Binge and Purge: The Jurassic Park Trilogy

Thanks to free streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBOgo and Amazon Prime, thousands of television shows and movie franchises are available to use at the click of a button – revered and unknown, alike. With so many programs and movies at our fingertips, it’s hard to tell which ones are worth our time. Have you ever kept watching a series in the hopes that it might get better someday (if you’re watching Homeland, it won’t)? Or finished a show out merely because you’re too invested in it, but find that you no longer enjoy it? Well, are you in luck, because in our new editorial, “Binge and Purge,” we’ll give you a hit by hit on our experience watching the show. Yes, this is pretty much an excuse to look productive while we binge-watch, but we’re hoping that this could save you from or add to your viewing experience.

Show/Season: The Jurassic Park trilogy (3 movies)
Original Run: 1993 (Jurassic Park), 1997 (Lost World), 2000 (Jurassic Park III)
Original Channel/Platform: Theaters, trilogy Blu-Ray on Amazon
Notable Actors/Characters: Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) [1,3], Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern)[1,3], Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) [1,2], John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) [1,2] Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazzello) [1,2], Lex Murphy (Ariana Richardson) [1,2], Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) [1], Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) [1], B.D Wong [1,4]… Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) [2], Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) [2], Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) [2], Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) [2], Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) [2], Kelly Curtis (Vanessa Lee Chester) [2]… Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) [3], Amanda Kirby (Téa Leoni) [3].

Thoughts before watching:

I remember as a little girl, sitting on my grandma’s porch down in Florida and waiting for my mom and oldest sister to come home from seeing Jurassic Park. I was only 7 at the time, and therefore deemed too young to see it; instead, my grandma babysat me and took me out and bought me a new Barbie so I wouldn’t feel left out. I was already very familiar with the film, as a mean boy at school told me that the dinosaurs would come and eat me at night while I was sleeping – so I was already having nightmares about something I hadn’t even seen. Despite the bad dreams and the new doll, I knew I wanted to see that movie more than anything. My mother and sister returned, and they were speechless. They both gushed about the movie in awed tones to my grandma, who didn’t seem to understand what all the fuss was about. My mom decided that day that my age didn’t matter, she was so awe-struck by the movie that she felt that was a movie I had to see in theaters because it would be a once in a lifetime experience. The next week, I went to the theater with my mother, father, and two sisters, we sat close to the front and I sunk down in my seat, never taking my eyes off the screen as I experienced the phenomenon that was Jurassic Park and I have never been the same.

Movie by Movie thoughts:

Jurassic Park

While re-watching Jurassic Park, I feel as though I have to keep telling myself to not let my bias get the best of me. It is, after all, one of my absolute favorite things of all time. And not just because I became obsessed with dinosaurs; while all the other kids wanted to be astronauts or athletes, I was dreaming of being a paleontologist and starting the Dinosaur Club at my elementary school. However, even 20 years later, what makes this movie such a tour de force is not simply that there are dinosaurs in it. I’m focusing on overall story, pace, action, graphics, acting, all the things that the kid in me overlooked in the face of “Oh my god this is amazing!”

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As a kid, I had never seen graphics like this before… in anything… ever. The closest special effect that I’d seen was the shark from Jaws, and that was one damn good animatronic. That leads me to my first point about what I think still sets the original Jurassic Park apart: the special effects and graphics. The reveal of the Brachiosaurus is not as amazing as it once was; now, when I look at it, I am easily able to tell that it is not real. However, it is still a hell of a lot better than CGI that stands up in 2015 (Sharknado, I’m looking at you). The computer generated dinosaurs in this movie are still pretty mind blowing, and they become even more so when you take into account that this is a movie from 1993. I think my favorite element though is not even the CGI, but the robotics – pieces and models that actually appear in the film and were made by an art crew. The T-Rex foot that steps in the mud during the Jeep scene is a real giant dinosaur foot that was built for the film. You know what’s even cooler than that? The foot was but one piece of animatronics used in the film. The Brachiosaurus that sneezes on Lex was real, the Velociraptor were real, the Dilophosaurus was real, and above all else, the T-Rex that eats the jeeps and is in the villain of that entire scene was a full on life-size robotic T-Rex. Steven Spielberg has since said was just as deadly as a real dinosaur because of how accurate it was. I Googled it while watching the movie – the CGI dinos had a total of 6 minutes of screen time, the animatronics had more than twice that at 14 minutes. That is such a huge part of what made and still makes this film so magical. Far too few directors and producers utilize puppeteers and on-set monsters; whenever someone does, it tends to set their film apart.

Robot Rex

I hear a lot of people poking fun at the science of Jurassic Park these days. It’s something that I didn’t give a shit about as a kid, and I honestly don’t give a shit about now. There are some questions that still plague me, as in how many mosquitoes did they actually find? There is no way all that DNA came from the one mosquito that is now a decoration on Hammond’s cane. It’s simply not possible, especially considering that there are dinos from the Jurassic, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods present on the island. As far as the likelihood of man cloning dinosaurs, that is something audiences just need to suspend belief on or shut up. It’s a movie – a fantasy/sci-fi movie – which means it’s allowed to employ elements that are not scientifically possible in our current society. Why, I do believe that just might be the definition of science fiction.

