This year marks the 25th anniversary of the cult classic Jurassic Park. As I sit here writing this I am as stunned as any of you. As the date slowly approaches, I imagine a lot of people are going to be filled with the same nostalgic feelings I find myself having. That said, even though Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was published in 1990, the sequel The Lost World in 1995 and the original Jurassic Park Movie in 1993 – it is NEVER TOO LATE to pick up a fantastic book or watch a cutting edge movie, truly!
As for the movie (yes I said cutting edge,) Jurassic Park has always been much more than just a simple movie about dinosaurs – it is considered a technological achievement for the time. The effects were so advanced and ground breaking that it really allowed the movie industry to take that leap into the digital era. Similarly, the novel made great leaps as well becoming a best seller and the “it” novel of 1990. Its fame, in part, is owed to the truly digestible and not to mention believable story. Michael Crichton made the audience question if it was actually possible to obtain dinosaur DNA. Once Director Steven Spielberg signed on to direct the film, the question became more widespread. He explained to Vanity Fair in a 2017 piece:
“Michael brought credibility to incredible subject matter. He was a master builder of a scientific logic to keep the science fiction grounded so it could be believed by people all over the world. And I had not met anybody who had ever done that before. And he did it over and over again in a lot of films and books. I’ve always believed that the more incredible your stories the more credible the science has to be.”
Growing up I had always been a big fan of Jurassic Park but I never knew it was based on a book until I became an adult. And even then, it had always been in my wish list but I never actually purchased it. I liked the idea of science fiction books but I typically swayed towards fantasy. Reading Timeline actually changed my perception allowing me my first taste into science fiction. Since then Crichton has been a go-to because of the rare talent at merging hard-to-understand science into easy-to-read fiction novels. It is a talent that is lost on some writers, either the writing isn’t believable or it reads like a college text book. Science and writing has never made a good match, In my experience those that are scientifically inclined don’t have the ability to explain their findings to an audience that has no such experience with the subject. Likewise, writers need to take the time to actually understand the science otherwise the piece is lost on the audience.
Crichton continues to inspires me ten years after his passing because of his talent, his drive and his passion. Interestingly, I also have a technical background like Crichton. I originally began my journey through college devoted to science but life drove me in a different course where I couldn’t day dream about being a paleontologist anymore! A few years later I became a mother to a rambunctious son and I couldn’t wait until I could show my son this movie. Then the day came that, like most little boys, he became obsessed with dinosaurs. I’m not even sure how it happened. He began asking for dinosaur toys and movies. So while I thought The Lost World, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World was too scary for a two year old I decided to spoil him with Jurassic Park.
His love for this movie seriously reinvigorated my love for the movie. I remember the first time I saw it, my parents along with my aunt and uncle, snuck myself, my three siblings and my three cousins into the drive-in movie theater. We hid in the way way back underneath a blanket. It was a fantastic experience that no other movie could top.
So on Christmas day while sitting by a a large, toasty fire reminiscing about our trip to the drive-in while watching the movie, I finally bought Jurassic Park and began reading.
I don’t think there is any need to do a plot summary but just in case there are some newbies out there that haven’t seen or heard about the book or the movie… what I wouldn’t do to relive the excitement and joy I felt the first time watching…
Taking place in 1989, founder and CEO of InGen, John Hammond, take paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student Ellie Sattler, to an island called Isla Nublar. Hammond explains that he established a “biological preserve” on this lone Costa Rican island and could use a pair of experts to determine the stability of the island. Still in the dark, Ellie and Grant join chaos theorist Ian Malcolm and lawyer Donald Gennaro on a weekend excursion.
Soon upon arrival they learn that this preserve is actually a theme park showcasing cloned dinosaurs. Everything begins to go astray a few hours in as the dinosaurs break loose from their confinements. Will they escape or become food?
This is probably one of the hardest reviews to write because there aren’t many instances where I prefer the movie to the book, especially with it being such a phenomenon. Sadly, this happens to be one of those cases where I actually preferred the movie to the book. It makes me upset because I had the highest hopes for this book. I was anticipating it would WOW me as much, if not more, than the movie did. Don’t get me wrong, the wonder is there and I may have been WOWed had I not seen the movie first. There are some beautiful moments and dialogue that didn’t make it into the movie that I wish had but there were a few key differences that I actually couldn’t really tolerate.
I’ll begin this by saying, I know most people could care less for a love story but I loved the idea of Sattler and Grant together. In the movie they are such a great team. They are a unit that doesn’t need to check in with each other and they appear to know what the other is already thinking. Plus, I loved that the movie approached a romantic relationship between the pair subtly, I adore the subtleness. In a blink and you’ll miss it scene Grant actually caresses Sattler’s butt while at their dig site in Montana. It was a great scene because it subtly confirmed the relationship, there was no need for declarations of love or unnecessary kissing scenes. In the book they are 100% platonic, she is only a 24 year old grad student working for Dr. Grant and it’s also mentioned that she is even engaged to another man.
“Ellie was wearing cut-off jeans and a workshirt tied at her midriff. She was twenty-four and darkly tanned. Her blond hair was pulled back.”
Bottom line, without the romance they don’t appear to be as much a team in the book as they do in the movie.
Movie 1, Book 0
The ages of Hammond’s grandchildren are changed for the movie. It’s widely believed that was in order to cast young Tim, as Spielberg made a promise to him previously about casting him a future project. I really didn’t mind since the character of Lex in the book was part monster-part deamon child. I despised Lex. She was the bratty younger sister of Tim who had zero interest in the park or even dinosaurs. She did move the story forward by acting unreasonable in life and death situations by demanding Grant find her food, speaking when she was told to be silent and generally acting younger than the intended age. There are a variety of examples but the scene where she demands Grant carry her stands out, as does the control room scene. At the end when Tim is attempting to put the park back online she had no confidence in him so she decides to verbally assault him until he actually did get the park online.
“Timmy, Lex said. “You don’t know what to do.”
“Yes I do.”
“If you know, then do it,” Lex said.
“What’s that? Lex said. “Why aren’t you turning on the power, Timmy”
“You idiot, you locked us out!”
As far as I’m concerned Lex’s character in the book was so bad I don’t even want to reread the book ever again. In all reality though I know I will because I liked it enough to reread it again.
While on the Jurassic Park train, I picked up the sequel, The Lost World. I LOVE IT so much better than its predecessor. It’s enthralling, exciting and a little bit dark. I highly recommend the sequel and I’ll gladly reread that one. It’s interesting too that material for movies, The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, were taken from both books as none of the movies followed the books faithfully. Even with Jurassic World, content was taken from the books. I appreciated that they expanded on Henry Wu’s character in Jurassic World. It was a nod to the original movie and also to Crichton as he did go into detail about Henry Wu’s background in Jurassic Park but those details were cut from the first movie.
I hope you all enjoy a dinosaur themed month with the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park on June 11 and the theatrical release of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom on June 22, I know I will be!
Jurassic Park 2/5
The Lost World 5/5