'Jurassic World' misses an opportunity

Story highlights

  • "Jurassic World" is released this week
  • Darren Naish: Reboot was incredible chance to do something special

Darren Naish is a vertebrate paleontologist affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK. He blogs for Scientific American and is the author of "The Great Dinosaur Discoveries." You can follow him @TetZoo. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)More than 20 years have passed since Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" hit the big screen.

I'm a scientist who studies, writes about and excavates dinosaurs, and my friends, colleagues and I love "Jurassic Park." Well, the first of the "Jurassic Park "movies, anyway. So when the announcement came that a fourth movie was due to appear in 2015, our interest was sparked, and expectations were high.
Surely, we thought, this movie -- "Jurassic World" -- would be the "Avatar" of dinosaur movies: a vibrant, spectacular take on dinosaurs as we understand them today, a move away from the mostly brown, wholly scaly dinosaurs of 1993's "Jurassic Park." You know: a reboot.
    Darren Naish
    After all, the early 21st century is the age of fuzzy-coated tyrannosaurs, a time where we have seen a seemingly endless stream of discoveries about feathery little bird-like dinosaurs. We now know that pterosaurs had furry pelts, we've discovered iridescence on dinosaur feathers. We've also found out about bizarre dinosaurs that bristled with spines, fuzz and filaments, and a myriad other extravagant ancient beasts never dreamed of 20 years ago, like the "Hellboy" dinosaur Regaliceratops.
    So showing new-look dinosaurs would have been wholly consistent with the rest of the "Jurassic Park" franchise. Indeed, we're told in Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park," the book the movie was based on, that the animals are released in upgraded batches, improved over time as more genetic data is discovered.
    There's a nod to this in the third movie -- 2001's Jurassic Park III -- with the "raptors" there having quills, a specific reference to advancing knowledge of real-world dinosaurs. And given the disasters associated in the movies with InGen's projects prior to the time of "Jurassic World," it would make sense to use updated, new-look animals less like the chimaeras of previous outings.
    But for all our anticipation, our hopes came crashing down with the tweeting of two words from "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow: "no feathers." Rather than feature new-look dinosaurs and present audiences with something wonderful, "Jurassic World" appeared to have made the "bold" decision to stick with the dinosaurs of yore.