Posts Tagged ‘Dinosaurs’

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There are lots of people and things that can affect your life but very few will ever change is. The Paleontology Program at the Burpee Museum of Natural History has changed my life, in the most amazing ways possible.

 

I remember being thirteen in 2005 and being so excited to visit the museum to see Jane, their juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. I’ve been a dinosaur/paleo enthusiast since I was two years old and was really amped to see this important specimen. When we walked up to the main desk I saw a brochure for volunteering on summer expedition with the Burpee to the Hell Creek. I snatched one up, and knew right then that I had to go on this dig.

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Myself (in the orange) on my first dig in 2007

The next two summers I saved up money from various jobs and in 2007 at fifteen years old I went on my first dig with the Burpee, and it was the best choice I ever made. I was so excited when I reached Camp Needmore, ready to tackle the coming week and looking forward to this new experience. After years of reading books and watching documentaries I’d finally be in the action.

 

It is now nine years later, and I have just returned from Utah where I was on my sixth expedition with the Burpee. Over the years I have worked my way up from volunteer, to intern, and now these past four weeks I was actually an officially employed field assistant. I remember during my first few digs how I’d watch Scott Williams, Josh Matthews, Katie Tremaine, and the other leaders teaching the volunteers, telling personal stories, and generally being a unit. I am now a part of that unit. I’m helping with the teaching and prep during the digs. Their stories are now my stories. I am a part of their family.

 

Beyond my growth within the Burpee itself, without the Paleo Program I would not be where I am today. It’s because of the Burpee that I ended up going to Augustana College (IL)- where I met many of my closest friends, and had other important life experiences. It’s because of the program and people involved that I’ve had the jobs I’ve had, and my life is on its current trajectory. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people like Scott, Katie, and Josh.

Also, because of the Burpee Paleo Program and related events (like PaleoFest) that I’ve made incredible connections. I’ve met and talked with some of the top scientists like Jack Horner, John Foster, Phil Currie, Kristina Curry Rogers, and many more; I’ve had dinner, joked, and shared drinks with Mark Goodwin, Brian Switek, Eugenia Gold, and Mike D’Emic; I’ve sat and dug literally next to Jim Kirkland, and Thomas Holtz! Many of these people are paleo giants that I idolized growing up. I never thought I’d ever meet them let alone dig alongside them.  Yet here I am, doing exactly that all because of Burpee’s Paleo

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Thomas Holtz at the Burpee Ninja Turtle site in Montana. I’m behind the camera, trying not to scream.

Program.

 

I have learned so much about the science, personal work ethic, and (as corny as it sounds) myself because of this program. It has been invaluable to me as an individual.

It’s incredible to see how the Burpee has helped advance the science. Some of the most important papers and research in the last decade have ties to Burpee either by using their specimens, presenting it at PaleoFest, or from help/collaboration with the staff.

Since my first time going to the Burpee in 2005 I have been able to see the museum grow into a completely different entity mainly because of the Paleo Program. I’ve seen great new additions, including Homer’s Odyssey and many great traveling exhibits like African Giants, Megalodon, and Savage Ancient Seas. I’ve witnessed some of the best paleo symposiums ever including this past year’s Women in Paleontology PaleoFest. I’ve seen the Paleo Program strive to have new forms of outreach and education like attending Comic Cons, giving guided tours at dig sites, and hosting different family oriented events.  I’ve been able to see new people grace the museum’s halls and I’ve seen kids come back each year to events or digs and grow as individuals, exactly like me.

 

My life has forever been changed and I can’t imagine it without the Paleo Program or the individuals involved like Scott, Katie, and Josh. I owe a lot to them, their hard work, and their dedication. They are great mentors, scientists, and friends.

 

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From right to left: Scott Williams, Steven Landi, Josh Mathews, Eugenia Gold, Katie Tremaine, and myself.

 

 

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Allosaurus vs. Ceratosaurus

I have always had a very active imagination. As a child, one of my many outlets of creativity was playing with toys. Now, lots of children play with toys- that is not new. But I didn’t just play with them, I created stories and adventures with them that sometimes lasted several hours at a time. My favorite toys were (and this probably comes as no surprise) my Jurassic Park figures and playsets. As I’m sure many of you realize by now, Jurassic Park is my favorite franchise of all time and has been since I was two years old and saw that film on the big screen (yeah, I still remember some moments of that, but that’s a story for another time.) With these toys I would often pop in my VHS copies of the movies and then get out every single figure I had and play through the entire film, scene by scene, with them. I would lower my head so that I would replicate and match the angle on screen. Then, when I would finish with the films I would create my own Jurassic adventures, creating whole stories of peril and survival then playing them out with the toys in my living room

One of my very first dios

One of my very first dios

(much to my parents dismay I’m sure.) Humans often running away from the ferocious dinosaurs created by InGen, many of which not running away quick enough. Ironically enough, the story line I most often recreated with my figures was Jurassic Park finally being opened to the public.

In 2003, I believe, we moved out to the Malone family farm outside of Kempton, IL. A year or so before my family had purchased our first home computer and I was introduced to something amazing: the internet. And on this internet I quickly realized that there were other people out there just as passionate about Jurassic Park as I was. One group of people was those found on the forum site JPToys. There, collectors and JP enthusiasts gathered to talk about the franchise as well as the toys that I had grown so fond of. But in being introduced to these people I slowly began to realize something: that these toys had value outside of just sentimental. These weren’t just toys any more but actual collectors’ items, and really expensive ones at that.

Still early in my dio career. I used a sparkler and placed it behind the fence and lit it right before I took the image to get the effects of the sparks.

Still early in my dio career. I used a sparkler and placed it behind the fence and lit it right before I took the image to get the effects of the sparks.

You want to know how expensive? Just go to eBay and look. I was inspired by others on the site to take pride in my collection and show it off in my room. On top of that I was introduced to “dios.” Members of JPToys would take their figures outside and set up scenes with them and take pictures. It reminded me of the images on the back of the boxes of the JP toys, and I was instantly hooked. One year my parents bought a digital camera for the family for Christmas and I latched on to it the following summer and took pictures left and right. Art has always been another passion of mine, and this was defiantly art to me.

I used the Dino Valley spinosaur and actually used white gas to make flames. I dug a trench around the figure and poured the gas and then lit it. It was inspired by the final spino scene in JP3

I used the Dino Valley spinosaur and actually used white gas to make flames. I dug a trench around the figure and poured the gas and then lit it. It was inspired by the final spino scene in JP3

I did this for several years during the summer months, but as I got older my “dio” making began to dwindle. I was becoming incredibly self-conscious and was

reminded several times by some people that I was a young man, just playing with toys. I’ve generally always prided myself in not caring what people think about me. I mean… it’s kind of a fine line actors and artists need to walk down. But I cared what people thought about this. I was soon going to be heading to college, and while there are plenty of people who collect figures and such who are older I was thinking that perhaps it was something that I shouldn’t do.So near the end of my high school career and in to college I had completely abandoned dio making. My art blossomed in other mediums. Writing defiantly became a facet for me, and I focused my photography on other subjects that interested me.

Then, about halfway through my college career, I took a digital imaging class with Professor Christian Mortenson at Augustana (IL.) He taught us to really go out there with our photography and try and capture things that spoke to us and to really make our own voices be heard on our projects. Find subjects and places that were unique. So, on a whim, I asked my mom to go through my figures (which I had, by then, packed away in large plastic boxes in the attic) and ship a few to me. She did, and then I took those figures around campus and took images.  And they weren’t all dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. Some were of Batman and the Joker and at least one was of the WolfMan. With

Sulfur Field

“Sulfur Field”

a lot of my early work I just went out with the figures and snapped pics, but for this project I really focused on angles and getting the lighting correct and making scenes look natural. It reminded me of when I was a child, playing with the toys in my front room and trying to captures those angles from the film. I brought these images to class, and I remember Chris being fairly impressed. He joked that the Batman and Joker one reminded him of two people cos-playing, and that the dinosaur images looked really natural and realistic- like from a documentary. I welcomed those comments with open arms, but then just sat on the images. I did nothing with them.

