Screen Time

Jurassic World and the scales of time

The latest film seems to have forgotten one of the delights of dinosaur nerdery: imagining the world without humans.

When my oldest child was seven or eight, I used to come into the kitchen in the early morning to find him already awake looking through dinosaur books, his favorite a now out-of-print book called A Gallery of Dinosaurs and Other Early Reptiles by David Peters. Unlike most books aimed at kids, this one was full of detailed descriptions of various species’ physical features and social behaviors written in serious prose for a general adult reader. For over a year, my son read and wanted to be read to from this book. It led him to ask me things like, “Mom, what is your favorite ankylosaur from the late Jurassic period?” or “How different were archosaurs from dinosaurs?” while I scrambled to pour myself a cup of coffee.

By the time he was old enough to watch Jurassic Park he’d mostly outgrown this dino obsession. But even 25 years after its making, Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie perfectly captured the sheer wonder of a nerdy kid stumbling into a world where all those glorious creatures in your favorite book have come to life. And, of course, the sheer terror of realizing what it would be like to be trapped inside a park with them.

By the time my son watched Jurassic Park, the franchise had already produced two sequels and was spawning a second incarnation—the Jurassic World saga, the third and supposedly final of which—Jurassic World Dominion (directed by Colin Trevorrow)—arrived in theaters this summer.