Thursday 11 April 2013

A to Z - Jurassic Park

I was really tempted for J to put down Jumanji, but the more I thought about it, the more I just had to put down Jurassic Park. After all, who doesn't love dinosaurs? I've loved them since I was little, and went through the phase of wanting to be a palaeontologist. Now I'm going through a phase of wishing I'd done forensic anthropology but more on that another time.

I remember going to see Jurassic Park at the cinema, and I've since read the source novel by Michael Crichton, and I think it's one of those rare occasions (along with Fight Club, previously discussed) where the film is actually more successful at telling the story than the book. The basic plot is simple - rich guy John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has managed to clone dinosaurs from DNA found inside those mosquitoes preserved in amber, and wants to open a theme park to display them. In order to test everything before it opens, he invites along various people to give it a try, including Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and his two grandchildren. Things go wrong, the dinosaurs get out, and with the group split up around the island, they have to get off before they become dinner.

Given I like Sam Neill AND Jeff Goldblum, it would be hard for me to dislike Jurassic Park. It's hard to believe it's twenty years old, but I think part of its success lies in the use of animatronics alongside CGI to render the dinosaurs. It's difficult for decent animatronics to age badly since they actually exist as part of the film's misè-en-scene, unlike CGI which can look like it was added at a later date by a toddler with access to Photoshop. Most people found the shot in which the jeeps see the herd of brachiosaurs for the first time to be the real Money Shot, but I always did like the first sight of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. They might have tiny baby arms but they still look cool.

I did, and still do, have problems with Jurassic Park. The size of a Triceratops is wrong, for one thing, along with the fact that a Velociraptor was only around a couple of feet tall, meaning the dinosaurs the film calls raptors are closer to the Deinonychus. Even as a youngster, I couldn't work out how they could possibly determine all of the types of DNA within the bodies of the mosquitoes in order to ensure they weren't creating a triceratops/T-rex hybrid, and I wasn't entirely sure that adding the DNA of an amphibian to the DNA of a reptile would make a lot of sense. Of course, the dinosaurs have been genetically bred to be female and they need the gender-switching DNA of a frog in order to be able to breed, but couldn't they have found a reptile that did that? Still, these are nitpicky details in what is otherwise an enjoyable adventure film if you switch your brain off.

I leave you with the scene in which Alan and the kids get a bit more up close and personal with the Gallimimus than they might like...


Tony Noland said...

Haven't seen this one in a while. Might have to do a movie night around it.

Bevimus said...

JP kicks Jumanji's ass in my option. Jumanji's was fun whereas JP was effin awesome!

I saw this movie for the first time while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard as a kid and it stands out as one of the best movie-going experiences I've ever had. Future viewings haven't been quite as magical but they have still been great.

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