Later that year though there was a submission call for art for Augustana’s literary and art magazine- SAGA. I actually went Clever Girlthrough some of my older images and sent one of my early dios that still really resonates with me: a

tyrannosaurus hunting a pair of pachycephalosaurs through a “sulfur field.” The field itself is just a post-harvest corn field and I added the fumes in through PhotoShop. Weeks later I was contacted by the magazine and informed that my image had been selected to be published. My senior year I sent in a few more for thatMosasaurus SAGA mag and they were accepted as well and it was slowly beginning to dawn on me. My photos, my “geeky” toy photos were actually liked by people. People enjoyed looking at them. And not just JP fans, or comic fans. My peers were coming up and telling me what they thought of the images and how they liked them. More important than any of that acceptance though… it made me feel good. Just taking the pictures felt good. Going out, location scouting, and finding that perfect place and position for the figure and then figuring out the lighting felt right. It was fun, and it was a way to escape.

It still is. Today I’m having a resurgence in dio photography. I can attribute at least a part of it being because of the release of Jurassic World, but it’s also because it’s something I find a lot of joy in doing. I live close to a forest preserve and I will take a duffle bag of figures and sets there and spend hours setting up scenes and taking images. Yes, I get a weird looks from time to time but I genuinely do not care. I do think that college and allowing myself to grow as an artist really rex Pursuit helped with that, but also allowing myself to be more connected with my work is a major part. Also, I am realizing that I have a style when it comes to this type of photography and I am attempting to apply that to film projects I make. Setting up these scenes and moments really allows me to think like a director as well as a DP, and it has helped a lot I feel. I’m becoming more daring with some of the shots and angles I take, and sitting down and planning out each and every shot and doing multiple takes of each one. Being this type of micro photographer is helping me become more versatile.

I don’t know if anything will actually come out of my photography. Maybe someday. I’ve had a few people tell me they’d love a coffee table book of these images. My DeviantArt account has never been more alive and active, and I’ve been debating on Brachiosaurus and Gyrospherehitting up a few craft and art fairs with these images. I’m still not certain tCarnotaurus Capturehat there is an actual [paying] audience for these images, but really that’s not the point at all. You do art because you need to. It’s a part of you, and this type of photography is very much a part of me. It’s therapeutic, and fun. It allows my mind to race with creative scenarios and scenes, and at times tests my capabilities. I’m constantly growing because of it. I’m a twenty-three year old man who still actively plays with toys… and I’m damn proud of it.

Brian Switek and Julius Costonyi are some of the best people at what they do. Brian being a passionate writer of things dealing with the field of paleontology and Julius being an absolutely gifted artist. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of meeting both of these gentlemen over the years, as well as working with Brian in the field at the Burpee Museum‘s Utah dig site in 2014. When I found out earlier this year that they had collaborated together on a book I was ecstatic and knew right away that, children’s book or not, it would be something worth picking up. Finally, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Prehistoric Predators!

Now, judging from the cover one might assume that the book may only deal with predators of the Mesozoic- which is not the case at all. This book actually has five chapters: Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Cenozoic.

The book begins with a great introduction, explaining briefly the history of predatory animals on earth as well as giving us a nice  breakdown of the periods on the right hand side (and when dealing with the Cenozoic it even goes down to the Epochs, a pretty rare and welcomed addition for a children’s book!) All of the periods and epochs have year ranges associated with them so that when you read the rest of the text and, for example, you see that Linheraptor lived between 84 and 75 million years ago you can flip to this key and pin point the period that it would belong to.

This book highlights over 40 different predators, but there are far more animals included in this text (come on, you can’t have a book about predators without including their prey!) Each chapter opens up with a description of what is going on during this time in history- how the earth is changing, what new species are evolving, notable extinctions, etc.

The meat of the book are the species highlights. In general it is laid out like an average guide book to the various species. You get the name, followed by how you pronounce it, the age of the creature, a physical description, and ending with a little “Scientific Bite”- a kind of blurb or random bit of information about the creature. Accompanying the facts of the creatures there is also usually a paragraph describing the illustration on the page: what is happening, and what exactly you are seeing. They also include information on current knowledge about the species you are looking at.

While at first glance you may think that this book is set up like most other children’s dinosaur books, it isn’t. The small picture accompanying discretion tend to offer a lot of valuable information on current research and theories in the field of paleontology. Also another MAJOR inclusion is the fact that all of the highlighted animals have their species name! This is something that is hardly ever in children’s dinosaur books! When I was younger I would have given anything for a book to include the species names. It’s a great addition, and one I’m glad they put in. It’s one of the main things, for me, that really helps separate this book from others like it on the market. They unfortunately don’t include the scientific in the pronunciation part on each fact bubble, but that’s only a minor complaint.

Within each chapter there is a great range of animals from each time period. We obviously are going to get well known animals like Velocriaptor, Spinosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus rex (seriously, it’s pretty much sacrilegious to not include that trifecta now in nearly any dinosaur book.) But there is also a great array of animals not commonly presented. Animals like Eocarcharia, Masiakasaurus, and Guanlong get some really good pages in this book- among many others. Also, Therizinosaurus gets a page in this book- in a “predators” book! I think that’s so awesome. because it’s often not clumped together with theropods because the common thinking is that they are omnivores/mainly herbivores (it was completely skipped in my dinosaur class in college because of that reason.) I don’t know, maybe authors tend to think it’s hard to discribe a theropod that isn’t strickly a carnivore. Not Switek though.  He and Csotonyi present it like a pair of bosses and then continues on with the book. I love the fact that it’s included in this text.

While the information presented is absolutely fantastic, the artwork is the real selling point. Julius Csotonyi’s artwork jumps off the pages at you to give you goosebumps. He presents all of the prehistoric animals in this book with such life that sometimes you swear you’re looking at a photo. All at the same time he’s including current scientific theories about each of these animals as well as his own artistic spin. These images are so detailed that you could spend countless time looking at one of the landscapes and still be catching new details. The images are incredibly dynamic, and full of atmosphere and emotion. The Dimetrodon with a ripped sail. The Suchomimus fishing. The Giganotosaurus. The Deltadromeus. All of these are so rich in how they are presenting individual stories, it’s breathtaking. And good God I need a mural of that Jurassic storm scene with the Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

While there are no flaws at all in the artwork (or really in this book at all for that matter) I do think it’s interesting to note that on the introduction page we get a great image of a Tyrannosaurus rex. If you turn to page 63 in the book you can see that the same base image was used to make the Daspletosaurus. Not a critique at all, in fact it’s pretty common for this kind of thing to pop up in books. Artwork gets edited, and refined. Besides, T. rex and Daspletosaurus are related and look similar. It’s not like they took a rex and added a sail to it and called it Spinosaurus.

Overall Prehistoric Predators is an incredible book with some great information, and amazing artwork. It lacks a lot of the more graphic scenes you come to expect in a lot of predatory based dinosaur books (even for kids,) and the information is easy to read and comprehend- making it a great book for younger dinosaur enthusiasts. While older paleo-lovers may want a little more on the side of reading and facts, they are sure to be thrilled with what in-depth information is there, the inclusion of some lesser known prehistoric animals, as well as they very inspiring art work.

It’s a great book for ages young and old, and defiantly worth getting at first sight!

Prehistoric Predators is published by Applesauce Press and is available online and in book stores now, with a list price of $19.95.

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1by ELIZABETH GELMAN /AP

Guests to the Jurassic World theme park were evacuated late Friday night after many of the parks animals suddenly escaped from their enclosures.

While it’s only been a few days since the horrific incident at the five star resort, the lawsuits are already accumulating quickly. Most of the park was successfully evacuated, but unfortunately not before several hundred of the guests were injured, or killed. Many guests are still missing, and the death toll is still being counted. Among those dead is Jurassic World owner Simon Masrani, who was killed in a helicopter crash while trying to contain one of the escaped “assets.”

