Dinosaurs should be appreciated as a science rather than fictional movies
The genre of prehistoric animals thrives better in educational non-fiction than in recent films
Poor movie theatre attendance and low Rotten Tomatoes ratings loomed over recent dinosaur action films such as 65, released in March, and Jurassic World: Dominion, released last year.
Entertainment platform Screenrant noticed this concerning trend of expensive dinosaur movies failing to please critics and audiences. Given these shortcomings, the dinosaur genre serves better as documentaries and other educational projects than action-adventure fantasy films.
Most moviegoers know Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park remains the unchallenged blockbuster champion of dinosaur films. Collider says one of 65’s pitfalls is that the movie only portrayed its dinosaurs as scary monsters, eager to eat humans. This theme ignores how diverse dinosaur behaviour can be. Jurassic Park did the opposite by showing dinosaurs’ complex traits and their insightful dynamics with human characters, which is considered a major plus to audiences.
On the other hand, the dinosaur genre has excelled more in education than in science-fiction films. Dinosaurs are an inherently curious part of history that can easily get people excited about prehistoric times and learning in general.
Last year, Science World in Vancouver held an interactive Tyrannosaurus Rex exhibit called “T. rex: The Ultimate Predator.” The event earned positive reception during its media preview for enjoyably creative features that engaged the public with old and new T-Rex facts.
The positive buzz of Science World’s presentation proves people still crave dinosaurs for educational value. Compared to their fictional versions, experiencing dinosaurs through science seems to be the key to the genre’s continued appeal.
Aside from public exhibits, dinosaurs are also better off roaming in the documentary space, especially given the format’s current success. Jon Favreau’s globally beloved series Prehistoric Planet performed fantastically on AppleTV+, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100 per cent from critics, earning multiple accolades on top of that score. Due to its growing popularity, the show already has a second season coming out May 22.
BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs from 1999, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, has an 8.5 rating on IMDb even though the show is quite old and bears some factual inaccuracies. Nonetheless, the series supplemented my interest in dinosaurs right after Jurassic Park, more than Jurassic World: Dominion ever could. I can rewatch that content on YouTube and never get tired of it.
One can argue the dinosaur genre still has value in film through comedies like the Night at the Museum trilogy which featured a T-Rex skeleton acting comically like a dog.
If humour isn’t your style, you can rewatch other famous works like Peter Jackson’s underrated King Kong. These movies are timeless and nostalgic in their own ways, but they’re evidently older content.
Visiting the classics seems to be the only edge dinosaurs have left in fictional cinema as documentaries and science events are quickly becoming the dominant media to tell stories about these prehistoric animals. I wouldn’t be surprised if people invested more time in non-fiction dinosaur content in the future.