Jurassic World and Soft-Canon: a Counteractive and Convoluted Conundrum

This article is a guest contribution by Thomas Fishenden.

When it comes to the Jurassic Park franchise, it is safe to say that there has been a lot of world building over the duration of the five installments which Universal Studios have produced. It is certainly safe to say that a lot has been added to the franchise over the years. The films have added new locations and new animals and characters, whilst the secondary materials – such as the viral marketing – have aimed to add in more continuity between the sequel installments. Canon, however, has not always been maintained – and there have always been issues which have plagued the Jurassic franchise and the continuity it shares between its various outings. We have seen Universal and Colin Trevorrow take steps towards addressing these issues in recent years – but unfortunately, a recent announcement during the press for Jurassic World: The Live Tour has us concerned about the future canonical consistencies within the franchise.

In the past, Colin Trevorrow has stated that he is the overseer of the franchise – and would oversee issues, such as Canon, moving forwards to ensure better continuity and cohesion across the property in the future. This had many of us excited, as it seemed to indicate that both Colin and the studio behind him were willing to take meaningful steps towards building a much more coherent cinematic universe. Indeed, it appeared that the Jurassic franchise would take a similar approach to other great franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, building outwards with meaningful connections to the very core pillars which first established the franchise. For a while, this seemed to hold true – with inconsistencies around the geography of the Isla Nublar report in both Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom openly addressed by the director, who proceeded to work with the team behind the viral marketing and surrounding canonical materials (Chaos Theorem) to build a meaningful explanation which alleviated the canon-breaking implications that the change in island geography had. Furthermore, the team working behind the scenes had the opportunity to build upon the background of the franchise – adding in new implications for the canon which alleviated some of the strained connections that the narratives of the more recent films had. It is safe to say that the Dinosaur Protection Group website, and other subsequent ventures, did a lot to build upon the canon in meaningful ways – addressing the concerns of long term fans and creating much more of a cinematic ‘universe’ than we had ever seen for the franchise before.

Whilst the Dinosaur Protection Group faded into obscurity after the cinematic debut of Fallen Kingdom, it appeared canon would continue to grow and expand within the franchise. This brings us to Jurassic World: The Live Tour. Press Events for the tour (see Chris’s coverage from an event in April of this year) got fans excited – with a clear focus on developing a story which could fit within the confines of a pre-established Jurassic World narrative. Indeed, whilst some of the live show would build upon the back of the blockbuster film, showcasing the Indominus rampage on Isla Nublar, the clear majority was stated to be a brand-new story exploring a top-secret InGen Facility in Chile. The story follows Doctor Kate Walker, who was working with dinosaurs in a similar behavioral capacity to Owen Grady, and has essentially been pitched as the other half of the IBRIS project which we see on screen within Jurassic World. This, again, is a project which has always been relatively secretive on-screen, so fans were excited to be able to learn even more about this new piece of lore which was sure to build upon the fundamental ideals explored within the first Jurassic World film. Anticipation was high – and this was only exasperated further by the debut of Battle at Big Rock, which explored more new characters within the same universe, after the events of Fallen Kingdom.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that the story continuity will not last.

Fast forward to the start of November, when the Live Tour is kicking off with its worldwide premiere. Colin was interviewed by the Social Media team working on behalf of Feld Entertainment., and in an Instagram story on the official tour account, Colin was asked where the events of the show fit within the timeline of Jurassic World. His response was as follows:

“We have something we call soft canon – which is that it happens, but it also exists within its own space. You know, Feld’s writers and creators made a new and original story which exists within the context of Jurassic World and I think people are really going to love it.”

This statement is great when we consider how passionate Colin is for the franchise, and it is nice to see how excited he is about the live show – but it also poses a very real problem for the franchise moving forwards. That statement of ‘soft-canon’, and the careful phrasing of this show ‘existing within the context of Jurassic World’, has set alarm bells ringing for many fans – suggesting that the show may not be a meaningful fit within the pre-determined canon of the franchise, as was previously implied. Soft-canon itself is an alarming phrase, considering its what ‘Jurassic World Evolution’ is described as — something that is not canon at all, but adheres to the rules of the universal while carving out its alternate reality.

This becomes problematic as a universe which is built without canon in mind can very quickly crumble and implode if not handle with a degree of oversight and brand management. Disney know this all too well – and it is the reason why the Star Wars Expanded Universe is now referred to as ‘Legends’. Here, Disney told too many stories which conflicted with one another and posed potential problems for the canons of the franchise so they had to restart this from the ground up and discount any of their old stories as being non-canon unless reintroduced into modern films or properties. Whilst this soured many Star Wars fans, Disney could get away with this because of the sheer scale and scope of Star Wars and its fan-base, with many more pre-established stories already under the franchise’s belt. Jurassic, in contrast, is a relatively new and expanding franchise with a smaller fan base, and so the movements made to grow the brand really need to be considered and thoughtful to connect with audiences and build a meaningful and consistent fan base. Therefore, the term ‘soft canon’ being thrown out so early in the growth of the franchise has both I and many other Jurassic fans concerned about the future direction of the franchise.

It should also be noted that Star War’s non-canon ‘legends’ media only consists of expanded fiction that came out prior to The Force Awakens. Everything since then has been carefully cultivated to fit within the ever expanding galaxy, working with their brand team, writers, and directors as to not contradict the films, but add to them all while telling their own stories. Why Jurassic cannot do this, especially given their stable creative team, and smaller universe size, is a frustrating mystery.

