Friday, March 22, 2013

Jurassic Park 4: The Lost Cause

Photo by Juliana Cortés, via Flickr.

I don't hate Jurassic Park. I may have a complicated relationship with it, but that's pretty common. Even if Colin Trevorrow had announced feathered theropods would be part of JP4, anyone would be wise to keep their expections low for a long-delayed continuation of a franchise of such severely diminishing returns. If you're one of those who has no problem with naked dromaeosaurs in the next movie, more power to you: I hope you enjoy it. I really do!

Andrea Cau's comment on my recent post about the latest JP4 news is one that I've seen others raise in other places on-line. I'll quote it here fully:
There is no reason to show feathered raptors in JP4, because in the world of JP raptors are those seen in JP1 (and I'm not among those mentioning genetic mutations or frogs as a justification of that look: simply, JP is a 1993 movie and represents that epoch iconography).

I hated the "crested" raptors in JP3 because they differed from those in the first movies. I'm happy dinosaurs in JP4 will retain the look of the first movies: JP is not a documentary, and should not be forced to be "updated" to the "real world". In the JP-verse the dinosaur look is the one shown in JP1 and must remain that one until the end of the saga.

Sequels must follow the original style, since they are part of the same "universe". Otherwise, they are not sequels.

Do you want feathered dinosaurs based on 2013 science? Ask for a reboot.
These are fair enough points, and as I said above: if this is your expectation for a new JP movie, I hope this one satisfies you. For my part, I don't really care about the Jurassic Park universe or canon or iconography (now that I think about it, changing the design of the Jurassic Park visual identity would offend me more than altering creature design). In his post at Laelaps, Brian Switek ably shows that neither, apparently, do the filmmakers.
...the franchise has already changed its dinosaurs several times with no explanation. The first sequel introduced new color palettes for the dinosaurs, as did the third film. (Not to mention the fact that Jurassic Park III raises the mystery of why Site B contains species that InGen didn’t clone, and never actually resolves this point.) If the dinosaurs are changing from film to film to start with, why not take a jump and show audiences something they have never witnessed before?
If it's intricate world-building I'm looking for, I've got plenty of other places to find that these days. Still: there are plenty of ways that a good writer could not only incorporate the new science of feather origins in Jurassic Park 4, he or she could make it work thematically. One general scenario that springs to mind would be that the film could use changing science as a way to mirror uncertainty and progress in the lives of human characters. The characters are now faced with animals that blur the line between "reptile" and "bird," animals InGen rejected and hid from the public. How would Grant - if he was part of it at all - react to this? How would he transition from his "I'm out of a job" attitude to a realization of just how twisted from reality the animals he faced on Isla Nublar were? What wonder would he feel faced with a resurrected but abandoned ecosystem of feathered, fuzzy, prickly, spiny, dinosaurs?

Though Andrea dismisses it, the fact is, Jurassic Park contains the seeds of changing creature design in the canonical fact that the animals were engineered to satisfy public perception. There's terrific stuff there to write for! After all, suspense and fear are a huge part of the cinematic experience of Jurassic Park, and fear of the unknown, of the ground shifting under our feet, is a big reason a large part of the public distrusts, rejects, and ignores science. If you think this is all too heady for a Jurassic Park film, I'd disagree: a book and film that introduced me as a teenager to paradigm shifts and chaos theory has plenty of room for such philosophical content. The fact that Jurassic Park III lacked this element is part of what makes it such a forgettable movie. Trying something like the concept I sketched in broad strokes above could result in a Jurassic Park movie as meaningful to its time as the first one. That's not something worth shooting for?

The fact that I've written three posts about this new revelation about JP4 should show how much I really do love the original Jurassic Park. I was a confused, awkward kid when the book came out. I read it repeatedly during the summer of 1992. In the summer of 1993, I saw the movie repeatedly. I was in love with the SNES game. As I wrote almost three years ago, regarding the scene at the lagoon right after the party arrives on the island,
The moment seared into my memory, when a movie actually made me see the world differently, was the first time I saw that shot. Certainly, Mr. Brachiosaurus showing off by standing on two legs was impressive. Absolutely marvelous. But it was just a set-up. When that shot was projected onto the screen, it was a punch to the gut. Suddenly, dinosaurs were alive again, and how I'd always dreamed of seeing them: casually going about their lives. Moving like animals move, with weight. Rendered a bit hazy by the distance. Put into better perspective by little white specks of birds flying over sparkling water. As if I was out hiking, and happened across the scene upon cresting a hill. It was a rush. A deep, satisfying realization of a wish I knew was foolish. And I realized it as it was happening: this is the closest you'll ever get to it.
In my brain, I'd be happy for JP to die and let someone new figure out a way to make a big Hollywood dinosaur movie. Forget reboots, forget sequels, leave Jurassic Park trapped in the amber of the 1990's. Reinvent big dinosaur adventure totally. In my heart though, I'd like to return to Jurassic Park. I just think we've grown apart.


