I've been ill recently, and while that means this entry may be brief, it also means that my illness is responsible for this entry. Finding myself unable to leave the couch this weekend, I ended up watching all three JURASSIC PARK films. Why would I subject myself to all three? Well, I was in a dinosaur mood, so I popped in my VHS copy of the first. This horrified my boyfriend, who decided that to wean me from my VCR, he needed to get all three JURASSIC PARK films on DVD that day.
If I'd known he was going to do that, I would have watched them in reverse order. When I first saw films 2 & 3, I had to go home and watch the first (on VHS) to get the proverbial bad taste out of my mouth.
I first read Michael Crichton's novel a few weeks before the film premiered in 1993. It was the summer of my pregnancy. The reading and the film gave me a brief escape from the horror of being a 17 year old pregnant teenager in the Florida heat. How hot was it in the un-air-conditioned apartment where I, carless, was stuck? A watermelon exploded in the kitchen—it began to boil inside.
As much as I like the first JURASSIC PARK, there are plenty of problems with the movies, but let's focus on the science.
Jack Horner was the paleontologist consultant for all three films, which is great in many ways. However, he relinquished the theory of the T-Rex not being able to see you if you stand still, though, while the films stubbornly held onto it.
message to Dr. Malcolm: this earth girl is easy!
Horner has also posited that the build of the T-Rex (including that huge olfactory system they drone on about in THE LOST WORLD) indicates that T-Rex might have primarily been a scavenger. My students stubbornly resist this theory, not because they have any counter-evidence, but because they don't want any knowledge to change if they learned it in second grade. (Their generation seems particularly miffed about Pluto. Let it go, people. Science is only exciting when we revise and learn anew.)
The third movie in the series may be on Horner's side. While it doesn't have its Horner-esque character (Sam Neill) say anything about it, when they do run into a T-Rex, it's eating something surrounded by flies—not a fresh kill. They also have T-Rex, the hero of the first film, bested by a bigger dinosaur only the super-nerdy have ever heard of.
The big game hunter in the second film has always bothered me. Not because he gets to live (when he shouldn't).
Not because he wants to hunt a T-Rex (though I don't really get hunting myself), but because he so explicitly wants a male (a "buck"). The last WALKING WITH DINOSAURS special I saw indicated that the female would have been bigger and more aggressive, especially if you're messing with the baby, which he was.
little known fact: apparently, dinosaurs hate cars
Don't we know by now that women are almost always the more deadly? Hasn't he seen SPECIES and gotten the joke where they say they engineered the alien as female so it would be more docile? Want to know about female dominance? Ask a male angler fish.
I'm actually able to let a lot go when it comes to these movies. Suspension of disbelief, right? I can live with getting blood from amberized mosquitoes, even assuming that they could untangle it. But you can't just go in adding frog DNA willy-nilly. We know now that there often isn't a great deal of difference in DNA between creatures. It's not just what's on the strand, but what gets turned on in the strand.
The thing that bothers me the most, though? Horner was an early proponent of and Crichton was an early convert of the dinosaurs into birds theory. Then, on the island, they explain how all the animals are female because
they've been engineered that way. The SVU doctor (B.D. Wong) says that all animals are inherently female. Yes. Except birds (they're inherently male). Which I learned in high school, two years before the first movie came out. High school students should not be able to pick apart chromosomal problems in film (that should come in college).
a Yankovic dinosaur
So, in many ways, these films are about as scientifically accurate at a Heart song (don't ever teach sex ed using "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You"—you can't make things grow that way, not even metaphorically).
All of this is almost as bad as when people say "osmosis" when they mean "diffusion." I learned about that in high school, too. Osmosis is only the movement of water. So when Garfield wants to learn by osmosis, by lying on books, as he was doing on the poster in high school, he means he wants to learn by diffusion.
Water is important, as it is the main ingredient in beer, wine, and tea.
Two last things: they are coming out with a JURASSIC PARK IV.
Finally, here's a link to Weird Al's Video, JURASSIC PARK, a parody of MACARTHUR PARK:
I'm off to enjoy some Nyquil and dreaming about dinosaurs.
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