Whilst I appreciate that it is hard to canonise a Live Tour (other properties like ‘Marvel Universe Live’ opted to tell entirely separate stories), I think straddling the line between canon and ‘soft canon’ is an attempt for Jurassic to have its cake and eat it too. Whilst it’s a humble attempt at developing upon the IP, I feel that it misses the mark and misses what fans have truly been clamoring for – which are stories which will have larger impacts on the overall franchise whilst enabling them to connect with these characters and these stories in much more meaningful ways. The attitude of utilizing ‘soft canon’ poses a worry for fans, as it brings into question upcoming properties like Camp Cretaceous, and where they will stand in terms of both canon and impact on the other properties within the franchise. Whilst there is certainly an argument for these being more children’s tailored properties, it is important to note that even in that regard a canonical middle ground is achievable. Take, for example, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. This property found a way to tell stories within a pre-existing universe whilst not damaging canon. In fact, Clone Wars could build upon the pre-established in interesting and meaningful ways – connecting with both older and younger fans alike. This was due not only to the creative vision of Dave Filoni, but also due to the creative oversight and brand consistency which Disney and the Star Wars team had in place – and something which Jurassic seems to be sorely missing at this moment in time.

For the Jurassic World Live Tour, the format itself doesn’t entirely mesh with real world antics – so we understand that the action and context that which the story plays out may not be 1:1 to canon. But there is no reasons the overarching story itself of Dr. Kate Walker, InGens facility in Chile, and the events that subsequently played out cannot be canon. A simple “The story is canon, the action within and execution of it is soft canon” would be far more understandable. It was stated numerous times that Colin Trevorrow was involved from the start to make sure the story is hard canon. So what happened?

Make no mistake – I, and many others, are excited for new stories to be explored within the Jurassic universe. Many of us have clamoured for more from this brand for years, so the fact that we are finally getting this is exciting, and is a true testament to the creative passion of individuals like Colin Trevorrow. But, with that said, oversight is important too – and it’s important that this is built into a brand with solid foundations so that these stories can continue to be told for years to come. With that in mind, an organisation like Chaos Theorem or someone else altogether really need to be empowered to get more involved in the day-to-day canon of this universe, so that we can finally have something which feels cohesive. Continuity has always been a matter of discussion for Jurassic – and in some ways, poor continuity adds to the charm of these films. But, if Jurassic is to ever grow into a franchise with the power to do more than beat back other big names at the box office, then it is crucial that canon is considered, and that the time is taken to build a rich universe for these stories to take place within.

What do you all think? Where do you stand on canon in cinema, and is it important to you that these side projects tie in? Sound of in the comments below!


Uniting the Franchise: How Jurassic World 3 Should Incorporate Dinosaur Designs from ‘Park’ Films

Art by Neemz.

2021 is swiftly approaching. Jurassic World 3 is already shaping up to be an event unlike anything we have seen since the original Jurassic Park. With Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum all returning for major roles in the upcoming film, it is easy to see that we are in store for a movie with some serious callbacks to the film that started it all. With the return of old human characters, Jurassic World 3 is posed in the perfect position to be a film that showcases the original aspects of Jurassic Park side by side with the new ideas put forth in the Jurassic World movies. We can talk about the human characters until the sun goes down, but at the end of the day, the highlight of Jurassic has always been the dinosaurs.

One complaint that we see time and time again is how different some of the dinosaurs look in the newer films. While some fans view these differences as a major drawback, it’s time to take a hard look at how these perceived differences actually present a unique opportunity to showcase exactly what these dinosaurs are: genetically engineered, theme park…creatures. In other words, these dinosaurs are simply lab-created animals melding natural science and science fiction.

So today, let’s take a look at some specific examples of these differences. Let’s start with a classic: the mighty Stegosaurus. We first got a glimpse at the creature on Isla Sorna in The Lost World Jurassic Park. This Jurassic Park era Stego was on the more athletic side. As you can see below, it featured a straight tail and narrow head, which featured a beak of some sort. Its athleticism was put on full display when it sensed a threat in Sarah Harding approaching its infant.

Now, let us compare that to the Jurassic World era Stegosaurus. The new creation featured a heavier retro build, with a drooping tail and a wider head (with lips instead of a beak). Their coloration is slightly different, and their skin texture is entirely different than their park counterparts. We’re first introduced to them roaming Nublar’s Gyrosphere Valley in Jurassic World, presumably engineered under Masrani’s supervision to achieve certain goals.

In a universe where scientists have been cloning and creating new dinosaurs for over twenty five years, these differences can be explained by genetic manipulation. Perhaps the old Stegosauruses were just too agile and destructive with their more athletic build and size. Maybe the Jurassic World scientists realized a beefier build appealed to the parks older demographs who imagine dinosaurs with more outdated views. Questions like these are exactly the kind of lore I believe are ripe for answering in Jurassic World 3. Before we move on to how exactly the movie can present those answers in a natural way, let’s take a look at another dinosaur example.

The Ankylosaurus is well-known for the armor plating all along its back, but the different eras of Jurassic took the animal in otherwise different directions. We first see the Jurassic Park era Anyklosaur in Jurassic Park 3 as it lumbers underneath the tree some of our characters are hiding out in. It touts rougher scale-based armor with a smaller, colorful head. It has a narrow and angular build overall and is not overtly large.

