Yet Another Shot to the Franchise: Jurassic Why?

AP Photo/Sam McNeil

Full disclosure: I love dinosaurs. Ever since I was about three, according to my parents, I was dino-crazy. My father used to brag about my being able to describe the differences between the Ornithischia and the Saurischia and name example species of each before I went to kindergarten. Today, my preschool grandson Bubba (having two grandsons nicknamed Bubba and Moose certainly does my redneck cred no harm) is likewise dino-crazy, and he has spent many happy hours with Grandpa watching dinosaur videos.

And boy, are there a lot of great dino-mentaries available for viewing today.

So you can imagine, when "Jurassic Park" first came out in 1993, I was right there to see it. But while I am admittedly dino-crazy, I am also educated in biology, and so many parts of that movie were shockingly bad. From the "Underpants Gnomes" theory of genetic engineering (1. Extract DNA, 2. ???, 3. Dinosaur!) to the awful dinosaur models (Velociraptors were feathered and only about the size of a turkey, to name just one), there was so much about that movie that was just wrong. But that didn't stop Speilberg and company from coming out with the awful JP2, the even worse JP3, which was watchable only because of William H. Macy's deadpan humor throughout, and then on into the "Jurassic World" series, which doubled down on the near Star Trek-level pseudoscience BS. 

And now Scarlett Johansson has signed on for "Jurassic World 4."

Scarlett Johansson is on board for Jurassic World 4 and was surprised with a message from Jeff Goldblum.

During an appearance on the Today show, Johansson was greeted with a message from Goldblum with some sound advice.

“Dr. Johansson, this is Jeff Goldblum,” he said in a video message played by the NBC morning show. “Here’s what I want to say to you. This I know: Scarlett will find a way. Don’t get eaten, unless you want to.” 

Goldblum signed off by blowing a kiss to Johansson and saying, “I love you.” 

Scarlett Johansson will, I admit, make an interesting addition to the franchise, as her tenure in the Marvel films as well as the great "Ghost in the Shell" adaptation have set her up as a decent action-movie actress, although it's not clear what her role will be in the upcoming dino-film. She was reportedly willing to run the craft table, if necessary, to be involved; apparently, she loves dinosaurs that much.

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But this franchise has arrived at the point where the most obvious question is, "Why?" The science, frankly, is awful, and it wasn't until halfway through the "Jurassic World" films that the primary genetic engineer, Dr. Henry Wu, offered a hand-waving explanation as to why, claiming he made them, according to spec, not according to what they probably looked like back when - in other words, "genetically engineered theme park monsters."

Granted, it's still a blockbuster film series, and the latest edition will probably bring in big audiences, especially with AAA-lister Johanssen involved. But there are just so many better options out there for the people who are, like me, dino-crazy. One of the best is the BBC's recent two-parter, "Prehistoric Planet."

 Then there's the Netflix series "Life on Our Planet," which was fair - it includes dinosaurs but also explores prehistoric critters before and after the dinosaurs, although it has rather fewer critters and rather more explanation than I'd prefer, and the last episode goes all climate-preachy, which I found annoying. But what critters they did present, all of them were quite well done.
 There are many more, and even a cursory search of the video site of your choice will find some surprisingly good amateur productions. 

Lots of people love dinosaurs, and it's easy to see why; they are big, they are charismatic, and it's hard to wrap your head around something like a T-rex, a five-ton monster that can bite through a car, or a triceratops, a creature the size of a garage with swords on its face. And how about a sauropod, an animal the size of a good-sized office building?

We have our modern-day megafauna, of course, but a dino could be many times larger than an elephant. It's hard to imagine what seeing one in real life would have been like, but with some of these better dino-mentaries, you can at least get a glimpse as to what paleontologists think they may have been like, based on the ever-increasing troves of evidence.

"Jurassic World 4" is expected to be released sometime in 2025. I won't go see it in the theater - in part because the nearest theater is a 45-minute drive away, but mostly because I am afraid that this will suffer from the same problems as all the other movies in the series. But I will probably check it out once it's available on streaming services, and I expect that when that happens, I'll sit down with my grandson Bubba and take a gander.

Because, what the heck, dinosaurs.



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