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Jurassic World: A review

by and

Published: 7 July 2015 (GMT+10)
Universal Studios Jurassic_World_poster

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.

Universal Studios 10255-jurassic-world-poster-2

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.

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Readers’ comments
Eunice B., United States, 10 July 2015

This was a fine article reviewing the movie, Jurassic World. I believe in 6-day biblical creationism! I take the Scripture as literal unless it clearly indicates otherwise. I also enjoy the Jurassic movies, despite their obvious bias; it is the high tech special effects that grab me. It's all about entertainment for me. But I would thrill to see that level movie be made from the creationist view: dinosaurs alongside man, etc.! I thoroughly enjoyed Jurassic World. Thanks for the article.

Chris L., United States, 8 July 2015

Genetics aside, I’m wondering about the physics in the film. Just how does a pterodactyl, even with a twenty foot wingspan, pick up and carry a hundred ten pound bag of meat in the form of a kicking, screaming, English babysitter? Maybe it was a genetics thing after all: since we’re mixing DNA from all sorts of creatures, maybe a strand of bombardier beetle DNA inadvertently gave it jet propulsion. Heavy lift VTOL pterosaurs, anyone? And just what did the film producers have against English babysitters, anyway? Or was it just the English in general? Hmm.

And why did the curiously named ‘aviary’ contain ten thousand pterosaurs, each of which seemed to be pre-programmed with the subroutine, ‘10: upon escaping aviary, make beeline to human settlement; 20: carry off and eat humans; 30: goto 20;’? Then again, I suppose they didn’t actually have ten thousand packed inside the otherwise much-too-small dome. Maybe they had a pterosaur cloning machine (say, the Pterosaur-O-Matic model 3000), on which a piece of meat from the helicopter explosion inadvertently fell. A wingless pterodactyl (evolution at work, you see) couldn’t execute said subroutine, so was stuck in the aviary, poking its beak at the meat on the machine, which was, unfortunately, laying on the ‘Make one copy’ button, each meat-poke thus produced another of the flying jaws-of-doom, accounting for the skies being darkened by their vast-and-ever-growing numbers.

Also, why did the swimming Hugeteethosaurus wait till the end of the film to finally leap up over the railing to grab the Ikillforpleasure Rex? Wouldn’t it have been tempted to do this on any number of occasions, seeing all those tasty morsels sitting in the front row of the stands–packed together like shish kebabs–cheering it on?

Just wonderin’

Philip R., Australia, 8 July 2015

I'm unconvinced by Gary T's particular defence of the need for sin and profanities in movies. Movies, being fiction (where they are not dramatisations of real events), don't need to reflect reality to that extent. Rather, one purpose of them can be to portray how people should be. Sure, nobody in real life is perfect, but why can't a movie portray someone as perfect, as an ideal to be aimed for? After all, that is in one sense what Jesus is: the ideal to emulate.

I'm not suggesting that movies therefore should always portray every character as perfect, but those that sin could be limited to the "baddies" in the move, the ones that we should clearly not emulate.

Christian objections to immorality being portrayed in films is not so much that immorality is portrayed, but that the "good" characters in the film are doing immoral things.

Gary T., United States, 8 July 2015

I appreciate this article's enumeration of the movie's scientific "sins," but as a writer of fiction I'd like to offer this defense…

Re: the point that "the dinosaurs also show almost-human intelligence," this is likely required for the story. Admittedly, I haven't seen the film so I'm playing Devil's Advocate. In fiction, the antagonist need not be human. It can be an animal—Jaws, for example—or it can be Nature itself—Jack London's books come to mind. Regardless, the antagonist must appear to be human or be human-like to be understandable. (Which often makes for very human-like aliens in SF movies/books.) If, as you say, some characters lack the same intelligence as the dinosaurs, that would definitely detract from what makes for a good story.

As for profanities and taking God's name in vain, obviously no faithful Christian advocates these things, but if the characters didn't sin would they be believable? In the Bible, Jael drove a tent stake through Sisera's temple. Gruesome? You betcha. Moses and Paul committed murder, David adultery, and Christ confronted the Pharisees when they committed the unforgivable sin. The Bible tells us the truth that mankind is sinful, and yet noble. Without that truth in fiction, stories will give a hideously sanitized view of reality.

While it is good to bring profanities, etc, to the readers' attention, it is unrealistic to expect movies, novels, or short stories to be less than honest about mankind's sinful condition, collectively or individually, for the sake of our "Christian sensibilities." Good fiction glorifies God in the same way the Bible does, by telling us the truth about mankind's nobility and sinfulness. Thus, it isn't sinful for an author to create sinful characters. What's in question is the author's motivation.

Deborah L., United States, 8 July 2015

Thank you for your article.

Nathan V., Netherlands, 7 July 2015

Dear Lita and Keaton, on the commentary of a documentary of the soft tissue findings by Dr. Schweitzer on YouTube, one of the people reacting (an evolutionist and atheist it seemed), claimed that if dinosaurs were indeed just a few thousand years old, these kind of (soft tissue) findings would be so common that this particular event wouldn't even make the news. How would you respond to that? Anyway, thanks for the great job you're doing at CMI!

Lita Cosner responds

That claim was made when we only had a few instances of dinosaur soft tissue. But since then, we've found many, many instances of this, even in fossils that are not well preserved. Evolutionists are scrambling to find some explanation for the preservation of soft tissue over supposedly millions of years.

It is not common for soft tissue to survive even thousands of years, so of course creationists were surprised too, although not as much as the evolutionists! However, it certainly is evidence that dinosaurs lived recently and their fossils are not millions of years old.

Another line of evidence is the presence of carbon-14 in the fossils. Every fossil, no matter how 'ancient', that has been tested for carbon-14 has carbon-14 in it, but if they were even 100,000 years old, it should be undetectable. This, according to the evolutionists' own framework, should indicate that these are only thousands of years old.

Christine E., United States, 7 July 2015

the management of velociraptors as alpha pack member may sound like it is out of some "whisperer" movie but for decades this has been known as part of any herd animal mentality, that can be used by a trainer or pet owner. Generally this is used all along without understanding it, recently psychologists have come to understand this is part of the relationship between dogs and humans, the dog views you as alpha animal, it is in your pack. the wolf will do the same, but unlike the dog is more likely to test your alpha status now and then.

the fact that DNA is fragmented and you can't resurrect an exact dino doesn't mean you couldn't cobble together something that is a reasonable facsimile of one, eventually. But it would not be physically or mentally identical, you'd have to use genes from something similar as is done in the movie. this makes the outcome dangerously unpredictable.

Keaton Halley responds

Actually, you would need other cellular components, not just DNA, and there are many technical hurdles. So resurrecting dinosaurs is still science fiction.

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