Once again, let’s look at the Jurassic World edition Ankylosaurus that we see duke it out with the Indominous Rex. Not only is the Jurassic World era animal bigger, it has defined armor plating and a larger, uniform-color head. Just like the Stegosaurus, it sports a bulkier, stockier build overall. It’s been theorized that ‘World’s’ Anylosaurs are female counterparts to ‘Park’s’ males.

Ankylosaurs and Stegosaurs are only scratching the surface. Numerous other species have distinct sub-species within the Jurassic films, with 3 different Pteranodon breeds, over 3 different breeds of Velociraptors, plus a variety of sexual dimorphism seen within Parasaurs, Brachiosaurs, and more.

The best step for Jurassic to take is to embrace the differences and use them as a tool to enrich the deep mythology the universe has already given to us. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see the Jurassic Park 3 raptors running around Blue? That sort of variety in appearance is a treasure trove of rich story that has largely only been explored by the DPG marketing campaign for Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. It’s important to not stifle that variety, but embrace it fully, and bring all these elements from various films together.

However, not every difference is a canonical variation – the T. rex of Jurassic World being a prime example. Many fans have complained she looks off from her Jurassic Park appearance – and it’s true – the design has changed in more ways than just aging. This love for Jurassic Park’s iconic designs is another prime reason to bring them back. Not just nostalgia – they’re some of the most iconic creature designs in cinema. Embrace the masterclass work of Stan Winston Studios, Crash McCreery and ILM that laid the foundation for Jurassic World.

We know that Jurassic World 3 director Colin Trevorrow plans to expand the universe even more and deal with these creatures on a much larger scale now that they’re part of our world. One of the best ways to explore this evolution naturally, while keeping it tied to the past films is to simply go back to the older, forgotten dinosaurs. Likewise, we can finally explore how these various subspecies may interact – what would a crossbreed of a Jurassic Park female raptor and JP3 male raptor look like? Or would they never have the chance, fighting for territory instead?

What makes the Jurassic Park novel so great is that it tackles the science aspect of the story head on – the novel version of Wu has candid conversations with Hammond about manipulating the DNA of the dinosaurs to alter their physical characteristics and change the way they behave. If we’re trying to find inspiration, that’s where to start the search. Having a character in the movie, like Wu, explain the differences between all the animals on screen only serves to deepen the canon in a positive way. Not only that, it serves as a natural explanation for why Project IBRIS with the raptors at Jurassic World was (eventually) successful compared to the more aggressive raptors from the previous movies.

What are your thoughts on the dinosaur differences? Is this a purposeful creation from Jurassic Park scientists, or do you think the filmmakers were just looking to switch up the styles? If you believe the science backs it up, would you like to see it explained on screen? Sound off in the comments below and tell us how you would explain the uniqueness of the dinosaurs!

Jurassic World 3 to film in the Mediterranean

The theme park dinosaurs of Jurassic World are spreading to Europe, well at least the film crew is. According to a report from newsmalta, the production for Jurassic World 3 is set to film on the Mediterranean island country of Malta later this year!

As pointed out by our friends at The Jurassic Park Podcast, other productions such as Assassin’s Creed, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Murder on the Orient Express and Game Of Thrones have previously filmed on the island country. Now will Malta serve as a backdrop for a return to Isla Nublar or even Isla Sorna? Or could it be an all new locale for the franchise? All that will eventually be answered as production begins and eventually with the film’s release on June 11, 2021.

Colin Trevorrow is returning to the director’s chair for the 6th installment of the franchise and the film will see the return of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard along with the original 1993’s Jurassic Park cast of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum.

What are your thoughts on Jurassic World 3 filming in Malta? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and on our forums.

Thank you to The Jurassic Park Podcast for uncovering this news.

Source: newsmalta

‘Jurassic World Amber Collection’ by Mattel Revealed at SDCC – GameStop Exclusive – Available for Pre-order Now!

Preview night roared into action yesterday at the San Diego Convention Center for San Diego Comic Con 2019, and with it many new Jurassic World reveals occurred! Perhaps most notably is the official unveiling of Mattel’s 6 inch scale Jurassic World collectors series – the Amber Collection:

To bring the Amber Collection line to life, Mattel has partnered up with GameStop as the exclusive retailer for the exciting lineup. With GameStop comes a great but simple opportunity for collectors – the ability to pre-order the items, guaranteeing you the toy upon its release date. GameStop is no stranger to pre-orders, and offers this for all their upcoming products such as videogames and consoles, which meant they were a perfect fit for high demand collectors items such as these!

The initial wave of items in the Amber Collection are a Dr. Ian Malcolm figure from Jurassic Park, and a Jurassic Park female Velociraptor – and they are available for pre-order now! Dr Malcolm is available here, the Velociraptor is available here, and a online exclusive bundle pack is available here! We strongly reccomend you pre-order ASAP (whether online or at your local GameStop store), as with any exclusive item and collectors lineup, the availability will be more limited than the other toys with the potential of selling out.

The pictures show just how detailed each of these items are, and gives a great look at their amber themed display stands. Malcolm and the female classic Velociraptor are expected to ship this October, so be sure to pre-order now. No word yet on when Owen and Blue will be available, nor what the packaging will look like, but we expect those reveals to happen soon!

