Why’d it Have to Be Raptors….

So.

Jurassic World.

Spoilers, obviously.

I enjoyed parts of this movie, I did. And I disliked parts. But mostly, I’ve already talked about these with people and made my peace with them.

But there was one bit that sort of bugged me while I was watching, and just got more annoying as I thought about it afterward. Despite the seeming triviality, it’s tied to a rather central concept of the movie, so I’ve saved it for my blog tonight. While I anticipate getting a good long incoherent rant out of this, we’ll start with the simple question:

What the heck did Indominus say to those Velociraptors?

I mean, it’s all well and good to go, oh, Indy was a third cousin twice removed or whatever; or she would’ve killed them otherwise so it was the smart choice; or even that anyone in their right mind would choose a dinosaur over Chris Pratt if given the option.

But… let’s try for a moment — YES, I KNOW IT’S A DINOSAUR MOVIE but still — let’s try to be somewhat practical here.

I got the impression that Indy was still a subadult. Near the beginning her size “when full-grown” was mentioned. The implication being that she was big enough to get to work scaring the bejeezus out of people, but not quite as big as she was going to get. She also didn’t look much different in size when compared to our old veteran T. rex.

It was also noted pretty emphatically by the Theropod Whisperer and his high-heeled sidekick that Indy was raised alone; she killed her sister and hasn’t even interacted with live prey while in the enclosure, except presumably any birds or snakes or whatever that got in. No one to “talk” to or learn from. As I was watching the movie, I liked that they acknowledged that, since I recall it being a big part of explaining the raptors’ wanton killing behavior in Lost World (the book). They were social and smart but had no rules or culture from past generations; like young wolves that are relocated or lose their older family members, they didn’t really know what to do. The thing about trading instinct for “intelligence” (that is, the ability to learn and adapt quickly) is that it can make you pretty stupid if you don’t have anyone to learn from. A baby snake will probably fare better than a puppy if you leave them alone in the woods for a week.

So, Indy has some basic calls and baby babble. Somehow she manages to learn enough from staring at a few humans, never hunting anything but her ill-fated sibling, and wandering around a bit, to figure out that the (admittedly not so bright) humans will appear inside her cage if she scratches the wall up a bit and turns into a treefrogcuttlefish, but that’s beside the point. Eventually she gets out.

And goes on a killing spree. Which makes enough sense; she’s bored and the stuff runs when she chases it. Basic housecat stuff here. Plus, if she is a juvenile she could even be playing, in a really horrific way.

But then she meets the Raptor Squad. They do not run. They are hunting her. They threaten her. It doesn’t appear that anything has really been able to harm her thus far, or at least nothing has frightened her into retreat (side note: his reply about the tracking device seemed to be answering entirely the wrong question — the surprising thing wasn’t really that she figured out/remembered where the giant blinky microchip in her flesh was, it was that she knew to take it out at the *exact* time they decided to start tracking her with it). She could probably kill at least one raptor as they pause to look her over. But instead, they have a quick chat — which seems to incorporate the raptors’ rallying/hunt call at one point — and … INSTANT BFFs!

What happened here? The way I see it, there are a few options.

1. She’s scared. She’s young. She’s never been hunted by something she instinctively-or-otherwise recognizes as a dangerous predator before. She gives some universal “I am no more threatening than a baby” signal, like a wolf’s muzzle-licking or a bird’s peeping/wing fluttering (or a raptor’s “come help me” rally call?), and they’re like, Oh, okay, you’re a weird-a** baby but whatever. Or they just don’t like the thought of killing something that can kind of talk. As usual, the humans wildly misinterpret everything.

This doesn’t really explain why they instantly turn on Chris Pratt though, since they seemed to be doing okay with him up to that point, unless they were all, “HOW DARE YOU SEND US ON THIS MISSION, BABYKILLER.”

2. Chris Pratt’s interpretation: The raptors realize Indy speaks their language. Indy says something along the lines of, “See these claws? You work for me, now — KILL THEM ALL.”

Except, even if the raptors have a language, it seems a stretch that she knows enough of it to introduce herself, transfer leadership, and send them on the offensive so quickly without really *doing* anything. At best, we’re looking at…

3. It doesn’t matter that Indy can’t really *say* anything beyond, you know, “ME BIG. ME STRONG. RAWR.” A bigger, more macho dinosaur steps in, makes some macho-raptor-ish noises, and instantly usurps Starlord’s position, because that is how pack leadership works.

Except that’s more how harem leadership works. Which is actually pretty appropriate for Guardians of the Galaxy With Dinosaurs, in which men yell at each other and die fabulously and fix cars and there’s also a woman in this movie, for kissing!, but not so great for a real-life pack. Otherwise you’d get awkward situations like this:

IndominusI know, that’s oversimplified and Great Danes aren’t that big and it’s really obvious that first dark branch is covering up my initial attempt at fitting “INTRUDER” on one line which I also failed at the second time because I don’t know how big words are. But still. Even assuming the raptors are canny enough to do a cost/benefit thing regarding staying with the zookeepers vs. siding with Indy, Chris Pratt clearly has ways to overpower them and other dinosaurs, and he feeds them to boot. Being distantly related and a lot bigger does not make you better qualified to command a hunting party if you’re clearly unpredictable and inexperienced and might eat everyone or fall in a hole or something. If you’re hunting with your group and you find the thing you’re hunting, and it turns out its forearms and nostrils are kind of similar to yours but ten times bigger, said thing doesn’t automatically become your leader. You don’t see timber wolves running around leading majestic packs of coyotes. Wolves kill coyotes; people kill people, if I must point that out, and even understanding each other perfectly doesn’t always help. But then, sometimes cats take care of ducklings. It’s more about the conditions of the meeting than the species involved. These weren’t great conditions for a friendly meeting.

So.

I know there are other possibilities and that I’m over-thinking this and so on. But explicitly saying, “oh dang, this thing has some really arcane connection to the raptors, obviously they will now do its bidding!” just seems so silly. None of that seemed to apply with T. rex — admittedly not the most social critter, but still. The whole “A human has marked this animal as food” thing started out just the same, but with very different results. And while we’re at it, did we need to worry about Indy raising an army of tree frogs or cuttlefish? How far do her powers of hybrid persuasion extend?

Okay. I’m done now. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you for the inevitable Jurassic World sequel, Jurassic Universe, where they decide it’s a good idea to send Velociraptors into space; and the crossover event Jurassic Galaxy where the raptors are given rockets.

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