Is dino fever leaving us dino sore?

Simon Blish

It’s been over 20 years since the original release of Jurassic Park in 1993. With its odd concept it is certainly holding its own against superhero films and the more adult Terminator franchise.

If you’d kept up with the monsters that have graced the big screen in the last decade, you may have thought that the dinosaur craze peaked in the mid 1990s with Stephen Spielberg’s critically acclaimed, box office smash – becoming extinct again with the lacklustre impact of Roland Emmerich’s critically panned 1998 version of Godzilla.

Recently the craze has had something of a reprieve, however, with the recently released Jurassic World (and it’s very likely we’ll see two more films in the franchise), and an interesting 2014 reboot of Godzilla starring the beautiful Aaron Taylor-Johnson (also due for a sequel and a crossover with the upcoming King Kong film).

This summer’s sequel-cum-reboot Jurassic World was a roaring (and stomping) success, recycling many of the elements that made Jurassic Park popular. Nevertheless, despite big bucks and lots of merchandise, it didn’t quite have the same monstrous impact as Spielberg’s cinematic behemoth.

Scientists decried the accuracy of the film (an issue addressed in the narrative itself, as the dino-engineers explain that they made critters that would look ‘cooler’ rather than authentic) while film experts pointed out the film offered little that was fresh, while failing to capture the wit and wonder of the original. Gone is the sci-fi philosophising, to be replaced by bigger and dafter monsters.

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But our recurring  fascination with the terrible lizards actually goes back further than the 1993 film and the 1990 novel by Michael Creighton that inspired it. The dinosaur renaissance has been a thing since at least the 1960s, since which time dinosaurs have continued to capture the public imagination again and again. The contemporary world’s version of the dragon, I guess, dinosaurs are towering beasts that inspire awe and horror (although undoubtedly more awe than horror these days).

Besides awe and horror, however, there’s also another big factor in the popularity of dinosaurs: nostalgia. Jurassic World, for instance, plays on the nostalgia of the audience who saw the original. The film directors hoped that fans of the original (now parents) would take their children to see the update to show them ‘what a really good film is’. Likewise, most kids will have seen at least one iteration of Godzilla while growing up – probably in their parents’ DVD (or even VHS) collections.

Dinosaurs have become a part of growing up. Along with He-Man, Transformers and Action Man, dinosaurs are also a common ‘action’-themed toy. With Kenna producing Aliens toys for kids (definitely a film targeted at adults), it’s no surprise, then, that the far more family-friendly dinosaurs (which also have an educational element) are being promoted to young minds.

This interest is carried through to adulthood. At Universal in Orlando, for example, they have an official Jurassic Park ride, where you can experience the thrill of battling a T. rex or attempt to avoid the weird stuff issuing from the orifices of cutesy veggie dinosaurs. Teens and young adults are the primary market here.

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The rights owners of the Jurassic Park brand have also teamed up with Lego to bring new games to the PS4 and Xbox generation. It’s interesting that Lego has joined forces to ensure that the game reaches the biggest audience it can, including young children, when the original film was considered just a little too scary for kids. The ever-popular Lego model literally provides the structure for this neat crossover.

Further dino games can be found at Springbok Casino where you can play online to win great prizes, this demonstrates the brand to stay fresh in late 2015 and bring it to new audiences. At the Springbok site you can see the variety of games available and the prizes on offer.

The partnership between Lego and Jurassic Park‘s IP holders sees toys and products for children, enabling the drama experienced in the film to come to life through play – all turned around at velociraptor speed, of course.

So once again we’re in the crushing jaws of dino-fever and it seems we’re likely to be running from Tyrannosaurus (at least in an imaginary sense) for quite some time to come.

About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.

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