12 Jun

Jurassic Park

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Dr. Malcolm

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The Setup

With Jurassic World hitting theaters this week, we knew we had to write a post about the 1993 classic, Jurassic Park. To better understand the continued atrocities that happen at dinosaur theme parks, we needed to head back to where it all started on Isla Nublar. To better understand your foe (in this case, highly intelligent carnivorous predators brought back from the dead), you need to first understand their history.

The Meal

The natural pick for a dinosaur-themed movie was to make a dinosaur-friendly meal. We cooked an all paleo meal (which you may know as the “caveman diet”), free of processed foods, that would sit easy in a dinosaur’s simple stomach.

First, we made a little something for our herbivore friends: collared greens. Technically, there were some bacon bits in there so a true herbivore, like a stegosaurus, would have to eat around those. I suppose you could argue that since the whole thing was cooked in bacon fat, none of it is truly vegetarian, but let’s just look past that. This was the herbivore meal, okay?

Our herbivore had a little help getting around the meat.

For the main course, we cooked up what we like to call dino ribs. These things were humongous – they looked like they could have come off a T-Rex. In reality, they came off a cow, like the one the velociraptors devour in the movie.

We covered the ribs with a variety of spices, from celery seed to paprika, and stuck them on the grill for 5 hours. The grill was loaded with hard cider and mesquite woodchips to give it a sweet and smoky flavor. We are hardly professional smokers, so we had to MacGyver together a couple smoke packets out of tin foil and wood chips.

By the time the ribs finally came off the grill, we were ravenous and devoured the hell out of the gigantic ribs. They were juicy and savory; if our stomachs and carotid arteries would have allowed for it, we would have continued eating them for roughly the same period of time as the mesozoic era.

To close out the meal, we had Chunky Monkey Nom Noms (recipe courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo) made out of frozen banana, dark chocolate, and various toppings. These little guys were quite difficult to make – they melt quickly, so timing was everything when we were preparing them. They offered a satisfying and cool end to a jungle-like day.

The Drinks

Vodka on the rocks… with a twist. Instead of using regular ice cubes, we found a chunk of amber containing a multi-million year old giant-sized mosquito, and poured the vodka over that. We derive certain satisfaction from drowning million year old bugs in liquor.

The Rules

  1. Drink whenever Dr. Malcolm says something sarcastic.
  2. Drink whenever a dinosaur screams.
  3. Finish your drink anytime Samuel L. Jackson says, “Hold on to your butts.” (Believe it or not, it happens more than once.)

Bonus rule: Select a Spirit Dinosaur and drink whenever your dinosaur appears on screen.

The Movie

There’s no doubt that Jurassic Park is a modern classic. Everything from the story, to the special effects, to the portrayal of Jeff Goldblum as a sex symbol, was truly groundbreaking.

The story itself is a tale of man’s hubris in thinking he can conquer nature and his Icarus-like downfall. The scientists of Jurassic Park found a way to clone dinosaurs using blood found in several preserved mosquitos and quickly started trying see if they could create a controlled ecosystem that would allow everyday people to walk among dinosaurs, “without stopping to think if they should.” Should we be able to mold nature as we see fit? By the end of the movie, the audience should be able answer that question with a firm “no.”

The scientists of Jurassic Park, in all their wisdom, set up electrical fences, gates, security systems, and a rail track in the park to keep the dinosaurs and the guests nicely separated into their designated areas. They had a feeding system set up for the carnivores so that they wouldn’t feast on other attractions at the park. They made all the dinosaurs female so that they couldn’t have babies outside of the lab. Clearly, these scientists had thought of everything and there was nothing nature could throw at them that they weren’t prepared for. Man had resurrected species that natural selection had long since killed off for their own entertainment, crafted an ecosystem for these creatures, and had sequestered them in a way where he could choose how they would eat and how they would reproduce. They had thought of everything. For a moment, it seemed as though mankind’s conquest of nature was complete and man could finally rule the world as he saw fit.

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As Dr. Ian Malcolm, the movie’s sexy chaos theorist would argue, there would be no way for the scientists to truly think of everything. Chaos theory posits that small, unpredictable events can cause dramatic changes in the world. In a power move, as forward as it was genius, Dr. Malcolm shows Laura, one of the archaeologists brought to the park to validate its viability, that two water droplets placed on the same place on her hand (held gently by his own) would travel in different directions. If Laura was unable to predict how a drop of water would travel across her hand, it should come as no surprise that the vastly more complicated island doesn’t react as expected when hit by a hurricane and the sweat-covered hand of typecast actor Wayne Knight. Who knew that Newman was Chaos’ servant, unknowingly enacting his masters deeds?

After the hurricane hits, the movie plays out as Murphy’s law says it should: everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. The dinosaurs escape from their holding areas and wreak havoc on the island and start killing off the humans one by one, starting with the one man who potentially (although we question his true hacker capabilities) could have fixed the biggest issues with the holding cells, Newman (actual character name: Dennis Nedry).

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This section of the movie was frightening. For a 22-year-old movie, Jurassic Park was a surprisingly believable thriller, at least visually. Spielberg masterfully mixed CGI with animatronics in a way that made the dinosaurs feel much more believable than the more advanced blockbusters we get by the dozen today. On a more cerebral level, the latter part of the movie was a frightening reminder of how at mercy we all are to nature’s whims. We like to pretend we can do whatever we want with the world, but we forget that it’s the other way around. At any moment, a hurricane can strike or an earthquake can hit or a tidal wave can crash and all of a sudden everything you have spent your life earning can turn to rubble.

So, yeah, even after 22 years, Jurassic Park is still amazing. It’s only slightly less visually spectacular than modern action movies, but is a great deal more heartfelt and leaves the audience with more to think about. We are convinced that Jurassic Park is going to remain one of the defining movies of the late 20th century, and it certainly deserves it.

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The Reviews

Andre: On a scale of 1 to the coolest dinosaur, it’s a T Rex. This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite action movies of all time. Combine dinosaurs, which are the coolest animals of all time, with a strong plot and just a smattering of Jeff Goldblum, and you’ve got a perfect movie in my book. All Jurassic Park had to do was deliver, and by God it delivered in the best way possible. I only hope Jurassic World is as entertaining as Jurassic Park. If it’s even half as good as this movie, it will be worth watching, because let’s be real, where else am I going to get my dinosaur fix in?

Leanna: 8 out of 10. This movie was a favorite of mine growing up, and it still maintains my affection today. As a child, I was moderately obsessed with dinosaurs: I pretended to be a brontosaurus eating a tiny tree whenever my mom made broccoli, I opened a checking account and deposited money each month so that I could receive the monthly dinosaur figurine from the bank, and I was an avid collector of The Land Before Time VHS tapes. Watching Jurassic Park was like taking a trip back in time, literally, but what amazed me was that the quality of the CGI and animatronics was so good, that you’d never guess the movie was made as early as 1993. The kitchen scene in which the velociraptors hunt the park owners’ grandkids was especially impressive: I could never tell when they were using CGI or animatronics. It blended seamlessly. I even caught myself thinking, much like I did probably 20 years ago when I saw this movie for the first time, “Maybe now they have the technology to actually make this happen!” I know, I know. Chaos theory. But I just want to hold a tiny, baby velociraptor. Can I be blamed?

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Ben: 79%. I had never seen Jurassic Park from start to finish, and for my first foray into this world it was a solid ride. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the CGI stood the test of time after 22 years, time that is not as kind to other products of the era. One of my favorite moments of the film occurred outside of the television set though. As the film reaches its climax two velociraptors, we affectionately named Bob and Jerry, stalk the main characters. We voiced those two characters and their eternal quest for acceptance and to be the ideal “it” in a violent game of hide-and-go-seek. Eventually Jim, the T-Rex, crashes the party and ruins everything. Poor Jerry, may he rest in peace.

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