I not only have this blog post, but also a podcast! It may vary slightly from this post (it’s not a direct transcript) but I still say basically the same thing. Give it a listen!
**Warning: Spoilers for both book and movie!**
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)
Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg (1993)
John Hammond and his team have discovered a way to clone dinosaurs. He buys an island near Costa Rica and is turning it in to the most incredible theme park/zoo imaginable and so far, have 15 different species. However, after five years of work, and a year and a half before the grand opening, his investors are getting worried. His lawyer has scheduled a visit to the island to be sure everything is going according to plan. The lawyer, Gennaro, is aware of what Hammond is trying to achieve, but the investors are only given a vague idea. The people Hammond pays for consulting also don’t realize what that he is recreating living dinosaurs. He invites three people he has consulted to come visit the same weekend, hoping to get their stamp of approval in front of Gennaro. The three are: paleologist Alan Grant, paleo-botanist Ellie Sattler and mathematician Ian Malcolm (who specializes in the chaos theory).
Unbeknownst to Gennaro, Hammond also invites his two grandchildren, Tim and Lex. Using them as a way to manipulate Gennaro.
They are all amazed when they see the dinosaurs for the first time and are shown behind the scenes how they were created; as well as an in-depth look at the security system. While talking to the visitors, the people working on the park all say how confident they are in it. However, when they are alone with Hammond they voice their true concerns. We also see the internal dialogue of most of the characters and see the doubts the various scientists have. The key characters aside from those listed above are, bio engineer Dr. Wu, head veterinarian Dr. Harding, head of engineer John Arnold, head computer guy Dennis Nedry and another guy named Ed Regis who was head of public relations.
When the visitors go out and tour the actual park in the electric Jeeps, things are going well. Then, a storm comes in, plus Nedry shuts down security. He has made a deal with a competitor to get them the 15 embryos in exchange for 1.5 million. He shuts off security, telling them it is a bug in the system, while he gets into the lab, takes the embryos and gets in a motorized car to drop the embryos off. He is only supposed to be gone for like five minutes, then come back and set things back. However, he gets lost and is eventually killed by a dinosaur.
The electric cars stopped working while in front of the T-rex paddock and with security off, the electric fences no longer work. The T-rex attacks and ends up injuring Malcolm and killing Ed Regis. Grant protects the kids, meanwhile Ellie and Gennaro are with Dr. Harding in a motorized Jeep and aren’t aware what has happened.
Grant and the kids have quite the ordeal getting back to headquarters (the island is large) while avoiding the attacking dinosaurs. Malcolm is found by Harding and taken back to headquarters where he tries to treat his injury and loads him up on morphine. Eventually the raptors also break loose and wreak havoc on the main building.
Hammond remains in denial throughout all of this, despite his employees trying to talk some sense into him.
They are eventually able to get the power back on, and in the end, Grant is with the remaining raptors in the hatchery room. He knows raptors eat eggs, so he injects poison into the eggs and has the raptors eat them and they die. Even though the multiple dinosaurs are killed, there are also a fair share of human casualties during these 48 hours. Ed Regis, Nedry, Arnold, Dr. Wu, Hammond and Malcolm all end up being killed.
In the end, the survivors are flown to Costa Rica. They are not allowed to leave though because they need to be questioned. Turns out raptors have been breeding and escaping the island, migrating to Costa Rica, setting things up for a sequel.
Thoughts on book
I really loved reading this book. Everyone knows the basic premise, but I loved all the details about the characters and it was really well written. I had watched the movie just once before and it was a while back, so I actually didn’t remember who lives or anything like that. Though the movie wouldn’t have spoiled much, since not all of the deaths in the movie are the same as the book.
The author has written multiple books that have been made into movies, as well as writing the script for and directing the movie Westworld. It has since been turned into an HBO tv show. The premise is pretty similar though-incredible theme park unlike anything else, but the main attraction goes wrong and people die and park is ruined. Even with that story in common, they are still both entertaining and different enough from each other.
While reading this, I went back and forth between reading it on my Kindle, and listening to it on Audible. I run, so it’s convenient to be able to “read” while running, and then my Kindle and Audible are connected, so after listening to it I can go to my Kindle to later read it and it will pick up where I left off on Audible. (I am thinking of writing a blog post comparing the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite, because I have had both. So stay tuned for that.)
Sam Neill plays Dr. Grant and I don’t have any complaints with his acting. My only thing, is that for some reason the outfit he’s wearing when the first arrived annoyed me. Just seemed too much, with the hat, the aviators, and the bandana around his neck.