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For a fictional movie, they really filled their plot holes well, at least for the most part. It didn’t even occur to me until a few years ago how utterly absurd it is to have ONE guy in charge of your tech and security (Dennis Nedry). Not only that, but his skills and smarts have got to be way up there, so once again, I have a hard time believing he was so hard up for money he had to turn to such treachery. And frankly, for what that guy does, Hammond should probably be paying him a shitload of cash.

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Overall, after all this time I still enjoyed every minute of Jurassic Park. I think it still stands out for it’s time because it stands up so well so many years later. The story is concise, the characters are believable (save for maybe Ian Malcolm) and each serve a valuable part (save for maybe the lawyer). Everything is just so well written and so well executed, there is a reason that this movie still captivates audiences to this day.

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Scorecard

Plot – 10
Acting – 10
Representation of Genre – 10
Cinematography – 10
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 10
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 8
Soundtrack/Music – 10
Overall awesomeness – 10


The Lost World: Jurassic Park

As a child, this movie absolutely reinvigorated my love of all things Jurassic Park and dinosaurs. My mom took me to see it in theaters and I remember leaving not knowing what to think – did I like it? Did I hate it? Am I okay with how they continued the story of one of my favorite things ever? It took me a few hours, but by day’s end I was running around in my yard, playing with my dinosaur toys and escaping from imaginary dinosaurs, all with the help of my new imaginary crush, Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn).

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The first thing that stands out upon re-watching Lost World is that I think I forgot how unlikable they made Ian Malcolm. He is such a grump! I get it; what he went through was traumatic, but it’s almost as if they changed his personality entirely. He was sarcastic before, but it was good-natured and charming. Even after being stepped on by a T-Rex, he maintained a relatively good attitude. But this time around he is bitter and more mean spirited. It’s appropriate character growth considering the trauma he endured, but still, it’s a little disappointing. It does seem a little insane to me that at this point Malcolm seems to be a crazy guy making unfounded claims about an island full of dinosaurs. I have to remind myself that drones weren’t really a thing in 1997, so there were no ways to verify their existence without actually going there again.

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Outside of that, though, I have always really enjoyed this movie; I thought it was a great sequel. The reasoning behind the return to the island makes perfect sense. Dinosaurs are real, we can’t put them in an amusement park but we can sure as hell study them in their natural habitat right? Who wouldn’t want to do that? The likelihood of Malcolm dating the one woman who just so happened to be perfectly suited for the job seems a little low, but I’ll go with it. Sarah Harding is a good character, she’s strong ad smart like Dr. Sattler was in the first movie and it’s nice to have that kind of female character.

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The Lost World is made up of all sorts of characters, and all sorts of enemies. The rag tag group of researchers there to observe and InGen people there to harvest is strange, but endearing. Malcolm is kind of a dick to everyone, but that’s just kind of his deal these days I guess. The lines between who is good and who is bad are kind of blurred and I think that makes this movie so much more interesting. Roland starts out as an asshole, and ends as a hero. The men there doing Ludlow’s bidding are not necessarily bad people, although they are on that side because they are just there to do their job and earn a wage. There is a very interesting dynamic in that, and I really enjoy it.

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This is the one movie in the trilogy where dinosaurs are never the friend. In The Lost World, they are all just straight up out to get the humans. They are the unwavering bad guys, along with Ludlow, that make this movie the scariest one. There was still so many awesome moments in the first movie, but outside of seeing all the new species that the hunters are gathering up in the valley, this movie is straight based on fear. The T-Rex hunts them relentlessly, and it is so intense when it sneaks up on them in their camp. This is the carnage candy movie in the trilogy with by far the highest death count. I can’t even count how many people get picked off by Velociraptors in the long grass.

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I have to acknowledge the San Diego scene. I heard a rumor that during filming, Spielberg rewrote the ending to put the T-Rex in Southern California because of a dream he had. I don’t know if that is true anymore, and I may be the only one to share this unpopular opinion, but I like the ending of this movie. It’s probably more silly than scary at this point, but it didn’t ruin the movie. The Lost World is about how dangerous the dinosaurs are, especially when they are up against something they don’t understand. Spielberg decided to bring that fear home and it ended nicely. Of course it’s absurd, but it’s fun.

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Overall, I still think The Lost World: Jurassic World is a really decent sequel and movie. It told the story from a new light because now man is trying to capture something wild, not trying to deal with something they’d harnessed that escaped. It set itself apart from the original by no longer acknowledging the wonder of the dinosaurs, but instead focusing on the fear.

Scorecard

Plot – 8
Acting – 10 (except for Kelly; she gets a 3)
Representation of Genre – 8
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity – 7
Soundtrack/Music – 10
Overall awesomeness – 8


Jurassic Park III

It’s sad to say, but this was the movie of the trilogy I was least excited to start. I’ve still seen this one a hundred times, and when AMC airs it for the 100,000,000th time on a Saturday, chances are that although I’ll still watch it, my disappointment will never fade. The first and second films hold such a special place in my heart, and while I enjoy Jurassic Park 3, there is nothing about it I’ve formed an attachment to. As I remember the third movie: it lacks heart, it lacks motivation. It feels so much more like a third film for the sake of making a trilogy.