  1. Horsefeathers!
    The worst possible offense looming for JP4 is the "concept art" I've seen for human-dino hybrids. That stuff would wrench the franchise out of teen/geek thrill ride territory into more of an Aliens-versus-Predators mold and most likely erase any hint of scientific speculation.

    I want the sense of wonder, discovery and cogitation that Jurassic Park brought, but I am convinced it will have to come through a new avenue, perhaps not even a movie.

    1. From 5 months ago (

      "We’ve contacted ILM and been informed that the JP4 conceptual artwork which leaked online earlier this week is not from the official production."

      And also:

      "Not sure where this stuff came from but it’s not from a production we’ve worked on. Looks like someone’s personal work – ILM doesn’t put © lines on our work like in those images – we don’t own the work – the clients do."

      So we can all breathe a sigh of relief for that one. (Especially one site that described a Deinonychus as "sort of like a miniature T.rex".)

      The "dinosaurs with guns" concept came from a 2007 script that has, in all likelihood, been abandoned.

      Sense of wonder? That'd be great. I loved JP (both the book and the movie) when they were released.

      I'm sure that this has been covered by LITC time and time again, but one of the main reasons I love this blog is its look back on how paleoart has changed over the years and, yes, a gentle poking of the tropes and memes (kangaroo therapods, sauropod in the swamp, etc.), but how science has slowly changed that perspective when artists work hand in hand with the latest discoveries.

      What irks me is that the idea of feathered dinosaurs has been around for decades, and yet the public perception is that dinosaurs were basically lizards with scales and all the rest. Yes, there have been documentaries showing feathers/quills/integument etc., but I feel that in general these are watched by people who already have more than a passing interest and already have accepted the bird/dino link.

      It'd be nice to think that a huge Hollywood film could be used as some kind of vehicle to get some education and fresh (and grounded in reality - which is often much more freaky than anything that could be made up) dinosaur ideas out there.

      However, I am aware that maybe Hollywood isn't the place that we should look for that!

      Anyway. Will I go and see JP4? Probably. Will I be disappointed? Probably. But I'm willing to give it a go. Which is all that can be asked of people.

  2. Nice post Dave. I have sympathies with both camps here and getting it right for any film maker using dinosaurs, whether in Jurassic Park os something completely new, is always going to be problematic.

    For instance, even if in the film, the dromaeosaurs were feathered and T. rex was left scaly, you could bet your boots that someone would complain because T. rex was not at least displaying a few feathers here and there.

    And yet this depiction would actually be scientifically accurate as of this moment since there is no evidence of feathers in tyrannosaurids although, phylogentically, there is a possibility that they were. The film maker will never ever win.

    Perhaps Colin Trevorrow may very well have been a little shrewd by announcing that the dromaeosaurs were to remain featherless since it kind of takes the sting out of the tail early on and we all know what we are going to get when the film is released. But then maybe not.

    At the end of the day, we have to remember that the Jurassic Park franchise is made to entertain and that will always be the priority to the studio. It is a little strange that the films generate such fierce criticism of their scientific accuracy whereas the same sort of criticism, when levelled at the documentaries, is much more civil and constructive.

    There is the argument of course that because Jurassic Park reaches a much larger global audience than a conventional TV documentary then it has a far greater obligation to depict dinosaurs as accurately as possible and, I have to say, there is probably some merit to this argument.

  3. Since I was mentioned, I remark that I have NO expectations for JP4. It's just a new dinosaur movie among a series of dino-movies.
    If I want to see a true, accurate, interesting and exciting feathered dinosaur, I just read a paper describing new Liaoning fossils. Who cares Hollywood, I'm a paleontologist! ;-)
    It seems to me that most are filling this future movie with a huge amount of unjustified expectations. Perhaps, there are those that would like to feel again (or for the first time) that exciting moment we lived in the early 90s with the first movie.
    Also, I feel absurd to find "justifications" for the absence of feathers in JP4 theropods. It's just a scientific inaccuracy in a scientifically inaccurate fiction, as tons of other inaccuracies present in ALL sci-fi movies, and that almost everyone seems to ignore and never discuss.

  4. Excellent commentary. I totally agree. What's more, David's idea captures a HUGE theme from the book that's always been missing from the movie: versioned dinosaurs!

    Remember the scene when Henry Wu approaches Hammond with a plan for "version 4.0." The dinosaurs are too fast, too bird-like. He wants to engineer slower, more manageable dinosaurs. Hammond objects, he wants the dinosaurs to be "real." Wu points out: they're engineered animals. They're already not real (see Brian Switek's recent commentary on de-extinction!)

