don’t know what she is” felt cheesy at first, but then it hit me as clever. Mills doesn’t see the dinosaurs as living creatures because they’re man-made, they’re cloned. He applies that same world view to people. Meanwhile Owen and Claire realize the inherent value of life regardless of how it was brought about. Especially with her “I had to do it, they’re alive, just like me”, Maisie is tied in with dinosaurs in a pretty fascinating way.
  • “King’s English, girl!” is how I will correct people’s grammar from now on.
  • Wu’s part blew me away. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to seeing him, but when he first appeared, yelling at Mills, I jumped for joy. I’m also glad he still has a sense of ethics (“you can’t sell this animal […] they’ll make more”) instead of being all-out villain.
  • There was a recurring motif of doors opening and closing, which was intriguing. Probably a symbol of new possibilities being opened (dinosaurs in the wild) and concepts disappearing (Isla Nublar, hybrid dinosaurs).
  • With the way the movie ended, it was pretty bold of the trailers to show both the mosasaur in the wave AND Rexy roaring at the lion.
  • That lion is so dead.
  • It’s been confirmed that there were at least two batches of raptor babies that were cloned, so Charlie being the youngest despite her name being second in the raptor pack order makes sense now.
  • Having Blue be the new Indoraptor’s mother and guiding its behavior was a particularly smart move, and it shows that Wu does acknowledge that the dinosaurs’ nurture does have a part in their behavior, and not just their nature of being meat-eating beasts.
  • Maisie reminded me a lot of Kelly with her tendency to sneak and eavesdrop, how smart she is, and the parallel of the Indoraptor sniffing her while she hid in her bed, just like the rex sniffing Kelly as she slept in her tent. That just makes its death even better– impaled on horns, just like that raptor was impaled after Kelly kicked it.
  • Indoraptor didn’t get a redemption at the end like I thought he would, and my previous point about behavior does make him more sympathetic, just not to the characters. I don’t think that negates my previous points about him creeping curiously into Maisie’s room, though. In my next viewings I’ll keep an eye out for more signs of it being curious and only acting so aggressive because of being prodded and treated like a monster.
  • Having the dinosaurs loaded onto the ship, especially after running away from the volcano in pairs, was a good Noah’s Ark parallel. It’s especially potent after the “act of God” comment.
  • The movie was pretty effective as a horror flick in the second half. It hit a lot of the same notes as monster movies, especially the part where Zia released Blue. It just didn’t scare me a lot because I’m not afraid of Indoraptor.
  • The island segment didn’t feel pandering. Having the overturned Jeep from the first movie was enough, and having the lava burning away the Jurassic Park logo was enough to get it across that we’re really seeing Nublar being destroyed forever. Seeing the brachiosaur walking through Main Street was the only moment of childlike wonder in pretty much the entire movie, and that’s okay because it’s not supposed to feel like a Spielberg movie.
  • The opening scene was gorgeous. My queen the mosasaurus killed it again and I’m so proud of her. Having both Rexy and the mosasaur attack that guy was a bit much, and I think the opening should’ve just involved the mosasaur, but it was well-shot and felt extremely Jurassic. I loved Rexy roaring at the helicopter as it left, as if to say “Get the hell out and stay out! I’ve had enough of your kind!
  • The part on the island didn’t feel like as much of a big deal as it should’ve been; I wasn’t sitting there screaming “They’re going back! We’re gonna see Rexy again!” or anything. They just got in a little plane, got in and got out. Again, that’s okay. This isn’t a movie about dinosaurs chasing people on an island. Especially in the two brachiosaur scenes, there was enough emotional impact. I want to say it didn’t feel like a complete enough goodbye to Isla Nublar, but we got that in the last movie.
  • Franklin was genuinely hilarious (“We’re not compatible”) and while he’s clearly supposed to be The Millennial and the self-insert for young people in the audience, he was still fun to watch. I liked his unironic “I’m in”, like a 90s movie hacker.
  • Zia was also a genuinely enjoyable character, and her banter with Franklin was great. The “nasty woman” line was a bit forced, but I guess you gotta put at least one timely joke in these things.
  • I’m going to have a field day doing animal behavior analysis about the baby raptor squad scenes. Delta seemed to have a well-honed killing instinct from a pretty young age, and it’s weird that she’d attack her caretaker when he showed weakness. Also, obviously, those scenes were cute as hell.
  • I’m sort of worried that they’re making the dinosaurs too anthropomorphic, with Blue and the Indoraptor’s distinct personalities and the whole “she shows empathy” thing. Raptors were established to be pretty smart in JP3, but Blue and the Indoraptor are very human-like (especially the way Indoraptor smiles before he kills Wheatley) in a possibly unprecedented way.
  • There is now canonical precedent for a JW rip-off movie called Jurassic Attack: Dinosaurs in Vegas. I’ll probably write that fanfic at some point.

