There are three things I remember vividly about my childhood: inline skates, Easy-Bake ovens and Jurassic Park. I gave up on the first two when I realize skorts were not cool. But I would never in my life walk away from Jurassic Park because it is literally one of the greatest things ever.
In 1992, Steven Spielberg got a bunch of amazing people to make a sci-fi adventure movie about dinosaurs. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Jeff Goldblum, Wayne Knight and Samuel L. Jackson got to eat Jell-O and scream their lungs out before huge animatronic dinosaurs, while one of the best movie directors since Alfred Hitchcock told them what to do. I mean, what could possibly be better than that?
Spielberg pulls you in right away. The very first scene teases all of the dino drama that’s coming. We catch a glimpse of a fierce velociraptor who snatches a human being by the legs and just won’t let go. But Jurassic Park is about so much more than just a preview tour gone horribly wrong. It’s about nature. Alan Grant is a man who would much rather dig up a dinosaur skull than be a father. He spends the first half of the movie terrorizing and avoiding kids. Then Colonel Sanders-lookalike John Hammond steps in and takes him and his lady friend, Dr. Ellie Sattler, away for the weekend to an exotic Island in Costa Rica. There, Grant and Co. find out that huge advancements in scientific technology have been made to create living, breathing dinosaurs. We all proceed to freak out.
We’ve all had dreams and/or nightmares about dino-birds and T-Rexes. But no one has ever painted a picture as alive and real as Mr. Spielberg. Even though the script was derived from a book, without Spielberg’s talents and unique vision, Jurassic Park would have been a series of shots of dinos fighting against dinos. Just meaningless action. But thanks to him, we have well-rounded characters and actors who were suitable for such strenuous parts.
When the preview tour goes down the toilet, Alan is forced to save the kids and runs from a T-Rex. Meanwhile, Dr. Ian Malcolm is shirtless, Ray Arnold is smoking the last cigarette of his life, and Ellie is saving the day like a kickass woman.
I didn’t realize it when I was a young girl, but Dern’s character is empowering to women. She saves the day by braving up to do a “man’s job.” She goes and manually turns on the park’s power so that some of the security can be restored. And later, Ariana Richards’ Lex Murphy outsmarts everyone and figures out how to lock a door to keep a Raptor from coming into the computer room where they’re all hiding.
There are a lot of things that I didn’t catch on to as a child. Like, I had no idea what the lawyer was doing on the trip. All I knew was that I enjoyed seeing him get eaten by a T-Rex while he was sitting on the toilet. That was hilarious stuff, along with the scene of Ellie putting her hands into a pile of doodoo.
Jurassic Park is a fond memory. It’s a childhood friend. It’s the popular movie that everyone’s watched, yet it’s still able to feel so personal. It’s two hours of fantastic facial expressions, ’90s animatronics, rain & mud, and extinct creatures. And in the end, a T-Rex saves the day. And we all proceed to freak out.