    In canon, the dinosaurs are chimeras, inventions, constructs.

    I've always thought it would fascinating to see a sequel run with this notion. Henry Wu knows better than John Hammond what work went into engineering his dinosaurs. What did he never tell his boss? Did the geneticists guess at scaly rather than feathered raptors? Do JP's raptors suffer from gigantism? If left in breeding populations, will recessive traits for feathers reemerge? If frog and other DNA strands are in the mix, might the dinosaurs be combinations of animals? Did dilophosaurus get that neck frill from a lizard after all (not just in the design department), and if so, was it intentional? Is the T-Rex really a T-Rex, or a generic, composite tyrannosaur labeled for marketing purposes? Did they resurrect animals virtually unknown from the fossil record? How well could our scientific names even apply to living rather than fossil animals?

    We don't have to see these issues dealt with in much detail, just referred to. Maybe from the mouth of a younger, more sophisticated paleontologist. Maybe an homage to Switek like the earlier one to Bakker? :D

    Finally, a JP movie needs to deal with the main theme from the original book: the idea that the dinosaurs WILL get off the island (under their own steam, not because a businessman decided to smuggle T-Rex into SoCal) and that they will alter ecosystems as they go.

    1. Thanks for that comment -- you said what I was going to say, so now I can get back to work.

  5. "At the end of the day, we have to remember that the Jurassic Park franchise is made to entertain and that will always be the priority to the studio."

    I believe the general audience don't want to see the same designs over and over again, I know I don't! And the raptors in the third movie already support feather like structures...

  6. David Orr: “In his post at Laelaps, Brian Switek ably shows that neither, apparently, do the filmmakers.”

    While I don’t remember them being explained in the movies, I do remember hearing explanations for JP2′s new color schemes (Sexual dimorphism; Unlike JP, there were both male & female dinos on-screen) & JP3′s raptors (V.sornaensis; InGen originally created them, but they were too intelligent/aggresive for the park to handle, hence the creation of V.nublarensis).

    Anyway, based on what I’ve read, the late great Winston planned on fully feathered raptors in JP4, so I assume he had an explanation for them (E.g. Repressed genes in captive-bred dinos eventually being expressed in wild-bred dinos). Come to think of it, I’d love to see how Winston’s vision of fully feathered raptors would’ve turned out. I imagined them as being very Kokoro-esque (E.g. See the young T.rex & Velociraptors in this link: ).


    1. Those are explanations by fans. The only official word is that they "evolved" through breeding, which doesn't mean much, but the wild-bred individuals on the novels are also for some unexplained reason different than the captive-bred.

    2. Actually, the names are fan theory, but the version numbers exist within the film universe. Any real scientist knows that evolution doesn't work that way or that fast, and there is no evidence of evolution being the cause in the films. There is evidence for version numbers.

  7. Well, if there is someone new (hoepfully to Hollywood) who can figure out a way to make a big Hollywood dinosaur movie--something outside of Jurassic Park and its like--and totally reinvent big Hollywood dinosaur adventure altogether, that someone might turn out to be anybody, or maybe yours truly, but we'll never know when.

  8. I kind of agree that I would really love to see feathered dinosaurs on screen, but I do agree that "in universe" JURASSIC PARK is featherless dinos. OTOH, I'm not sure why they're going with a "sequel" per se, rather than a reboot. III wasn't really good enough to support a sequel...

    But I think part of my/our reaction to the idea of featherless dinos in a 21st century movie goes to what we're willing to accept/how far we're willing to go as part of "suspension of disbelief:"

  9. This is my take, being a life-long dinosaur fan, a dinosaur artist, and having worked as one of the key artists on the first film - JURASSIC PARK creatures are not "real" dinosaurs. They are genetic manipulations that look like dinosaurs. As for feathers - I'm too old to get excited seeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex look like a giant Dodo Bird. My introduction to dinosaurs was Willis O'Brien when I was three years old. The T-REX in KING KONG (the Stegosaur, first, more accurately)enflamed my young imagination and threw me on a life-long path of dinosaur fandom. And, yes, this is a lost cause because you can NEVER meet EVERYONE'S expectations. Hollywood favors the big money and they will research and find out if the current public thinks dinosaurs had feathers or not and design them accordingly. Worrying about whether dinosaurs have feathers in JURASSIC PARK is like criticizing STAR WARS for having sound effects in space. It is entertainment, not a documentary.

    1. Um... wow. Let me try to field this.

      "I'm too old to get excited seeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex look like a giant Dodo Bird."

