Jurassic Park Revisited
Sam Neill was my main reason for seeing the first movie, I must confess. I still adore him as Dr Alan Grant, one of the most down to earth, attractive and lovable movie hero geeks of all time. But with the passing years, Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm has grown on me, and I have come to cherish lovely, leggy Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler. The scene where she staggers up to Grant and wraps those amazing legs around him never loses its charm.
Richard Attenborough’s portrayal of the theme park owner always seems to me to have something of his soft spoken, TV naturalist brother David about it, and is another of my favourite parts of the first movie. It seems odd now to see Samuel L Jackson so low on the cast list, and Wayne Knight as the nerdy bad guy Dennis Nedry is now indelibly linked with Seinfeld’s Neuman in my mind.
Jurassic Park is like an old friend, or a visit to a place you loved long ago – the memories still seem fresh and nothing you loved about it has changed.
The Lost World didn’t have the same effect on me. I’m not a big fan of Julianne Moore, and wasn’t as attached to Jeff Goldblum’s character when the movie first came out, so I gave it barely any attention the first time I saw it. But it is actually a lot better than I thought back then. For one thing, Pete Postlethwaite plays hunter Roland Tembo. This late, lamented actor gives one of his best performances here and the camera lingers lovingly on his craggy, much lived in face.
Also making up for Moore’s repetitive toothy grin is Vince Vaughn, actually bearable as the gung ho photographer Nick, and Vanessa Lee Chester is a sweet surprise as Ian Malcolm’s daughter Kelly (from one of his many wives, we presume?) I enjoy this movie right up the time the T Rex arrives in San Diego. Then it just goes daft. But I do like the scene where the boat looms out of the night and rams the pier. Cool – and Arnold Schwarzenegger as King Lear? Priceless.
In Jurassic Park III, the lovely leggy Ellie is married to some other guy with two children but still keeps in touch with Alan Grant. He has focussed his studies on raptors, who he now believes were more intelligent than humans and possibly destined for dominant species.
Once again he is propositioned at a dig, this time by a couple (William H Macy and Tea Leone) who want him to go to the dinosaur island as their guide. He isn’t keen, but a promise of big funding checks always wins the day, and he is off again, this time to Isla Sorna, the island of Lost World, where Grant learns that it’s their kid who is lost and they want him to find the boy.
Grant learns that his suspicions about the evolution of raptors are correct, and even observes them talking together and barking orders at each other. Clearly they will soon be putting us human slackers in order when they get off that island.
It’s nowhere near as good as the first movie, and it brings the Alan/Ellie romance to a melancholy close, but once again the terrific scenery and amazing creatures work their magic. The pastoral scenes along the river bank recalls the sense of wonder of the first movie.
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