Nitpicking Jurassic Park

Jurassic ParkMy family and I watched Jurassic Park over the weekend. I really need to stress that it’s a good movie, because I’m about to spend quite a bit of time making fun of it.

Jurassic Park is more than just a breakthrough in special effects, although its effects deserve mention even today. It is well-directed, nicely acted, and has a tight, suspenseful story. That said, there are some choices in the film that I find to be either very baffling or extremely hilarious.

1: Grant’s a digger? Really?

There’s a short scene near the beginning of the film when Hammond’s lawyer is trying to recruit experts for a tour of the island. He speaks to a paleontologist and mentions that Hammond wants Alan Grant on board. The paleontologist tells the lawyer that he’ll never get Grant out of Montana. Why not? “Because Grant’s like me…he’s a digger.”

Cut to…Hammond showing up in a private helicopter and offering Grant a big sack of cash to come to his island. Grant provides no hesitation, apparently blinded by the dollar signs in his eyes.

So, uh…what was the purpose of the scene talking about how Grant’s a digger?

2: John Hammond is so out of touch with reality that it’s not funny.

Okay, it is funny, but only because Hammond’s blunders result in cinematic deaths rather than real deaths.

I’ve talked before about how the movie is really an argument against rich idiots rather than a good argument against cloning. But if I made a drinking game where I take a shot every time Hammond does something stupid or puts other people in danger, I’d be on trial for manslaughter because anybody who played it would die of alcohol poisoning.

Hammond’s actions range from the needlessly dramatic to the insanely stupid. Here’s a few examples of his harmless but bizarre behavior:

  • He hired Grant and Sattler to come to the park but didn’t tell them what it was other than a vague, “It’s right up your alley.” This despite the fact that they immediately hopped on board a flight that took them from Montana to a tiny island off the coast of South America. Presumably, he deliberately kept things vague so he could see the expression on their faces when they saw their first brachiosaurus.
  • He’s a billionaire with a private island full of dinosaurs. So what does he plan to do once the park is open? Play a part in the stupid automated tour that talks about how his scientists cloned dinosaurs instead of spending time marveling at the cloned dinosaurs they made.
  • He invites his grandchildren to play around on his untested and unsanctioned dinosaur island but not his kids. What the hell, man? Do you not like your children or something?

And here’s just a few of the ways he put everybody in extreme danger:

  • Why the fuck did you decide to breed velociraptors, John? Up until this movie came out, they were one of the most obscure dinosaurs out there. I can understand making a Tyrannosaurus – no park tour would be complete without one of those making you fear for your life. But why go with the extremely obscure but highly deadly and ruthlessly efficient velociraptor?
  • Use frog DNA to fill in the gaps of the dinosaur DNA? Okay. But with all that money of yours, couldn’t you have hired a science advisor who would have told your crew not to use hermaphroditic frogs?
  • He keeps a skeleton crew running while bringing in a bunch of guests for the most important visit of the park’s pre-life. The staff even calls him on this, pointing out how stupid it is to run for a long period of time with minimal staff. I get that the park probably brought Hammond close to bankruptcy, but you load up with staff and make everything look perfect if you’re bringing in a group of people who have the power to shut you down if their visit doesn’t go perfectly. But to be fair, he probably blew his staff budget on paying for the funeral of the guy who dies in the first scene.
  • Also, you’ve got minimal staff and almost no security on this island of deadly predators. You can either hire some extra guys to shoot escaped dinosaurs or you can hire a private helicopter to bring your grandkids in for the weekend!
  • The dinosaurs are all loose, people are dead, your grandkids are missing, what do you do? How about the Lysine Contingency, which will apparently leave all the dinosaurs dead? “That is absolutely out of the question.” Instead, let’s reset the system, which we aren’t even sure will work.
John Hammond

The first attraction I built was a flea circus. Twelve people died in that circus. It was undoubtedly the most successful endeavor of my career.

3: Why is Ian Malcolm even in this movie?

You’re bringing in experts who can give their endorsement to the park. You bring in a renowned paleontologist, his capable paleobotanist girlfriend and…a theoretical mathematician who knows nothing about dinosaurs. What the hell? I get that Malcolm was the first guy who signed on for this, but you couldn’t have cut the asshole the moment you found out that the real experts had accepted your big bag of money?

Malcolm doesn’t even do anything of substance in the film other than preach about chaos theory and put everybody in danger. When Grant has the tyrannosaurus distracted and leaving the scene, Malcolm decides to run around like an idiot, get himself severely injured, and get the lawyer killed. When he’s being rescued, he leans against the jeep’s gearshift and prevents it from accelerating properly, thus nearly getting everybody killed by the tyrannosaurus.

Heck, his idiocy even continues in the sequel, when the acts of him and his group lead to multiple deaths and a tyrannosaurus rampaging through San Diego. No wonder Hammond really hates that man.

4: Why does everybody hate Ray Arnold?

Ray Arnold, played by Samuel L. Jackson, exists in this film only to swear, smoke, and fill the quota of the black guy dying. After they reset the system, he volunteers to go to the maintenance shed to turn on the circuit breakers. Then he gets eaten by dinosaurs.

So, um…why didn’t anybody go with him?

Sattler later heads out to turn the breakers back on, and a big to-do is made about how she can’t just walk down the road. She’s given an armed escort, blueprints are broken out to make sure she gets there as safely as possible, and Hammond even suggests that he should go instead of her thanks to his misplaced sense of chivalry. Why didn’t anybody offer any protection to poor Mr. Arnold?

Incidentally, the Jurassic Park wiki tells me that Arnold’s family sued Hammond’s company for $23 million after the incident. If you ask me, they went too low.

5: How did the tyrannosaurus become a ninja?

Our heroes are surrounded by velociraptors and things are looking grim. Then the tyrannosaurus busts into the visitor center to save the day! All hail the film’s real hero, the Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Um…how did it just sneak in there?

The visitor center’s doors are shown to be closed, and I’m not sure the tyrannosaurus could even fit through them. And the dinosaur that previously left mini-tremors wherever it walked suddenly became whisper quiet. Sure, the people being chased by velociraptors probably wouldn’t have noticed the impact tremors, but they should still have been in the background somewhere.

Okay, the real reason the tyrannosaurus suddenly gained the magical ability of silent teleportation is so we could have this moment:

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Good night, everybody!

And you know what? That’s good enough for me!

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