      Okay, first off, NOBODY is drawing Tyrannosaurs like that. Most of the dinosaur artists I know (myself included) have drawn their feathered tyrannosaurs as a sort of killer whale on legs crossed with a huge fierce eagle. And they look AWESOME! Because, guess what, this is still an animal the size of a bus with a head the size of a smartcar and teeth like steak knives. If it were barrel-assing towards you in a clown costume, I'd wager you'd still be sh*tting yourself. Nobody goes on about how the fuzzy little ears on a Grizzly make it look too cute while it's ripping their intestines out. Nobody thinks eagles look stupid and guess what they're covered with?

      Secondly, fun fact about the classic image of the Dodo: all the art we have of the Dodo from the time it was still alive is wildly inaccurate, purposefully so in order to make the poor dears look fat, stupid, and delicious. This was your nightly reminder that if any one species that has ever lived on this planet is truly monstrous, it's the one in the mirror.

      And "too old"? "Too old" to care about science? "Too old" to care about dinosaurs? Just, what does that even mean?

      "Hollywood favors the big money and they will research and find out if the current public thinks dinosaurs had feathers or not and design them accordingly"

      This blows my mind! If the original "Jurassic Park" "market tested" their creature designs, we'd have snorkling parasaurolophi, brachiosaurs up to their blowholes in a swamp, tripodal, potbellied theropods, and NO velociraptors because what the heck is that?

      The people who made the original movie took a chance on making their dinosaurs look more like actual freakin' dinosaurs (circa 1993, but more on that in a bit) and changed the way people saw them forever. It'd be downright embarrassing not to keep up their good work.

      As an aside, the very good children's programs "Dinosaur Train" and "Dino Dan", the not good "Land Before Time" sequels, and the downright terrible film "Dino Time" ALL saw fit to include feathered theropods in their cast of dinosaurs. So if there are no feathers in "Jurassic Park 4", it will look more dated than the God-forsaken "Land Before Time" sequels.

      "Worrying about whether dinosaurs have feathers in JURASSIC PARK is like criticizing STAR WARS for having sound effects in space."

      Ummmmm... nobody went to "Star Wars" expecting realism. They wanted a fun fantasy adventure that happened to take place in space. People who whine about "Star Wars" being unrealistic are usually met with an exasperated rolling of the eyes and rightly so, because it's like complaining about inaccurate science in "Harry Potter".

      But loads of people went to the original "Jurassic Park" wanting to see the most real-looking dinosaurs ever brought to screen and the science was incredibly well-done... for 1993. Last time I checked, it's not 1993 anymore. You gotta change with the times or you'll alienate most of the people who'd see a fourth "Jurassic Park" movie: people who love dinosaurs and who have been paying attention the past twenty years of paleontology.

      All this said, at least we can agree that Willis O'Brien was awesome...?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Trish wins the Internet (again).

    4. Other than a couple of nitpicks (E.g. T.rex teeth are more like railroad spikes than steak knives; "Dino Dan" is just OK at best; etc), I agree w/Albertonykus. How many times has she won the internet now?


    5. "And "too old"? "Too old" to care about science? "Too old" to care about dinosaurs? Just, what does that even mean?"

      It's just a rewording of the same old same old "feathers ruined my childhood stuff. ie. "I'm afraid of change" or "I'm not going to accept change because it means I was wrong at some point!"

      Otherwise damned quality post.

    6. Actually, Trish, the public favored mid-1980's designs, which was what was displayed.

  10. T.rex teeth are more like railroad spikes...

    Bananas, surely?

    *Hundreds of palaeontologists take another drink in the never-ending game of DinoTropeMeme

  11. I say railroad spikes (as opposed to steak knives or bananas) partly b/c of Hone ( ) & partly b/c of Bakker (See 7:55: ).


    1. I should have put a smiley at the end to be clearer. I was making a direct reference to the fact that, along with steak knives, bananas are the other objects with which T. rex teeth are commonly compared. Hence the palaeontologists taking another drink because some tired old dino trope had been mentioned again.

  12. I would love to post a photo of me sculpting on the original T-Rex maquette for JURASSIC PARK but the blog won't let me. Yes, by the way, I am too old to adjust what I grew up loving as a child because I still care a great deal for the art of Charles Knight, Zdenek Burian, Rudolph Zalinger, etc. And, may I point out JURASSIC PARK is a FANTASY!!!!! And, as I've said before, in the book JURASSIC PARK, even Dr. Grant says that what Hammond created ARE NOT REAL DINOSAURS! AND, before you speak from what little you know about how the JP dinosaurs were designed and created - let me reveal that the T-REX has no pubis bone because Speilberg was afraid that audiences would think it was its gentials. It's arms are too big because Stan Winston heard somewhere that a T-Rex could lift 400 lbs with its arms so he decided it should have bigger arms. But either you didn't notice, or didn't care then, but NOW you care?! How silly! There is all sorts of fossil evidence that shows scale size and patterns, feather patterns, etc. but so what? Watch a documentary if you want accurate dinosaurs. Does it bother you when cgi characters defy gravity in action films? Do you still buy tickets? Because unless you are boycotting these films, you support them with your money. It is entertainment - solely. And I for one, am sick, frankly that nearly every contemporary paleo-artist uses the inaccurate T-Rex we made for Jurassic Park as a departure point. AND, btw, my buddy Bob Bakker was "barred" from contributing his expertise, because production preferred Jack Horner's demeanor - even though Jack walked around set shaking his head describing "REAL" T-Rexes as slow moving scavengers who were "the garbage collectors of the Cretaceous." That would have been exciting. Watching a couple of slow moving Theropods eating carrion. That would really have sold tickets. JAWS was not a real Great White Shark, KING KONG is not a real gorilla, and LASSIE was really a boy dog. It is Hollywood. Get over it.

