Jurassic Park: A Reflection
by Mitchell Burns
“Welcome to Jurassic Park” – John Hammond
Let’s lay it all out on the line, I am an unabashed ‘Jurassic Park’ fan-boy. I grew up in awe of Dinosaurs, as a young boy I had books upon books, and I could name a plethora of dinosaurs upon first glance. I was three when ‘Jurassic park’ was released, my parents saw it in the theater, and after seeing it decided it was suitable for a child so in love with dinosaurs. They waited until it’s home release, rented it on VHS FROM A STORE – Something unheard of to today’s youth- and we watched it.
“God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.” – Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) “Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth” – Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern)
I was immediately in love with ‘Jurassic park’ after first viewing, my parents eventually bought us a copy on VHS and me and my younger brother watched it whenever possible. I never remember being scared of the dinosaurs, I was more in awe of them, you could even say I had a respect for them. Director Steven Spielberg had a way of making the dinosaurs and some of the more scary scenes terrifying and grand, but never completely horrifying. It’s like what he did with ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’, as kids these films had scary moments but none of us were wetting the bed or crying to our mothers. Spielberg had a delicate way of handling these situations, children were entertained but not too frightened, and parents were never bored, in fact they mostly reveled in it.
“Hold onto your Butts” – Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson)
My family and I can quote many lines from ‘Jurassic park’, it’s not hard as it’s a very quotable movie. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is the most quotable, and probably the most memorable character. Goldblum is cast perfectly, with the wittiest lines and great delivery of said lines, whether he’s hitting on Laura Dern’s character, Dr. Ellie Sattler, or admiring a big pile of shit, he’s the comedic relief that really should have never been there in the first place.
“Clever Girl” – Muldoon (Bob Peck)
Growing up, I was a big fan of Dr. Alan Grant, played by Sam Neil, I idolized Dr. Grant like Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazzello) did in the film. Neil played him well, stoic, intelligent, and brave, reminiscent of Indiana Jones himself. His partner, in both paleontology and romantically, is Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by the wonderful Laura Dern. Even in a 1993 film, with men crawling all over the park, we’re given a strong female role, someone who pushes herself in the face of insurmountable danger.
“What have they got in there? King Kong?” – Ian Malcolm
The main cast are surrounded by a bevy of likeable and interesting side characters, each of whom are introduced and developed superbly, so if, and when, they meet there untimely demise, it comes with some weight. The late Richard Attenborough plays Dr. John Hammond, the creator of the park, who brought our characters to the island with the intention of getting them to give his park their seal of approval. Attenborough’s character is changed a bit from the book, he’s more greedy and slimy in Michael Crichtons novel. Dr. John Hammond’s change to the screen is appreciated, he invites his grandchildren to the park and is overjoyed with their excitement, but you can see that same excitement in him as he shows off his park. Hammond adds a bit of added wonderment to the whole thing, and I think I saw myself in him.
“We Spared no expense” – John Hammond (Richard Attenbourough)
Speaking of Hammond, his grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards), come to the island the same time as Dr. Grant and the others. At first, these kids come across as annoying, it almost feels cheesy. But when pitted against real danger, and interacting with Dr. Grant, they become real characters, and at times the heart of the film.
“I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.” – Ian Malcom
My Mothers favorite character is Robert Muldoon, played by the late Bob Peck, Muldoon is most remembered for his line “Clever Girl”. Muldoon knows the dangers of the park as he is the parks warden, and he sees the risk in the parks most vicious attractions, the Velociraptor. Rounding out the cast are Wayne Knight, as the shifty Park employee Dennis Nedry, Martin Ferrero as the Smarmy lawyer Donald Gennaro, Samuel L. Jackson in a small but very memorable role as chief engineer Ray Arnold, and BD Wong, as the chief scientist. Wong serves as the only returning cast member in ‘Jurassic World’.
“What’s the matter, kid? You never had lamb chops?” – Donald Gennaro
I’ve stated now that I enjoy these characters? Well, it’s pretty awesome that these characters stand out when the dinosaurs at the center of the film are characters themselves, and when onscreen, they command your attention. Most memorable are the dilophosaurus and it’s moments with Dennis Nedry who tries to make it fetch a stick. The brachiosaurus, as the first dinosaur encountered at the park by Dr. Grant and the gang, and for sneezing on Lex. The Gallimimus, in that beautiful shot of them “flocking this way” to Dr. Grant and the kids, across an open grass plain. The sick Triceratops, The velociraptors in all their horrific glory and of course, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, who steals the whole show.
“They’re moving in herds. They do move in herds.” – Dr. Alan Grant
The way Spielberg and his crew mixed practical and CGI effects is masterful, even today it holds up well. I’m hoping ‘Jurassic World’ can keep this feel in some way, using some practical effects and not making it a huge CGI mess that most blockbusters today have become.
“Shoot her! Shoot her!” – Muldoon
On top of everything, is John Williams score, it’s magnificent, something I’ve admired for many years. John Williams has created many great scores, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and we know he’ll go down in history for all of these, but in my opinion, Jurassic Park has the greatest score of all these, and that’s saying something. I’ve heard most of Michael Giacchino’s score for ‘Jurassic World’, and it sounds pretty good, he seems to be paying homage to Williams’ original score, but has created something that can be remembered on its own. I’ve admired Giacchino ever since his work on ‘Lost‘ and Pixars’ ‘Up’, and am happy with his involvement.
“They’re, uh… they’re flocking this way.” – Tim Murphy
‘Jurassic Park’ is a thrill-ride, an adventure unlike any other, but it’s not completely brainless it gives you something to think about. Dr. Ian Malcom’s beliefs on Chaos Theory are woven throughout the plot, and of course his ramblings begin to take form as chaos unleashes. The science behind the creation of the park, while implausible, is still quite interesting. The commerce of running and operating a park of dinosaurs, paleontology, and the habits of animals that have been extinct for thousands of years are all really interesting ideas and points that are brought up in ‘Jurassic Park’. It may be a bit dumb-ed down from Michael Chrichton’s novel, but it is nonetheless some interesting fodder to ponder.
“He left us! He left us!” – Lex Murphy
‘Jurassic Park’ has two sequels, the first is ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’ in 1997 followed by ‘Jurassic Park 3’ in 2001. I won’t say too much on these sequels, I saw them both pretty close to their initial release so I was pretty young and still in love with dinosaurs. While I can enjoy both sequels, I see the issues with them, ‘The Lost World’ goes for big and loud action and that’s about all, while JP3 is a pretty unimaginative and dumb third installment. Saying that, I own both and I’d gladly throw either of them in the Blu-ray player.
“John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.” – Dr. Ian Malcom
If you are reading this article looking for some negativity, you’ve been mislead. ‘Jurassic Park’ was a part of my childhood, and even through my jaded adult eyes, I can see that it’s damn near perfection. Steven Spielberg took ‘Jaws’ and mixed it with ‘Indiana Jones’ and we were given ‘Jurassic Park’, The man can do whatever he wants with the rest of his career, Myself, and Child me, thank him.
“Don’t move! He can’t see us if we don’t move.” – Dr. Alan Grant
As for ‘Jurassic World’, Hold onto your Butts, I’m seeing it this weekend and will have a review Sunday.