“This is a horrific event,” stated Masrani Global Vice President Edward Regis. “We are doing everything in our power to offer aid to our visitors and to get this situation under control.”

Many of the evacuated guests and staff are still being held in Costa Rica for questioning and evaluations but should be released in the next few days.

The official comment from Masrani Global regarding the escape of the animals was “it’s under investigation.” However, some guests claim to have heard rumors of a large predator of some kind being the cause.

“I saw it,” said Jurassic World guest Ed James. “Some freaky thing, I can’t describe it. But I was on the monorail back to hotel and I saw this big  creature crash into the aviary and soon after the pterodactyls or whatever just started flying out of the dome. They attacked a helicopter, and then started flocking towards the park. It was chaos.”

While Masrani Global seems to be keeping face about wanting to get the situation under control and the park running again, stocks are already beginning to drop. Since Saturday stock in the company has dropped from 139.18 to 78.25, and guests who have pre-purchased tickets are demanding refunds. It’s a trend seen before by the company, and what led to InGen filing for Chapter 11 in 1997 after the incident in San Diego involving an escaped Tyrannosaurus rex.

“I just don’t know how this happened,” park guest Deborah Holland said, nursing a broken arm. “How could they let this happen? After what happened before, you’d think they would have known better and been able to prevent a catastrophe like this.”

We’ll keep you updated on Jurassic World news as it comes in, including the upcoming U.N. meeting regarding the incident.

“Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic Park ///”, “Jurassic World” are Trademarks of Universal Studios, Legendary Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment.

Based off Characters Created by Michael Crichton and Scott Ciencin.

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I’ve now seen Jurassic World three times, and have enjoyed it every time. It’s a fun thrill ride of a film, and now is the film with the second highest grossing weekend at the box office of all time!  While I really enjoyed the film and think it’s a great addition to the franchise, there are some thoughts and questions that have been keeping me up at night that I had along the way while watching it.  I thought that maybe I’d highlight a few of them here.

1.) The opening is awesome and a nice homage to Alien I feel… but I really would have liked a flashback for the opening instead I think. All of the JP films have great prologues and I feel like it would have been cool to see some of the post-1993 incident clean up or even the recapture of the rex or something.

2.) The bird in snow shot is wonderful, and is actually the only reference we get to the dino-bird relationship in the whole film.

3.) Okay, JW is open and it looks spectacular- everything I would want and expect in a Jurassic Park. But why? I mean, know why because I followed the online marketing but it’s not actually explained in depth in the film past John Hammond willing JP to Masrani. Last time we saw Hammond he had gone from “capitalist to naturalist” and was more concerned about protecting the animals. Now he thinks the park is a good idea again? Also… after all the incidents and deaths of the three previous films combined, how did they actually convince anybody that this would be a good idea again?

4.) The I. rex introduction is amazingly perfect.

5.) The innovation center is breathtaking. It’s like the Discovery Center at Islands of Adventure on digital roids.

6.) I actually don’t mind the raptor training at all… but why breed them in the first place. Even if they are for this military experiment who thought it was a good idea to take the most dangerous, human hating animals created at JP? The animals that are responsible for the most deaths in the series, and try and train them. Did anybody think that maybe, for once, you shouldn’t breed raptors?

7.) Why is the rex CGI? Also, I wish I could have seen more Jurassic World carnivores in captivity other than the  rex (albeit briefly,) and raptors.

8.) I feel like it’s now a statistic for kids of divorcees to end up on Isla Nublar or Isla Sorna. That should be in an ad: “Our park is sure to make your kids forget about your separation, because they’ll be too busy running from dinosaurs!”

9.) Speaking of Sorna… what the hell happened to it? They are acting, once again, like Nublar is the factory floor (like they did in the original film.) Is there nothing going on on Sorna? Or is it just so overrun by dinosaurs that they were like “screw it, we only need the one island” ?

10.) Zach is probably a bigger dick than any other human villain in the JP series.

Universal Pictures

11.) Mosa is awesome. Period.

12.) We really haven’t seen all of I. rex yet so when her actual reveal happens I really would have wished they did more of the JP rex full reveal and roar from the first film rather than I.rex suddenly blocking Owen’s escape and we only see half of her. It’s like they can’t decide if they want to show us I. rex or not.

13.) Why not have a access door at… both side of the paddock for people?

14.) The moment where I. rex searching for grady is super suspenseful and well done. Plus the I. rex looks beautiful.

15.) Petting zoo is cute and the riding of the baby trike is a nice reference to a cut scene from the first film and the novel.

16.) I’s so glad Wu is back. All of his scenes in this film are gold- mainly because it follows his character from the novel to a T.

17.) I’m already kind of “done” with the amount of comedy in the film. It’s just a personal thing, although I realize that they need to offset the amount of violence in the film. But does every film have to be so “funny” now? Age of Ultron had the same issues. I get some of it, but a lot is unneeded and out of character for some. It makes me really happy they cut the poop scene with Claire later.

18.) The moment when Claire walks in to control and everyone is quiet is awesome. Wish there were more moments like that in the film. It’s really effective.

19.) The I. rex coming out of hiding via camo is one of the most amazing things I have seen in the JP series, and something I’ve been waiting for since Crichton’s The Lost World. Also, the moment it takes out the ACU unit is a great nod to Aliens.

20.) Also, love the blood on the wrist. “Which way is the drop going to roll off?”

21.) Yay! Fallon mention’s dilophosaurs! So… wait, they’re in Jurassic World? Why haven’t we seen them yet!?

22.) The gyrosphere ride is awesome, and leads to a great “It’s a dinosaur” scene.

23.) Why are the stegos nearly dragging their tails here but weren’t earlier on when they were at the river?

24.) I’m going to assumed I. rex broke the gate open that the boys enter the restricted zone through… but if so, why is the I. rex still in the jungle and not rampaging through the valley yet towards the park?

Universal Pictures

25.) The I. rex looking at the boys ala JP rex style should have been a practical effect…

26.) Dying apatosaur scene is a near tearjerker. It’s seriously right up there with the sick trike from JP.

27.) Old park scene(s) = BEST moments in the whole film. Just wish we could have stayed there longer. How did the boys end up here anyway? Also… why is the norther side of the island “restricted” if it seems like any ol’ JW employee can trounce around there at any time? Are there supposed to be wild dinosaurs around? What haven’t we seen any? And if so is that what killed the JW worker whose helmet Gray finds, or was that supposed to be I. rex again?

28.) AH! Pterosaur beak killing ACU. GREAT reference to he cut final sequence of The Lost World.

29.)  Masrani dies and it’s sad… but still would have liked to had more time to get to know him. It’s not as sad as if, say, Hammond was to have died in the first film. Also… the trailers totally ruined it.

20.)Why do the pteros look so different… again?

21.) Jesus, what are these pteros MADE OF!?

22.) I can deal with almost everything these pteros can do except for it lifting a baby trike off the ground. Cool shot but… no.

23.) The pteros diving through the water is actually probably one of the coolest things they do in the film.

24.) Zara’s death is OVERKILL. Man, I mean she wasn’t a horrible person. Also the mosa’s appearance seems kind of the same as the one we’ve gotten before.

25.) Why are Owen and Claire kissing? Pteros… still flapping around everywhere. Not really the time or place.

26.) You’re going to tell me they tranquilized all the pterosaurs? All of them?

27.) It gets dark fast in Jurassic World.

28.) Really wanted Claire to either punch Hoskins instead or after Owen.

29.) Raptors turning on humans is probably one of the best moments in the whole film. It’s scary and is a really great mixture of the tall grass scene and Muldoon’s death. Also a little bit of Aliens thrown in again.

30.) YEAH, ROCKET LAUNCHER! Just like the novel. Man, I’m loving all these small nods to Crichton’s work.

31.) Okay, so Wu is cool using dinos for military. He wants to innovate because God complex. I get it. But damn it, now we’re going to be wondering what happens with those embryos now.

32.) Still… no BioSyn.

