“An adventure 65 Million years in the making”
The leading role in this one goes to Sam Neill, who plays Dr. Alan Grant. I have never seen Neill in any other movie; the only thing he’s done that has any significance to me is voicing Malloy, the cat burglar in an episode of The Simpsons. He wore sneakers — FOR SNEAKING.
Samuel L. Jackson also has a surprisingly small role as a chainsmoking IT guy who has one awesome catch phrase (“hold onto your butts”) before getting dismembered by a velociraptor.
The other IT guy who bites it early is Nedry, played by Seinfeld regular Wayne Knight. Hello, Newman.
I always thought Kirsten Dunst was in this movie, but turns out that’s Ariana Richards playing Lex the granddaughter. A trip to IMDB confirmed she was also the girl who got beat up by her dad on an episode of Boy Meets World.
In another case of absurd mistaken identity, I totally blew it when it came to Dr. Ian Malcom. I wrote in my notes Malcom was played by Richard Lewis and then had some joke about how he endorsed Zima when I was a kid and how I always got him mixed up with Howie Mandel. The Mandela Effect was strong on this one, because not only is it Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park (seriously, duh!), but Richard Lewis was in Boku commercials, not Zima.
John Hammond, an absurdly rich white guy with a dubious Scottish accent and the wardrobe of an ivory dealer, has found a way to capture dinosaur DNA from fossilized mosquitos. With this information, he’s now able to breed dinosaurs, which have been extinct for 65 million years. Incredible!
Does Hammond share his knowledge with science in the interests of bettering mankind? FUCK NO! He buys a rock near Costa Rica, and in the ballsiest cash-grab scheme ever, decides to build a Sea World-style dino theme park.
To be fair, this was three decades before Blackfish came out on Netflix and showed the horror of animals living in captivity, but to be unfair, Free Willy came out this same year, so c’mon Hammond, figure it out.
As the park is nearing its grand opening, the investors are a little nervous about its safety, mostly because a couple of the dino handlers have already been ripped to shreds by the dinosaurs. Hammond insists a couple of pesky dead employees shouldn’t indemnify the whole park, and he brings on a couple of archaeologists to provide their professional opinion.
Enter Drs. Grant and Sattler, who spend the next half-hour making o-faces every time they see a goddamn CGI diplodocus. Hammond sends them, as well as Goldblum, his grandchildren, and a lawyer you know is going to die because he’s such a square, on a tour of the park in a pair of Ford Explorers (hello product placement). Grant hates kids, so we know he’s going to get trapped with them or something, but other than that, it’s smooth sailing.
Plot twist time! We discover Newman, the park’s IT guy, has a side gig stealing dino embryos because he feels undervalued and underpaid. And honestly, based on the way Hammond treats him considering nobody else on the fucking island knows how to run the computer, he probably IS undervalued and underpaid.
Anyway, Newman turns off the power grid in order to make his escape and what a surprise, the dinosaurs get loose and start rampaging the island.
The main focus from here on out is to get the park back online, but dang, the only guy who kind of knew how to do that is Sam Jackson, and the only thing left of him is a non-bloody PG-13 severed arm.
Good news! Not Kirsten Dunst is a “hacker” — in 1993 the writers had to explain what that was — and she has the computer skillz to get the park back online. You know what? Considering a 15-year-old was able to reboot the system with a couple lines of code, Newman probably WAS paid appropriately.
Getting the security systems online was really only part of the problem, because John Hammond is still in denial about what a clusterfuck this park is. He keeps saying “it’s still good, we can salvage it” like a guy who dropped his burger on the beach and is trying to wipe off the sand.
Come on, John. Anyone who’s ever been forced to stagger through Mary Shelley knows how this is going to end. Everyone runs away from the velociraptors and the t-rex, Goldblum gets mauled but not killed; Sam Jackson is not so lucky. The doctors, the kids, Goldblum, and Hammond get on a helicopter and stare below at the dino bedlam like it’s the Fall of Saigon and the movie fades to black.
What did we learn after all of this? Playing god is bad, but kids aren’t as useless as you think.
FIRST MEMORIES OF MOVIE:
I was in third grade when this came out, so I was definitely too young to see it in the theater. I first watched it at my grandparents’ house because they had a premium subscription to HBO and they had no idea there was a difference between PG and PG-13. To them it was like what the hell, it was just dinosaurs anyway.
I’m pretty sure my dino phase had already passed by the time this came out, but maybe not. I used to play dinosaurs with my friend Doug on the playground, where we’d pretend to be different dinosaurs and fight each other. It kind of sucked because Doug would always be the t-rex, and the t-rex basically beat everyone all the time.
I took the fighting to another level in 1994 when my neighbor Hans got Primal Rage on Sega. Primal Rage was like Mortal Kombat except with dinosaurs, and by the time we were over that game, dinosaurs had passed and I was doing things like rollerblading in my basement and listening to Boyz II Men. I did eventually read the Michael Crichton book, and that’s much better for a number of reasons.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lost World, but I definitely watched Jurassic Park III with my friend Scott when we were seniors in high school. I remember laughing our way though it because it was so bad. That one did not hold up.
Oh, I saw one of the new ones too. It was okay, but honestly, any time a director wants me to take Andy Dwyer seriously (see: Zero Dark 30), I have a tough time with it.
GAPING PLOT HOLES:
Ok. I get the Costa Rican government is hard up for cash, but do you think they’d really be down to host what is clearly the MOST DANGEROUS THEME PARK OF ALL TIME?
How does one become a dinosaur handler exactly? Like, do you have to have a degree? What sort of things would you specialize in? Archaeology? Paleontology? Honestly, none of the Jurassic Park employees look like that. There’s the one Australian guy with the shotgun that’s dressed like Crocodile Dundee, but then all the other guys are dressed like construction workers with hardhats and jumpsuits and shit. I need some more backstory in order to believe.
Speaking of which, talk to me about these shotguns you keep carrying around. Is that how you plan on defending yourself? I have trouble bringing down ducks with a 12 gauge. How do you think you’re going to fare against a fucking T-Rex? It’s like shooting a bear with a BB gun.
Malcom gets really messed up by a t-rex, and like five minutes later he’s making snide remarks. “Think they’ll have that on the tour?” he says to Grant. Sorry, weren’t you the guy from the Boku commercial? No?
JOKES THAT USED TO BE OVER MY HEAD:
Lawyer: “Are these characters auto erotica?”
Hammond: “No, they’re not animatronic.”
Malcom: “How do you know they’re all female? Do you go out in the park and look up their skirts?”
Sadler: “Are you married?”
Malcom: “Occasionally. I’m always on the lookout for a future ex-Mrs. Malcom.”
LINES THAT WOULDN’T FLY IN 2020:
There’s a Black dude who gets killed in the first 90 seconds of the movie. Really? Can we be more stereotypical? I always wonder about that. Is it a conscious decision that the first victim is Black? It has to be, right?
DOES IT HOLD UP?
I won’t withhold my verdict; this movie absolutely holds up. It’s a classic in every sense of the word, and Spielberg does what he does for a reason. Despite being almost 30 years old, the special effects and CGI are still solid. John Williams’ soundtrack is such a delight, and the raptor kitchen scene still gives me chills. My only gripe was the way Grant et. al escaped the final raptor climax, which was a lazy deus-ex-t-rex situation. But given the rest of the greatness, I’ll let it slide.
Hold onto your butts.