Dinosaurs Eat Man…Woman Inherits the Earth: Musings On Jurassic Park (Part 1)
For those of you that know me, it comes as no surprise to you that I have a tendency to become obsessed with things. My first real obsession came about in 1993. I was 8 years old and that obsession was Jurassic Park. I was already pretty heavily obsessed with dinosaurs at this point, so when I saw the posters and trailers for the movie, I begged my parents to let me see it. It was the first PG-13 movie that I saw in the movie theater (and probably the first PG-13 movie that I had ever seen in general). After leaving the theater, I promptly begged my mother to take me to the local toy store so I could fill my room with Jurassic Park themed goodies. Over the next few months I spent any money that I had on acquiring more JP items. I had bed sheets, the tent, several T-shirts, pajamas (apparently they only made JP pajamas for boys, naturally curious, I questioned my mom as to why there was a hole in the crotch and that was how I learned that boys pee standing up), I even dressed up as a Dilophasaurus for Halloween that year. Then there’s my most prized possession of all of my JP merch, an item which I still own to this very day, The Jurassic Park Compound. This movie is still in my top 5 all time favorite movies. I love everything about it, the fact that the dinosaurs are robots and costumes and not CGI, the musical score (John Williams is a GENIUS), the cast, everything. That’s not to say that this movie isn’t without its faults. I recently decided to watch this movie and jot down my thoughts as I watched. This was supposed to be a short review but it turned into a play by play plot synopsis, with a smattering of my own thoughts mixed in.
Opening sequence, I never realized how scary as balls this scene is. How did I handle that when I was a kid? It’s the middle of the night and a bunch of Costa Rican workers sporting sweet InGen swag are transporting a very large crate. It’s here that we also meet Robert Muldoon. (Also, I know he’s Australian or British or whatever but why does Robert Muldoon insist on wearing the shortest shorts of all time? He does have some seriously muscular legs though. I guess if I had those legs, I would want to be wearing the shortest shorts possible. I would like to know what his workout regimen is.) Muldoon is a games keeper from John Hammond’s Wildlife Park in Africa. Something goes wrong during the transport of this animal and one of the Costa Rican workers is pulled inside of the cage and devoured by the creature. I never realized its importance before my most recent viewing but this event really does set us up for the entire film. It’s the whole reason why John Hammond needs Drs. Grant, Sadler and Malcolm to endorse the park. It’s why Donald Gennaro (in his sweet lawyer shorts) is there on behalf of the shareholders. If that immigrant worker had never been eaten, none of this would have happened.
We leave that first sequence and are immediately introduced to the portly Dennis Nedry and his lunch-date Lewis Dodgson, who are both there on behalf of InGens rival company Biosyn. Nedry has financial issues that are never discussed thoroughly in the book or the film but he seems to think that John Hammond should be paying him more, hence why he agrees to steal the Dinosaur Embryos for Biosyn in return for a very large sum of cash. (Side Note: To this day, I will check random cans of Barbisol in the hopes of finding a secret embryo compartment hidden inside. I’ve never been successful.) It’s also here that we come upon Drs. Alan Grant and Ellie Sadler (can I just point out that Laura Dern was 26 years old in the movie. 26! The 90’s were not a beautiful time), who have just moments before discovered a fully intact Velociraptor skeleton that comes up on a very 1990’s computer screen. Grant begins to visually dissect the skeleton and voices his opinion on how all Dinosaurs became birds. This is met by raucous laughter from his colleagues (it’s interesting that this is pretty much scientific fact now, seeing as this movie is only 20 years old). It’s here that we also meet an unnamed latch-key kid whose parents decided to not only bring their child along with them to the desert but also decided that it would be best not to teach this child any manners. Dr. Grant, the kid hater, decides to teach the brat a lesson about speaking when spoken to by demonstrating the power of the velociraptor using a petrified claw that he conveniently kept tucked away in his neckerchief, undoubtedly causing this kid to shit his pants. Proud of bullying a kid, Dr. Grant walks away, only to see their recent dig being re-earthed by a very untimely helicopter. Inside Grants trailer we find John Hammond, helping his tubby butt to whatever limited sweets one can find in the desert. After destroying their work and stealing their food, Hammond pretty much bribes Grant and Sadler into visiting his park for the weekend by offering to fully fund their jobs for the next few years.
Let’s fast forward to when we are introduced to the group as a unit, in the helicopter. There’s John Hammond, the rich, Scottish Billionaire (pretty much the human version of Scrooge McDuck),Donald Gennaro, the lawyer, Dr. Alan Grant the Paleontologist, Dr. Ellie Sadler the Paleobotonist, (all of whom seem to have gotten the memo that khaki/denim was the appropriate uniform of the weekend) and finally Dr. Ian Malcolm the mathematician (cha-o-ti-cian, choatician actually), who doesn’t seem to have any idea about the climate in Costa-Rica and decided that a wardrobe of black leather would be the preferred ensemble for the weekend. Was his rock-star image really so important? But I digress, it’s here in the helicopter that we get our first glimpse into “fore-shadowing”. During some turbulence, Dr. Grant can’t seem to find the male end of his seatbelt buckle and after becoming frustrated, ties two female ends together ,“finding a way” to make a seatbelt for himself. It’s here that John Hammond takes them on a tour of the grounds and this is where we see our Drs. first encounter with a brachiosaurus (Side Note 2: Did you know that there is no such thing as Brontosaurs? in 1877, a Paleontologist named Marsh discovered the partial skeleton of a long-necked, long-tailed, leaf-eating dinosaur he dubbed Apatosaurus. It was missing a skull, so in 1883 when Marsh published a reconstruction of his Apatosaurus, he used the head of another dinosaur — thought to be a Camarasaurus — to complete the skeleton, this “new species” of dinosaur was named Brontasaurus. Brontasaurus never existed, the Land Before Time is a lie, childhood shattered.) Next, we find ourselves on a delightful little tour; here we are met by a precocious and street savvy strand of DNA. He teaches us how the Jurassic Park scientists were able to genetically clone dinosaurs (I could very easily write another article about how Mr. DNA miss-pronounces the word Dinosaur, but we would be here all week. ((Also, apparently for all his lawyer jargon, Gennaro doesn’t know what Audio-animatronics are because he clearly refers to what are clearly actual human beings as auto-erotica!?!?! I think Gennaro really just needs to get laid.)) Craving more, Malcolm, Sadler and Grant decide that the rules do not apply to them as they break this very expensive ride and go chat it up with the scientists. It is here that they not only discover that John Hammond has foolishly bred Velociraptors but that B.D. Wong is the God of Dinosaurs and apparently he has made all the dinosaurs into girls (Cue first cheeky joke from Jeff Goldblum). Ian Malcolm explains that there is no way they can control that because it is nature’s intent for things to procreate. B.D. Wong gets fussy and they all leave the laboratory.
