movie review: jurassic park

in my ongoing effort to improve my blog (as per my agent's advice) i've come up with a fun way i can do that, and also explore my dinosaur cultural heritage at the same time!

the other day i watched jurassic park with owain, and he had a bunch of questions that got me thinking...

there are a ton of movies out there that focus on us dinosaurs, but yet no one speaks on our behalf as to what these movies mean to us. then it occurred to me while i was explaining some of that stuff to owain. why don't i put the record straight about what these movies say and mean to us dinosaurs!

aside from tourism (mostly in museum and theme parks), movies are the largest employer of us none extinct dinosaurs so it'll be interesting to really sit back and see what they have us up to. especially since let's face it i don't want to be a security guard my whole life!

so the criteria i'm going to look at in these dinosaur (and come to think of it why not all us poor million year old and above exiles dinos and none dinos alike!) movies are:

  • the dinosaur (or prehistoric critter) stars and/or celebrities in the film

  • The portrayal of dinosaurs in the film
  • impact on dinosaur perception
  • how dinosaur/human relations are depicted
  • the best scene of the movie (from a dinosaurs point of view)
  • so without further adue the first movie i'll look at is:

Jurassic Park

directed by the ever talented steven speilberg this movie brought us dinosaurs into a whole new spotlight and perseption... it is perhaps the greatest dinosaur movie ever made (from both a dinosaur and human point of view!)... let us look at what made this the classic that it is today...


the story is that through the science of genetics humans are able to bring dinosaurs back to life through clowning... or i mean cloning... a scientific version of copy and pasting if i got the point from the movie right...

having brought many of dinosaurs back to life the humans in the movie build a theme park centered around the reserecuted saurians (wow a theme park focused on dinosaurs, what an original idea hollywood! if i had a dime for every dino i've met who lived in one of those!) that will make millions of tourist dollars.

after a dromaesaurid (sorry raptor for you none palaeo types out there) causes some trouble the humans get worried about the parks safety, and call in a bunch of experts to make sure the park is safe. among these are a two palaeontologists (who are the coolest humans in the film if you ask me! they are well portrayed to. equally cool as real palaeontologists like dr. brinkman!) and a mathmatician (??? what do dinosaurs and math have to do with each other?)

however an evil human mucks around with the parks safety systems in the middle of the inspection tour and all kinds of chaos and people eating ensues...

Stars and Celebrities

this movie assembled an impressive cast of dinosaurs. not since the days of harryhausen had such a large variety of dinosaurs been in a single picture. many of them first timers to the big screen, and thus exposing them and their species to a whole new level of human awareness and popularity...
  • parasaurolophus. among the most unusual of the duckbills (aka steaks). these guys were sadly just extras in this movie, but it was nice to see some alberta representation in the film (paras are from my neck of the woods)

  • brachiosaurus. the biggest dinosaur of all time, and yet this was their first appearance in a motion picture... humans are weird sometimes in casting
  • triceratops. my favorite food makes it into the film, and in a helpless and sick form that would make it real easy to eat! speilbergs the man!
  • gallimimus. the asian speedster closely related to north american (many of whom are from alberta!) ornithomimids. though ostrich mimic dinosaurs had been in a lot of movies before this, this was a nice touch of internationalism. especially considering the big asian role of the velociraptors were played by americans (go figure!)
  • dilophosaurus. the most decorative of theropods. just too bad that they made the dilophosaur (who was a child actor by the way! they get a lot bigger then in the movie!) put on that stupid clown collar and look like a fool cause this was their first time in a movie too...
  • velociraptor. the single most influnetial dinosaur casting call of all time! "raptors" were a no name before this movie, but have now managed to rival us t-rexs in popularity... the real kicker is that in real life velociraptor is half the size of those in the movie with a slender long snout and more gracile features overall (gracile is a sciency word for slender and light). however hollywood thought that this lean mean asian look was too "soft" for their film so they instead cast a pack of american deinonychus to play the role instead! this racism and american centric attitude shocks me, and i take it out on the movies overall score...
  • tyrannosaurus rex. of course no dinosaur movie would be complete without the king of the dinosaurs, but us t-rexs. by this time hollywood had finally stopped casting allosaurs in the part of t-rexs (mostly due to their being on a lower pay scale... hey we t-rexs are king. that's something you have to pay for!!!) meaning that in this definative film we t-rexs were guranteed an accurate portrayl (there's nothing worse then watching a movie that has an allosaur playing one of us... it'd be like a gorilla playing a human in a movie to you people of the innerweb... allosaur accents alone sound so silly, but i won't rant about them in this review anymore cause their not there!)