Well, overall, I enjoyed Fallen Kingdom. I think it shouldn’t have been advertised as “THE BIGGEST ACTION-ADVENTURE BLOCKBUSTER OF THE SUMMER” and it’s a lot more enjoyable when it’s viewed as a quiet, creepy, TLW-spiritual-successor, artistic reimagining of the Jurassic franchise. It’s very much a transition between the JP movies we’ve always known, and the future. A lot of individual moments made me cry and scream, but the overall picture is haunting and full of possibilities. Be sure to let me know in the comments and on Twitter what you thought of the movie, and also, go on social media and thank the cast, crew and director for the beautiful job they did!

We got to enjoy a new Jurassic Park movie today, and I’m so grateful I got to watch it in the company of the greatest and most supportive fandom I have ever been in. Thank you to all of my readers, followers and friends. You’ve taken these dinosaur movies and used them to build something absolutely magical.

I Want To Believe in the DPG

With only 4 days until the USA release of Fallen Kingdom, everyone’s getting excited! A lot has been happening in the JWFK marketing and promotion campaign, and we’re seeing new stuff every day, like this behind-the-scenes featurette:

What really caught my attention was the Extinction Now twitter account, which takes the opposing viewpoint to the Dinosaur Protection Group and advocates for non-intervention on Isla Nublar. Fans have taken part in the debate between the two groups as each has made their case, and it really got me thinking. Here, from the point of view of someone in-universe, are my thoughts on the issue.

 

There has been a lot of debate recently over the dinosaurs that once populated Jurassic World. Isla Nublar is under threat of an imminent volcanic eruption from Mount Sibo, which would almost certainly kill all of the island’s occupants; that we can all agree on. But disagreements arise as to what should be done with the dinosaurs that tourists used to fly across the world to see. The Dinosaur Protection Group, led by Claire Harding (former Operations Manager of Jurassic World) is working to rescue the dinosaurs and bring them to the mainland. Extinction Now, of which Dr. Ian Malcolm is a notable advocate, says that we should allow nature to take its course and that the dinosaurs should go extinct again.

Everyone is taking sides on the issue, especially on social media. As a paleontologist and animal rights advocate, naturally I’ve formed an opinion, but it’s not entirely within the dichotomy. From purely an animal rights perspective, I believe that the Dinosaur Protection Group has good intentions, but there might be unforeseen consequences for their actions. With a sizeable budget and complete dedication to dinosaur welfare, their plan of dinosaur conservation might be achievable; however, this is highly unlikely. Extinction Now, on the other hand, seems entirely misguided except on one or two points. The way things are now, there seems to be no perfect answer to the Isla Nublar question.

First I should establish that, in my opinion, the dinosaurs from Jurassic World do have a right to live. Regardless of how they were brought about, there is a population of living, breathing animals that should not be left to certain death by volcanic eruption. As the DPG is fond of saying, we brought these dinosaurs here and it is our obligation not to abandon them. However, these dinosaurs do not have an obligation to reproduce or be cloned again. I believe that conservation of the dinosaurs themselves is ethically necessary, but there is no urgent reason why they should be allowed to breed, and it would be outright wrong to clone more dinosaurs or create more dinosaur species. This is purely from a standpoint of concern about how the next generation (and this one, which I’ll discuss shortly) of dinosaurs could be exploited or forced into an inhumane existence.