So, we’re finally ready to ride in those sweet, bedazzled jeeps and see some serious Dinos. Remember how Dr. Grant hates kids? Well, turns out that John Hammond decided to pull a Shyamalan on Grant by inviting his grandchild Lex and Tim, along for the weekend adventure. After sticking the kids with the lawyer and slamming the door in the face of super-adorable Tim, we’re ready to truly begin our adventure. After driving past several exhibits without seeing any dinosaurs (but not without more jokes from Goldblum), Grant again decides that the rules don’t apply to him and exits the moving vehicle in order to get a closer look at some shit that is none of his business. It’s here we meet a very sickly Triceratops (Side Note 3: The year that Jurassic Park came out, my family took a trip to Universal Studios and they had an extensive prop display from the movie including the animatronic Triceratops. It was truly an amazing experience). Sadler decides that as a Paleobotonist, she needs to check the sickly dinos poop, just to make sure that she’s not eating the various amounts of poisonous berries that the landscapers of Jurassic Park decided to put all around the enclosure. Cue the Thunder and Lightning, momentarily level-headed Gennaro calls everyone to get back to the vehicles and finish the tour. Dr. Sadler ignores Mother Nature’s warnings and stays with the Triceratops, thus separating herself from the rest of the group.
Ok, so now we’re back in the control/computer room and we see the aforementioned Dennis Nedry, Robert Muldoon, John Hammond and because he is in every other movie ever made, Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold). It is made clear immediately how Dennis Nedry grew to be such a specimen of health and fitness, as we see that his computer station is covered with candy wrappers and soda cans. It is here that Nedry begins his plan for stealing the dinosaur embryos. In an effort to seem less suspicious, he alerts his co-workers that he will have to shut down the systems in order to do the de-bugging that Hammond had requested he do earlier. This is a farce; he must shut down the systems in order to not be caught on camera stealing the embryos.
While Nedry does his looting, we flash back to the tour groups in their jeeps and notice that they have stopped moving and of course it’s in front of the T-Rex exhibit. In one car, Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant are for some reason fighting over Laura Dern and in the other car, Lex and Tim are trying to ease their boredom, while the lawyer acts like a stick in the mud, preventing Tim from playing with something that looks expensive (I don’t know what Gennaros big issue is here. Tim’s GD Grandfather owns the place; I think he will replace the goggles if Tim breaks them.). Suddenly we feel the earth begin to tremor and we see the single cup of water inside the vehicle begin to ripple. All at once, everyone notices that the poor, soaking wet goat that had previously been chained to a post in an attempt to draw in the T-Rex, is now missing. Just as vegetarian Lex asks what happened to the goat (she knows what happened), the T-Rex whips it’s leftovers at her. Now, cowardly Gennaro decides that it’s at this very moment that he must void his bowels, so he vacates the vehicle and runs to the nearest facility to do what nature intended, thus leaving the children alone in the car with a giant carnivore just outside their door. Now, because Nedry turned off all of the power in order to thieve, Rex can now escape her captivity and unleash her wrath upon the free world. Due to her lack of protein from an all vegetarian diet, Lex makes a series of stupid decisions that cause the T-Rex to think that they are begging to be eaten. Rex is a little over-eager to get to her meal and accidentally flips the car over onto its top. It’s at this very moment that Grant decides that maybe he hates kids just a little bit less and tries to draw Rex away from Lex and Tim. Ian Malcolm decides that Grant didn’t do a good enough job and attempts to one up him, thus causing a chase off between himself and the Rex. Rex unceremoniously breaks through the bathroom hut that Gennaro is currently occupying, flinging Malcolm and his hipster glasses across the great expanse in the process. Feeling embarrassed at being caught peeing sitting down by a lady, Genarro tries to shoo Rex away but she decides to save him the future embarrassment of having to explain being a sit-down pee-er and just eats him instead. It’s at this point that Grant has decided to give up his kid-hating ways and help Lex and Tim to escape their car captivity. (This is where one of my biggest gripes of this movie comes in. I know it’s been discussed but I need to mention it, too. How is it that the T-Rex is on level ground when she first escapes the enclosure but now that she’s shoving the car over the side, there is suddenly a 100 foot drop? It makes absolutely no logical sense Steven Spielberg and I will not stand for it!)
Check back in tomorrow as we wrap things up with Part 2.
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