Is This A Dinosaur Resurgence?

I love dinosaurs. I love going to the cinema. However, combining the two often leads to disappointment (i.e. dinosaurs in the movie, not running amok in the multiplex) of one sort or another. I’m not talking about animated dinosaurian offerings – those are … different, and you can’t expect 100% scientific accuracy from Disney’s Dinosaur or The Land Before Time.

However, the Jurassic Park films were pretty accurate for their day. Well … sort of. The concept of feathered dromaeosaurs wasn’t accepted until the late 1990s (although restorations of feathered dinosaurs appeared in 1975) so perhaps one can excuse Michael Crichton for including them as such in his original book as it was published in 1990 with the movie appearing in 1993. Despite this, the overall image of dinosaurs as avian, active, intelligent creatures was spot on.

In the 20 years since JP was released, dinosaurs have cropped up a few times in film – although the less said about CarnosaurRaptor Island and Land of the Lost the better – but we seem to have had a slew of mainstream movies featuring them recently. Is a resurgence in dino-love on the way?

In late 2013 Walking With Dinosaurs The 3D Movie was released. The budget was around US$80 million and has taken less than US$125 million since its release in December.

win-walking-with-dinosaurs-the-3d-movie-merchandise_1386598403_bannerWhilst it was agreed that the effects and cinematography were stunning, the vacuous scripting for the voiceovers ruined what could have been an amazing cinematic experience. Originally, the film was to be produced without narration or voiceover. 20th Century Fox executives believed that it needed voiceovers so the audience could ‘connect’. Somewhat patronising to the youngsters the movie was aimed at, I think, and something that backfired.

WWD wasn’t the first dinosaur movie to end up with voices. Both Dinosaur and The Land Before Time were originally conceived with little or no dialogue work, but both ended up having them inserted to make them “commercially viable”.

The trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction exploded upon the internet in recent days, confirming that alongside the Transformers themselves, the Dinobots would make an appearance.

So we have Grimlock (Optimus Prime astride a robotic T.rex??!!) and Swoop (or Strafe – who was not a Dinobot). Will we be seeing Slag, Sludge, Snarl and Paddles?

The Transformers film series is currently the 12th highest grossing film series ever (US$2.7 billion) so the inclusion (or not) of dinosaur-related robots probably wasn’t a decision taken by Michael Bay to increase revenue but they are there nevertheless.

(Out of interest, the JP franchise is the 17th highest grossing series with US$2.02 billion. Harry Potter is top of the list with over US$7.7 billion.)

Recently we’ve also had confirmation that the next film in the Jurassic Park franchise is to be released in June 2015. Jurassic World will star Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

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Its nice to see that, 12 years after JP3 was released, development hell has been left behind and we’ll get a new JP story. It amuses me somewhat that much has been made that the director, Colin Treverrow, said “the film will take place 22 years after the events of the first film”. Um, that would be … set nowadays then.

Much has also been said about a Tweet he made last year:

Uh-huh. As a dino fan I find it slightly distressing that this is his stance. However, there is continuity to think of – none of the other films featured feathered (non-avian) dinosaurs. JP3 gave a crispy nod to it through the introduction of small … quills on the back of the skull. Plus, the velociraptors looked nothing like, well, velociraptors (I’ll give you Utahraptor if you like – Deinonychus at a push) regardless of their nudity. So perhaps that is the continuity line he is not willing to cross.

No other details about the dinosaurs to be featured are known – although in April 2013 paleontologist Jack Horner stated that a “new” creature will appear (presumably new-to-the-franchise rather than new-to-science, but you never know).

The original JP movies inspired generations of children to become paleontologists. Will JP4 have the same effect?

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For the sake of completeness I should mention the upcoming Pixar film – The Good Dinosaur – due for release in late 2015.

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TV hasn’t escaped the presence of dinosaurs in recent years either – from Walking With Dinosaurs to Planet Dinosaur the small screen has played host to a number of documentary series. No news as yet regarding any fresh prehistoric series’ coming our way, but perhaps given the recent resurgence of these amazing beasties, something will be along soon.

I’ll also leave you with this: The Worst Dinosaurs Of All Time.

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