The Indominus Rex and the Jurassic World Incident that it caused are examples of how human greed can cause dinosaurs to suffer. Indominus was an animal created purely for entertainment purposes. When Dr. Henry Wu patched together its genome, he didn’t consider the animal’s welfare or quality of life—he only wanted to make it “bigger and louder with more teeth”. The results of this are well-known, and animal behaviorists who have evaluated the incident agree that part of the animal’s aggressive behavior was due to its extremely inhumane environment. Just for profit, Jurassic World was willing to create a dinosaur with serious abnormalities that would have made its life difficult if not outright cause it to suffer (for instance, its teeth grew directly out of its skull and therefore couldn’t be replaced if they were damaged, a serious issue for a large carnivore) and to raise that animal in total isolation. If given the chance, there is certainly at least one other bioengineering company that would do the same if it could make a quick buck from the practice. If resurrecting dinosaurs and creating hybrids is a practice available to anyone (since InGen is now defunct, its patent on its dinosaurs may no longer have any power) there are many people who would use that technology to create dinosaurs which would make them plenty of money but would also live in pain. Although there are scientists out there who would clone dinosaurs out of pure scientific interest and with absolutely no greed in mind, those are certainly not the only people who would take advantage of the technology.

I, along with many other animal rights activists, believe that there is no ethical way to raise an animal in a lab for study purposes in the first place. Therefore, cloning dinosaurs even for pure scientific research would be wrong. Jurassic World’s dinosaurs are still adjusting to the world they live in now, which is drastically different from the Mesozoic environment that their various species adapted to live in. The ethics of resurrecting them in the first place is questionable, but it would definitely be wrong to create dinosaurs just to use them as lab rats, even to learn more about the behaviors and physiology of the original dinosaurs that they were cloned from. Not only was there already a long window of time to study the dinosaurs while they still lived in captivity in Jurassic World, but as Dr. Alan Grant puts it, they still are “genetically-engineered theme park monsters” at the end of the day. They were created to pander to the public’s idea of what dinosaurs looked like, and there is only so much we can learn from animals that are, at best, a rough imitation of how their ancient counterparts looked and acted. Paleontologists can only learn so much from these hybrid creatures, and that small amount that hasn’t been learned about dinosaurs from them—is that enough to sacrifice their rights for? The DPG has discussed how much science could learn from Nublar’s dinosaurs, but it doesn’t seem to realize that using the dinosaurs for even pure scientific study could be a violation of their animal rights.

As you can see, my objections to dinosaur conservation are based around the idea that cloning more dinosaurs would inevitably lead to more exploitation—they could be used with no regard for their welfare (in the military, to make money for corporations, in experiments to create hybrids, etc.), or for scientific study which could still exploit them and which would ultimately prove futile. The DPG has stated that they plan to keep the rescued dinosaurs in a private nature preserve, owned by Dr. Benjamin Lockwood, on the mainland. In theory, this would be an excellent way to allow the animals to live undisturbed. I think that this plan is too idealistic. For one, there would be plenty of ways to steal the dinosaurs’ DNA, which would allow for cloning and lead to the consequences I discussed above. If one worker for a bioengineering company snuck onto the preserve and took a syringe of dinosaur blood, their company would then have a full dinosaur genome and therefore free range to clone that dinosaur for any purpose. It’s doubtful that this proposed nature preserve has the full security to ensure that no one can get their hands on any of the dinosaurs’ DNA.

