Fans know who the real star of the Jurassic World franchise is … and it’s “Rexy” the Tyrannosaurus Rex
Even though the Jurassic Park movie franchise has played very loose with the species of dinosaur manifesting the genetically engineered theme park, one thing is undeniable…the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the main attraction at Jurassic Park. Like many other kids of my generation, I found myself wholeheartedly fascinated by the incredible creatures that once walked the earth 65 million years ago. Some kids favored the Triceratops, others the Diplodocus, but the dinosaur that caught my imagination was the Tyrant Lizard King, the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. The monstrous creature was cast as the juggernaut of the dinosaurian kingdom, the predator that dominated the landscape and ruled the world with its colossal jaws.
Fast forward to 1993, and at fifteen years old I was totally unprepared for the blockbuster I was set to experience. The trailers for the original Jurassic Park had baffled my mind. In all honesty, the teaser trailer had left me believing the movie was set to tell the tale of a giant mosquito trapped in amber for thousands of years, freed from its incarceration to unleash terror upon the earth! That was until the theatrical trailer debuted and blew my mind in a way I had never thought possible!
It was a genuine moment of awakening!
The Tyrannosaurus Rex exploded across the screen…in pursuit of a battered Jurassic Park jeep desperate to prey upon the terrified occupants inside and revealed the breath-taking special effects, pioneered by the talented team at Industrial Light and Magic. It was extraordinary, and as the trailer faded from the screen, the buzz around the auditorium confirmed the consensus that we had all just witnessed a special moment in cinematic history.
Several months later, on opening night and with a ticket in hand…my family and I entered the doors of the Plaza Lower Regent Street cinema in central London and took our seats, ready to witness the spectacle of Jurassic Park for the very first time. The movie was captivating, but I recall a huge sense of disappointment when the Tyrannosaurus Rex failed to grace the screen when the sacrificial goat entered the Tyrannosaur paddock.
But that disappointment was unfounded.
Taking advantage of the park-wide power outage, the Tyrannosaurus Rex erupted from her deactivated paddock and became a constant threat to the stars of the movie until the exciting finale, where she would deliver the last gasp rescue and save the humans from a duo of voracious Velociraptors. After killing the Raptor duo, “Rexy” as she has been affectionately named turned to the screen and shook the floor with her iconic and colossal roar reiterating her dominance over Jurassic Park. In what would become a spell of dinosaur fever, the Tyrannosaurus Rex brought to life by the contemporary CGI special effects of ILM captivated a whole new generation of inspired fans.
In that single moment, my love for the Tyrannosaurus Rex was cemented.
Her graceful, yet ferocious power was as fantastical as it was mesmerizing, and her roar reverberated through my soul and shook the boots of my childhood self. Her overwhelming popularity would see the introduction of not one, but three new Tyrannosaurs for the sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. However, the advances in paleontology, especially those about the vocalizations of the Tyrannosaur species meant the loss of the resounding roar from the original.
The bellow had gone, replaced by a more rugged and groaning roar that tainted the ambiance of the sequel for me. The unwelcome alterations to the narrative of Michael Crichton’s robust novel, instigated by screenwriter David Koepp, left many fans bemused. Many elements of the screenplay were unfulfilled and the result was an underwhelming follow up to a Spielberg classic.
Jurassic Park III, went a step further and compounded the fans disillusionment by introducing the Spinosaurus as the main dinosaurian antagonist – at the expense of the mighty Tyrannosaur. Under the influence of the consulting Paleontologist Jack Horner, a renowned academic in his field, the Rex was reintroduced as a roaming scavenger, before being made to suffer the indignity of becoming a foil to advance the Spinosaur toward the throne of king of the dinosaurs.
Unfortunately for the fans, Horner’s theories suggesting that the Tyrannosaur was predominantly a scavenger were the subject of great debate, with many of his peers wholeheartedly disputing his findings. But nonetheless, the producers allowed his influence to affect the screenplay leaving the Rex to be discarded as a secondary character…dethroned and cast aside, replaced by the Spinosaur.
But, there was a problem with Universal’s new monster.
At the time of release, research into the Spinosaurus was in its infancy with only a few fossils being excavated and as a result, the creature was short-sightedly thrust into its dominant position in the story. In an epic confrontation, the Spinosaur faced-off against, defeated, and then predated on the Tyrannosaurus Rex, leaving the film devoid of its presence for the entirety of the movie – and Jurassic Park III suffered as a result.
Unfortunately for the producers of the series, subsequent research into the species confirmed that the Spinosaur was little more than a glorified fish eater. In fact, it had evolved its huge back-mounted fin to hunt prehistoric fish in a submerged state. In short, it was far from the super-predator it had been billed to be and the confrontation with the Rex, if it had happened would have concluded very differently.
So, when Colin Trevorrow was appointed to direct the return to Jurassic Park, I was excited by the news that Rexy, the vintage Tyrannosaur from the original Jurassic Park would be making a stunning return. Being a true fan of the original, Trevorrow was determined to capture the nostalgia of Spielberg’s classic and therefore, included many elements that had made it so successful.
Despite the new hybrid monster, the Indominus Rex dominating the story as the primary dinosaurian antagonist, the nostalgia factor was dialed to eleven with the inclusion of a pack of Velociraptors that had been tamed by the expert handling of Chris Pratt. The refurbished facility on Isla Nublar had been decorated with fossil representations of the greatest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth, and smack bang in the middle of them was the skeleton of the Spinosaurus. Naturally, when Rexy was released from her enclosure to do battle against the rampant Indominus, she smashed her way through the skeleton and reclaimed her throne as the champion of the dinosaurs.
It was a metaphorical masterpiece of movie-making.
With one swift statement, the Tyrannosaurus Rex had reclaimed her glory and banished the falsehood of the Spinosaurus’ reign to the past. It was only fitting that the Rex and the sole surviving Velociraptor, the two titans of the original movie would unite to conquer the Indominus in the finale. And, in the aftermath of the titanic tussle, the Tyrannosaurus Rex stood atop the island’s highest vantage point and unleashed a resounding roar of dominance.
A statement of her restored superiority.
In short, what Spielberg discovered and Trevorrow revived was a simple fact that the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the franchise’s biggest star. With the original Jurassic Park, Spielberg admittedly cast “really good” actors, not Hollywood megastars. His vision did not require A-List talent. The dinosaurs, brought to life by the ingenuity of Industrial Light and Magic, were the stars of the show and their majesty was enough to thrust them into the main character role.
Many of the Velociraptors from previous installments had either been eaten or killed throughout the saga, but the original Tyrannosaurus Rex still stands ahead of its competitors as the star of Jurassic Park. The only detraction from her epic return is the omission of the vintage resounding roar from Spielberg’s original. Thankfully, a somewhat diluted version of the roar was reinstated for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, however, with the Rex resigned to little more than a bit-part role, the triumphant roar was a small consolation.
Even though Jurassic World was criticized in some circles for its lack of originality and over-reliance on the nostalgia factor, the fourth installment in the franchise went on to dominate the box-office and returned Jurassic Park to the pinnacle of Hollywood success once again. All the while, catapulting dinosaurs back into the collective minds of a new generation of fans, just as the original had in 1993. What role the Tyrannosaur will play in Jurassic World: Dominion remains a mystery. But with the latest entry under the directorial guidance of Trevorrow once again, the future looks bright for the tyrant lizard king.
In a time where comic book heroes and the galaxy far, far away dominate the landscape, it is refreshing to see a living breathing relic from our history educating and inspiring the children of the next generation … a generation that has witnessed the tyrant lizard king reclaiming her throne!
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter @philthecool where he uses the force and babbles frequently!