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This is where the trilogy all falls apart for me. As I mentioned earlier, there seems to be so little motivation behind any of the story action. Maybe it’s just me, but other than Alan Grant and Paul Kirby, there are no really likable characters in this movie. I know you’re supposed to root for the kid Eric (Trevor Morgan) to survive and reunite with his parents, but the only reason I feel inclined to to that is because nobody wants kids to die on-screen, myself included. A crap-ton of people die to save this kid, and he’s about as charismatic as a mud puddle. Don’t even get me started on Dr. Grant’s paleontologist friend he brought along, Billy (Alessandro Nivola). That guy is an idiot. What exactly was he going to do with those Velociraptor eggs he stole? Vivisect the babies that hatched? Raise some pets? Release them in San Diego? The Alan Grant from the first movie would never have hired that guy, let alone be around him for any period of time. Although he does seem to be the inventor of 3D printing, what with the Velociraptor sinus cavity he made, but the sound that damn thing makes sounds nothing like the raptors in any other movie. And I just hate Téa Leoni, but that may just be my own personal grudge.

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I am less than keen on the science in Jurassic Park 3, too. First of all, the Spinosaurus. I like him, he’s awesome, but the likelihood of him being one of Hammond’s clone species is kind of low. The first specimen was discovered in 1915, but most of the other noted specimens weren’t even discovered until 1996 to 2005 so the chances of their blood being in the one mosquito seem unlikely. Also, Spinosaurus ate fish, and lived primarily close to water, not in the middle of the jungle where it battled T-Rexs. My big problem with this is not that they didn’t fact check “well enough,” it’s that it feels more like they relied on adding a new predator to make this movie work as opposed to really writing a compelling plot line. Oh, and the Velociraptors with the eggs? First of all, that damn sinus cavity whistle does not even sound like them. Second, they would not just take their eggs and leave, they would rip apart the mother fuckers who stole them and either feast or send a message to any other kidnappers who came along. Third, so let’s say that whistle did sound enough like the raptors, it would probably scare the shit out of them that their prey was making those sounds and they would have ripped those guys apart.

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It’s not all bad, though. The effects in this movie are once again simply amazing. Stan Winston’s brilliance strikes again. I love the animatronics, and I’m so happy that they once again built full-size and half-size dinos to actually have on set. I love Dr. Alan Grant, and I’m very happy he came back. I don’t understand why the writers had to take away his seemingly happy ending from the first movie, though. On the helicopter away from the island, it really felt like Ellie would settle down and have kids of their own, but nope. According to the jerks who write Jurassic Park 3, Dr. Alan Grant ended up alone while Dr. Sattler married some other dude and had kids who only know Alan as the “dinosaur man.” Dick move writers, dick move.

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Scorecard

Plot – 2
Acting – 8
Representation of Genre – 4
Cinematography – 10
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 5
Logical consistency – 3
Originality/Creativity – 3
Soundtrack/Music – 10
Overall awesomeness – 5


Jurassic World

For our full review of the 2015 film, Jurassic World, click here.


Thoughts after watching the Jurassic Park trilogy:

After rewatching the trilogy in anticipation of Jurassic World, I am hit with kind of a melancholy confusion. The original Jurassic Park will never go down in quality for me; I will always stand by it being one of the best films of all time. While these are some of my favorite things, I do not think I can honestly say the trilogy as a whole lives up to the first film or even stands out as one of the greats in cinema history. The Lost World found its own footing, and even though it could not work on its own, it was a good follow-up to the original while still being nothing like it. However, it fails to ever capture the wonder of the first movie, as does Jurassic Park III. While I still think, overall, nothing really compares to these movies, it is extremely obvious that what makes them work is not necessarily based on individual merit outside of the first film.

Report Card:

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Adversely to the Mad Max trilogy, where the films got better and better, the sequels that spawned from Jurassic Park proved to fall short of the original. The second one found its own unique voice, but Jurassic Park III ruined everything. It took 15 years, but the eventual sequel, Jurassic World, revitalized the brand and realized John Hammond’s dream, being the only worth successor to the movie franchise that rocked the 90’s.

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I’m counting Jurassic Park as it’s own genre for the most part, while also considering monster movies and sci-fi. The first movie set the mold, the second held up and excelled with the monster movie genre, but the third merely provided dinosaurs and did little with them. In effects, the films all were top of the line across the board. Each film featured brilliant pairings of excellent CGI and extremely life like animatronics and the quality never went down from film to film. The third film dropped the ball in a lot of areas, being one of the least creative and logical movies of the bunch. Also, no matter which film you watch, that classic John Williams theme song will make everything alright.

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Keriann "Anna" McNamara-McCauliffe

Fire bad. Tree pretty.

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