now this film has a very special signficance to me that i don't like to talk about much. more because it represents my first taste of tradegy and defeat...

way back when they were casting for the part of the t-rex i kinda auditioned for the part... which with all the computer magics they were using on the film meant they coulda made me look bigger (just like how they made the hobbits smaller in lord of the rings), and thus i would have been famous, and then my life would have turned out better then it has.

however as it unfolded exactly one other t-rex applied for the job. that was my cousin larry!

in the end larry got the part... big surprise!

not my fault i'm only three feet tall where larry if 40 feet long! so what if i speak english where he has one of the best tyrannosaurus voices in the world (he does have one of the best roars i've ever heard).

i'll try to not let my... uh... dislike... for my cousin effect the rest of my review because despite our personal differences i can't say it's because of his acting. in all honesty larry is a way better actor then i am, and he does us tyrannosaurs justice on screen. just off screen he is a big JERK! but enough about my families troubles, and back to the review...

considering the impressive resume that larry has, and this being his first, it is among his best movie roles. i'm also told that while filming, like above, he is a very professional dinosaur and poses little threat to the cast or crew of movies he works on... (unlike raptors... surprising how many of their scenes in jurassic park are just out takes edited into the movie due to their authenticness. all i have to say is samuel l. jackson is a good sport about the whole incident with his arm).

now there are some humans who'd point to this first role with some mockery due to larry playing a female t-rex. however what they fail to realize is that in tyrannosaur culture females are the big strong individuals, and the for a male to portray one he must be a pretty darn scary male... the fact that larry hasn't ever been critized by anyone for being a poor excuse for a cow t-rex should probably speak for itself.

Dinosaur Portrayal

the portrayl of us dinosaurs in jurassic park was revolutionary! never before had dinosaurs been shown as anything but crazy killer monsters. not in a million years (or if your being techincal about it 65 million) would a dinosaur have been shown to be sick or lie down like this burger... or i mean triceratops above... man i'm getting hungry writing this review!

in the olden days of dinosaur movies even gentle and ninny plant eaters would have tried to kill or destroy any human they saw. not in jurassic park... instead herbivores were just that. salad eaters who possed little threat to any (now if only i could just get to isle nublar for a snack!)

however us meat eaters don't get much improved depictions in this movie (though by the sequel they do get better!). all the theropods in this movie kill at least one human, and in larry's case other dinosaurs! this is an example of hollywood playing into commonly held sterotypes about theropods and not setting the record straight...

Impact on Dinosaur Perception

perhaps why jurassic park is such a big deal for us dinosaurs is that it made us cool again!

we hadn't been a big deal since the beginning of the 20th century. as of the world wars (though i still don't know which other world humans were fighting...) we dinosaurs were a forgotten wonder of earth's prehistoric past. as of jurassic park though we were back!

even more important jurassic park presented what we dinosaurs were for the first time!

like so many other minorities hollywood had for years been portraying us in inaccuarate and to be frank insulting ways. big dumb lizards. tail draggers (man my back hurts anytime i watch oldie dino movies and the poor dino actors are forced to drag their tails like they are!).

that all changed with jurassic park. we were shown as the energic, warm blooded, tail lifters we are.

it also had one other interesting impact on dino image which to be honest i don't think was so great, but i have to mention it on behalf of all dinosaurs.

that was the elevation of a new type of dinosaur to tyrannosaurus rex popularity. suddenly if you were a dromaeosaurid... or sorry... "raptor"... you were cool as of this movie

sure the raptors in the movie did a lot to remove the sterotype that dinosaurs were stupid, but to be fair i know a lot of raptors... dromaesaurs to be percise, and they frankly aren't all their cracked up to be... you want a smart dinosaur talk to a troodon sometime. their way smarter then a raptor!

point is that as of jurassic park dinosaurs were cool again. museum's suddenly were willing to pay us dinos good money to live/work there. you were a prided display again, and not just something for the kids... though if you were a t-rex some of your majesty was diminished by our small hook footed relatives...