Also, some of the dinosaurs have the potential for very long lifespans. Will the DPG and its supporters maintain their gusto for dinosaur rights in ten years? Twenty? The costs of keeping so many different dinosaurs on a preserve, especially one run by a not-for-profit organization, will surely run high. It would be incredibly easy for the place to be turned into a zoo or other attraction just to keep up the cost of maintenance, or simply if the DPG or its benefactors decide to stop sitting on a tourism gold mine. The dinosaurs wouldn’t necessarily be exploited in that scenario, but they would essentially be in a Jurassic World 2.0. Whether Jurassic World itself was exploitative of its dinosaurs is a question for another time, but locking them up in another dino-zoo is at least questionable. Once the DPG has secured their dinosaurs (which is presumptuous in the first place, considering the history of dinosaur escapes in Jurassic Park and World) they may not decide to keep them hidden away forever. It should also be noted that the organization hasn’t made their stance clear on whether the dinosaurs would be allowed to breed or whether they would clone more. As I stated earlier, I think these dinosaurs have the right to exist but not to reproduce, and production of more dinosaurs could lead to problems like environmental disruption, which Extinction Now uses as a main selling point.

As for Extinction Now, their fearmongering that rescuing Nublar’s dinosaurs could somehow lead to humanity’s extinction is completely misguided. (Keep in mind that I’m talking on a global scale. EN’s assertion that the San Diego Incident could “happen again” in the event of a large dinosaur breakout is not entirely unfounded.) The only way that carnivorous dinosaurs could replace humans at the top of the food chain would be if their populations were able to grow exponentially from the tiny numbers they have now, and if those populations became fitter for their environments than humans are. As I stated, dinosaurs evolved in a completely different era than the one they live in now, and even if there were several breeding populations of each carnivore species in several different places, they would still have a long way to go in order to be fully adapted to today’s world, let alone replace mankind. The fact that their genes were tampered with in the cloning process would only make it harder for them to remain fit in the face of today’s evolutionary pressures. In other words, it’s ridiculous to think that our species will be extinguished and a new age of dinosaurs will begin if Nublar’s dinosaurs are brought to the mainland.

However, the idea of environmental disruption caused by the introduction of dinosaur populations could prove to be an issue. Herbivorous dinosaurs like Triceratops consume a lot of plant matter, and if herds of herbivores were ever introduced into our ecosystems (through an escape or by the DPG’s own hand) it could have a huge impact on the animal populations living there. The DPG says that dinosaurs can adjust to new habitats with minimum disruption, but having a bunch of huge, heavily-armored eating machines move into a rainforest could cause some serious issues. There’s a point where we should evaluate whether conserving dinosaurs is more important than conserving existing species. Extinction Now is correct in saying that dinosaur conservation might end up harming existing species—as long as the dinosaurs are on the mainland, there will always be the possibility that they’ll break out and lead to environmental disruption—but that species would certainly not be us.

So if the DPG and Extinction Now both have flawed plans as to what to do with the dinosaurs, then what should be done? The answer isn’t clear-cut. I believe that the most ethical solution would be to transport all of the dinosaurs from Nublar to a more secure island, possibly Isla Sorna, another island in the Los Cinco Muertes chain, or somewhere that human intervention could be limited. Maybe only paleo-veterinarians that would help maintain the dinosaurs’ quality of life would be allowed in. Even that plan isn’t perfect, though—as with Isla Sorna, poaching and trespassing would be a threat to the animals’ safety. But at least it would limit the possibility of people with inhumane intentions from getting to the dinosaurs, and it would be a lot tougher to make the place open to the public in the future.

I want to believe that the Dinosaur Protection Group’s idea of a peaceful existence for Jurassic World’s dinosaurs can perfectly come true. I think that the dinosaurs should definitely be rescued and brought to a safe place. I just have a hard time believing that there are no flaws in the organization’s plan and that everyone involved will have perfect intentions forever. Things could go very wrong if they manage to bring dinosaurs to the mainland. At the same time, I don’t follow Extinction Now’s idea that dinosaur conservation would be purely catastrophic. Instead of the solution being framed in black and white terms, I propose that all those concerned for dinosaur rights should work together to find a way to preserve all of these animals without allowing them to be further exploited or to harm the environment around them. Somehow, we can make a way for man and dinosaur to coexist.

While you’re waiting for the movie to come out worldwide, make your thoughts known on Twitter– tag the DPG and Extinction Now and let them know where you stand! Both accounts frequently respond to fans!

