The Jurassic Park movies have featured countless creatures since Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster hit screens in 1993, but the new films largely overlook the most terrifying dinosaur from the original trilogy, the Velociraptor. While the first trilogy contemplated playing God, recent outings have shifted too literally into mad science, ignoring what made their predecessors so thrilling. The Indominus Rex and the Indoraptor were formidable opponents, but their brute force undermined everything that made their genetic inspiration iconic.
2015’s Jurassic World began the trend of turning the movies’ antagonists into hybrid creations, even weaponizing the mutant reptiles. In contrast, the first Jurassic Park took its time establishing the mechanics of John Hammond’s idealized theme park, allowing the audience to join the characters in marveling at the mere sight of dinosaurs roaming the earth. Spielberg’s movie didn’t need to convince the audience of the dinosaurs’ glory – or their obvious threat.
The Jurassic World entries emphasize the creatures’ hybrid genes, thinking their dinosaurs need to be larger and deadlier than before to remain scary. However, sometimes it’s the smaller creature that reigns supreme, with the Velociraptor remaining the most menacing antagonist of the franchise. Not even Jurassic Park’s T. Rex could match the Velociraptor for its sheer cunning and stealth.
The protagonists of the 1993 film were never in more danger than when facing the park’s Velociraptors. One reason why they were so terrifying was their size. Gigantic dinosaurs can usually be heard coming and proved easy to outrun on several occasions. However, the historically real Velociraptors were much smaller, faster, and quieter than other dinosaurs. They were also able to chase their prey in locations inaccessible to their larger counterparts, hiding in the shadows of the generator bunker and stalking the kitchen, creeping around with an intelligent gleam in their eyes. They were expert hunters, lurking in the jungle and only revealing themselves at the precise moment they chose to strike. Game warden Muldoon witnessed this first-hand; the hunter became the hunted when he was lured into a false sense of security, only to be caught off-guard by a second raptor. They were still the smartest threat in Jurassic Park 3. Whether playing dead as a specimen in a glass jar or ambushing Alan Grant and company to retrieve stolen eggs, it was never wise to underestimate this dinosaur.
The mutant hybrid dinosaurs of the Jurassic World movies are superior in size but easier for humans to escape. The recent sequels are intent on showing as much of the dinosaurs as possible, boasting their advanced CGI. What made the original trilogy’s dinosaurs so scary were their fleeting appearances – undoubtedly due in part to the animatronics available. Spielberg's approach recalled the shark in Jaws and the xenomorph in Ridley Scott’s Alien, evoking old-school horror. What can’t be seen is always more terrifying. This was especially the case with Jurassic Park's Velociraptors - they were kept hidden for much of the film, before revealing a piercing, watchful eye, the whip of a tail, and the claw tapping on the floor. The Jurassic World movies have fewer technological restrictions, yet the dinosaurs are no longer scary. The Indoraptor wanted to be a horrifying supervillain, favoring a mutant monstrosity over a prehistoric monster.
Jurassic Park has fallen prey to its own ambitions. Jurassic World believes its own story, thinking natural dinosaurs have lost their impact, and Dominion could introduce the Pyroraptor, another new dinosaur. In creating mutants, the reptiles lose any semblance of reality. The original movie felt almost possible because Hammond tried to create something pure. The Velociraptor was treated like an animal, not just the product of weird science. It retained its power by quietly stalking its prey, in contrast to overexposed and predictable hybrids.
- Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)Release date: Jun 10, 2022