    1. "Watch a documentary if you want accurate dinosaurs."

      Oh the irony when we have yet to get a documentary on the Mesozoic with accurate dinosaurs in it. For the last 10 years or so most of them have been as bad as Jurassic Park.
      A brief reprise in 2011 where we got Dinosaur Revolution, Planet Dinosaur, and to a lesser extent March of the Dinosaurs. None of those were perfect either.

    2. I wouldn't use the word "afraid" - I would use the word "aesthetically obtrusive" because since no one can tell what color or how much plumage any dinosaur might have, it opens the door to even MORE wild conjecture and the self-defensive question: "Well how do YOU know that they didn't look like THIS?!" Yawn! Go draw some dragons and have a good time. My comments are solely in defense of JURASSIC PARK continuing an established aesthetic. However, I think we all know that there will be at least ONE feathered dinosaur represented - Universal is not going to pass up the opportunity to sell another toy design. In closing, I have nothing against the natural evolution of paleoart - I just don't accept ANY drawing of a feathered dinosaur to be genius - and perhaps my subscribing to this blog was a bit hasty because I thought there was some real appreciation for those who painted dinosaurs prior to photoshop.

    3. And I want to say something about Bob Bakker and JURASSIC PARK - If anyone could be cited as the "unsung" hero of the art of the first film, it would be Bob. I was asked by Speilberg's office to supply "the most up-to-date information about dinosaurs (this was during a time when there was no google, wikipedia, ad nauseum). I was a HUGE dinosaur fan and had already collected just about every magazine and newspaper article, as well as videotaped every dinosaur documentary that had ever been broadcast. I made copies of everything and sent it all to Speilberg's office (via his assistants - something that nearly got me fired later).

      However, sculptor Mike Trcic and I decided to contact Dr. Bakker, and to my surprise he was(is) as generous and he was(is) intelligent. He sent over TONS of information and drawings he had done to illustrate what he and his team were learning about dinosaurs at the time. In fact, it was a call from Bob that defended the decision to sculpt the Velociraptors so HUGE (something that was inaccurate at the time) but when Bob announced the "Utah Raptor" then suddenly the JP production was all over publicizing the news as if we had gone to great pains to make them accurate. The same with the dilophosaurus - the "frill" was not a palentological addition; that came from the art department but once again no one thought anything was wrong and there was THAT question: "How do YOU know that they didn't look like THIS?!" Whatever. We had already compromised on the T-Rex, the Brachiosaurus (his head is too big), and the Raptors (until the Utah Raptor)so what did it matter?

      I used to love dinosaurs. Really, I did. I had so many toys, posters, you-name-it, that I had one of the rooms in my apartment COMPLETELY outfitted. So what happened? JURASSIC PARK happened. It stomped out my love for dinosaurs by creating a generation of "dinosaur experts" that revered what had been done, not out of LOVE for dinosaurs, but out of commerce. I got rid of nearly everything.

      So now many of you are "afraid" that JP4 will not have feathered dinosaurs and to that I still ask "Why should they?" They weren't accurate the first time, the second time...blah, blah, blah - So why start now? Reboot the entire series if you like (I would, the book was SO much better than the movies), but if you are going to continue the series - let it be.

      That said, you all might like to know that I'm developing a new dinosaur franchise (no kidding) and my intent is to go backwards - completely - and use current technology to bring to the screen dinosaurs as they were seen through the eyes of Charles Knight, Zdenek Burian, Ruldolph Zallinger, Ray Harryhausen, and Willis O'Brien.

      Feathered dinosaurs need not apply.

    4. The "how do you know they didn't look like that" attitude shows a shocking ignorance of science, and shows that you have never heard of phylogenetic bracketing and may or may not have a poor grasp of evolution.
      Especially this: "I would use the word "aesthetically obtrusive" because since no one can tell what color or how much plumage any dinosaur might have, it opens the door to even MORE wild conjecture and the self-defensive question" shows you have no idea exactly how much we know about the distribution: and colour: of feathers in dinosaurs. And those two links are just a minuscule sample.