Human Dinosaur Relations

this is a subject of some interest to me (just check out my blogger personal profile, and see). how humans and dinosaurs can get along and co-exist. cause i have to face up to the fact that my kind for the most part went extinct 65 million years ago. i'm stuck in a human world, and how we get along determines how smoothly my life is going to go...

jurassic park was an amazing step toward bridging the human dinosaur gap. in the years before JP people had come see dinosaurs as monsters to fear. suddenly a new side of us was shown

in this famous scene with the brachiosaurus (she got an oscar nomination for this by the way!) humans were exposed to how we dinosaurs usually are. majestic, awe inspiring, and just plain awesome!

sadly it wasn't all positive strides though...

through the roles written for the theropods the sterotypes of us carnivores were reinforced. why a dilophosaur would hunt down a loser computer programmer is beyond me... now granted raptors are kind a jerks (though larry is the biggest jerk i know!) they won't hunt humans just for sport...

larry's role had one interestingly written part, that though a human died due to the t-rexs actions, was still seen as a good thing by human viewers. in a famous scene from the movie the tyrannosaurus eats a lawyer... this may be the only time i've ever heard of a dinosaur eating someone HELPING human dinosaur relations!

Best Part of the Movie

now this moment in the movie is purely an editorial of my own i expect many dinosaurs (raptors in particular) would pick a different part, but this is MY review so i'm going to pick my favourite part!

totally has to be the bit where larry rescues the humans from the raptors at the end of the movie. no claws down does any scene in the movie beat this one for me...

though i may personally hate larry i actually forget that in this scene. for this one moment captured on film larry is a guy (well in the film gal) you want to hang out with and make a kill with.

so in the movie the two human heroes (palaeontologists to the max) and the human children they've been protecting have been cornered by a pair of raptors. all hope looks lost. till suddenly out of no where larry catches the lead raptor mid pounce (this stunt only took one take! larry is as mean a rex as they come...) saving the pathetic humans. the remaining raptor proceeds to jump larry, and they battle to the death. resulting in one of the most dignifying t-rex moments in a movie ever where larry finally gets his jaws on the raptor and throws it to it's death, and lets out a classic tyrannosaur roar (which roughly translated into english means "taste it!").

my reason for picking it well larry just portrays our species so ferious yet noble at the same time. it is the dinosaur i want to be when i grow up...

it also may have to do with the fact he destroys the raptors too! man ever since this movie dromaesaurids walk around like they owe everything... they really should be reminded of their place by watching this scene again!

Overall Score

the reason i docted it 10%.

their racist casting of the raptors combined with the complete humaliation and slander of dilophosaurs with that stupid frill.

the sterotyping of theropods as nothing more then killing machines...


Anonymous said...

The reason they gave the Dilophosaur the frill is because when you try to clone from a fossil, you don't have all the genetic codes to recreate the animal. Sometimes, to complete the code, Geneticists have to splice, or mix the DNA of other animals with the DNA of the animal you are trying to recreate. They might have spliced the Dilophosaur DNA with the DNA of a King Cobra.

Anonymous said...

Another thing, that's theropods mostly did. Most of the time they killed....but for food. Same thing in Jurassic Park. They know what their eating.....mostly. The T-rex didn't know if the car was edible or not. If you recall, it looked over it carefully....bit the tire but, left it alone realzing that it wasn't edible. The tyrannosaur showed curiousity. That's against the stereotype.

Anonymous said...

I imagine they had to be as close to the novel as possible. In the novel, those were Velociraptors...just twice as big as normal. To be as Paleontologically accurate as possible. They knew they couldn't use Velociraptors, so they used Deinonychus and called it a "velociraptor." Don't blame Spielberg,It was Michael Crichton who wrote the novel that has a Velociraptor 6-feet tall.