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Monday, March 05, 2012

Jurassic Park

I often think about the various places that I have gone in my life, and honestly, I’m sorry to say that outside of a couple of provinces in Canada and New York State, I haven’t really had many opportunities to see this great big world of ours. 

It’s something that I have a bit of regret about, to be completely honest with you.  I mean, I know that my life isn’t over yet, and I still have time to make good on my promise to see more of this planet, but I always felt kind of bad that my only experiences with outings are mostly comprised of school field trips.

Not that these field trips weren’t fun, mind you.  But, when you consider that many people my age have likely gone out and seen the world, it makes the desire to see the world even greater.  I mean, here’s a mini-confession for all of you.  I’ve never even been inside an airplane aside from a display model inside the wing of a museum dedicated to aviation.  But, again, there’s still time for me to remedy this.

Still though, some of the field trips that I went to during my school years were quite memorable in themselves.  At the end of eighth grade, my whole graduating class went on a bus trip to Toronto, Ontario where we stayed for two days.  We went to Canada’s Wonderland, saw Phantom of the Opera, and visited a science museum.  That was probably one of the best moments of my entire life (well, aside from the fact that I lost my wallet with $40 cash at Canada’s Wonderland...thank goodness I kept extra cash hidden away in my suitcase or else I would have really been screwed).  I also remember going to Montreal, Quebec once in Grade 11, which was also fun (well, aside from the fact that my group got lost in Old Montreal and held up the bus ride home for an entire hour while they searched for us).  And, there was also the time we visited the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Ontario which was a fantastic experience (well, aside from getting in trouble for playing on the escalators recklessly).

Wow...funny how I ended up having a great time on all of these field trips despite the bad luck that ended up being associated with them.

Even field trips that were closer to home ended up being a blast.  When I was in kindergarten, we took a tour of a chocolate factory (which was fine until I realized that we were up high, and I was deathly afraid of heights).  Still though, it was fun.  We also took a trip to our local Memorial Center where there was a safety fair going on, and we drove little motorized carts across a course, watched safety demonstrations, and got a free balloon at the end of it all. 

But one place that I can still see in my mind quite often was a field trip to a location known as “Prehistoric World”.  The park is located in Morrisburg, Ontario, and all I can say is that it is extraordinary.  The park is covered with life-sized replicas of every kind of dinosaur that ever existed.  There were triceratops, and brontosauruses, and Tyrannosaurus Rex!  The way the park is laid out was done up almost exactly like what the world would have looked like during the dinosaur era, with lots of leafy green areas.  It’s been about twenty years since I have been at Prehistoric World, but I recommend the place highly.  It’s a great way for children to learn all about the dinosaurs.  I can still remember all us little kids standing next to a life-sized replica of a dinosaur, and being in shock and awe over how big they really were.  It was a good thing that the dinosaur models weren’t actual dinosaurs.  If they had been real, I would make sure that I hung around the dinosaurs that were known herbivores. 

Actually, that would even be a bad idea, because with my luck, I’d probably end up getting stomped to death by the foot of a giant dinosaur.

Nevertheless, Prehistoric World was a fun experience, and I’m happy that I went.

Of course, Prehistoric World was a recreation of an actual prehistoric world with fake dinosaurs.  But what if the dinosaurs inside of Prehistoric World came to life?  What if you could go and visit an actual amusement park where the star attractions were actual living and breathing dinosaurs?  Would you be excited?  Thrilled?  Scared out of your mind?

Well, as it turns out, today’s Monday Matinee happens to deal with that very situation!

Yes, today’s feature presentation is the Steven Spielberg film “Jurassic Park”, which premiered in theatres on June 11, 1993.  The film starred Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough.  It was based off of the popular novel of the same name, written by Michael Crichton.

“Jurassic Park” was a film that was widely praised, largely for the use of special effects and computer generated imagery.  It grossed a grand total of over $900 million dollars worldwide, and until it was surpassed by 1997’s “Titanic”, was the most commercially successful film of all time.  Two sequels for the film were released in 1997 and 2001 respectively, and word is that a fourth film is in the works for a 2013 release.

But for the sake of today’s blog entry, we’re going to focus on the first (and in this blogger’s opinion, the best) film.

The film begins in the fictional area known as Isla Nublar, off the coast of Costa Rica.  It is in this location that a new theme park is being built by John Hammond (Attenborough).  Hammond is the CEO of International Genetic Technology Incorporated (also known as InGen), and he has used his millions to finance the theme park.

Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park is a theme park that much like the Prehistoric World that I visited as a boy was dinosaur themed.  But the difference was that on Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were real.  They were cloned from the DNA that was taken from inside insects that were preserved in prehistoric amber.  In Hammond’s eyes, the theme park would be a financial success, and he believed that everyone in the world would pay big money to see a real live dinosaur.

But when the park is near completion, an employee of the park is the victim of a dinosaur attack, and as a result of this attack, the investors who have pumped money into the creation of the park are naturally concerned about the safety of the park.  Through their spokesperson, lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), the investors insist that a team of experts inspect the park to ensure that the area is safe before opening up the doors to the general public.

A team of three experts decide to take on the job...mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Neill), and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) agree to head down to Jurassic Park to evaluate the land.  Tagging along for the ride are Hammond’s own grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy.

On the way to the island, Hammond asked his experts their opinions about what he has been doing.  He wondered what they thought about the idea of recreating dinosaur species.  Surprisingly enough, only Gennaro expressed any optimism about the idea.  The three experts had their own conflicting opinions on what their feelings were on the subject, but they all seemed to express doubt and uncertainty over the idea.

Once the team arrives at Jurassic Park, all three experts are completely stunned to see living dinosaurs.  Immediately, they begin their exploration of the park, and one of the first things that they come across is a sick Triceratops, and the group sets out to explore the area.  

When a sudden storm rolls in, the majority of the group decide to take cover in the cars that they rode in on through the park.  The only one to stay behind is Dr. Sattler, who stays behind with the park doctor to take care of the Triceratops.

TRIVIA:  Some of the storm scenes that aired in the film were shot during the actual filming.  The film was shot on location in Hawaii beginning in the summer of 1992, and many scenes were shot just before Hurricane Iniki struck Hawaii on September 11, 1992.  So, when you watch some of the storm footage in the film, you’ll have an idea of when the scenes were shot!

As the weather gets worse outside, inside the Jurassic Park complex inside, there’s just as much danger.  Computer programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) is actually working as a mole, stealing secrets and dinosaur embryos from InGen.  He is willing to do anything in his power to get the secrets out so he can be rewarded handsomely by the company he really shows his loyalty to.  But in his quest to get access to the embryos, he makes some careless mistakes.  For one, he disables the security system for the whole park.  One might not think that would be such a huge deal, but consider this...the security system powered up the electric fences that were used to keep the most dangerous dinosaurs within an enclosed area.  With the electric fences losing their charge, the dinosaurs charged right through the barriers.  So, thanks to Nedry, the park was now overrun with dangerous and deadly dinosaurs.

The security shutdown causes the group of cars carrying Dr. Grant, Dr. Malcolm, Gennaro, and the Murphy kids to be confronted by a gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex.  The attack by the Tyrannosaurus was costly for the group.  Gennaro ended up getting devoured by the huge dinosaur, and Dr. Malcolm was seriously injured.  Somehow, Dr. Grant and the Murphy kids survived the attack, but end up lost in the middle of the jungle.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sattler and game warden Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) happen to come across the site of the attack, and happen to come across the wounded Dr. Malcolm, who fills them in on what happened.  But before the group could venture into the jungle to look for Dr. Grant and the children, the Tyrannosaurus comes out of hiding to prepare for round two.  Luckily, the group manages to stay out of harm’s way, and make their way towards the Jurassic Park visitor’s center.

Realizing that the dinosaurs are completely out of control thanks to the shutdown of the security system by Nedry, the group at the visitor’s center must find a way to turn the system back on.  The problem is that the codes that Nedry used were tough to crack.  It seemed that Nedry was the only one who knew how to turn the system back on, and Nedry wasn’t talking.

No, seriously.  In Nedry’s escape attempt, he was blinded and killed by a Dilophosaurus, thus proving that karma could work both ways.

Can the group find a way to reactivate the security system?  Would they be able to locate Dr. Grant and the Murphy children?  What happens when Dr. Grant comes upon the realization that the dinosaurs are breeding on their own?  And will our team of heroes get out of Jurassic Park alive?

You’re going to have to watch the movie yourself to find out those answers!

So, that was our look back on Jurassic Park.  While the idea of having a theme park filled with living dinosaurs might seem like a fantastic one, watching the movie’s plot as it unfolded maybe showed us that maybe the modern world wasn’t ready to live among prehistoric creatures after all. 

Well, at least not living prehistoric creatures, anyway.

I mean, I’ll give credit where credit is due.  Jurassic Park was pleasing to the eye and before Nedry caused the beginning of the end of the theme park, appeared to be a calm and relaxing place.  But, I’ll gladly choose Prehistoric World every time.

At least with Prehistoric World, you don’t have to worry about getting eaten and chased by a hungry group of Velociraptors.

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