We’re on the floor at San Diego Comic Con, so stay tuned for more coverage and pictures on our website and social media channels. We had the chance to talk to GameStops James Parker about the Jurassic World Amber Collection, so keep your eyes peeled on our site for the full interview soon!

What are your thoughts on the Jurassic World Amber Collection, and what other dinosaurs and humans would you like to see? As always, let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to Jurassic Outpost for all the latest news!


The Dinosaurs of Jurassic World Are Both Male and Female, and They’re Breeding

When John Hammond dreamed up the idea of Jurassic Park in the later years of the 20th century, he thought he had control of the future. “We control their chromosomes, it’s really not that difficult,” Dr. Henry Wu (Hammond’s ‘Chief Geneticist’), proudly proclaimed, going on to mock Dr. Malcolm “You’re implying that a group comprised entirely of females will…breed?” Little did he or John Hammond know what lack of control they truly had on this expansive and ultimately impossible idea. Sure, Jurassic World boasted roughly 10 years of control over these animals – but – “You never had control. That’s the illusion.”

In the beginning of the franchise, we’re told that all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female. This is because, as Wu says, “all vertebrate embryos are inherently female, anyway. They just require an extra hormone given at the right developmental stage to make them male. We simply deny them that.”, ultimately displaying the ignorance and arrogance Jurassic Park is showcasing. Hammond and his team of scientists were trying to force nature into what would end up being a very unnatural state. “Life finds a way,” as Dr. Malcolm puts it, nature fights back, and he is proven correct.

As you know, later in the film, Dr. Grant and the kids come across velociraptor eggs. Eggs mean reproduction. In vertebrate species, reproduction typically means males and females (though in certain scenarios with some vertebrates asexual reproduction is possible). However, as we discovered that from the very start, there always have been both males and females in Jurassic Park, though they’re not always distinguishable via sexual dimorphism. The Lost World confirms the dinosaurs are reproducing sexually, distinguishing the sexes of the animals with the Tyrannosaurs and Velociraptors. We’re introduced to the fact that male Tyrannosaurs are green, while the females are brown – further, male Velociraptors are brighter orange with distinct tiger-like stripes. Later, in Jurassic Park III we’re introduced to new raptors, where the males have a stripe running down the sides of their back (a feature later reflected in Velociraptor Blue) and feather-like quills. The females are more white in appearance. (This makes sense because – no offense ladies – in nature, males are usually more vibrant, like cardinals for example. This is because the females are usually the ones doing the hunting and protection of their young, and so for these reasons, they need to be more dull in color and blend in better to their surroundings.)

So what’s the deal with the dinos in Jurassic World? While Jurassic World established that the Raptors, Mosasaur and Indominus are female, we do know that there were also males, and controlled breeding, like in today’s zoos. This tweet from writer/director Colin Trevorrow himself spells it out:

This information from Colin Trevorrow confirms that between Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the animals were breeding on Isla Nublar. In Fallen Kingdom, there’s an Allosaurus that is literally called a “juvenile” Allosaurus, and you can also see various baby Triceratops several times. If you’re reading this and thinking you were the only one who thought that the animals were all female, don’t worry, you are not alone. Strangely, numerous instances of licensed material for the franchise have stated that all Jurassic World dinosaurs are female. Mattel has referred to the male “buck” rex as female, for instance, while ‘Jurassic World: The Evolution of Claire’ has also claimed all animals to be female. (Side bar: I’d love to see male and female distinction in the games, and even a “controlled breeding” element. This could be risky territory – I just want to see baby dinos, can you blame me!?)

This makes the ending of Fallen Kingdom all the more significant: now that the animals are on the mainland, they will continue to breed. There obviously aren’t multiple rexes or raptors released from Lockwoods estate, so their reproductive options are limited. However, there were multiple ankylosaurs, ceratopsians, theropods, sauropods, and others released into North America that will certainly have the chance to reproduce naturally.

I am interested to see how the animals will repopulate in the Americas as invasive species, if that is something that Colin Trevorrow decides to explore. The key for combatting this invasive species threat will be response time to their capture. Compies would likely be impossible to locate and capture – there could be thousands running around after a few years. Conversely, some of the larger animals will be easier to isolate and capture with the help of the technological forces of the 21st century. With the amount of animals that were released from Lockwood’s estate, there certainly had to be a few males and females of most of the species and they will have the ability, if given the opportunity, to breed. After all, they’ve always been male and female, and breeding – ever since 1993.

If you ever forget that, just remember the words from Owen. “They’re thinkin’ I gotta eat…I gotta hunt…I gotta…”

‘Jurassic World’ Animation Supervisor Glen McIntosh Holding Lecture This Saturday at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology!

If you’re anywhere near the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, you’re in luck! ‘Jurassic World’ Animation Supervisor, Glen McIntosh, is giving a lecture this Saturday May 4th! The lecture will take place on May 4th at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium, where Glen will talk about realistic creature design and animation.

As a bonus, Glen will be signing original artwork (limited supplies) in the museum lobby after the talk, which is not to be missed!

The lecture is free with admission, so if you’re an artist of any kind, or just a movie or dinosaur fan, it’s something you don’t want to miss! Glen has worked on numerous Jurassic projects, including Jurassic Park 3, World, and Fallen Kingdom, and has worked with both the designs, art, and of course, the animation of the dinosaurs.

Will you be attending? Be sure to share your comments and photos online so!

Vote Now: Jurassic World Dino Battles ‘March Madness’!