Jurassic Park’s 25th Anniversary

25 years ago today, our favorite movie first appeared in theaters! Fans have been putting together tributes all day, so here are my contributions to the celebration. Photography, as part of my ongoing Jurassic June project:

And a short fanfiction about the time that’s gone by. Here it is:

The sun is beginning to go down. Once, this would have meant that the people would be leaving soon, and that she would finally be allowed some peace and quiet. She’s free to walk around for as long as she wants now, but old habits are hard to break.

Since the sun began to dip lower today, she’s felt that restless buzzing in the back of her mind that tells her it will begin to rain soon. She glances upwards and sees dark clouds beginning to gather. Tonight she’ll need to stay somewhere safe and covered. The canopy of trees don’t provide enough shelter, and she despises waking up on the soggy ground. There are a few structures with enough cover, but most of them aren’t tall enough for her, and the others are the crumbling remains of prisons. The ones on the lower end of the island still have their fences up, still sparking with occasional bursts of electricity and topped with wire that slices like teeth. Those won’t do, and she is far above places like that now anyway.

Though she knows the layout of her home by heart, she finds it easiest to follow the path of the track that once carried vehicles—like armored dinosaurs, almost, but much more effort to take down—through the park to gawk at her. As she passes the embankment that she was once contained to, she notes that almost none of the metal from the former fence structure is visible anymore. The platform which used to deliver her only source of food has been entirely reclaimed by plant life. After she was freed the first time, she tried to destroy her cage in a fit of wrath, but the place barely interests her anymore. That captivity is becoming more of a distant memory day by day, year by year.

If it weren’t for the track, it would seem like this place has never been anything but a jungle, save for a few remaining details. Atop an old, moss-covered red and black sign, a group of compies is gnawing at the half-eaten body of a hypsilophodon; the little green creatures instantly scatter when they see her coming, but she has no interest in their meager prey. Her mind flickers back to the initial scope of the island she did when she first got the chance to demarcate her territory, trying to remember which dinosaur was once kept in this area, but the effort proves futile just as quickly. The old occupant is more than likely gone, lost to time and buried under layers of moss and earth, in the process of returning to the island that nurtured it.

Finally she reaches the stagnant pond in front of the giant grey building, its ceiling falling in and its sides draped in ivy, and knows she’s reached the place. There’s a front door with a stone arch above it, a carving of her skeleton adorning the top, one of the humans’ only mockeries that has refused to succumb to nature through all this time. That entrance is too small, so she heads around to the larger hole on the other side. Sniffing around as she goes, she ascertains that no one has been here in a fair amount of time, and no one will bother her as she rests. At the back of the building, she ducks her head through the gap in the walls and enters the darker, cooler area that has become almost a miniature jungle within a jungle.

The deep orange rays of the sunset shine in through the high windows, and she can still see the ruins that litter the floor. She comes here only occasionally, and each time she sees the progression of its decay. Bones still litter the floor, both the remains of her enemies and the ones that the humans once displayed with such hubris, but they’re just more debris to step over now. The smell of death dissipated from them a long time ago. The stairs remain, and she remembers that they provide excellent shade; grunting with the effort of twisting into a comfortable position, a reminder that her body isn’t as lithe as it used to be, she lowers herself onto her side and rests her head on a patch of ferns. She sighs, stretches her tail out, adjusts a little. The smell of the place brings a trace of a distant memory.

Though far away now, the first time she came to this building, it was the day of her greatest conquest; after having just been freed, she asserted her place on the island by taking out parts of herbivore herds, a hunt that had culminated here. The scars on her snout have long since ceased to hurt, and sometimes she even forgets they’re there. But here, in the place of their origin, they feel once again like trophies. As cunning as those little raptors were, in the end they were no match for her ruthless final attack. That was also how she secured her place as the top predator, the most feared and respected. Even her recent defeat of the unusual white creature didn’t make her soar the way that day did. It just doesn’t carry the same glory.

