The book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was so good, that I still remember the exact place I sat while I read it. This was some twenty-four years ago and over a weekend visit home from college. Damn, is it really possible I read it nearly a quarter century ago? Give me a minute to let that sink in…
Okay, back to my point. By the time I read the book, it was with the knowledge that a movie was in the works. I even knew that mathematician Ian Malcolm would be played by Jeff Goldblum. So, it was kind of interesting to read his character from that perspective. I felt at the time, that the book lended itself to being made into a movie closely resembling its origin. Most of Crichton’s books read that way. Sort of the polar opposite to Stephen King stories. His films could almost exclusively be listed as inspired by the novel, rather than based on them.
For me however, the film adaption of this fantastic story was a colossal disappointment. As popular and successful as it has become, it just couldn’t live up to the high expectations I had for it. Still, there is enough there to keep me coming back. In fact, here I am giving it another go. I will once more revel in some of it, re-quote those classic lines, and lament about what could have been for the rest of it. What follows is the rambling and somewhat random thoughts which occurred to me as I watched this for the (one hundredth?) time. Hold on to your butts.
Laura Dern is the Jar Jar Binks of the Jurassic Park franchise. Her character, Ellie is full of all manor of sciency things. And she delivers these factoids with all the conviction and mastery that Dave and Chainsaw exhibited while presenting their one thousand word essay here. It feels to me like she is simply reading passages from a textbook without any idea what they mean. And remember that open mouthed stare when she gets her first look at the CG dinos? That may be the worst piece of acting I’ve ever seen (non-Keanu division). Seriously, next time you see this movie focus on her expressions throughout. It’s hysterical.
Dodgson…we’ve got Dodgson here
There is some crazy high pitched squeal during this scene. To this day, I haven’t decided if it was Nedry making the noise or if it was the sound of the secret embryo mechanism opening. It’s a tough call, but I’m leaning towards mechanical. I always worry too, for the poor sap who ends up with the apple pie topped with shaving cream.
How lucky for Spielberg that velociraptors similar to how they appeared in the film were actually discovered during production. Previous to this, raptors were believed to be quite different and even had feathers. I’m sure the city of Toronto is also grateful for this momentous change. They still have a basketball team right?
The future ex Mrs. Malcolm
Let’s talk about Ian Malcolm, the rock star mathematician…excuse me, chaotician. This man single handedly saved the movie from the gaping maw of Laura Dern. His classic laugh in the helicopter as they descend onto Isla Nublar is more than enough to immortalize Goldblum’s character. Thank god they spared no expense. Well, except for taking care of Dennis Nedry that is. I mean, a few salty snacks here and there could’ve gone a long way. It may have saved everyone from the chaos that followed.
It kind of annoys me how Muldoon suggests they may need to install “locking mechanisms” on the vehicle doors. Well, how about actual…you know…locks? Do you think that would do the trick, or do they need to invent some new technology? And shortly after, Dr. Harding is strangely specific in how he refers to his mode of transportation. Does he really need to indicate that he arrived in a “gas powered” jeep? I get that everyone had just arrived in electric vehicles, but who talks like that?
When you gotta go, you gotta go
I still can’t believe they leave the kids alone in the car with the “blood sucking lawyer”. C’mon, the man hears the rumbling approach of a giant T. Rex and suggests it might be the power trying to come back on. Incidentally, that same lawyer dude was in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. See if you can pick him out. And while we’re at it, the sound of the Tyrannosaur paddock coming down sounds like they took it straight from Ferris Bueller’s clarinet solo. Be sure to listen for that next time and see if you don’t agree.
I do hate to dwell on this, but why couldn’t Ellie have been with them at this point in the movie? Maybe she would’ve been the one to run into the toilet and gotten swallowed up whole. That is one deviation from the book I could’ve welcomed with open arms.
Is there anyone besides me that actually roots for Nedry to pull his “gas powered” jeep out of the ditch? For some reason, I always hope he gets away with selling off the dinosaur embryos. Seriously, how else could we possibly end up with a sequel? What are they going to do, have dinosaurs attack San Diego or something? That would be ridiculous.
Why oh why did they have to kill off Samuel L? And then the badass Muldoon too? Clever girl, indeed.
Hey, I never noticed this one before…the genius doctor and paleontologist Alan Grant, just tried to jam his head through a tiny fence opening. He actually thought it might be possible to crawl through that 4″ x 4″ section? Another fun fact about Dr. Grant: in The Hunt for Red October, Sam Neil’s dying words were “I would’ve liked to have seen Montana.” Wouldn’t you know, at the beginning of Jurassic Park he is seen digging for fossils in Montana. Fairytales can come true after all.
With no Samuel L. and no Muldoon, it’s up to one computer whiz kid named Lex to help save the day. Thankfully with all her years of computer experience, she gets the systems back online in a jiff. But, hold on a minute. The raptor calls are coming from inside the house! These creatures are…tenacious.
Alas, this first Jurassic Park movie ends in a shockingly dramatic moment not seen again until the next Jurassic Park movie. One deadly dino saves all the humans from the other, slightly less deadly dinos. Always go with your best pitch.
Speaking of that, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom comes out this June 22nd. And it’s sure to include a refreshingly original plot. Eh, what the hell…I’m in.