It’s March Madness, and that means bracket polls and online voting.

Inspired by the official Jurassic World ‘Jurassic Battles’, we decided to spice up the variety and make things more difficult (for starters, not pairing off the battles by those already in the films with winners).

Vote Now!

Choose your favorites, or who you think would win logically – there is no wrong way to votes! Our poll notably includes some ‘Jurassic Park’ favorites like Dilophosaurus and Spinosaurus, and is sure to challenge fans with their picks. So what are you waiting for? Round one ends on March 24th, and the finals conclude on the 31st!

Of course, we couldn’t feature every species – and while we love the Mosasaurus, including her just seemed unfair for the competition. Be sure to come back and vote for every round – and as always, stay tuned for everything Jurassic!

Exclusive First Look at Mattel ‘Jurassic World Dino Rivals’ Fall Lineup!

New York Toy Fair may have ended well over a week ago, but that doesn’t mean the reveals have ended! In collaboration with Mattel, we have the first look at some of the upcoming Fall Jurassic World Dino Rivals lineup!

These items are a small sampling of the numerous toys coming out later in the year, which includes multiple new sculpts, species, and repaints! Take a look at the lineup below:

Attack Packs – $7.99

The small Attack Pack assortment will see many great new additions later this year, including the carnivorous Mononykus which is the first fully feathered Jurassic Park dinosaur toy, and the adorable Mussaurus, once believed to be a uniquely small Sauropod due to only juvenile fossils being discovered.

Savage Strike – $9.99

The Savage Strike assortment will continue later in the year, and while its full breadth of species has yet to be unveiled, we have a tease of one of the new items: the Jurassic Park 3 Male Raptor sporting a unique non-film color scheme. While he was slated to release in film colors in 2018, the item was sadly canceled, but thankfully the sculpt lives on here!

Mega Dual Attack – $19.99

Hold on to your butts, as we have the exclusive first look at the Mega Dual Attack Quetzalcoatlus. This magnificent flying reptile is one of the largest flying animals to ever exist, and makes a fantastic new Jurassic World toy. The Quetz can attack with button activated flapping wings and a head strike action!

Be sure to also check out the first look at Mega Dual Attack Amargasaurus via our friends at Collect Jurassic!

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Collect Jurassic has partnered with Mattel to exclusively reveal part of their upcoming Fall figure releases for their Jurassic World Dino Rivals toyline! New entries in the Mega Dual Attack, Attack Pack, and Savage Strike assortments are all on their way in addition to what was revealed during the New York Toy Fair. Without further ado, we can first reveal this Collect Jurassic-exclusive image of the Mega Dual Attack Amargasaurus, as well as images of the Mononykus, Mussasaurus and feathered Velociraptor coming our way. See the full reveals on collectjurassic.com, as well as an exclusive Quetzalcoatlus reveal on @jurassic_outpost! #collectjurassic #matteljurassicworld #jurassicworld #jurassicpark #mattel #exclusivereveal #toys #dinosaurs #toycollector #amargasaurus #mononykus #mussasaurus #velociraptor

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Also coming later this year is the Destroy N Devour Indominus Rex, new Roarivore repaints, Super Colossal Blue, and more! Be sure to check out our Toy Fair coverage for those pictures, and our buying guide for the toys already available!

What new toys are you most excited for? Be sure to sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for all the latest news!


New Walmart Commerical features ‘Jurassic Park’ Explorer and Compys!

Walmart released a commerical during the Golden Globes this past Sunday for their new grocery pickup service, which allows customers to order groceries online and have it delivered to their car. By the end of 2019, Walmart hopes to have 2,140 online grocery pickup sites. The promotional commercial released features iconic vehicles from TV shows and movies such as the Batmobile, the Ghostbusters ambulance, Knight Rider Firebird, Dumb & Dumber “Mutt Cutts” van, Scooby Doo Mystery Machine and most importantly, the Ford Explorer from Jurassic Park.

“We not only picked famous cars from iconic movies we knew would be instantly recognizable to our customers — and launched the campaign during one of the film industry’s most popular awards shows — but we also worked with a variety of different Hollywood studios to gain access to these vehicles,” Messing explained. “This helped ensure the famous cars looked just like what our customers knew from the films, while demonstrating the ease, speed and convenience of the service and that it’s for everyone, regardless of what car you drive.”

Below, please enjoy the 90 second commerical from Walmart featuring the Jurassic Park Ford Explorer and compys!

What do you think of Walmart using the classic Jurassic Park Ford Explorer in their advertisement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and on our forums.

Source: Walmart, Supermarket News

OPINION: “So, how do you know the Kirbys?” – Jurassic Park III Revisited

Allow me to share a memory with you.

It is just after 7:00 PM on a weekday. Huddled behind a computer screen in my parental home’s small study, I’m listening to the clicking and humming sounds of the desktop computer dialing up.

The internet comes to life and I frantically get to work: My parents have allotted me thirty minutes of internet time each night, no more, as dialing up makes it impossible to receive or make phone calls.

These are exciting times: production of the third Jurassic Park film is in full swing, images taken at the set and published to promote the film find their way online. As it is early 2000, the Internet is not yet mainstream, but it is getting a foothold in most households and schools, enabling users to communicate more easily with people all over the planet.