      For the record, I don't care about the lack of feathers in JP4. I'm more with Andrea Cau, keeping to the continuity makes just as much sense, it's just a missed opportunity.

      Don't really get the Bakker story. He's a champ, okay. Good.

      "That said, you all might like to know that I'm developing a new dinosaur franchise (no kidding) and my intent is to go backwards - completely - and use current technology to bring to the screen dinosaurs as they were seen through the eyes of Charles Knight, Zdenek Burian, Ruldolph Zallinger, Ray Harryhausen, and Willis O'Brien."

      Good for you. All the best with it. Personally, I am working on a video game project that will feature dinosaurs as accurate to modern day standards as we can possibly do. So, between the two of us we'll have something for everyone.

    5. Sorry Tom, my bad. Robert Bakker was forbidden to come by the shop (for the year and a half we took to build the first dinosaurs), forbidden to visit the set, and was used as the butt of 2 jokes in the first and second movies. Production favored Jack Horner (who is a hell of a nice guy, but VERY conservative where it comes to dinosaurs and their behavior). I was going to do a painting of a down-covered T-Rex in the snow (back in 1993) and Horner winced then, saying that I "COULD" but there was no strong scientific evidence that large Theropods had any kind of feathers. Bob encouraged me - I lost interest.

    6. Well, unfortunate he was treated so poorly, and too bad you lost interest. Dinosaurs are amazing animals. Alongside their crocodile-line, and pterosaurian, archosaur brethren are my favourites in the animal kingdom.

    7. @Shannon Shea

      Many thanks for confirming what Bakker said in the preface of "Raptor Red" (I didn't doubt him, but I knew there were ppl who did). What I don't get is why they'd forbid any 1 person (especially a dino paleontologist & especially 1 as helpful as Bakker) from visiting? What did they have against him? If I may ask, I'm also wondering why doing what Speilberg's office told you to do ("I made copies of everything and sent it all to Speilberg's office") almost got you fired?


    8. I've said this on other threads in this blog and it is one of the reasons I get miffed when dinosaur fans hail the first JURASSIC PARK as being "scientifically accurate given the context of the time it was made" because it WASN'T.

      Crash McCreery drew a REALLY cool Tyrannosaurus Rex with VERY bird-like scales on it's feet and proportions that echoed information from sources like Bob Bakker and Gregory Paul, but it was cast aside. We were told that what we were attempting was NOT presenting scientifically accurate dinosaurs to the public, but meeting the EXPECTATIONS of what MOST of the public ASSUMED dinosaurs looked like.

      They feared that someone as outspoken and passionate as Bob Bakker would not keep silent and play nicely with this strategy. In retrospect, it is difficult to come to a conclusion either way. That said, you have to imagine what being one of only TWO passionate dinosaur artists* who were essentially "gagged."

      I was asked for that scientific material - I copied and sent it out in an attempt to influence production to see that the current scientific information was COOL and the dinosaurs would look AWESOME.

      When MY boss found out what I had done, I was lectured that NO dinosaur information was to come from an employee to Mr. Speilberg, but had to be given to my boss so he could decide what Steven would see and not see. I was threated that if I were to do it again, I would be dismissed. Those are the facts.

      So when I read this thread and heard all this squawk about "offering contemporary scientifically accurate dinosaurs the way they did in 1992" I had to laugh. We didn't then, and if they do now, I, personally, would consider it an insult after all the efforts we took to try on the first film. I quit my job after JURASSIC PARK - I had had a belly full of bad experiences.

      Go here: - Check out Mike's Daspletosaurus sculpture he did AFTER his JURASSIC PARK experience and you find a MUCH more scientfically accurate theropod sculpted back in 1993. By the look of it, Mike stopped sculpting dinosaurs as well and he's a bigger nut than me.

      Am I proud of the work we did on the first JURASSIC PARK? - Technically, yes. It was HARD work, no matter what. Mike and I were professional, did what were paid to do, and the shop delivered what, until that time, was considered "impossible." We became "the shoulders" that Ian Malcolm described everybody else standing on to reach new heights of large scale dinosaur animatronics. And they were THE BEST dinosaurs ever put on screen.

      I wish the new JP4 production well, and would hope that as dinosaur fans, you would understand why things are done the way they are in Hollywood. We aren't in the business of education (believe me, you don't want "us" educating the public), we are in the business of entertainment and what I learned was that the two are often in opposition with each other and entertainment too-often wins.

      Let 'em do their jobs. You keep making your feathered dinosaur art - and GO MAKE YOUR OWN MOVIES! That's what you should be doing anyway.