33.) Really Hoskins wasn’t a bad guy, he just makes some seriously bad judgement calls and is a dick. His intentions are good though. … … Still loved his death though.

34.) You know… we never do find out everything that is in I. Rex.

35.) YAY! DILOPHOSAURUS!!!

36.) Blue siding with Owen all of a sudden reminds me of Hiccup and Toothless…

Universal Pictures

37.) Rexy emerging from the darkness is AWESOME AS HELL.

38.) Epic final fight is epic. Although they missed a chance to have it in the rain.

39.) Pretty sure Colin Trevorrow, when shooting the last scene, had a Spielberg JP moment and said “I think the star of  this movie is the mosasaur” then threw it in as the one being heroic and killing I. rex. Because… let’s be honest. Rexy and Blue were gonna have their hides handed to them.

40.) Okay, totally get animals teaming up to take out a common threat- okay. But I really REALLY think the rex should have roared/chased Blue away instead of having that “good job bro” look at each other. I mean, at one point Blue uses Rexy as a springboard to pounce on the I. rex. That means her claws dug into Rexy’s back… I’d be pissed. Those claws are sharp- as the scars on Rexy’s neck can attest to. Her chasing Blue away would have saved us that Owen nod to Blue as well…

41.) Also unless you saw the scars and put two and two together and/or followed the marketing for the film you would totally not realize that this was the same rex from the first film. There should have been a scene explaining it or showing her recapture. Also, wish more of her was practical effects instead of CG.

42.) I really don’t like the love story. At least I don’t like a lot of the moments that involve it. I would have much rather Owen and Claire looked at each other like Ellie and Alan do in the end of JP that the whole “for survival” bit.

43.) Yeah, I see some straggling pteranodons. Who’s gonna keep them from getting off the island? Also… once again, unless you follow the marketing for the film you wouldn’t know what happened to the pteros at the end of JP3.

44.) Epic emotional final shot is epic and really emotional.

The park is open! Run, to go see Jurassic World in cinemas now!

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Fourteen years. Fourteen years of a constant up and down, “it’s happening” then “it’s dead” from those who brought to life this film series to fruition. Fourteen years of waiting for the next film, and then finally it’s released. Words can’t express how excited I was for this film to come out. The last time I was this amped up was when The Dark Knight was released in 2008.  And after months of build up from one of the most intensive marketing/viral marketing campaigns in recent history (which is actually continually happening throughout the films release right NOW,) the park was finally opened to an anxiously awaiting public. I sat with friends in that cinema, and when the lights went out I could feel my heart beat faster, and when it began I allowed myself to be transported back to Isla Nublar once again in Jurassic World.

It’s twenty two years since the closure of the original Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar. Twenty two years since John Hammond’s dream came to a screaming halt. But a new empire has arose: Masrani Global. They have taken control of International Genetic Technologies (InGen) as well as all of their subsequent… assets. So out of the ashes of Jurassic Park (and apparently all the other subsequent incidents that happened in 1997 and 2001) Masrani has created Jurassic World, and John Hammond’s dream is now a reality. Jurassic World brings in over twenty thousand people each day, and each guest can now come face to face with the most fascinating creatures to ever roam the planet… well, fascinating for a period of time it seems. The novelty of dinosaurs living again seems to be fading, Dr. Henry Wu and his team are cooking up something that’s sure to excite everyone: Indominus rex, a genetic hybrid with the base genome of Tyrannosaurus rex with some other “classified” species thrown in to the mix (that are revealed throughout the film.) The problem is… it suddenly excites everyone in all the wrong reasons. During a inspection of the I.rex enclosure by Owen Grady, one of the resident JW animal behaviorists who is currently working with the park’s velociraptors, the I.rex escapes. Chaos ensues, as the monster rampages though the island killing everything and everyone in sight. Vic Hoskins believes that he and his InGen ACU unit can capture the creature, by using some very radical means. These radical means end up backfiring and even more chaos ensues as even more creatures on top of I.rex are now fanning out across the island. Is there any hope for survival for the people left on the island?

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I’m going to try really hard not to let my passion overshadow my judgement right now. ANYBODY who know me knows that Jurassic Park is “my thing.” It’s my Star Wars, my Star Trek, my whatever you want to say. It’s the movie [series] that inspired me and so many others. As silly as it sounds, they are the films that made me the person I am. But I’m also a huge cinema fanatic in general, as well as a paleo-guy. So there are several conflicting thoughts, impressions, and emotions flying around in my head right now.

I’ll be frank: liked this movie, a lot. It’s a fun ride, and director Colin Trevorrow delivered some astounding fan service while also bringing a lot of originality to the table. The film does have it’s issues, which I’ll discuss, but overall I left the cinema with an extreme sense of pleasure mixed with just enough wonder to make me feel like this film was a good breath of fresh air in a once extinct franchise.

Warning: from here on out there will be plenty of spoilers… you’ve been warned.

The plot to Jurassic World is probably a story that many have thought of in some way shape or form (I can name at least two videos games off the top of my head where JP is reopened after the events of the first film- the original JP Arcade and JP for Sega Game Gear (and then there is Operation Genesis where you can open your own park)) I remember playing with the toys when I was a kid and playing out what it would be like for the park to actually open.  I don’t feel like it’s super original. The way that it’s portrayed and handled by Colin Trevorrow is however. Everything that we saw at Jurassic World seemed like something I would totally expect to find at a world renown and SUPER expensive theme park.  And while I can recall many many people and die hard fans of the franchise rolling their eyes and groaning at the fact that we’d be getting a hybrid dinosaur I loved and understood Colin’s reasoning. I went to the zoo a few months ago with my family and saw so many people on their phone texting and not taking in all of the animals. Same thing happens in museums, so after Jurassic World has been open for ten years I would totally expect that people would be getting “used” to it, and when that happens at any theme park a new attraction has to be built. In this case it was the Indominus rex.

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I. rex was a wonderful antagonist I felt. Do I feel like it could have just been a normal dinosaur: yes. But as I said I totally understand why it wasn’t. Plus this was actually supposed to be a monster. When rewatching Jurassic Park 3 before hand (I had a marathon of all the films before seeing JW) I couldn’t help but think that a monster is exactly what the spinosaur was- and it irritated me. Yes, the rex(s) and raptors had their monster parts as well in the previous films but at least most of the time it was explainable as to why they were hunting the humans or tracking them (be it territory, food, or otherwise.) The spino had no reason to hunt the humans. The I. rex does. It is not a dinosaur, as Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady points out- it is a monster. It kills for sport, not to eat.  It’s scary looking, it’s big, and it kicks some major tail in Jurassic World. Also it has an ability I’ve been waiting to see in a JP film since reading Michael Crichton’s The Lost World: chameleon/camo skin. Technically it’s cuttlefish skin, but none the less I. rex has the ability to camouflage itself into it’s surroundings. While I really would have loved (and still would love) to see carnotaurus in Jurassic World with that ability like in the novel it looks amazing and is effective none the less. Plus, according to the official Jurassic World website I. rex does have some carno DNA in her so… that’s something I guess.

From a Jurassic Park canon standpoint, for the most part, all the dinosaurs looked great. A lot of the old guys are back and have some shining moments- including the original film’s Tyrannosaurus rex. There are some new guys as well, including the Apatosaurus (which interestingly enough was the sauropod in both of Michael Crichton’s novels but has never been in a previous JP film.) The one animal I would have loved to have seen more of… Dilophosaurus. We get one great moment, but it’s SUCH A TEASE. Oh well, even that one short moment answered an age old question in the canon: yes, the dilos in the first film were juveniles.

I’m going to keep my paleo-analytic critiques to a minimum here, because most of anything I have to say about inaccuracies in the animals of the film have been said by many paleontologists already. From a paleo-perspective the film’s dinosaurs are kind of “meh.” Inaccuracies have been in the JP universe since the first film (well… even since the novel.) To fan of the series they’ve always been able to be explained through the genetic modification that occurs during the “de-extinction” of the animals, and that’s even explicitly said in this film. But I will say that with them having a new park for this film and actually going back from “scratch” on many of these animals, it was kind of a missed opportunity to have some really accurate representations of dinosaurs on screen. While I was able to stomach a lot of the inaccuracies the biggest one I have a hard time dealing with is whenever a pterosaur tries to make off with a human, or even a dinosaur.  That and a near tail dragging stegosaurus.