My number one, and only, priority online at this time is Jurassic Park III. For these thirty minutes I am sitting behind the computer with my fingers crossed, hoping the images and discussions on fan forums will load as quickly as possible, saving as much material as I can. Once offline again, I can write down my own thoughts and share them the following night. It is the first time I am able to follow a film’s production in real-time.

As with the original Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), most of the cast and crew attached to the film are unknown to me. But it is now possible to read up on their bodies of work, to find out about the films they have acted in, or produced, or scored the music for.

Details of the third film’s story itself are scarce: there will be redesigned Velociraptors (at one point they are presented as “feathered”), and a new threat, the Spinosaurus. A highlight; pictures of the absolutely massive Pteranodon aviary’s river and ravine set find their way online. While there is no sign of the winged beasts themselves, it’s safe to say I am impressed and most excited for all that is to grace the silver screen a few months on.

Jurassic Park III

Those days of having to dial-up feel as if a lifetime ago.

We now know how the story ended. Jurassic Park III was met with mixed reviews, both professionally and by fans. Seventeen years on, bitter battles are still being fought about that greatest point of contention – the Spinosaurus killing the Tyrannosaurus rex.

In the weeks, months and years following Jurassic Park III’s release, stories about a troubled production surfaced, revealing the filmmakers dealt with far larger problems than two fictionalized, beefed up top-predators duking it out.

The biggest issue the film’s production ran into was the original script being thrown out weeks before filming would commence, forcing the writers to quickly come up with the current story – going as far as whole pages being written on the spot.

This might have been a nightmare for the cast and crew, at times not knowing in the morning what they would be filming that very afternoon; in retrospect it may have been a blessing in disguise for fans. One version of the script saw Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler (Sam Neill and Laura Dern) in the process of separation.

Keeping a notorious scene from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) in mind, one has to ask: do these writers and filmmakers derive a devilish delight from upsetting fans? Will they stop at nothing to shock devoted audiences?

Luckily, director Joe Johnston felt the story they originally had in mind did not work, thus sparing us from having to actually witness the first film’s most beloved characters going through a divorce. Now, we just get a glimpse of what could have been before all hopes and dreams about seeing Alan and Ellie together are crushed by the revelation Ellie (now Degler – Sattler) has a new man in her life.

It is here the story picks up and continues Alan Grant’s arch, which started eight years before in Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park III’s story does seem deceivingly simple on the surface. Struggling to generate funds for his research, Dr. Grant is invited by wealthy couple Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Téa Leoni) to serve as a guide for their flight over Isla Sorna. Partially pressured into joining them by his assistant Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola) he reluctantly agrees; believing the money the Kirbys offer to compensate his efforts can keep his dig site open and counting on the promise it is only a fly-over, Alan and Billy accompany the Kirbys and the small crew hired by them.

Once the group reaches Isla Sorna, it turns out the Kirbys have an ulterior motive and do intend to land on the island. They are looking for their missing son, Eric (Trevor Morgan), and Amanda’s missing boyfriend Ben Hildebrand (Mark Harelik). As with every Jurassic Park film, it does not take long for events to take a nasty turn and disaster to strike. The plane is destroyed and the survivors get split up, forced to not just fight for survival; they must attempt to find one another again as well. And, hopefully, Eric.

It comes as no surprise the film has a happy ending, seeing the Kirbys reunited with their son, and a rescue mission, orchestrated by Ellie’s husband Mark (Taylor Nichols), on its way to pick up the survivors.

Jurassic Park III revisited

I must confess I’ve never been the third film’s greatest champion myself. Though I’ve always found it an enjoyable film to pass a bit of time with and appreciated what it has to offer, it never felt as adequately made as The Lost World: Jurassic Park. It did not seem to add much to the larger Jurassic Park story, feeling more as if a spin-off rather than a true sequel.

Recently, I stumbled upon the satirical trailer Screen Junkies created for Jurassic Park III. I deeply enjoy the spoof material the crew at Screen Junkies creates for the blockbuster films we all cherish. They unashamedly make fun of the more ridiculous aspects of these films, but they do so in good spirits and with a proportionate dose of healthy humor.

I laughed at everything their Honest Trailer presented; after all, doesn’t Jurassic Park III deserve a bit of a verbal beating every now and then?

Seeing that parody trailer, I felt the urge to give Jurassic Park III a new chance. At first, my idea was to go through it scene by scene and write a funny, but a little scathing, review. Instead, I ended up watching it four times in a single week, falling in love: despite its obvious shortcomings and the troubled production process that could have resulted in a disastrous film, it is charming. It has a genuine heart and soul, ensuring the film succeeds more than it fails, at times reaching highs rivaling events from the second film. It sports some impressive set pieces and marvelous animatronics.

Watching it those four times, I realized it would be utterly unfair to write another damning review of the third Jurassic Park film. It’s easy to ridicule the film for what it does wrong, or is thought to mess up when it comes to the Jurassic Park mythology.

It’s perhaps harder to see or appreciate everything it does right, being, if nothing else, a solid adventure film. This is testament of the skills of the scriptwriters: Alexander Payne, Peter Buchman, Jim Taylor and, not credited, John August, created a story which is simple but with compelling, even complex characters.

After years of being the underdog of the franchise, it simply doesn’t deserve the treatment I was originally about to give it. After all, isn’t the underdog often a quiet, unknown and unsung hero?

The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III

Paleontologist David Hone wrote the following about the clash of titans in his book The Tyrannosaur Chronicles (2016):

“We know so much about the animals in this group – their anatomy, evolution, behaviour and general biology – but it’s almost impossible to say very much over the chorus of statements about how cool they are or questions as to whether they would win in a fight with Spinosaurus.”