Time passes while she’s lost in thought, and soon the light is low, another day well-lived. As it grows dark, the jungle sounds from outside become a lull, and the peace that she came here for descends upon her. Her mind doesn’t carry much of a capacity for measuring time, but in the twilight moments as her eyelids get lower and lower, it occurs to her just how long has passed. The building is in ruins, her face is gaunt and grey, and generations of dinosaurs have come and gone. The weight of the years descends comfortingly on her. She has been on this island for as long as she can remember, and once either she or it is gone, it will have been permanently altered by her presence. She carries the weight of so many years on her shoulders, and it has been longer than she can comprehend. Now, finally, it is time for her to rest.

Happy 25th birthday, Jurassic Park! I hope all my readers are enjoying the celebration as much as I am.

Fallen Kingdom First Reactions (No Spoilers)

Fallen Kingdom came out just a few hours ago in the United Kingdom, so lucky JP fans there have gotten to experience the movie a full two weeks ahead of the rest of us. Here are some of the spoiler-free immediate reactions to the film.

Critic reactions seem to vastly differ from JP fan reactions, which frankly doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s currently at 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, with some of the top reviews asking totally original questions like Robbie Collin’s “Exactly why would anyone visit a dinosaur-infested island for a fifth time, when all four previous excursions had ended in limb-gobbling pandemonium?” Truly we know we can value the insightful opinion of someone so well-educated in JP matters and who obviously paid such attention to the plot of the movie. Some reviews also give tantalizing hints, like Johnny Oleksinski’s “In making even the most vicious creatures more than just hungry, hungry dinos, the aging franchise has rediscovered its inner child” which I believe supports my Indoraptor-as-sympathetic-character theory. Metacritic is even less kind, giving the movie a 54%. A lot of the reviews on that site are the same as the ones posted on Rotten Tomatoes, so there’s not much to say about it, but one part of one review jumped out at me” Erik Kohn saying that “Wheatley refers to one of our heroes as a “nasty woman””. Oh… oh dear.

However, JP fans have generally never let bad reviews of the sequels ruin our enjoyment, and we’ve even started calling publications out on their BS when they trash the series for weak reasons, most notably in the case of Screenrant’s notorious JP articles. (Apparently they’re eating their words, though, because their site gives the movie a 4 out of 5.) So let’s see what our fellow fans have to say!

So, as you can see, fan reactions range from mostly positive to overwhelmingly positive. It seems like this one was made for fans first and foremost, or at least it happens to have a lot in it that most people think is cheesy but JP fans will love. After all the rave reviews, I’m very excited to see it for myself! Oh, and for those in the UK, we kindly request that you not share any spoilers.

Jurassic World Alive, Day 1

Today was the worldwide release of Ludia’s Pokemon Go-like augmented reality game, Jurassic World Alive! Canadian JP fans have been able to play the game for months, but there was a lot about the game that I didn’t know and that I got to experience for the first time today.

My game began with Claire personally congratulating me on joining the DPG and helping them with their conservation efforts.

Screenshot_20180529-133652

This message of conservation immediately became ironic when I realized that the game requires you to capture dinosaurs by literally putting out drone strikes on them, infrared heat signatures and all.

Screenshot_20180529-133845

Screenshot_20180529-133838

Granted, you’re not killing the dinosaurs– you just drop darts on them (while they try to run away from you) to capture their DNA, which you then use to create those same dinosaurs in your lab. It’s the same principle as the arcade shooting game that came out along with the first JW– you’re not really shooting the dinos, you’re just firing tranquilizer darts at them!

Screenshot_20180529-133912

Presumably you’re also cloning these dinosaurs in your lab for conservation purposes, which of course has nothing to do with the movies’ ethical questions about dinosaur cloning in labs. Most of the dinosaurs I saw today required 50 DNA to create, and the amount of DNA you collect from them depends on how well your drone attack aim in the DNA collection process goes. You get about 10 seconds to shoot at each dino, and targets appear on different parts of its body as you shoot; the closer to the center of the target, the more DNA. A perfect hit gets you 12 DNA, so if you’re an amazing shot, you could theoretically get a dinosaur in one turn with 5 or 6 darts. It usually took me two or three turns per dino, though. Also, these counts are by species and not individual animal, so if you get 20 DNA on a raptor, your next raptor will already have 20 DNA towards it. This especially helps with rare dinos, which we’ll get to in a moment.