My biggest complaint, above all, concerning the dinosaurs was the over use of CGI. In the first two JP films there was a perfect marriage or CGI mixed with practical effects- it was seamless. In JP3 it leaned more towards CGI, and the practical effects that were there for some reason didn’t seem as good as in the first two films. In this film nearly every shot of the dinosaurs was CGI. Now, a LOT of it looked good- I can’t lie. There was some really great computer animation work going on in this film. But there were plenty of scenes that they could have used practical effects on, and didn’t. But when they did, it was breathtaking. Like the dying apatosaur scene, it had me in near tears.  It was almost as emotional as the ick triceratops scene in the original Jurassic Park. It looked alive. It was wonderful, and I wish that we could have seen more practical effects- especially towards the end…

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The acting was good. There were several kind of “cheesy” and forced moments, but I never found myself getting annoyed (in the wrong way) with the characters like I did in JP3 or even some in The Lost World.

Chris Pratt actually goes into some more serious territory with Owen Grady. While the signature charm we associate with Pratt  pops up from time to time, for the most part his character is more akin to Muldoon in the first film with a no-nonsense and practical approach to treating, training, and caring for the dinosaurs.  Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing goes through some good evolution through the film, and becomes kind of a Ellen Ripley of sorts. I think I would have liked to seen more from her in this regard, she does have an amazing and key moment in the end of the film. The one point I really disliked in the film was how Owen and Claire’s relationship just kind of sprung from nowhere. It felt really forced and I disliked it.

Vincent D’Onofrio plays, I guess, the human villain of the film. It’s all in the eye of the beholder really. But he does make some really bad judgement calls and his comeuppance is as good as Dieters in The Lost World. And I am SO glad we got to see some more from BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu. A lot of his material is straight from the original novel here and it’s stuff I, as a Jurassic Park fan, have been waiting to see and hear for a long time. He does a great job of playing Wu, like to a T and I really hope we see more of him if the series continues. 

Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson do a great job of being… well, the kids of this film. Their relationship feels plausible, although for the most part they were just kind of “there” in the film and didn’t offer a lot of support the way children in previous films have.

Irrfan Khan as Masrani did a great job but we really didn’t get to learn much about the guy before he goes down in a fireball. I knew I liked him but his death wasn’t as powerful as if it would have been if, say, Hammond was to die in the first film. If he was given more time I feel like that would have helped.

Other talent like Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, and Katie McGrath offered some variety in the supporting cast but we all knew they’d pretty much be fodder or just help the story along and have a few great moments.

Along with all the new, Colin Trevorrow does an outstanding Job of bringing back the old. We have a wonderful moment where we get to see the old Visitor Center again from the first film. The only problem, the scene(s) only last a few minutes and we move on. I really would have liked it if we slowed down the film when we got in to the “restricted” area of Nublar, which is almost the entire norther half of the island. There are still some unanswered questions, more locations I wanted to see. On top of it all, there were some thing that unless you’ve been following the marketing you wouldn’t really know. Like the rex. I’m sure few people actually realized that the rex in the film was the original (via interviews or websites, etc) the average viewer wouldn’t realize. I wish they would have shown or discussed the roundup of the rex and possibly more of the original animals from the first Jurassic Park. And damn it!- I wanted more dilophosaurs! Sigh… But really JW really has some super nostalgic moments.

The film also has a lot of inside jokes/nods towards the other films in some really clever ways. Take the ptero attack on the chopper. The pteranodon’s beak breaking through the bubble and into the chest of the ACU member- that’s taken directly from a cut sequence from The Lost World. Also that blood dripping on ACU member Hamada’s hand when he’s searching for I.rex… reminded me a lot of when Malcolm is trying to explain Chaos Theory to Dr. Sattler in Jurassic Park. “Which way is the drop gonna’ role off?” Moments like that, and many others in the film just left me tickled as a JP fan. Trevorrow goes above and beyond with the fan service in the film, and for that I thank and applaud him.  He also adds in some really tense moments very akin to the Alien franchise, and you’ll know them when you see them. These moments and Colin’s willingness to show gore actually make Jurassic World the most violent of any of the Jurassic films.

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The fan service goes even into the soundtrack of the film. Composer Michael Giacchino is back for is third turn in the JP franchise (originally scoring the soundtrack to the The Lost World and Warpath: Jurassic Park PlayStation video games.) For JW Giacchino brings a lot of originality to the plate but really pays homage to nearly all the work done before for the franchise. Not only are their call backs to the classic motifs of Jurassic Park (and The Lost World theme at one major point) composed by John Williams but we get a lot of music that is similar to the themes heard in Operation Genesis, from Jurassic Park; The Game, and even a hint of the PlayStation games. It’s nice, and really brings some added emotion and nostalgia.  The new Jurassic World theme is majestic, and while it may not be as iconic as the classic JP, it’s exactly what this film needs, and the I. rex theme is creepy as well. There are a few moments in the film where I feel like the soundtrack is a tad much, and over the top- but it’s defiantly not as obnoxious as the JP3 soundtrack gets at points.

Some moments of the film really dance a fine line of being exactly what you didn’t know you wanted to see and absolutely overkill. The two main ones being the death of Zara and the death of I. rex. Zara’s death was just… crazy. I personally would have liked to have either had it be the mosasaur or just the ptera and not both, but I can’t like… it looked cool. And I. rex’s death… I actually won’t spoil. I saw it a mile away before it happened during the final encounter, and when it actually happened the cinema erupted in applause- and I was a part of that roaring audience. It was a bad ass death for a pretty bad ass monster.

In the end… to be honest, my head is still spinning. I caught the 7 pm showing (Central Time) of Jurassic World and it’s now almost 1 AM and I’m finishing this review. My thoughts are still jumbled, “but, uh… well there it is.” Jurassic World, while having some zany moments, and some nonsensical plot points about militarized dinosaurs… is pretty much everything I wanted in a sequel. I do wish it was a tad longer, taking more time to explain some things and slow down at some moments, but the pacing wasn’t bad really. I’m super interested in if there will be some deleated/extended scenes in the BluRay release. All in all though, after a fourteen year wait that came after kind of a very bitter bitter sweet third film I feel like this film is a great addition to the franchise. While it’s not as good as the original it’s defiantly a very worthy sequel.

Jurassic World answers a lot of questions I feel, while opening a whole new door for future teams to go down should they choose. If not, I’m actually not concerned. While there are plenty of loose strings it has an ending more akin to The Lost World and not super open ended like Jurassic Park 3. And that makes me as both a fan of this wonderful franchise and a movie goer satisfied. And those questions, along with the ones have have yet to be answered are still out there for future teams to tackle (oh please, let one of those teams include me! … I can wish….)

Jurassic World is a wild romp through the island of Isla Nublar that is not to be missed. It chaotic, fun, terrifying, and exhilarating. This movie is the definition of what a summer blockbuster should be and is defiantly not to be missed. If you’re a fan of the franchise though, bring some tissues- because the nostalgia train is gonna’ hit ya’, hard.

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With Jurassic World release right around the corner (only a little more than a month away!) I’m sure you’ve already begun to see the onslaught of JW gear arriving in local stores! Toys, food products, games, and even limited edition Barbasol Shaving Cream cans. On top of all of that you can expect there to be a plethora of books based on and inspired by Jurassic World. It’s only fitting since the franchise began as a book, right? While most of the books will probably tend to focus on the story of the film, there are some exceptions to that rule- one of which being the newly released Jurassic World: Dinosaur Field Guide.