It’s the first that comes to mind when thinking of Jurassic Park III: the infamous fight between a Tyrannosaurus rex and the Spinosaurus. Much to both the bemusement and chagrin of paleontologists, the discussion seems far from over. If the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom concept art is to be believed, we came close to a rematch between the two behemoths – and a revival of the debate. In all fairness, a follow-up battle has been looming from the moment Jurassic Park III roared into movie theatres and on home release.

Personally, the dethroning of the Tyrannosaurus as the largest carnivorous dinosaur in the franchise never bothered me. The Spinosaurus was a welcome change, not in the least because of its unique physical traits; the sail on its back and the crocodilian jaws, the large arms and three-fingered hands make it impossible to confuse the animal with any of the other carnivorous dinosaurs in the franchise.

Being able to swim, the Spinosaurus offered new, exciting possibilities, this new trait fully utilized in one of the most impressive scenes in the history of Jurassic Park films. The Spinosaurus destroying the barge and thrashing through the river is an absolute highlight not just in the film, but technically too – rain, as has been well documented, was always a concern when it came to the animatronic dinosaurs in the first two films. This time, the dinosaur had to be able to withstand much more than just rain, being placed in the studio’s artificial lake for this final confrontation, facing not just water but fire as well.

The outcome is a small miracle; the impressive work of the Stan Winston Studio crew and the finest digital effects created by the ILM team combined created a heart-stopping sequence.

When it comes to the (re-)design of the dinosaurs, the new “V.2” Velociraptors are an absolute highlight. More intelligent than we’ve experienced them before, the animals interact and socialize with one another, consciously plotting against the humans. There are distinct differences between the males and females – and a matriarch clearly in charge of the pack. The animals are not just portrayed as murderous beasts; they seem to be thoughtful, considerate and even capable of compassion towards their own kind.

The Pteranodons were given an overhaul too. Largely scrapped from The Lost World: Jurassic Park in favor of the San Diego climax, the flying reptiles only featured in the closing scene of that film, reigning the skies above Isla Sorna with an almost regal appearance.

The rulers of the sky were given quite a different look for Jurassic Park III; a little smaller, more vicious and, ironically, with teeth. (Pteranodon means “winged and toothless”.)

That’s not to say they are less impressive. The aviary scenes in which they appear are some of the most thrilling in the film, creating a clear and unique identity that sets Jurassic Park III apart from the other films in the franchise.

Other dinosaurs fulfilled less prominent parts. The Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and Compsognathus make brief returns, appearing in the fly-over scene, on the riverbank and, in the case of Compsognathus, not just around the overturned water truck Eric hides in, but during the fight between the Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus as well. Keen observers can spot a small flock of Compsognathus fleeing the scene as the island’s rulers battle in the jungle.

New dinosaurs making small appearances are the Corythosaurus, living in a herd with its more famous cousin Parasaurolophus, a pair of male Ankylosaurus lumbering through the forests and along the riverbank, and a single Ceratosaurus deciding against eating Grant and the Kirbys after they retrieved the lost satellite phone from the Spinosaur’s excrements.

Even now, seventeen years on, many of the animatronic and visual effects remain at the top of their game, comfortably rivaling more recent work. Naturally some of it has aged, which comes with the territory and ever changing technology; as a whole, and with the practical and CGI effects combined, the visuals are still solid as a rock, immersing us in that strange, resurrected prehistoric world on Isla Sorna.

The characters of Jurassic Park III

The visual effects are only half of the success of these films. As with Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the true secret of Jurassic Park III’s replay value lies with the characters.

That might not be too obvious at first. The characters in Jurassic Park III are some of the heavier criticized elements of the film. As with the other two films though, the success of a Jurassic Park film stems from the fact it is about quite ordinary, relatable people being thrust into extraordinary and unexpected circumstances. In this case, trying to survive amongst cloned dinosaurs living freely on a tropical island.

Much like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III follows a template laid out by the original film. There are elements used in all three films: the main characters are oblivious to or ignorant about the dinosaurs until coming eye to eye with the animals. There is at least one sequence in which a mode of transportation is destroyed by a top predator. And main characters make predictions or observations which come to fruition during the course of the film, for example Alan Grant describing the theorized hunting methods of Velociraptors: Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) is killed verbatim by the end of Jurassic Park.

While Jurassic Park III does roughly follow the story and character templates as presented in the previous two films, it just as easily deviates from it. The destruction of the aircraft happens quite early on. The main characters’ first true encounter with a dinosaur (not counting the fly-by) is with a large predator. The deaths all take place within the first forty minutes of the film. And unlike its predecessors, the end of the third film does not finish with an exciting climax or big battle between two dinosaur species or dinosaurs confronting the arriving marines.

Either by choice or out of necessity, Jurassic Park III dares to be a little different from what came before, just like its characters.

“This was a stupid decision but I did it with the best intentions.”

Well established in the Jurassic Park films are supporting characters possessing a set of skills they can and will use sometime during the film. From Lex’s (Ariana Richards) knowledge of complex computer systems to Kelly’s (Vanessa Lee Chester) gymnastic skills, the supporting characters are given a moment to shine and save other characters with their wit and knowledge.