There’s a really amazing variety of dinosaurs to capture. Here are most of the ones I saw on my outing today.

Screenshot_20180529-133958

Screenshot_20180529-140507

Screenshot_20180529-140733

I really and truly love that they included so many prehistoric reptiles, synapsids, etc. These animals also have some really gorgeous designs that I would buy a toy of in an instant.

Screenshot_20180529-141407
I didn’t say I wouldn’t feel uneasy with some of them staring at me from my shelf, though.

It’s fantastic that these creatures are getting exposure in the public eye and a place in the JP canon. It’d be cool to see them as inhabitants of the fan-speculated non-dinosaur JP parks, even in fan works. (An aquatic Paleozoic park, a jungle-filled Mesozoic park, and a wintry Cenozoic park side by side. Make it happen.) On the other hand, now we’ll never be able to convince people that animals like Nundasuchus aren’t dinosaurs.

Screenshot_20180529-141156

Screenshot_20180529-152945

 

Screenshot_20180529-141826

Screenshot_20180529-140521

Screenshot_20180529-140536

Euplocephalus is to JWA as Pidgey is to Pokemon Go: as common as dirt. Stegosaurs are also incredibly common, but they don’t appear to move in herds as much as Euplocephalus does. You’d think that dinosaurs that appear more often in the JP movies would be the ones that showed up the most, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not so far in my area. I saw maybe two trikes the whole time I was out, and in contrast, this is just one small part of my town:

Screenshot_20180529-152310

Screenshot_20180529-152336

As you can see, I only caught wind of two rare dinosaurs today, and they require a lot more DNA to capture than the common ones. I saw no indication of Rexy anywhere I went, so I’m not sure about her rarity level yet, although I’m sure it’s fairly high.

Screenshot_20180529-153021

Screenshot_20180529-160209

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the game has several feathered theropods in it (not Velociraptor, only ones that have never been in the JP canon before). Some of them are more sparsely feathered than others, but it’s a notable inclusion, especially alongside this feathery therizinosaur toy that was recently leaked:

I even got to fight one of them, which brings me to the battle segment of the game. You get to use dinosaurs in battles that you haven’t captured yourself, or at least you do at first. As you gain rank and evolve your dinosaurs (using coins) you’ll be able to assemble your own elite dinosaur fight club.

 

Screenshot_20180529-151235

Screenshot_20180529-155952

Screenshot_20180529-160017

Each dinosaur has special moves, which obviously get better depending on the dinosaur’s health and ranking. I am certifiably terrible at video games, and I found it pretty easy to learn how to do battles, especially with the recharging system that keeps you from doing certain attacks more than once every few turns, and therefore leaves you pretty often with only one attack option. I’ll admit that I’m much more interested in collecting dino babies than I am in making them hurt each other, so I probably won’t participate in this part of the game very much. The game allows you to do dino battles with other players in your area, but since my town isn’t exactly full to the brim with JP fans, I just fought the AI today.

And speaking of location: I live in a college town and therefore an area with a lot of Pokemon Go activity, so there were plenty of dinos around for me to catch, and plenty of supply drops, which allow you to replenish your darts and coins. I took a drive out into the neighboring town and the concentration of both decreased, but there was still a decent amount. However, my boyfriend who lives near a major US city played today and said there were barely any dinosaurs in his area. I found that pretty weird, but it’s still day one after all, so there’ll probably be more game activity in densely-populated areas as more people join. The prevalence of activity in my small college town makes me think that data from Pokemon Go influenced the amount of dinosaurs and stops in certain areas, which would definitely make sense as well. I’ll be going out of town a few times in the next few months, so I’ll eventually see what the situation is like in different areas.