Laura Dern is Ellie Sattler and she is wonderful. She’s a great actress and I think she was great in this role.
Jeff Goldblum is of course Ian Malcolm. As I was reading this, how could I not picture Goldblum in my head??
Richard Attenborough looks exactly as Hammond is described in the book. Though they changed aspects of his character, Attenborough does a good job.
Bob Peck is Muldoon, his character is probably the most cliché, I don’t have anything especially good or bad to say about his performance.
Martin Ferrero plays Gennaro, and his acting is fine, but he doesn’t look at all the way he is described in the book. He is supposed to be this buff guy, who is even able to fight off one of the dinos. Whereas this actor is tall and lanky.
Samuel L. Jackson has the brief role of Arnold. Only complaint is that I wish he would have had more lines.
Jespeh Mazzello is the grandson Tim.
Ariana Richards plays Lex. I read that for her audition tape they asked her to scream, and out of every kid they watched, her scream was the most believable and even startled Spielberg’s wife who had been in the other room. She does have a great scream (better than Laura Dern’s when she screams) and she got good at having the constant wide-eyed scared look.
The animals were almost all CGIed in after, so that is some impressive acting pretending to be terrified when there is literally nothing there.
There are actually quite a few changes from book to screen.
The opening scenes of the book takes place on Costa Rica. There is a construction man brought there from the nearby island, because he has been injured. They are told he was in a construction accident, but the woman attending him thinks how it looks more like an animal attack. The man is South American and keeps saying Raptor, but she thinks he is saying something in Spanish and never finds out what he meant. There is then a scene where a woman has a baby and the midwife goes in to check on the newborn, and sees these lizard looking creatures on the crib and sees they killed the baby. Then we have a family of three that are on vacation. The daughter is alone on the beach, when she sees a lizard type creature, but it is walking on its hind legs and has chicken like movements. It jumps on her arm (it is small) and then bites her and she screams. She lives and draws a picture of the animal that attacked her. Later, the doctor who is skeptical about what the little girl says, goes to the beach and sees a howler monkey with a creature as described in its mouth. He kills the monkey, takes the specimen, and send it out to a lab along with a drawing the young girl did.
An image of the creature makes its way to Dr. Grant, who immediately sees that it is a young raptor.
This whole storyline is left out of the movie. I thought it was a great intro though and really sets things up.
They also condensed the characters. I don’t mind this, while reading the book I thought there were too many people to keep track of anyway. There would be a character that was in only one chapter, yet their name and whole backstory would be given. Part of me likes that, because I enjoy seeing into the heads of everyone. It helps balance out the story, not making it seem like everyone is expendable and doesn’t matter except the main characters. On the other hand, it was just a lot of names.
The book has the primary veterinarian of the island named Dr. Harding who we do see in the movie, but it is a brief scene. In the book, his character is one of the one who survives, though he is attacked, but he makes it to Costa Rica. Then there is Dr. Wu, the scientist who cloned the dinosaurs, who was also a big character in the book, yet he was only in one scene in the whole movie. In the book he was in the control room with everyone else and was helping Arnold with the computer stuff. In the movie, Hammond helped more with the computers, replacing Wu in that sense. There are also multiple scenes where he talks with Hammond, discussions that show his doubts and highlight Hammonds delusion.
There was the character of Ed Regis who was taken out of the movie entirely. His character was like a manager type person over the park. He is in charge of the tour the group goes on and has to be with the kids in their car. When the T-rex attacks, he runs out of the car into the woods. Later, when Grant is with the kids, they hear the T-rex in the distance. They are higher up and see Regis in the distance and watch as the T-rex attacks and kills him.
Later, Gennaro and Muldoon go out in the Jeep to look for the others, that’s when they come across the injured Malcolm, as they do in the movie. But they also come across Ed Regis’s leg, which they decide to wrap in tarp and take back with them. Why they felt the need to keep the leg makes no sense! Just leave it there! Gross.
Grant also had met Gennaro years before, when he met with him to offer him money in exchange for his services on behalf of Hammond. Through the years, Hammond and his team reached out to Grant for information on how to care for baby dinosaurs and in return Hammond funds Grant’s digs. The reason he is chosen to go the park is because of his involvement in helping with it. Though as in the movie, Hammond is forced to have people check it out because his investors are worried because they have heard rumors that the island has been having problems. Ellie is a grad student and a paleo botanist (as in the movie, though they don’t say she is a grad student) working with Grant and is invited as well.
