Jurassic World: A review
Published: 7 July 2015 (GMT+10)
Everyone is fascinated by dinosaurs—these giant reptiles are emblematic of a ‘lost world’, and are really only limited by our imaginations. Or in this case, only by the huge CG budget of the creators of Jurassic World.
People who go to see Jurassic World will be expecting two things: lots of references back to the earlier movies, and bigger, badder dinosaurs. And the movie doesn’t disappoint on either score. The wonder and action are amplified—and it is genuinely scary in places.
Omnipotent and corrupted science
Underlying the movie is the assumption that science is practically omnipotent. In the movies, scientists resurrect dinosaurs by recovering DNA from dinosaur blood from preserved insects in amber. By splicing these DNA segments together with the genes of living creatures to fill in the gaps, dinosaurs are resurrected and put on display.
But 20 years after the initial Jurassic Park brought dinosaurs back from the dead, the park’s management believes that ‘just dinosaurs’ are not enough to attract people to the park. Enter Indominus rex, a genetically spliced-and-diced, supersized, super-intelligent, super-carnivore.
With a ‘secret recipe’ of genes from various other species, this carnivore was endowed with unintended and unforeseen abilities which fuel the plot of the movie. While we do know now that sequences of genes have multiple uses, that Indominus had such complex unintended abilities is completely unrealistic (though not quite as unrealistic as Claire running through the jungle and away from dinosaurs in stilettos throughout the movie). It is also ironic that scientists were smart enough to engineer this creature, but not smart enough or too short-sighted to anticipate the unintended consequences.
Not only are the scientists in this film unhindered by any actual scientific limits, they also recklessly proceed with their ambitious experimentation without due diligence to moral and safety concerns. The follies of exploiting dinosaurs for fun and profit has been the moral theme throughout the movies, and now they’ve thrown exploitation for military ambitions into the mix.
As we’ve previously written with regard to mammoths and dinosaurs, it is impossible with current genetic technology, and probably always will be impossible, to resurrect an extinct species.
Dinosaurs as trained pack hunters
There’s a lot we don’t know about dinosaur behavior and instincts. We can’t tell very much from what is preserved, and so the film-makers used their imaginations. The idea that Owen was able to train a group of Velociraptors with a clicker, and earn and maintain their loyalty as the ‘alpha’ of the pack, is straight out of ‘The Dog Whisperer’, and slightly ridiculous. It is clear from the beginning that they are there to fill a hole in the story.
The dinosaurs also show almost-human intelligence (unlike some of the human characters!) in this movie. They consistently out-smart and predict the actions of the human protagonists, they communicate with each other, and it is eventually these animals, rather than humans, who save the day.
Soft tissue and (no) feathers
There was a nod to the discovery of soft tissue and even DNA in dinosaur bones, with the idea that iron somehow acted as a preservative. However, the film overlooks how the discovery of such fragile molecules flies in the face of millions of years. The iron-as-preservative explanation is actually a desperate attempt to cling to the evolutionary paradigm in the face of contrary evidence, now being advanced on the popular level by this film. Although, it’s interesting that even Gray, the young character who discusses iron-as-preservative, technically only notes that it could preserve DNA for ‘millennia’, instead of saying ‘millions of years’. But recent creation research suggests that this may not be the mechanism for the amazing preservation of soft tissue even in terms of thousands of years since Noah’s Flood, because the specific processes which are alleged to preserve the tissues and biomolecules would be more likely to destroy them. So despite the attempted scientific smokescreen, soft tissues, not to mention recent carbon dating of dinosaur bones, continues to testify that dinosaurs lived just thousands of years ago, not 65+ million.
The film has received criticism from many evolutionary scientist reviewers for not including feathers on dinosaurs. However, one of the film’s scientist characters acknowledged that many of the original dinosaurs would have looked ‘quite different’ from the varieties that were created for the park, because the gene splicing and the expectations of management altered the appearance of the dinosaurs. There were a few subtle nods to dinosaur-to-bird evolution, but they were not heavy-handed. Also, the few references to millions of years were almost obligatory, but they were not all that crucial to the plot, and so Christian parents who choose to see this movie with their children can use those occasions as discussion starters, creating opportunities to teach the truth about dinosaurs—explaining how they make sense within a biblical framework.
Cautions for viewers
Jurassic World features dinosaurs and situations that are bigger and scarier than ever before. Certain parts of the movie almost felt like a horror flick, waiting for the ‘monsters’ to come out of the dark. Parts of the film are genuinely scary, and some deaths are depicted in a fairly gruesome manner. Parents should take this into account when deciding whether their children should see the movie. There are also a few profanities and taking God’s name in vain.
Dinosaurs are ‘scaly evangelists’
Dinosaurs have really become emblematic of the worldview difference between creationists and evolutionists. Evolutionists believe they preceded humans by millions of years, while creationists believe that there is good evidence that they lived alongside humans and became extinct relatively recently, as creatures matching the descriptions of dinosaurs are depicted in the artwork and literature of many ancient people, and as the soft-tissue and carbon-dating research powerfully confirms. Because of this, creationists can use movies like Jurassic World as a springboard to discuss the biblical worldview with friends and family.