Now this book is actually a revised/updated (as the cover suggests) reprinting of the Jurassic Park: Institute Dinosaur Field Guide, which was originally published in 2001 coinciding with the release of Jurassic Park 3. Jurassic Park: Institute was started as an endeavor to bring the latest scientific knowledge about dinosaurs via the Jurassic Park franchise. JPI included a incredibly interactive and informational website, an interactive tour in Japan, and several book publications- one of which being the original Dinosaur Field Guide.

The original Dinosaur Field Guide is an exquisite book, perfect for dinosaur enthusiasts of any age as well as Jurassic Park fans. It’s full of [at that point in time] up to date facts thanks to Dr. Thomas Holtz and Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, and exquisite artwork by Robert Waters. It also included a large poster listing various dinosaur species, and had special notes that contained behind the scenes facts of the Jurassic Park films.

But a lot changes in fourteen years in the field of paleontology and the writers and artist teamed up again to revise their book and released it again under the Jurassic World title (since Jurassic Park: Institute is no more sadly.) So how does it compare to it’s predecessor, and what can you expect? Well, let’s take a look!

The opening page is a note from the authors asking and attempting to answer the age old question: Why are dinosaurs so popular? It was a powerful opening in the 2001 original and it’s just as powerful now, going on to theorize that unlike other movie monsters, dinosaurs were once real and their sheer size and imaginable power will always fascinate us and our culture, One part has been revised from the 2001 text, now stating we have over 1,200 species of Dinosauria and that the number grows by about 40 each year. It’s staggering to read. And the closing remarks of the note from the authors on the commercial selling and poaching of dinosaur bones is  incredibly poignant.

The next few pages briefly, yet cohesively, cover the basic facts of the history of the dinosaurs (eras, time span,) as well as some information on Mesozoic plant life, how fossils are found and classified, the differentiation between ornithischian and saurischian, and a great note on drawing dinosaurs/paleoartistry, Overall these pages are exactly the same with some as in the 2001 text, with only some minor (yet major revisions.) One such revision is the changing of the end of the Cretaceous from 65 MYA to 66 MYA. It’s an important new update to the science and one I’m really glad to see in this text (since many books, media, etc. are still saying 65 MYA.)

I’m also glad that the ornithischian vs. saurischian information was still left in. Those facts are sometimes absent in many children’s texts (or it’s referenced and never really explained.) Holtz and Brett-Surman give a really good and in depth explanation as well as a diagram on the difference between the two.) I do wish that a image of the two’s pubis was included instead of just an explanation but that’s really just a nit-pick.

The main body of the book is a guide to various species of Mesozoic animals (100 to be exact: 87 dinosaurs, 3 marine reptiles, 6 non-dino archosaurs, and 4 pterosaurs (each of the non dinosaurs also have a short preface about what exactly they are in relation to dinosaurs, and the Mesozoic.) ) The guide for the most part is exactly the same except for a few changes. The page includes the name of the species, the date it was named, the name meaning, and then lists diet, location, size, and trivia facts. The main body of the page for each species explains the history of the animal and past and present theories on the animals going on in the field of paleontology today.

Some dinosaurs have been removed and some dinosaurs are new. New dinosaurs include: Anzu,  Edmontosaurus, and Othnielosaurus (was Othnielia in 2001 edition,)

There has also been a massive overhaul on the artwork, with lots of new or revised images differing from the 2001 text. Many of the animals (mainly theropods) and feathered now- a very welcome update to the text. Some of the artworks differs in style from each other and I think this has to do with there actually being two artists on this book. Robert Walters is credited on the cover as doing the illustrations but apparently Bruce J. Mohn also lent a hand in doing some of the art work as well, which was then painted by Walters. Overall the artwork is great, but there is an obvious difference between the two styles present- which was not the case in the original text. It’s not a major issue but may set off some people’s OCD.

The facts for each species continue to be great and up to date. A lot of it is the same information as the 2001 text, but there are appropriate revisions to the dating, locations, sizes, and species of dinosaurs based on current information. I do wish that some new information and debates were included though (such as Trike vs. Torosaurus and the new theory on Spinosaurus, and several others.) Current debates such as these are really changing and setting fire to the paleo-community and I feel like the are important to mention.

Probably my one biggest issue with the entire book is the revisions to the “movie facts” on random pages of the text. In the original 2001 text there would be, on select pages (usually pages with animals actually featured in the JP films) there would be an image from the JP film along with (in a slap board) info on the dinosaur in relation to the film itself. It ranged from correcting the sci-fi depictions of the dinosaurs (such as dilophosaur in Jurassic Park having venomous spit) or discussing how Tyrannosaurus rex was depicted as a caring parent.

In this edition all of the previous “movie facts” are taken out and replaced with new ones that are… vary random and not anywhere near as satisfying.  First off many of them appear on pages where they shouldn’t be (like dimorphodon being in dilophosaurs page or an apatosaur fact being on the brachiosaur page when apatosaur has it’s own section in the book itself!) Now I assume that the reason why these edits are where they are is because these pages are where the “movie facts” were in the first edition so it was fairly easy to edit the text and just swap out the picture. But if you’re going to just edit the captions at least make it a little more interesting than ‘T.rex roars on to the big screen in Jurassic World!’ Nearly all the captions say something along those lines, offering up no real information or facts unlike in the 2001 text. It’s really the biggest disappointment out of the book. Even if the editors/Universal isn’t wanting “too much” shared on JW before it’s release I still think something more substantial than a constant “come see the movie” ad should’ve been allowed.

Overall though this book is still fantastic. It actually compliments the original text well I think, especially with it’s updated information and several new dinosaurs. While there is noticeable difference in art styles, and the “movie facts” end up being nothing more than a film promotion, the book itself holds up as a wonderful basic guide into the world of the dinosaurs. It’s great for younger dinosaur enthusiasts. The text is easily understandable and everything is well explained. While you may not want to start a five year old out on this, it’s defiantly something that the pre-teenish dinosaur enthusiasts will really enjoy and find useful. But really the book is a great guide for all ages. I still take my original copy out during field work, and this edition will probably be no different. It’s great to use to brush up on facts about dinosaurs you may be excavating, or seeing in museums.

Jurassic World: Dinosaur Field Guide has a price listing of $12.99, and is currently in book stores now.

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Jurassic World Alice Levin

The time had finally come! My family and I had been planning this trip for ages it seems and it had finally come: our trip to Jurassic World. I’ve wanted to go since 2005, but things didn’t pan out and we kept pushing it back because of various reasons until finally in early 2013 the hubby and I finally decided to go for it.  We had to rack in quite a bit of extra cash. At this point we have two boys, verses 2005 when we had none and both of them are super dino-crazy. I had always wanted to go because of the beauty of the island and how exotic the resort seems to be, the dinosaurs were just a plus! But now with our two boys we had more to think about. We wanted to make it the most memorable trip of their lifetime- and I think we succeeded!

We ended up going with the John Hammond Package, since that option seemed really geared towards dino-enthusiasts. My husband was worried that parts of it would be a bit tedious for the boys and we should have booked the Family Package since the website makes this particular package seem very factual/educational and geared more towards the adult dinosaur lovers and soon to be college students, but it wasn’t that way at all! Every moment of it was fun and action packed, while still being educational! My boys and even we were enthralled every day we were there (this package consists of three consecutive days.)

Highlights of the John Hammond Package:

– My favorite part had to be the behind the scenes tour with the resident paleontologist Brian Switek. This man genuinely loves his work, and was really engaging to listen to. As we went on our tour he gave us a kind of lecture on the Mesozoic as well as the science and making of Jurassic World (which also included a little history on the old Jurassic Park!) We learned about how the dinosaurs are made, and how they are cared for.  Then at the very end he gave our boys each a signed edition of one of his books. Fantastic!!

– My boys LOVED being present during a hatching. They had been expecting a “theropod” (a word Brian taught me!) of some kind, so when they found out they were going to see a stegosaur they kind of groaned. But you should have seen their faces once that egg started moving. They couldn’t take their eyes of it, and their jaws were hanging open. My youngest now says that his favorite dinosaur is now the stegosaurus!