      (*The rest of the JP artists were incredible sculptors, but they enjoyed sculpting people, monsters, gorillas, etc and honestly sculpted the designs they were given for a pay check and that is what it is all about)

    9. I do see where you're coming from, and I actually dont have that much of an issue with the smaller inaccuracies; as you pointed out, it's a movie, not a documentary (though a bunch of documentaries have no excuse...) and the creative process means that certain things are going to get overlooked.

      I suppose my position with the feathers is that, while I understand where you're coming from, feathers on the raptors shouldn't really be optional at this point. The weight of evidence has swung very far in that direction. In my opinion, that necessitates their inclusion.

      At the very least they could include a line of dialogue similar to the one in the book, explaining that these dinosaurs are genetically engineered monsters, and not real dinosaurs. That would solve a lot of my problems pretty easily. It's the presentation of what are now fundamentally dated designs as real that I find galling.

      Do let us know if you get the vintage project off the ground, though. I know I'd definitely be interested in seeing it.

    10. I agree Asher - Like I've said, that exhange happens in the book where Dr. Grant tells Hammond that the animals of JURASSIC PARK are not DINOSAURS! They are genetic manipulations that INGEN has PATENTED! That's where the whole Nedry story (Nedry - Nerdy - COME ON!)is more interesting in the novel - it is INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE!!! Anyway, the other thing I suppose you ought to know is that I grew up a dinosaur fan when MOST people around me did not care about dinosaurs for the most part. I had to go to great lengths to find books, articles, whatever - it was a different world. The good thing JURASSIC PARK did was create GENERATIONS of avid dinosaur fans who have either gone on to become paleontologists or paleo-artists. So, having a small hand in that is satisfying.

      And, as for my retro-dino project. It is not me being a jerk - it is me being a business man. If I were to make another fiction movie featuring dinosaurs that resembled JP, or Peter Jackson's KING KONG, or WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, it would be more difficult to get exclusive marketing. That's why designing and executing "retro" dinosaurs will give me a better shot at exclusivity (See? Just like Hammond!).


    11. I would like to say this is pretty insulting to the number of fans of the movies. And also that Bakker seems to have not been to insulted. What with his novel "Raptor Red" including the mention of his work on Jurassic Park. Not to mention that there is also the fact that during Jurassic Park 3 production the reason we got things like feathers on the raptors and Spinosaurus replacing Tyrannosaurus was do to Horner. That doesn't seem much like a door mat to me. If you are indeed the real Shannon Shea it is a shame to see you disgruntled over a film which has touched many people and has fans around the world. A shame indeed.

    12. Mike - did you not read all of my posts? What did I say? I said I am proud of the work we had done on JURASSIC PARK and I do stand by that movie and the fans of that movie. My rants had to do with fans getting upset that the director of JP4 said the dinosaurs would be featherless and more aesthetically in line with the franchise. Go back and read. You'll see that my being "disgruntled" had more to do with the initial decision to NOT go scientifically accurate on the first film - to bar Bob Bakker offically (and YES, he was the butt of two jokes - do I need to point them out to you?). And YES, Bob was shottily treated on the first film - How do I know? - BECAUSE I WAS THERE - Were YOU? NO? Then sit down and pay attention. GO READ what I wrote and this is what you will learn - a.) I agree that the franchise has established an aesthetic and if the story line is going to continue, they have a responsibility to live "in that universe" b.) The first dinosaurs on JP1 were NOT scientifically accurate either - even though a couple of us FOUGHT for it! c.) It is HOLLYWOOD - not the HISTORY channel - let this director and his team have a SHOT - Trust me, no one comes into one of these projects WANTING to do a bad job. They'll all do the best they can. And YES - it is really me - go to and you can read about my career from my childhood up to PREDATOR (that's where I am in the story). You will learn that I tell the unwhitewashed TRUTH about what went on from a FIRST PERSON I WAS THERE perspective. It isn't for the faint. AND you will learn that I am VERY generous with my personal photos, videos, and information. SHAME ON ME?! Please...

    13. Your first line was all you needed to say. If I offended you I am quite sorry. I must've misread your posts and thought of them the opposite way. From my perspective it looked like you were attacking the film instead of defending it in a few posts of yours. Never did I mean to say shame on you for your opinion on your work on JP. I just found it a shame that someone who worked on a film I grew up with would dislike the final product ((Which I thought was your point in some of your posts.)). I do once more apologize that you misunderstood my post as an attack against you. As for the blog I found it after typing up my initial response to your post.

    14. Mike - don't worry about it. I tell you - if there was some place here that I could post photos and video from JP1 - I would! I actually found NEVER BEFORE SEEN VIDEO FOOTAGE I shot with my full-format VHS camera of the sick Triceratops in Hawaii that I had forgotten about. It shows our rehearsals and Mr. Speilberg (and the cast) being introduced to it. I am speaking with the Stan Winston School to figure out how we can release it publicly without having Universal Studios sue the hell out of me. Keep your fingers crossed - it is WAY cool stuff.

