A Brave New (Jurassic) World

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In "Jurassic World," which features the Indominous rex, viewers can notice a statue of John Hammond at the entrance to the park, which director Colin Trevorrow said was meant to honor the late Richard Attenborough. MOVIESTILLSDB

This article, along with others celebrating the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking franchise, is featured in Newsweek's Special Edition: Jurassic Park.

Universal Studios just released the first trailer for Jurassic World, the latest film in the blockbuster Jurassic Park series.

The film builds on the success of the dinosaur-busting trilogy Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001), which collectively grossed nearly $1 billion, according to IMDb estimates.

In an interview with Slashfilm.com, the new film’s director, Colin Trevorrow, said he wanted to portray a world in which the idea of living, breathing dinosaurs has become old hat, much like the way computer-generated dinosaurs have become commonplace in ours. He said he was aware of how some fans looked at updates of beloved classics with disdain.

“We’ve all been disappointed by new installments of the stories we love. But with all this talk of filmmakers ‘ruining our childhood,’ we forget that right now is someone else’s childhood. This is their time. And I have to build something that can take them to the same place those earlier films took us,” Trevorrow said.

The scenes in the film’s first trailer, set on the same fictional island and dinosaur stomping grounds (Isla Nublar) as the original trilogy, will seem familiar to fans of the series, or anyone who came of age during the ’90s. Its effects are impressive, its dinosaurs huge and scaly monsters.

Paleontology has advanced a lot since the first films were released, says science writer and amateur paleontologist Brian Switek, who spoke to Newsweek after watching the trailer. We no longer think most land-based dinosaurs were scaly, for instance. It’s more likely Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor, the primary antagonists of the first film, would have been covered in feathers.

The film will likely be designed to appeal to our nostalgia for the original Jurassic Park films. “The public wants scaly, old-school, 1993-era dinosaurs,” Switek tells Newsweek.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a movie. But it will be a shame if Jurassic World turns to the same species of dinosaurs that enchanted and terrified us in Jurassic Park—T. rex, Velociraptor, et al.—because, while most of the cast members are familiar, a new dinosaur is discovered every two weeks, opening up a world of possibilities.

For instance, just a few days before the trailer dropped, the BBC reported on the discovery of a new species of horned dinosaur, identified from fossils that were kept in a Canadian museum for 75 years.

“There are probably over 1,800 genera of nonavian dinosaurs,” Switek says. “That’s not even species. And we’ve only named about 500 or so. Most dinosaurs have yet to be discovered. And they get weirder and weirder.”

Therizinosaurus is one such dinosaur. Switek describes it as “a nightmare version of Big Bird.” Therizinosaurus was about the size of a T. rex, with a long, slender neck, a large head with a beak, and large hands with even larger claws, all covered in feathers. Its name means “scythe lizard.”

Or, the filmmakers could include Kosmoceratops. It’s believed Kosmoceratops looked a lot like Triceratops, except that instead of three horns it had “an emo comb-over of horns,” according to Switek.

In his interview with Slashfilm.com, Trevorrow confirmed that the park’s geneticists will create one new “modified” dinosaur.

Switek doesn’t mind if the filmmakers decide to make movie monsters instead of accurate depictions of living animals. “To me, it’s all good fun,” he said.

This article, from the Newsweek archive, 11/26/2014, by Taylor Wofford, was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition: Jurassic Park. For more celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the greatest monster movies of its time and a Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom first look, pick up a copy today. 

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