-The guided gyrosphere tour was breathtaking, and definitely takes the cake. It’s different than the normal tour, and our special recorded guide took us closer to the herds and farther away from the normal trail than most guests get to go. It was outstanding.  I swear my husband, at one point, shed a tear. He’s not a super dino-fanatic but he loves nature. We take trips when we can out west and I swear half of the pictures we own are of different formations and landscapes. Seeing these animals really put him in awe.

Other highlights of Jurassic World in General:

–  The food! Oh Lord the food was amazing. Each night we ate at a new restaurant. Dave and Buster’s was obviously my kid’s favorite because… well, pizza and video games. How can you go wrong? But I personally loved Winston’s Steakhouse (GET THE LAMBCHOP!) and my husband really liked Nobu, but we also both really liked Margaretville (at night, once the kids were in bed obviously!)

-The Cretaceous Cruise was almost as breathtaking as the guided gyrosphere tour. It was such an amazing way to see the animals.

-The aquatic park was a great way to cool down. It got pretty humid while we were there, so we liked to cool down from time to time.

-The Jurassic World Hilton is literally one of the best hotels you will EVER stay at. Period.

In general everything was great about this vacation. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted in the three days that we were there and we’re already hesitantly planning our next trip (although it may be a while, unless we dip into the kid’s college funds!) The John Hammond Package was absolutely amazing, and worth every penny (which I’m super happy about because had it not been this would have been one expensive let down!) The only reason I didn’t give Jurassic World five stars was because around January I found out that in June Jurassic World is actually going to have a new attraction opening up, the Indominus rex and I really wanted to go then but unfortunately too much time had passed and we weren’t able to change our tickets. Oh well. My boss probably wouldn’t have let me change the date of my vacation anyway.

If you haven’t gone you’re doing yourself a disservice. Stop what you’re doing and go, right now.

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“Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, “Jurassic Park ///”, “Jurassic World” are Trademarks of Universal Studios, Legendary Pictures, and Amblin Entertainment.

Based off Characters Created by Michael Crichton

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Anybody who knows me knows that I have a great love for the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL. The small museum is a great place to learn about natural history as well as present day wildlife, and so much more. It has exhibits that display a wealth of information, and really relays it all to the public in a very down to earth and enjoyable way. They also have a great paleo program, and offer volunteer opportunities to their digs in both Montana and Utah over the summer. I’ve gone on several digs with the Burpee, and over the years have built a really strong relationship with the wonderful team at the museum.

But above all, the number one event that has allowed me to build such a strong and lasting relationship with not only this museum, but other paleontologists around the world, is PaleoFest. For the past seventeen years, the Burpee has been home to an annual conference where some of the leading names in paleontology gather to present on their latest research. It’s a more informal, intimate version of SVP. This year’s PaleoFest is bound to be one of the biggest ones yet rivaling their 2013 Late Cretaceous Symposium. 2015’s PaleoFest is themed “The Beginning of Dinosaurs and the Origin of the Modern World,” and will focus on the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic. Tickets for this event went on sale today so I thought that I should spread the word! Without further adieu, here are my top five reasons why you NEED to attend this years PaleoFest

1.) The Lectures

There are going to be some outstanding lectures this year by some of the leading names in paleontology, including Dr. Mark Goodwin, Dr. Stephen Brusatte, Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues, Dr. Paul Sereno, Dr. Susan Evans, Dr. Matt Bonnan and many many more. Talks will be focused on life in the Triassic and Jurassic periods and the evolution of our earth. The talks given at PaleoFests aren’t just factual, but fun! The key note presentations are also always enjoyable. Accompanied with a delicious dinner that takes place after night one of PaleoFest, guests enjoy the key note lecture. At the end of the event you’ll be up to date on current theories and possibly even potential future research these scientists will be doing. The presenters know how to give a great presentation without it ever being too heavy handed, or dull. You’ll get the facts you want, and have a great time doing it. Learning can be fun!

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2.) The Atmosphere 

The museum is going to be packed, and busy–but you’re going to love it. It’s going to be full of people who love the world of paleontology and natural history just as much as you do! Nobody is out of place here during the two day event. Everyone comes together for a common purpose–to learn from the best! There are going to be plenty of opportunities to talk and discuss ideas and theories with complete strangers who will be just as excited as you are about the topics being presented on. You’ll make new friends which leads me to my 3rd point…

3.) Making Connections

To me, this is the BEST thing about PaleoFest. Unlike SVP, the Burpee offers a more laid back and intimate setting to host its conference. This factor affords you the opportunity to get one on one time with the scientists attending the event. Over the years I have met with and interviewed many scientists at PaleoFest and have kept in contact with a good majority of them! While it may seem intimidating to walk up to top paleontologist, just keep this in mind- they are JUST AS EXCITED about the science as you are! They are ready, willing, and able to answer any questions you have. This opportunity to meet with leading scientists is also a HUGE chance for college students/soon to be college students to meet with these scientists and make connections for possible future college opportunities. When you’re at PaleoFest, don’t just sit on your duff! Go and interact with other visitors as well as the presenters. It will make your experience ten times better than it already was.

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4.) The Exhibits AND Burpee Staff

While PaleoFest is going on the museum is still in full operation, which means between the talks or during breaks you have the chance to roam around and take in some of the Burpee’s amazing exhibits. Along the way, the Burpee team has also placed some interactive stations throughout the museum, where you can have a chance to learn more about the world of paleontology, or current theories on how scientists believe prehistoric creatures lived. There are also small break out sessions for the younger paleo-lovers, where they can learn about the world of the dinosaurs and also have a hand in making different crafts. The Burpee staff are truly a great bunch of people who are passionate about what the they do. The manpower and time put in to events like PaleoFest are testament to that enough! During PaleoFest you’ll often see Burpee team members running around working hard, or giving guided tours throughout the museum.

5.) The Auctions

Last but not least! The auctions that happen at PaleoFest always offer a great opportunity to a.) nab some REALLY cool gear/items b.) have a good laugh. The Burpee’s PaleoFest team, led by Scott Williams, knows how to put on a show and work the crowd. The items up for sale range from high quality paleo-art, to signed books, and even casts of fossils made by the Burpee staff! Ibf bidding wars aren’t “your thing” to join in on, watching the auctions alone is fun in and of itself. Some people really get passionate about wanting those casts and those Estwing rock hammers!

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If you are interested in natural history or paleontology, or even if you are just curious about any of it- PaleoFest is for you!  The even brings in tons of every day people just wanting to know more about the science of paleontology, as well as die hard enthusiasts. The presenters make it all easy to follow and understand, without skimping on any of the material. PaleoFest is an amazing two day event, unlike any other, that will entertain as much as it will inform you about the fascinating would of paleontology.

PaleoFest is March 14th and 15th, 2015

Passes:
One day Pass
Memers: $45
NonMombers: $55
Student (with ID): $45
Two day Pass
Members: $65
NonMembers: $75
Student (with ID): $65

Key Note Dinner and Lecture: 

Burpee Members: $55
General Public: $65

Tickets are available online as well as by calling 815-965-3433

* Find out more about PaleoFest events, and talks as well as the different kids activities by visiting www.burpee.org

Many people know of my love for this series. Some day I’ll write some long, epic post about my detailed history with Jurassic Park. Someday we’ll tread down my “petticoat lane.” But not today. Today, right now, I’m going to focus on the above trailer; the future of the series.

Boy does it look bright.

I’ve probably watched the trailer, no joke, around twenty times so far. I’ve had many friends ask me about my thoughs, which is my main reason for writing this post.

I literally cannot tell you how excited I am. First, last week, the Masrani Global site launched along with the official Jurassic World site. Masarani Global is one of the best viral marketing sites I have ever seen- tightly answering several questions fans have had while also connecting it all back to the previous films while also throwing some nods to the original novels and even TellTale’s JP game as well. It’s an amazing site, and if you haven’t checked it out you must do so right away. And this past Sunday an actual “teaser” for the trailer came out that really got my heart racing. For the first time we were seeing official JW footage. It was finally feeling real to me- this film was going to be a thing. I knew it was for a year now. But I was actually seeing it. And I was excited.