      Shannon (no harm, no foul) Shea

    15. This footage was shot the day before our first day of shooting - It is illegal footage shot with my camera that I had to deny owning for YEARS - finally it got out and now the Stan Winston school "controls" it.

      Good stuff!

  13. the way...that is the Baby Triceratops I sculpted in the upper left corner of this thread's image. The illustration was done by Crash, but that paint design was courtesy of yours truly. The little guy didn't make it into the first film, but had a VERY brief cameo in the second film.

  14. All this debate about feathers versus scales just seems like lazy reacting between two dino fan factions. Yes, the JP dinosaurs are not genuine dinosaurs because in the story they were created to meet public demand. How do we even know that the choice to exclude feathers in this movie wasn't a strategic one that better allows mainstream audiences to adjust to the appearance of feathers in the future installments? Remember, according to some information it's supposed to be a new trilogy of films. So anything could happen. The point goes; featherless dinosaurs are equally if not more important to the storyline of Jurassic Park as feathery creatures.

    Shannon, what you explained is really unfortunate and you as well as Bakker have my deep sympathy. The first movie truly changed my life as a fan of not only dinosaurs but also as a filmgoer. Life can be so full of irony if you know what I mean.

  15. I agree! As for sympathy, Bob and I have both done more than alright. I loved watching him unlock the mysteries of the mummified hadrosaur on television. Great stuff. And even though I did not contribute to JP 2, 3, and probably not 4, it is fine. I am a HUGE fan of movie dinosaurs, but the ones we did for JP1 - accurate or not - were still the best, most realistic dinosaurs anyone had seen up to that time AND - they were a HELL of a lot of fun to opperate! Like my friend Mike Trcic said: "The best dinosaur toys, EVER!"

    1. Having fun with your own thing is all that matters whether it's paleontology or special effect puppetry. I envy how much fun Harryhausen might have had experimenting in his early garage studio and other projects that made him famous. If you're interested check out the works of Peter Montgomery aka Greyling Slazenger at YouTube. This guy knows how to best combine digital work with practical methods long forgotten by modern CGI artists and the results are utterly inspiring to say the least. ;)

  16. Since the post's comments are still going strong here I contacted John Horner regarding this matter and according to him nothing is yet determined.

    "I don't know anything about it, but will find out once we have a completed script."

    So, there it is. I believe one should take that twitter account with a grain of salt since I have read one article questioning its authenticity.

  17. Well, this has been a spectacular trainwreck of a comments section, and it's bumming me right out. At least lots of fascinating-if-true stuff got dredged up here, so there's that.

    I don't want to pick at this old scab too much, but I have to say this. I take issue with Shea's weird assertion that the dinosaurs in the first "Jurassic Park" weren't 100% accurate anyway (incidentally, none of us said that they were) because of Hollywood reasons, so why bother making accurate dinosaurs in fiction films at all?

    Well, I'll tell you why. I think it's a pretty worthwhile reason and I hope others do as well. It's because the sad, sad truth is that more people are going to watch "Jurassic Park 4" and assume that what they're seeing is an accurate depiction of what dinosaurs -who were an actual group of normal animals that were actually living on this planet and not bloodthirsty movie monsters- acted and looked like than will ever pick up a book. Or visit a museum. Or listen to teachers and scientists. It sucks, and I don't like it any more than you do, but here we are. The original "Jurassic Park" really did change the average person's view of what dinosaurs were like, which had previously been based off things like "The Flintstones" and "Land of the Lost". It took an excruciating amount of time for the Renaissance theories to filter down to non-nerds, but the original "JP" acted like an adrenalin shot. (I also take issue with Shea's WERE YOU THERE?!? attitude. Dude, take a chill pill.)

    At the end of the day, though, I just feel... bad for Shea. It sounds like he had a rotten experience, and I'm sorry for him.

  18. Trish - have you read ALL of the posts? At the end of the day, I've ALWAYS said how proud I was to have been a part of the first JURASSIC PARK. But now, I have to ask you a question - Scientists have just published a paper this week saying that "faster-than-the-speed-of-light" space travel is scientifically impossible. So, does that mean no one should go see the new STAR TREK movie? All I maintain is that there is an agenda in Hollywood to ENTERTAIN not to EDUCATE. AND the bottom line is that they know they have YOUR money either way - It's a big budget dinosaur movie that you will go see feathers or not. The house generally wins (unless your making JOHN CARTER).
    And as for my "chill pill" - it comes four times a year in the form of residual checks from Jurassic Park! Cheers!


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