STL Science Center

STL Science Center

12 December 2016

The Veritable Movie Star

Tyrannosaurus rex appears in more movies, documentaries, and other film roles than any other dinosaur or fossil creature. There are a few that come close (e.g. Triceratops, Stegosaurus) but none of these possesses the "star power" of T. rex. Some of the best Tyrannosaurus representations in film are some of the oldest, but these do not always hold up in terms of the image of the dinosaur that we expect to see because of the changes in the scientific appearance that have been uncovered recently. There are, because of that, also good modern illustrations or depictions of Tyrannosaurus that may not be in the best documentaries or movies but are beautiful to look at. As a villain, possibly one of the best Tyrannosaurus feature cartoon roles was as the protagonist in the 1980's cartoon The Land Before Time.

Despite the inaccuracies of the illustration, though it was fairly on point in its heyday, this Tyrannosaurus accomplished the goal of looking and feeling like a terrible presence that not only brutally attacked another dinosaur early in the story, but also came back to stalk and haunt the young heroes of the story throughout their journey. The single-minded quest for these tiny morsels seems a bit ludicrous, but it does serve to drive the story. In the vein of antiquated dinosaur representations is the original King Kong's Tyrannosaurus. This version of the dinosaur is one of the more entertaining stop-motion/puppet representations of the dinosaur that has graced the screen. Terribly rendered with three fingers and its tail dragging all over the screen, this T. rex is an embarrassment to its kin, but it is also one of the first that the public was introduced to and is quite an achievement for stop-motion animation.

The only newer movie I am going to leave here is actually fairly old as well. There are plenty of new Tyrannosaurus attacks on film in modern and ancient scenes. One of my favorites of all times is the initial attack in 1993's Jurassic Park.

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