A Bloody Good Time 04.04.13: 10 Best Moments In The Jurassic Park Franchise
Posted by Joseph Lee on 04.04.2013
Hold onto your butts.
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
After a month-long countdown, I thought it might be nice to unwind a bit. So today we're going to talk dinosaurs. I know technically this Friday means the release of the Evil Dead remake, but I've said all about that that I'm going to say until I review it. I was dreading it, now I'm looking forward to it. If the movie ends up being terrible then the Hollywood machine will have duped me again. Hopefully it's as good as I've heard.
This Friday also sees the re-release of one of my favorite films of all time, Jurassic Park. As I mentioned when I first talked about the franchise (and Carnosaur!), I've loved dinosaurs since I was very little and it makes sense that Jurassic Park would come along and be one of my favorites. I'd put this right up there with Halloween and Robocop in my personal top ten.
The franchise itself is also a good one to me. I love the original, like The Lost World and...don't hate Jurassic Park III. That's as good a reaction as you'll get out of me. I don't like it all that much, but as a big dumb monster movie it's not horrible and Sam Neill is great. It certainly hasn't killed my interest in the franchise, as I'll be there opening night for Jurassic Park IV, and may even give the 3D re-release a shot, even if I loathe post-conversion 3D.
So this week we're going to relax with a countdown at the best moments in the Jurassic Park franchise. This includes all three movies, just to be fair. Of course, the first will dominate the list as it should. Let's celebrate the 20th anniversary!
#10: T-Rex vs Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III
Let me just say first that part of me hates this scene. I hate the fact it was created just to establish the Spinosaurus as a force to be reckoned with, and I hate the fact the T-rex loses and is never seen again in the rest of the film after being featured heavily in the first two. That'd be like having a swarm of...I don't know, Utahraptors taking out the regular kind to show that they are the new badass dinosaurs on the block. It reeks of an "new is always better" attitude I don't really like.
But you can't go wrong with a dinosaur fight, which sadly doesn't happen enough in this franchise. I still can't believe we never got one T-Rex vs Triceratops or Stegosaurus battle in these movies, and that's something that was depicted in many a dinosaur book from my childhood. The fight was good while it lasts, my problem with it is that it doesn't last long and the T-Rex goes out like a wuss. it doesn't help that the Spinosaurus never looked as scary as the T-Rex did when it first showed up.
#9: The animals escape in The Lost World
At one point in the movie, Vince Vaughn's character Nick Van Owen reveals he is an environment nut sent there to ruin InGen's attempts to bring the dinosaurs back to San Diego for a park that anyone can visit. After the events of the first film, you can't really side with Ingen on this one. He starts setting animals loose, which causes a Triceratops to run wild and destroy the camp, setting other dinosaurs free in the process.
If there's one thing The Lost World does right, it's increasing the amount of dino carnage contained within. It tries to take what the first film did and increase the magnitude, showing off more dinosaurs and killing off more people. If you're there for dinosaurs, by God, they'll give you dinosaurs. It was nice to finally see a triceratops do something after laying on its side sick in the first film.
#8: "Must go faster" from Jurassic Park
After the initial T-Rex escape, Ellie and Muldoon go to where it broke out to see if there is anyone left alive. "I think this was Gennaro." "I think this was too.". They find a barely alive Malcolm and then hear a T-rex in the distance. That's when they immediately go back to the car and drive off just in time to get the attention of a T-Rex, which chases them. This scene is almost as thrilling as when the T-Rex first shows up, and its certainly exciting to watch.
You know why I love Laura Dern's Ellie Sadler in this movie? She reacts to these things exactly how I would. If a raptor pokes it's head out to say hi or a T-Rex is chasing my vehicle, I might start cursing like a sailor too. I may also lose control of my bowels. Malcolm is more calm, but this could be because he's in immense pain and isn't thinking clearly. It's just a fun scene to watch and is one of the right ways to show a big action set piece in a blockbuster film.
#7: The long grass from The Lost World
For me, the raptors are never quite as scary as they are in this scene. Yes, I know a lot of people like to point out the kitchen scene in the first, but they're tricked by some kids. In this moment, before their again beaten by a kid, the raptors are terrifying, hiding in the long grass to leap out and capture any prey they can. As it turns out, the group is already getting away from a massive T-Rex attack and are just trying to find safety. They're not going to get it.
Raptors are scary anyway. They're one of the scariest movie monsters ever created. The reason I think they're so creepy in this scene is that you don't really get a good look at them, because they're hiding and jerking people down into the tall grass to never be seen again. I think the only problem I ever had with this moment is the guy warning them not to go into the long grass, but then stupidly following them anyway.
#6: Nedry's death in Jurassic Park
The dilophosaurus was pretty much proven to be fake as it pertains to how it was shown in Jurassic Park, which is likely why it was never seen again. One thing they tried to do over the course of the films is update the dinosaurs with the times, which is why in Jurassic Park III the T-Rex had a green tint to its skin and the raptors had feathers. I suspect the dinosaurs will look different yet again in Jurassic Park IV as we've learned more over the years.
That doesn't change the fact that the design they came up with for the dilophosaurus is creepy and memorable. Sure, Dennis Nedry is a jerk, but he doesn't deserve to be blinded and eaten alive in his car. I love how Steven Spielberg said it was never his intention to make monsters in this film, just show animals. Yet here this thing is, a monster in every sense of the word. Who are you trying to fool, Steven?
#5: "Clever girl" from Jurassic Park
How awesome was Muldoon in the first film? He knew everything about the dinosaurs and he was smart enough to show them the proper respect and fear. And yet not even he could figure out just how smart the velociraptors really were and ended up getting trapped as he tried to defend Ellie on her way to the power station. Even one of the coolest characters in the film isn't immune to becoming a dino dinner. I love how they obviously wanted Muldoon back in the sequel but realized he was dead, so they created Roland Tempo.
Another thing I like about this moment is the fact that he does say, "Clever girl". He's showing his worthy opponent some respect because he knows there is absolutely no way he's getting out of that situation alive. That thing is right in his face, and then it dives on him and bites his head. Can you imagine seeing this as a child? Jurassic Park III's trailers kept trying to emphasize the fact that the raptors "actually set a trap", but they were already doing that in this series. That's kind of their thing.
#4 T-Rex vs Raptors in Jurassic Park
I like the fact that this scene comes at a point in the film that's far enough into it that you may have forgotten about the T-Rex. It did its damage and made its mark, so it's never going to show up again, right? Wrong! The raptors have been chasing our heroes all over the building and when it finally looks like this is going to end badly, the T-Rex saves the day! Of course, it was just looking for a meal, but it still provides enough time for the humans to get out safely.
This fight lasts even less time than the one with the Spinosaurus, but you don't expect one raptor to bring down one T-Rex. It's lucky to get the shots in that it does before the T-Rex gets angry and launches it into the nearest skeleton. "When dinosaurs ruled the Earth", indeed. It's sort of a way for the dinosaurs to say goodbye in the film by giving them one last hurrah in the closing moments.
#3: The first dinosaur in Jurassic Park
It's really hard to explain or replicate that first moment in this film when you first see the impressive special effects of ILM at work as the brachiosaurus is standing high among the trees. The moment has been shown in many clips and people know what the dinosaurs look like by now. But to those of us seeing the film for the first time, this was the first moment we saw what these special effects could do and how well they could be presented. It's not just the fact we can see a dinosaur for the first time, it's the fact we can see how movies are going to change.
I'd not only say the special effects hold up in this film, but they look better than some modern films. I've seen some awful movies in the past few years, and the special effects look cheap and lazy, and are getting shown up by a film in 1993 when the medium was in its infancy. It's the same thing with Terminator 2. All movies want to look like these, but they'll never approach the classics because sometimes they just don't put any effort into what they're doing. It's why Transformers is forgettable and Jurassic Park is timeless.
#2: T-Rex in San Diego from The Lost World
I've mentioned my love of Godzilla in this column before. So how could I not enjoy seeing a T-Rex run wild through the streets of San Diego in The Lost World. It destroys things, it eats people (and dogs) and causes carnage until its led back onto the boat it escaped from. I think the T-Rex in our habitat was the next logical step after setting the first film in a far away island. We know the thing is dangerous, now let's put it in the modern world.
In a way, The Lost World didn't even need this scene. It had provided plenty of dinosaurs before and the end with the raptors was the logical conclusion to the film, as our heroes get off the titular "lost world" and defeat the raptors. But then we see that a T-Rex has been captured and is being flown back to San Diego. That's when the real finale begins, and it's worth the cost of admission.
#1: The T-Rex Attacks in Jurassic Park.
When I first got the Jurassic Park films on blu-ray, this was the scene I watched first. When I had surround sound, this was the scene I played first. When I go see the re-release in theaters (the only way I haven't seen the movie), this will be what I hope to see more than any other. This scene is big-budget movie-making at its absolutely finest. It's right up there with the fight against the Death Star or the final battle in The Avengers for doing everything it should do in order to entertain its audience.
It introduces the film's very best special effect: the T-Rex. A seamless combination of computer wizardry and Stan Winston's glorious animatronic effects, this scene is not only thrilling and exciting, but it's just amazing. It's one of the reasons I still go to the movies, because I hope to be as entertained now as I was then. It's definitely why Jurassic Park remains one of my favorite movies of all time.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. Next week I talk about lost horror films and rarities that fans have been wanting for years.
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