Below the fold…
[Spoilers for Jurassic World follow]
Jurassic World is a spectacular film. The scale of the resurrected-dinosaur franchise did not appreciably increase with the previous two sequels two decades ago, but here, it swells to encompass a larger ecology of reborn dinosaurs, a larger setting, and a larger cinematic vision, which is a fitting continuation to the spectacle of its forebears. Less fortunately, that larger scale has pushed the franchise away from its suspenseful, adventure-film roots toward creature-feature garishness. At least they added or restored several characters of color and acknowledged in-universe that their undead sauropsids often bear only superficial resemblance to their ostensible forebears.
As much as the biologist in me was shrieking the whole time, the movie had one joyous redeeming feature, and that was Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Claire Dearing.
The human brain has a great deal of real estate devoted to the tasks of recognizing faces and recognizing emotions in those faces. Neither of these tasks is foolproof: seeing faces where they are none is the most common form of pareidolia and has whole religions devoted to it, and prosopagnosia and difficulty reading emotions in faces are both common difficulties associated with autism. One of the most common malfunctions of this facial recognition module is treating animals as though their facial expressions and other behavioral signifiers mean the same things as ours. It’s from here that we eventually get snarling velociraptors in modern creature features.
A great deal of cruelty is had when people refuse to read animals for what they are saying, and instead read what they think ought to be there.