Ian Malcolm was also consulted in the making of Jurassic Park, though he said from the start that things would not work out. The people consulted for this park of course had no idea about the truth of what was really being done there. Nedry also was only given limited information when he started working for Hammond.
The book gives a more in depth look into the science behind the creation of the dinosaurs, as well as a thorough look into the security. The movie kept the basic info and turned it into the ‘Mr. DNA’ video.
Life finds a way
They track all the animals, and have currently hatched 239 of them, of varying species. Their computer tracks each one and is set to look for 239. When they suggest heightening the search to 300, more start to show up. In both book and movie, Grant finds an egg while they are with the sick stegosaurus (in the movie it was a sick triceratops). The movie doesn’t have the scene with the computer tracking the number of dinosaurs. In the movie, Dr. Wu used frog DNA with all the dinosaurs, whereas in the book he only used it for some (including the raptors) so only those specific dinos are breeding in the wild. The movie never gives specific numbers on the how many are out there.
The movie also has only one T-rex, but in the book there were two. One of which is killed by Muldoon.
There are also pterodactyls in the book and a whole scene where Grant and the kids are in the aviary when they are dive bombed by them. This was a cool scene and I wish they would have included it. The part on the river actually lasts a while, and they are also attacked by the rex again during this time. Apparently, it was in one of the drafts of the script, but in the end the scene was scrapped.
Tim and Lex
With the kids, in the book Tim was older than Lex. And she was sooo annoying! The part where Grant drops them off in the kitchen, she is saying how she wants ice cream and is whining for Tim to find her some. He offers her some other sweet food and she’s like, “no I want ice cream!”. Part of me gets it, she’s a little kid who has gone through multiple traumatic events and isn’t thinking practically and is being self-centered, as kids can be. But at the same time, she was just so annoying! To be honest, I was almost hoping one of the kids would be killed off. The book though, Lex is really into baseball, and Tim is into dinosaurs. The movie though made Lex be a computer nerd/hacker. The movie has Lex be older, and a lot of things that happened between the two in the book, are reversed in the movie. For example, in the book there is a part when Lex almost drowns, and Grant has to give her CPR. In the movie though, Tim gets electrified, and he is the one that needs CPR. Then in the book, Tim is able to get the security back on, when all the other people had been killed off. The movie has Lex be the one to do that. And as I said, they say earlier in the film that she is a self-proclaimed hacker, so there is more context as to why she would be able to figure it out in the first place.
There is also a scene in the book where the kids are in the dino nursery while trying to get away from the raptors. Earlier, during the tour they interacted with the newly hatched raptor. When they get to the nursey, the baby comes up to them being cute. Tim is holding it and decides to toss it to the raptors as a distraction, thinking they will be distracted and want to watch over the baby. However, when he tosses it, the raptors end up killing and eating it instead.
I did like that the movie had the female characters do more-such as Lex as I said above. Ellie also was in more of the movie than she was in the book. Her big moment in the book is when they need to have Grant make his way to the security room to switch the power on. The raptors are out there though, so with a gate between them, the distracts them and keeps their attention while Grant heads over. This scene isn’t in the movie, and Ellie is actually the one that heads over to the security area. I loved this scene in the movie, it had a classic monster movie vibe and I found myself smiling the whole time for some reason. In both the book and movie, Arnold had gone over there first, but is gone so long that they need to have someone else go. In the book is shows Arnold being killed by a raptor. The movie, Ellie is backing away from the attacking raptor, and from behind, Arnold’s arm rests over her shoulder. She freaks out, then is like, “Oh, it’s you Dr. Arnold, thanks goodness.” But then as she touches his hand, his whole arm is there, and she screams. They actually had meant to film Arnold’s death but while on Kauai a hurricane struck, and they had to leave and unfortunately this prevented them from filming the scene.
Best monster movie moments
The last 35 minutes or so of the movie I really enjoyed. As I said about the scene with Ellie, is has much more of that monster movie vibe which I enjoy. Both the book and movie have the part where the raptor comes into the dining hall/kitchen while the kids are there and again it’s a great scene. (In the book it is just one raptor, but in the movie it’s two.)
