Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rewatch: Jurassic Parks

I don't have any particular fondness for this franchise, but I did enjoy the first one immensely, and the others decreasingly as time went by. I only watched because I needed something to watch on Netflix that I could watch in chunks, turning on and off again, while staring at my phone or doing work.

Jurassic Park, 1993, Steven Spielburg (The BFG) -- Netflix

That seminal scene, the ripple vibrations in the glass of water, as the T-Rex walks forward. I always loved it, as it came with such a sense of impending doom. But it doesn't make any sense. Is the T-Rex making every third step a heavier one? Is he pausing between each step? Walking very very slowly? Unless someone can toss me some science where soil vibration gathers, the further away it is, I am just going with For Dramatic Effect.

After all these years, over 20 to be precise, the first reveal of those dinosaurs is still awe inspiring. After over 20 years, the reference of, "This is a Unix system. I know this..." still really bugs me. What bugs me even more is that, it's a genuine representation. The system she is on is an SGI (early high end unix systems often used for TV graphics; Marmy used one) workstation and they had an experimental 3D file manager called 'fsn'. Yup that's it. It's real.

Back then, Sam Neill's point of view felt very plausible but these days, he feels a little anti-science. Sure, they are doing something very very dangerous and for entirely corporate reasons. But they did successfully achieve something astounding! They just needed more oversight and less cost saving measures. I am sure with today's venture capitalism, InGen would have done some incredible things. But I do agree, maybe a theme park shouldn't have been the first implementation of the technology.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997, Steven Spielburg (War of the Worlds) -- Netflix

This one's basic plot always escapes me. I know they are going to the sister island of the one from the first, but why is never in my memory. Essentially Hammond now knows better and wants unfettered propagation of dinosaurs on that other island, without human intervention. His company InGen wants to absorb some losses by monetizing it. And this time leather jacketed Jeff Goldblum gets to be the main character. And he has a kid.

So, after the young tough guy (Vince Vaughn) screws up and helps a baby T-Rex, only to lead to the destruction of their Damnation Alley style accordion bus, and the death of a selfless, helpful character, I always thought the army of hunters was arriving to rescue them. But no, InGen sells knowledge and access to Big Game Hunters, one of whom I am sure is a dentist. This gives us a larger body of mooks to die at the hands of the raptors and T-Rex's. One poignant bit I never caught before was Pete Postlethwaite's hunter catching onto the folly of challenging these beasts, after his best friend and partner is killed. Then again, he has accomplished his goal and has captured a T-Rex, of which is being transported back to the mainland in a King Kong style disaster.

That end scene, with the T-Rex rampaging amusingly, but not amusingly (eating motorists), around LA always annoyed the fuck out of me. And it did again. Again, mass casualty for the purpose of chuckles. And considering they were trying to keep all this under wraps, the cat would be out of the bag for the rest of the movies, no? Apparently not...

Jurassic Park III, 2001, Joe Johnston (Jumanji) -- Netflix

III is three slashes; get it?  Groan.

This movie takes place in the post-dinosaur world. The events of the second movie could not have been covered up (despite what the X-Files tells you) and now the world is aware of recreated biologica dinosaurs. I wished there had been more discussion, more debate, more background of what this new world was like, but no, this is a  quick toss back into the action as a kid and his step father disappear on Isla Sorna after some ill fated and foolish para-sailing.

This is also the 'bring back the old guy' movie! While Goldblum was celebrated as the lead for the last movie, I like the idea of bringing back non-action, non-smarmy Alan Grant, the palentologist who just wants his bone digging work to be funded, while everyone wants to talk to him about him nearly being eaten by real dinosaurs. As he and his team lament; who wants to fund bone digging when there are now living, breathing ones.

Dr Grant is conned back to the island by the father of said para-sailing kid, who pretends to be a foolishly wealthy man seeking an aerial tour. Along with the man come some short lived mercenaries, and his stereotype complaining, foolish wife. Please stop screaming, please stop running off into the forest where all the dinosaurs want to eat you! The movie runs back to the formula of just finding a way off the island, this time running from something that eats T-Rexes, but is not very memorable but for some cliff escapades.  Still, they get the tension right which is the only point.