At the end of the day, this was my team of completed dinos:

Screenshot_20180529-162417

I had a pretty great game experience. Again, this is probably skewed by where I live, but there were a lot of places in the game to stop, all of which were close enough that I didn’t have to do a ton of walking, but far apart enough to get me moving. It’s very easy to learn and beginner-friendly, and you can spend exactly as much time playing as you want, without feeling obligated to check on the app when you’re not going out anywhere.

That was my game experience. My overall experience doesn’t reflect on the actual app, but Ludia chose a very rainy day to release it. I spent about half an hour in a building in the rain with a dinosaur, which sounds familiar somehow:

And on the subject of my experiences, this weekend was an anime convention called Momocon. Although Jurassic Park can only technically be considered an anime, it was still well-represented.

 

 

Ouch, My Heart

First things first: a new Fallen Kingdom TV spot just came out, and it has A VERY SPOILERY SCENE IN IT WHICH YOU SHOULD NOT WATCH IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED BY EVEN ONE MAJOR MOMENT IN FALLEN KINGDOM. People have been saying for a while that JWFK’s three trailers have revealed basically every part of the movie, and if Universal heard those complaints, they interpreted them in the totally wrong direction. You have been warned:

Yeah, that’s Rexy in a zoo next to a lion, all right. That’s a gorgeous shot contrasting two different types of apex predators, showing the entirely new paradigm created by dinosaurs living on the mainland. It’s also the kind of thing we’ve been expecting to see from this new trilogy for a while– when it was first announced that Fallen Kingdom would involve dinosaurs living on the mainland, I thought the movie would begin with a group of schoolchildren seeing herbivorous dinosaurs at the zoo. Yep, it’s poetic and beautiful, and it sure would’ve been nice to see it for the first time in the movie theater.

This is shown after the previously-seen shots of Rexy being transported to the mainland by the Bad Guys (TM), so we’re probably meant to assume that this happens before the whole Indoraptor incident, and maybe as a precursor to this scene:

Untitled

However, with the bright lighting that contrasts the moody color choices of the second half of the movie, and with the majestic feeling it evokes, my guess is that this shot is at the very end of the movie. For whoever’s in charge of Rexy’s fate, putting her in a zoo where she’ll be taken care of is a profitable and somewhat safe, although incredibly undignified, retirement for her; maybe the DPG fights for the dinosaurs to be put in peaceful, controlled environments after they escape the fate of being sold off. Jurassic World ended with a shot of Rexy roaring off a cliff, so this would be a good cinematic parallel to end its sequel with. It would end the movie by setting the stage for the next film to be entirely about dinosaurs being integrated into modern society. With the broken fence behind Rexy and her classic roar, this could be a tribute to the classic sequence in the first JP movie, and therefore the final heartrending tribute to the original series before everything goes totally off the rails in JW3. Yes, I think this would be an excellent and touching (cinematically, I mean; I know I can speak for all of us when I say we do not want our queen put in the zoo) way to end Fallen Kingdom. Sure would’ve been nice to experience it for the first time when we actually see the movie. Yep, suuuuuuure would’ve been nice.

Speaking of TV spots, here, watch your favorite raptor get totally slammed by Shark-Jump-Osaurus:

Blue will make it out of this alive, right? Right? Right???!

While we’re getting depressed, I should mention that rumors abound that the Jurassic Park ride in Hollywood may be closed for refurbishment later this year. Even if you’re not like me and you don’t have a serious attachment to the way the ride is now, its closure will be sad for any JP fans visiting during that time, and the growing theme park industry trend of replacing animatronics with screens and projections doesn’t bode well for any ride that’s undergoing a major renovation. Of course, Universal parks are also known for top-notch quality in the rides they invest a lot of time and money into, so we’ll have to wait and see. They had just better not replace the giant T. rex animatronic at the end of the ride. She deserves to keep terrifying children for as long as her parts can hold together.

Finally, it’s been confirmed that Jurassic World 3 will have no hybrid dinosaurs in it. Continuing with some ideas that I’ve written about on this blog before, I wrote a thread about why I think that is: