When Jurassic Park released in 1993, the world lost its mind. With its combination of animatronics and groundbreaking CG, it not only broke box office records, but its summer blockbuster competition Last Action Hero also became something of a sad joke. Jurassic Park became a cultural phenomenon that went on to influence an entire generation of sci-fi action films. But not all Jurassic things are created equal — these are the top of the triceratops.
Not to get all hipster on you, but this time period was Jurassic before it was cool. It is literally the O.G. of all things Jurassic. As a lifelong dinosaur nerd, I’m compelled to point out that many of the dinosaurs in the films never actually lived during the Jurassic period, but we can all agree that “Cretaceous” Park sounds like “one big pile of shit.”
The amount of merchandise you see for Jurassic World pales in comparison to Jurassic Park’s. Its inescapable presence was like The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Batman goodies combined! My neon raptor hat, which undoubtedly made all the girls in my elementary school swoon, was pretty sweet. However, the Holy Grail of Jurassic merch was this lunchbox, complete with the sick bio-hazard thermos, which would probably get you arrested in an airport today.
When I was a kid, most dinosaur toys were scientifically inaccurate, dismal lumps of crap — except Dino-Riders, which were badass. I’d just begun struggling through my tween years when Jurassic Park came out, and I knew this meant that I was supposed to stop playing with toys and start impressing girls, but the coolness of this battle damaged T-Rex left me with no choice but to buy it in secret. I’m fairly certain this was the first of many moments where I felt genuine jealously over a younger generation’s toys.
As a kid who watched Jurassic Park six times in the theater and hundreds of times on VHS, I practically had the whole thing memorized. Sadly, The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 left me vomiting with rage. Both movies failed (to an embarrassing degree ) to perpetuate the momentum of the first film, yet Jurassic World succeeded by simply embracing the age of the original. Hidden amongst the silly cliches, contrived plot, nonsensical ending, and all the Mercedes logos, is more than just another installment in the Jurassic series. Packed with both obvious and eloquently subtle references to the original, Jurassic World is a wonderfully sincere and validating homage to the source material.
The Sega Genesis Game
After playing this game for hours at a friend’s birthday party, I knew that if my parents didn’t buy me a Sega Genesis, I would die. Featuring 3D sprites modeled with stop-motion photography, Jurassic Park was one of the slickest looking games out there. Plus, you could play as both Dr. Grant and as a motherfucking velociraptor! As the raptor, you could slash guards, feed on corpses, and even ret-con the entire movie by defeating Dr. Grant and sneaking off the island on a cargo ship!
Ian Malcom was the first character I’d ever seen that was both unabashedly intelligent and rebelliously subversive. He was a punk rock nerd whose dialogue embodied the entire message of the movie. “It’s the rape of the natural world… Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they never stopped to think if they should… Must go faster!” Seriously, everything he says is movie gold.
Before I saw Jurassic Park, I really only read Calvin & Hobbes collections and comic books. After the movie however, I couldn’t get enough dinosaurs in my life — Jurassic Park became my first novel. I’m not going to pretend that I understood Crichton’s message about the power of biological engineering and the dangers of irresponsibly wielding that power for profit. I just wanted to see people get chased by dinosaurs, and the book delivers that in a far darker manner than the film, killing off main characters with reckless abandon.
The Original Film
I really can’t emphasize enough how much of an impact Jurassic Park had on the world’s psyche. Today, we all take CG effects for granted, but in 1993, the world had never seen anything like it. The launch of the film also took place in a lost time when the Internet was still in its infancy and didn’t regularly spoil movie surprises. Therefore, the world first saw these realistic dinosaurs as they were intended to be seen: on a big screen, in front of a swelling musical score that (in spite of myself) still gives me goosebumps. Dr. Grant’s reaction to first encountering living dinosaurs was essentially an exaggerated representation of the world collectively dropping its jaw. Simply put, Jurassic Park captured the imagination of every viewer.
Jurassic Park has been around for over two decades, so I am sure there are a few things I missed. What are your favorite Jurassic things?
Article by contributor Corey Atwood.