It looks like "Jurassic Park" will be opening its gates in the very near future as Universal has announced a release date of June 13, 2014 for the long in-development fourth installment in the franchise and tapped "Safety Not Guaranteed" director Colin Trevorrow to call the shots.
In anticipation of "Jurassic Park IV" and the 3D remix of the original "Jurassic Park," opening April 5, we've gathered the five coolest dinosaurs that we've seen at the sci-fi attraction so far ... and five that we hope to see in next summer's grand re-opening.
The 5 Baddest Dinos of the 'Jurassic Park' Trilogy:
Tyrannosaurus Rex in 'Jurassic Park' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
1. Tyrannosaurus Rex
The mighty T-Rex is at the center of some of the most memorable (and frightening) moments from the first three "Jurassic Park" adventures, from its first appearance being ominously foreshadowed by the shaking water glass to the "Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear" gag to causing Julianne Moore to wish she didn't weigh so much as the glass she was laying on splintered and cracked to the point of audience madness. Oh, and let's not forget that toilet scene! This fella was indeed the King of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth ... until another super-beast showed up and kicked its tail ...
Spinosaurus in 'Jurassic Park III' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
The T-Rex gets all the press, but this terrifying creature is actually the largest of all carnivorous dinosaurs, according to recent estimates that put it at 57 feet in length and 12 tons in weight. It made for the most mean-spirited and scariest of the "Jurassic Park" villains, showing up at the most inconvenient times during "Jurassic Park III" and -- in one of the film's showstopper set pieces -- staking its claim as the new heavy-hitter by defeating the mighty T-Rex in a survival-of-the-fittest smackdown that would've made chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) mutter "I told you so" if he had been there.
Velociraptors in 'Jurassic Park' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
These things always steal the show, as their comparatively smaller size makes them a much more personal enemy for all the movie stars running around and their ruthlessness and cunning makes them seem somehow smarter than most of their bigger cousins ... and therefore more dangerous ("Clever girl," admits one poor bastard in the first movie before he gets wasted by the worthier hunter). The Raptors were fringe players in the third movie but stole the show in the first two, causing chaos in the kitchen in "Jurassic Park" and showing why you should never venture into the tall grass in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."
Dilophosaurus in 'Jurassic Park' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
This thing looks cute for a while in true Spielbergian fashion, then it grows bat wings or something on the side of its head, screams its head off and spews some sort of venomous liquid, dousing its victim in viscous goo before tearing it apart. It made short work of poor Newman from "Seinfeld," who thought he could escape the island when even Samuel L. Jackson couldn't. Foolish Newman! Also, beware these things while on the "Jurassic Park" ride at Universal Studios -- that might not be harmless water they're spraying at you.
Pteranodon in 'Jurassic Park III' (Photo: Universal Pictures)
Technically these flying wonders aren't "dinosaurs" -- they're reptiles, but they don't belong to either of the dinosaur groups of Saurischia and Ornithischia, which exclude pterosaurs. Technically they are awesome, though, and were featured in one of the most intense set pieces of "Jurassic Park III." Man, don't even think of venturing within a mile of the eggs of one of these things! They'll scream and flap and poke and bite and create enough noise and chaos that if its physical attacks don't kill you then a heart attack will. Plus, they can fly. Awesome.
The 5 Baddest Dinos That Should Be in 'Jurassic Park IV':
Its name means "Chinese bird-lizard," which sounds almost but not quite as cool as "Sinornithosaurus" (really, doesn't the imagined sound of Sam Neill or Laura Dern or Jeff Goldblum exclaiming "Sinornithosaurus!" fill you with geeky glee?). Imagine a smaller (around three feet long) version of the Raptor and add feathers and you've pretty much got the idea, though don't let its relatively tiny size fool you -- a recent study suggests that the Sinornithosaurus may be the first-identified venomous dinosaur. Imagine a swarm of these descending on some poor idiot, snapping and biting away -- there was no scene in "Safety Not Guaranteed" like that, was there?
"Feathers" might indeed be a key component to "Jurassic Park IV," as today's special effects technology allows feathers to be animated a lot more easily and realistically than what was possible back in 1993 or even 2001.
"I don't want to give away my sources, but when it comes to 'Jurassic Park IV,' think feathers," said Dr. Robert Bakker, the self-described "dinosaur guy" of the Houston Museum of Natural Science. "I'm expecting better feathers, on new dinosaurs as well as on ones we've already seen," he added, hinting heavily toward the Raptors.
Speaking of feathers, here's the dino to include if the filmmakers want to get a bit controversial. There's been no real consensus on how to classify this beast, which represents the transitional link between birds and reptiles. As such, the crow-sized Archaeopteryx (sometimes referred to by its German name "Urvogel," which means original bird" or "first bird") is considered both a primitive bird and feathered dinosaur at the same time, which makes it twice as bad. It's unknown if this astonishing creature could actually fly, but if Spielberg ends up saying it did, then it probably did -- and a flock of these things descending on a camp of "Jurassic Park" bird-watchers would make for quite the scary image.
Bring on the aquatic dinos! We almost guarantee the appearance of a Plesiosaur (or one of its kin) in "Jurassic Park IV," if only because it's high time for a big set piece either on or under the water. The typical plesiosaur had a broad body and a short tail, though its most popular feature is actually specific to the "Plesiosauroidea" suborder: the long neck that every once in a while pops out of the water in a certain Scottish lake.
Dr. Bakker believes that the appearance of a Plesiosaur or other water dino is highly likely, if for no other reason than "It would be very cool." We couldn't agree more.
We've seen the T-Rex and the Spinosaurs -- now it's time for another bad boy with short arms and big teeth to stomp around and roar a lot (hey, its name actually means "different lizard," which sounds like a term that you'd probably find throughout the "Jurassic Park IV" script treatment). The Allosaurus is a lighter, lither version of the Tyrannosaurus, and became extinct a good 77 million years before the time of the T-Rex... which means its appearance might by default make "JP4" a prequel.
Here's a close cousin to the Velociraptor, and just the beast to call in if the Raptors need to be dethroned the way the T-Rex got owned by the Spinosaurus in "Jurassic Park III." The name "Deinoychus" means "Terrible Claw" (sweet), which refers to the rather large (around five inches), sickle-shaped talon on the second toe of each hind foot. These bird-like beasts grew up to five feet tall and 11 feet long and had the same kind of speed and intelligence as the Raptors, though the death grip they could inflict with those talons definitely gave them a powerful (and messy) offensive advantage.
Watch the trailer for "Jurassic Park 3D" coming to theaters on April 5: