Wow, Jurassic World was a mighty success at the box office although unfortunately I was too wrapped up in my paying job and art festivals to go watch it, dinosaur enthusiast though I am. In any case I read the reviews, watched videos and did loads of movie-related things last time but today we have a special deal in store.
This is going to be the famous Twitter movement that's taking the world entirely by storm, the #buildabetterfaketheropod movement by esteemed paleoartist and rapper (never saw that coming huh?) Brian Engh! Yes, Brian's art will always have a special place in my heart, being so wonderfully surreal-looking and so unique. A little bit on the ornate side but that's not bad, is it? Now, Brian and I had a little talk about the movie Jurassic World itself, and about what inspired him to go about the movement. Suffice to say, I agree with him on the counts that Indominus is quite the normal theropod dinosaur and follows the traditional theropod body plan. So without further ado...Brian Engh!
(Images courtesy of Brian Engh, used with permission)
ME: So give me a little detail about yourself first. Your music, your art, just a brief word or two.
BRIAN: I'm really just a big weird little kid who grew up fascinated with natural history and all kinds of bizarre monsters and creatures and environments, both real and fictional. I now work as a paleoartist, creature designer and animator/film maker. I also make music and music videos, and much of my work centers around ideas inspired by natural history and human mythology.
ME: Alright. Well I'll be keeping this short. Now of course you're also a paleoartist with a very unique style, a bit more surreal than most. What were your thoughts on Jurassic World?
Spoilers are welcome, always welcome (especially for me.)
BRIAN: I haven't seen it, only the clips they posted online. I'm not willing to pay to see it. From what I've seen though, I can tell you that neither the dinosaurs nor the human characters look compelling or original.
ME: I see, well...what of your thoughts of the online "war" between the paleo community and the general fanboys? Just a thought or two before we head on to the crux of the matter?
BRIAN: I honestly wasn't aware that there was an online war!
That's great! I hope that some people are exposed to some new science because of it.
ME: Ahhh well there is a war!
BRIAN: I mean, I know that most paleontologists are reasonably critical of the dinosaurs in the movie, but a lot of them liked it as a silly monster movie too...
ME: Well to me it feels like any old summer blockbuster. Cheesy, campy and I guess, just a lot of fun with not much intelligence...a feel-good movie and no more.
And yes I've seen plenty of #betterfaketheropods thanks to your little artistic movement, including one of my own actually...tell me a bit more about that. I'd love to hear about it
BRIAN: I started the hashtag because I thought it would be fun to draw some speculative or fictional theropods actually based on science.
As a creature designer I was stunned at the blandness of the Indominus rex design, and I know for a fact that there are loads of professional and amateur creature designers that could come up with something more interesting, or at least more fun than it. There is nothing about I. rex that is inspired by modern dinosaur science, or even actual genetics.
I think that's a big part of the reason why it's just a big boring gray Allosaurus that looks like it was made by a Chinese toy factory in the 1980s. Its design runs completely contrary to both the aesthetic and philosophy of decent scientific authenticity that made the first movie so revolutionary.
Go back and watch the making of the first Jurassic Park and you'll see clips of Steven Spielberg saying that he wants the audience to believe that they're seeing a real dinosaur. You'll see creature effects artists studying living animals and consulting with multiple paleontologists in an attempt to make the creatures in the movie more believable and accurate than anything anyone had ever seen before. I. rex and the other dinosaurs' designs and animation make it painfully obvious that nowhere near that level of research and attention to detail went into this new movie.
ME: And you are pleased by the results, aren't you? As a member of the online paleo community myself, I've been seeing some pretty crazy stuff out there. Really it's been allowing artists to flex their creative muscles more.
BRIAN: Yeah it's been really fun, and the response was way bigger than I ever expected. I thought maybe a couple other artists and paleontologists I know might post up a little doodle, I had no idea that dozens of people from all walks of life would take off and run with it. It's been really fun and entertaining.
And some of the ideas and images people have been posting are really cool!
ME: Well they are. And it's great to see a little movement like this take over the Internet so quickly. Thank you once more, and have an awesome day!
FROM THIS POINT ON, EVERY DINOSAUR SHALL BE FAKE
And now for the big guns! What madness has taken place on the Internet since the movement came out? Well let's just check up on that, shall we? First, there were so many #betterfaketheropods that I found it hard to pick just one! That means a sequel post is a distinct possibility! Of course Brian himself proudly displays his work up there as the man who started it all so let's begin with his art first:
This is Cryptonychus, a genuine (FAKE) camouflaged raptor with feathers as green as the leaves among which it lives. Interesting little thing, I must add and those creepy eyes really do add to the terror. Look at him! Look at him chomping that little mammal like a chilled dessert!
Holy shits, this is monstrous! Rick Charles, a member of The Coprolites, has done an image of a "Plock" or Plokamorhynchus harlequinus. Seriously it reminds me of the Thing (1982 body horror). This is quite a disturbing creature to be sure! I love that bright color scheme but just look at those jaws! The artist states that his design has blue-ringed octopus DNA and these guys are incredibly poisonous. And bright colors are warning signs after all in the real world. He's even done not just one but TWO redesigns of the Indominus rex! That's proper awesomeness!
Another one to up the horror factor is this bestial concoction courtesy of talented painter Alexander Lovegrove. Now these are supposed to be a group of glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs! They are the Procompsognathus from the second movie but this time they come equipped with a creepy new ability. Wows! He also does scarier, more Indominus-like giants as well as freaky nightstalkers, all part of this interesting Twitter campaign.
We also have here, by the shameless writer of this post no less, this cartoony NON-SERIOUS sketch of intelligent, highly-evolved dinosaurs or dinosauroids as they're called by the paleo community. They're holding giant muskets, sitting around smoking...something...it's a military thing for these guys I guess but...well was this ill-conceived or what? Heehee!
This sweetie is one of the most horrifying creatures of the night that one can encounter! It's another dinosauroid by Nic, and look at that smile! It just...craves your blood! Really, it's the villains that smile that are the most dangerous and I think that goes for the fiercest carnivores too. Big cats and wolves are fluffy and those can rip you apart in seconds! Predators does NOT equal scary-looking by humanity's standards!
The campaign also gets positively draconian with a submission by Christopher Srnka. This is essentially a dragon-like spinosaur (you know, the Jurassic Park III baddie that turned out to be a fisherman?) and I mean, it's got all those classical dragonish features but that skull shape is quite recognizable as something spinosaur-inspired. Does it possess oral pyrokinesis? I...dunno. Well...I don't want to find out so I will call Mommy Khaleesi to...deal with this one, and...run...like hell...
And guess what? The Coprolites are back with a new podcast! This time they've got a Jurassic World review in store for you! It's pretty long and pretty fun too and these guys always do their stuff in-depth so there's no danger of them missing any details along the way! Do check it out:
Also for more on the actual members of the Coprolite team, head onto their deviantART galleries. Fred Wierum, Rick Charles, David Perdue and Marty Kevil are all incredible artists in their own right so when they team up to do something, you know that they're gonna do it right. Well that's all for now until we have something like #buildabetterfake...well...ornithopod...? Sauropod? Maybe a #buildasomethingbetterthanstegoceratops? Well, for the time being at least, goodbye and good day to all!
(Ssh, just remember...part two will come soon...)