Earlier we have the death scene of Nedry, which again I loved. Apparently, Spielberg just wanted more and more water and even with the final product he said he still wished there had been more. Wayne Knight had a miserable time filming it though, being soaked, muddy and slipping all over the place. I love Knight though, he is Newman in Seinfeld and is one of my very favorite side characters on that show. I loved his line of, “No wonder you went extinct. I’m going to run you over when I get back.” In the book his death was much more grisly. The dinosaur spits poison on him, eventually spitting on his eyes and blinding him. While he struggles to feel his way around, the dinosaur slashes his gut and he feels his intestines his in hands. Then he falls, and it grabs his head in its jaws. The movie is PG-13 so they cleaned it up by having the dino quickly get in the car without him seeing and kills him in the car as the camera stands outside and can’t see in clearly. Oh, and Spielberg made a point to show the can of shaving cream which holds the embryos rolling away in-tact, as his way of setting up a sequel.
Changes to Hammond’s character
The movie made John Hammond much more likeable. Which makes sense, because Spielberg said he identified with him more. The movie has his grandkids hugging him and he seems to be a very caring grandparent. In the book though, he is just obsessed with his park and refuses to hear peoples’ doubts. If anything, he blames them for having done it wrong, and never admits that the idea of recreating dinosaurs is a foolish thing to do in the first place. Malcolm has a line where he says that they were so busy figuring out if it could be done, that they never considered should it be done.
Later, when the kids are missing, Hammond is with Gennaro and Hammond asks him, “’So Muldoon believes the children are somewhere in the park?’
‘He thinks so, yes.’
‘Then I’m sure we’ll find them.’
‘I hope so’, Gennaro said.
‘Oh, I’m sure we’ll find them. After all, I keep telling everyone, this park is made for kids.’”
He just refuses to believe that the park is dangerous and keeps thinking everything will turn out just fine.
The movie has a scene where Ellie is talking to him, trying to get him to acknowledge the fact that you can never have control over a park like this, but he is being pretty dense about it. This conversation didn’t happen in the book. As said, his conversations like that where between him and the various guys actually working there.
In the end he leaves to take a walk, leaving the headquarters, thinking of how all these other people have ruined the park. He’s thinking of what he’ll change the next time, to ensure it’ll work. While thinking, he falls and messes up his ankle. He turns to go up the hill back to headquarters, but his ankle is swelling and getting worse, making it hard for him to walk. Then a group of small dinosaurs approach him. He knows that these ones are poisonous and attack injured animals. He tries to scare them off, but eventually one bites him, followed by another and another. Eventually, he is killed and eaten.
The movie has Hammond actually be very helpful. As I said, they reduce the amount of characters in the movie, so Hammond takes on some of the lines and actions that were done by someone else in the book. And he does not die in the end. He is actually the only one who is never even attacked. This is thought to be because he states that he is present for every hatching. Since he is the first thing they see, they associate him with a parent. However, there are animals breeding, so those ones wouldn’t have a problem attacking him, right? So I don’t think that logic really applies.
How the dinos die
I said that in the book, Muldoon kills one of the T-rexes with this rocket launcher type thing, then later Grant kills the last of the Raptors by giving it poisoned eggs.
In the movie, the raptors are getting to them in the main building, but then the T-rex comes and starts battling with them. While this distraction is happening, they are able to run out of the building and get to a chopper. I read that one of the early scripts wanted Grants to use the T-rex bones has a puppet and fight off the raptors. (Because this scene takes place in the main entrance, where there is the T-rex skeleton statue and there are wires holding it in place.) I’m so glad they didn’t do this. Maybe it could have been filmed in a way that looks cool, but when I imagine it, it just seems so cheesy.
The Grant not liking kids storyline
The book really is a monster story, there isn’t much else going on. Which I loved. The movie added the whole storyline of Grant not liking kids. In the beginning he is talking to Ellie about how he doesn’t get why she wants one and proceeds to tell her why he dislikes them. Then, he ends up getting stuck with the kids, and protecting them as they make their way through the park. He connects with them and grows to love and care for them and even respect them. On the plane ride home, he and the kids are sleeping, them resting their heads on either shoulder. Ellie is sitting across from him, smiling with her eyes tearing up. This, is what the movie Jurassic Park is truly about. I read the book Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks (which I highly recommend) and he breaks down what makes a good story. Basically, a key element is that the story has to have a character change. Grant is the one that undergoes the change in Jurassic Park. Even though on the outside, the movie seems to be about dinosaurs attacking people, the heart of the movie is about Grant and his change towards how he views children.
Alan Grant in the book is actually a widower and isn’t in a romantic relationship with Ellie. She is engaged to some guy in Chicago we never meet. He also had nothing against kids. I don’t mind that the movie changing this though. Had they included more of a romance between Grant and Ellie it would have annoyed me, but they didn’t so it doesn’t.