And while the promised date for the trailer release wasn’t supposed to be until Thursday night (what I dubbed as #Jurassicgiving, it dropped today in the afternoon for reasons that director Colin Trevorrow tweeted saying were “out of his control.” I don’t know what those reasons were, and I don’t care. I’m glad it’s here. Words can’t express how happy I am, or how excited I am. It calls back many classic Jurassic moment from the series while also adding something new.

Now there are a few things that I have to get out of the way. I have some small comments that I feel I have to say to clarify some doubts others have.

One of the biggest complaints is the raptors at the end.  There are some people flipping their lids over the fact that the trailer seems to show “tamed raptors” at the end, running alongside Chris Pratt’s character, Owen. First off, several people working on the film, have said that they are not “tame.” I personally think people need to calm down about it because not only do we not now what the context is in the film- it isn’t that outlandish of an idea I think.First off, earlier in the trailer we see a giant freaking mosasaur eating a shark ala SeaWorld/zoo style.

Universal Pictures

 That may not be “tamed” but that is a learned show trick for that animal. It learned to do that to get its food. Raptors are supposed to be the smartest dinosaurs made by InGen. It’s not outlandish that they could be trained, even remotely, to be used for tracking or something. In fact, to me, that makes them more like actual animals and less like the monsters the first three films have made them out to be. But in the end, once again, that may not even be what they are used for in the film. They may not be trained in any way, or could turn on Owen/humans, or something else! We have no clue, which is one of the coolest things about this trailer (which I will talk more about later.)

Secondly is the CGI. First, several scenes (or so I have heard/read) were only made for the trailer and will not be in the final film. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe, on a few effects, they weren’t 100%. Secondly, post production and finally touches goes on until almost a few weeks before the film is shipped out for theatres. The films doesn’t come out until June 12th of next year everyone- there is still a LOT more rendering, and CG work that has yet to be done.

There are some people criticizing the science of the film, but I think only half of them are serious and the other half realize that JP is a creation of Hollywood and just roll with it and make a joke, like Thomas Holtz and Brian Switek. But others have really been outraged at how little “accuracy” there is to a lot of the dinosaurs. While science has been littered in and out of the series (there is def more in the novels) nobody should expect true science to come from JP film. They are fun science fiction film. Besides, with a lot of the inaccuracies many fans (including myself) have actually found explanations for them by analyzing the films/novels/games/etc. much like Trekkies do for Star Trek. But when all else fails, you can simply blame it on the frogs. I want a perfect, scientifically accurate dinosaur film too. I just will never expect that from a JP film.

So onwards and upwards.

 

The trailer not only brings a lot of new to the mix, but also recalls a lot of classic scenes and bits from the first three films as well as surprisingly throwing in a scene or two from the novels- which I’m not many people realize. While I love the whole nostalgic feeling of some of the call back moments in the trailer it’s the novel scenes that have amped the most because I personally think there are moments/plots in the novels that haven’t been used yet in the movies that would be awesome to finally see on film.

Universal Pictures

First off Chris Pratt’s scene where he is riding alongside a pack of raptors is NOT ONLY ONE OF THE COOLEST PART OF THE TRAILER, but an obvious refrence to a very identical scene in Chrichton’s The Lost World where Sarah Harding is riding a motorcycle trying to catch up to a pack of raptors.

Universal Pictures

Next is the jungle river scene. I really hope this leads to some great moments. The river section of the first novel near the end had some of the best moments in the whole book including a swimming tyrannosaur, a pair of dilophosaurs, pterosaurs attacking, and finally a waterfall where the rex was waiting for them at the bottom. Even if we don’t get ALL of that (hopefully we get some…) it’s nice to see this little nod to that portion of the novel. Plus… STEGOSAURS. OH MY GOD, STEGOSAURS. DO YOU SEE THOSE STEGOSAURS!?

….

Stegosaurs.

Also a few other moments that remind me of scenes in the novel:

-When the man is being dragged along in the jungle reminds me of the moment when Levine lands on Sorna with his guide in The Lost World and the guide is dragged off into the jungle by something unseen.

-The idea of “tamed dinosaurs” was actually in the first novel. Wu talks to Hammond about being able to alter the DNA of the dinosaurs to make them more “domesticated” or controlled. There is also the idea of making “dinosaur pets,” and altering different versions of dinosaurs to get the perfect animal.

Universal Pictures

The trailer, while showing you some of the species, does a real good job at hiding others. It keeps a real mystery about what the new hybrid dinosaur looks like exactly, but also about other events that happen in the film. It’s very reminiscent of how the first film’s trailer was done. You see glimpses of the dinosaurs here and there and a few full shots of dinosaurs but not much. The rest is only parts or cutaways which keeps the intrigue up. It’s a great trick, and I’m glad that they brought it back for this trailer instead of just showing us everything outright.

Another thing that isn’t shown is exactly what the large group of people are running from. From the way that shot is set up (this large, aerial view) makes me inclined to believe that they are running from a pterosaur of some kind instead of a dinosaur.

And speaking of non-dinosaurs, the other MASSIVE inclusion to the trailer (as well as the series) is that of prehistoric aquatic reptiles- specifically the mosasaur. Now in TellTale Game’s video game (which ties into the original film) there is a mosasaur, but we have never seen on in the actual films yet. So this is a big deal, and I’m super excited to finally see it. I expect there to be a few really good moment with this creature.

I could sit here and point out every single moment that seemed to wink/nod to the other films but a.)you have probably caught most of them, b.)it’d make this post much longer than it already is. I’ll point out a few, but what I will say in a broad sense is that while I’m glad Trevorrow picked up on a lot of these “little” moments and I think it’ll be nice to see them in the film I hope it isn’t done too often in the final product. I’m sure it won’t and that a majority of them were used for the trailer to get that nostalgia factor in there, but it’s just a faint worry I have. I don’t want to send the whole movie playing a matching game in my head with scenes/moment in JW matching up with scenes in the other three films.

Here are a few I want to point out:

-Bryce Dallas Howard’s “run” yell reminds me of Ellie Sattler’s call to Dr. Grant to run after her encounter with the raptor in the shed. In fact, her scream resembles Dern’s scream A LOT in this vintage JP marketing video (skip to 2:24, and it basically shows an alternate take.)

Howard’s character’s tank is even, essentially, the same color.

-The shot with the Gallimimus’ and the main gate, I feel, is almost the exact angle used in the first film.

-“You really think she climbed out?”

Like I said, there are many many more and if you want I can always point more out if you want (via comments, messages, etc.)

I am beyond excited, as I’ve stated before. Those last few moments of the trailer, with that haunting theme ending on that fogged logo… just sent chills up my spine.

I’ve been waiting thirteen years for this trailer, and it will end up being fourteen years since the last JP film once JW is released. I’m ready. What gets me even more excited is how well the trailer has been received, in general. It was all over the news feeds on major media outlets today, and everyone is talking about it. Soon the merch will be out, and the ball will really be at full speed towards June. This gets me excited for two reasons. 1.) I hope Universal really takes note of all of this, because I know for several years now it’s been rumored that a revamp of the JP area of IOA in Orlando could be planned. All this positive feedback from the trailer shows me that the public is still in love with Jurassic Park (as if the OVER two billion that the previous three films have collected wasn’t enough proof.) And 2.) the public still, and always will love dinosaurs. I hope that this film inspires a whole new generation of dinosaur lovers and future scientists, and the first one did me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the first JP.


The trailer is beautiful, nostalgic, and haunting. It does its job by satisfying with some awesome and exciting moments, as well as reeling you in by keeping you guessing at the new twists and turns director Colin Trevorrow and company will throw our way. I had an inkling, based on the teaser released Sunday, I was going to like this trailer. I just didn’t know exactly how much I’d like it. That’s chaos theory.

The park opens, June 12, 2014.

Universal Pictures