Speaking of Grant and kids, in the beginning of the movie, there is a kid talking crap about raptors. Grant explains how smart they are, how you will make eye contact with one and while you are busing watching that one, two come from either side and attack you. This is foreshadowing, because in the movie this is exactly how Muldoon dies. But not before he says the iconic line, “clever girl.”
Which by the way doesn’t happen in the book. He is attacked by raptors, but he stuffs himself in a pipe to escape them and eventually gets out of the pipe. And as I said above, he even kills one of the t-rex’s.
Gennaro also doesn’t die in the book. As said, Ed Regis is the one that abandons the kids in the car and runs into the forest, only to later be eaten by a rex. Though before he is eaten he is hiding out, assuming everyone has died. While hiding, there is a passage in the book where he is thinking, “He remembered that Lex had said something but he hadn’t stopped, he couldn’t stop…Gasping and terrified, thinking of nothing except to get away from the tyrannosaur…finally, he calmed down a little, and he had been overcome with horror and shame because he had abandoned those kids…he knew he should go back up to the road to rescue them, because he had always imagined himself as brave and cool under pressure, but whenever he tried to get control of himself, to make himself go back up there-somehow he just couldn’t. He started to feel panicky, and had trouble breathing, and he didn’t movie.”
I like that part just because none of us know how we would truly act under various circumstances. It’s easy to judge others for their actions, but until you have been put in their situation, you really don’t know.
He realizes there are leaches on his face, almost in his mouth and then finds another one on his arm. I watched a movie when I was a kid where a guy has leaches on him and ever since then they have freaked me out. Of course, I grew up in Tucson, Arizona where there was absolutely no threat of leaches. But they still freak me out.
In the movie, when Malcolm runs out of the car, he is holding a flare as a way to distract the rex so that Grant can save the kids. In the book, he and Grant see the rex destroy the car in front, and Malcolm asks if there is anything they can do to save themselves and Grant says no. So, Malcolm just runs out the door to save himself. Then as said, he is attacked-though it isn’t shown in the book or movie. But he is found and brought back to headquarters. In the book he is in bad shape. He is loaded on morphine and is still talking a lot, but is fading and seems to just die a slow death due to losing so much blood. In the movie he is one of the ones that survives and is flown out.
In the very end, after they don’t have the threat of an attack, Grant says they need to go find the raptor nest and count how many there are. Gennaro says it isn’t necessary, but Grant gets all manly and grabs him by the collar saying Gennaro needs to finish what he started. But honestly, I’m on Gennaro’s side. What’s the point of going to the nest? This scene just seemed to suddenly make the story drag. But Grant, Ellie and Gennaro go into this pit type things where the raptors have their nest and for some reason don’t attack. That part also didn’t really make sense to me. These things have been hunting them down, but now they are right there, in their nest, near their young, and the raptors don’t notice and/or don’t care?? By seeing how the raptor’s act though I guess it makes them realize that they are leaving the island because the raptors are migrating. Throughout the book it talks about how dinosaurs are more bird like than reptile like. So, this is just one more example.
Complaint with book and movie
One complaint I have with both book and movie, is all the various people working on the island are never talked about. They clearly had a number of people there, but we don’t see them get saved at the end. Did they all die? Where even were they when all of this was unfolding? It just doesn’t make sense we literally never hear from a single person who isn’t part of the main cast.
Book or Movie?
Even though this movie is a classic, and is obviously very well done, I have to say the book still wins. There is so much more detail, and those beginning scenes really draw you in and set the tone of the rest of the movie. It is much more of a monster book, than the movie is a monster movie I think. The book had more suspense, there were a few times someone in control would mention something, like about how the aviary is dangerous and that hopefully the kids and Grant won’t end up there. Then the next scene talks right away about how they are floating towards the aviary. The characters are more fleshed out, though in the movie, they did make the characters more likable. Especially Lex and Hammond. Though I wish they would have kept the Hammond storyline the same as the book.
The movie I think took too long to get to the attacks, because those scenes are what I liked the best. The first like 70 minutes are just us getting to know the characters and some background on the park. It doesn’t set up the tension like the book did, because he started it out with these suspicious attacks and people not knowing the creatures were dinosaurs.
There is a book and movie sequel. I do plan on reading/watching it, but I don’t know when exactly that will be. I have a number of books already lined up. Though if I hear back from enough people saying they want me to cover the next one I will get on it sooner.