Billy Brennan is no exception. En route to Isla Sorna, Billy reveals to Grant his old bag’s strap once saved him from a mishap while hang-gliding in New Zealand. “Survival of the most idiotic,” Grant grumpily remarks before closing his eyes for a nap.

The information about Billy’s misadventure proves valuable when the survivors of the plane crash find the parasail Eric and Ben used. Grant asks Billy, half in jest, if he would be able to fly with it, before suggesting taking it with them to draw the attention of planes that might pass over the island.

As expected (and revealed in the trailers), Billy instead uses the parasail to traverse the aviary’s narrow canyon, attempting to rescue Eric from the Pteranodons’ hungry chicks.

Eric is saved, but Billy falls prey to the adult Pteranodons, eventually giving up and sacrificing himself to allow the others a chance of escape.

Here, the script proves unpredictable, diverging one final time from that template we know and have come to expect; Billy has survived and was found by the navy before the Kirby-family and Grant are picked up. Grant and Billy are reunited on the navy’s helicopter.

It is a chance for Grant to make amends after scolding Billy for stealing two Velociraptor eggs from nests they encountered before the group was separated. Through the course of the film we learn Grant and Billy have a mutual respect for one another. As disaster strikes they must try to survive by utilizing all their knowledge and experience, unwillingly becoming the leaders of the small group.

The friendship between the seasoned paleontologist and the boyishly enthusiastic student takes a punch when Grant discovers the theft.

After Billy has disappeared and the remaining survivors are floating down the river on the barge, we find Grant lost in thought, mourning the loss of his apprentice. Billy, young, curious and driven by a hunger to succeed, might have been more than just a student to Grant; he was not only part of the next generation of scientists, but possibly a reflection of Grant in his younger years as well.

During this brief meditative moment we learn Grant truly appreciated Billy’s company and enthusiasm, his student’s love for the animals he studied resurfacing within himself when the barge passes the dinosaurs on the riverbank. A peaceful scene far removed from the carnage the survivors endured.

“You never can tell about people, can you?”

Grief and mourning are not luxuries awarded to mercenaries Cooper (John Diehl) and Nash (Bruce Young). They only play brief parts, and there is hardly anything in it for them that constitutes as “character development”. They truly are along for the ride as dinosaur-fodder.

Despite their modest appearances, there is a significant shift in their characters. As Cooper, Nash and booking agent Udesky (Michael Jeter) set out to secure the area, they do so with great confidence. Believing it will indeed be a walk in the park, as Udesky assured Paul Kirby over the phone earlier in the film, they seem to expect finding Eric and Ben within a few hours.

It is not long after they have entered the jungle surrounding the abandoned airfield the tables are turned; whatever horrors they faced changed them from experienced combatants into terrified, trembling men trying nothing else but to escape. Nash and Udesky reach the plane safely. Cooper is left behind.

It’s most notably Nash who’s clearly shaken. That fine moment of absolute terror comes across best when he says with a trembling voice, “give me a hand here, Udesky,” trying to get his seatbelt on while firing up the aircraft; it’s spoken with the utmost fear of whatever roams the jungle outside, while still composing himself to ensure the plane takes off safely and in the proper manner. But the way he speaks and the look on his face are all telling. He has one objective: to get the aircraft off the ground and away from the dinosaur they encountered, protecting his employers and their guests.

The acting in this scene is, if nothing else, absolutely solid. With the smallest of hand gestures, facial expressions and verbal commands, Nash and Udesky truly set the moment. It is clear they are not equipped to deal with the monster that lies in wait.

Despite Nash’s and Udesky’s best efforts to make an escape, the plane is downed as the Spinosaurus scoops up Cooper from the runway right in front of the aircraft, forcing Nash to pull up too early. With the fuel cut off the plane crashes, ending up in a tree.

It is here Nash perishes in the jaws of the Spinosaurus. The third film doesn’t hold back when it comes to the few death scenes; Nash is being killed in a particularly gruesome fashion, first ripped out of the aircraft’s fuselage, then thrown to the ground and stepped upon. It is all shown in its horrifying glory. The presumed ripping off of his head does happen off-screen, but the suggestion is enough to leave a lasting impression.

With Cooper and Nash gone, only Udesky remains. Having returned to the airplane’s wreck the five survivors try to salvage as much as they can; we are given a brief shot of Udesky amidst the wreckage, holding up a damaged rifle. He throws it aside as it turns out it is beyond repair. It’s a subtle way of letting the audience know why the group doesn’t have any weapons left.

It is Udesky who provides the more natural comic relief. “If we split up, I’m going with you guys,” he tells Billy as Amanda and Paul argue nearby during their trek through the jungle.

Much like Cooper and Nash, Udesky is given little chance to develop beyond being a hired hand. He does get an opportunity to showcase a bit of his talents, succeeding in getting Amanda’s video camera to play the recording made two months before, the footage lending a little more credibility to the idea Ben and Eric might still be alive.

Eventually, Udesky is killed by Velociraptors. Like Nash’s death, his is exceptionally gruesome, a Velociraptor delivering the final blow by planting one of its sickle-claws right into Udesky’s spine.

“Does anyone have a question that does not relate to Jurassic Park?”

As one pair of Velociraptors kills Udesky, Alan Grant, now separated from the rest of the group, studies another. The animals are communicating with each other, snarling and grunting, clearly looking for someone – or something.

Despite his previous experience with the animals on Isla Nublar, Grant can’t help but observe from his vantage point. His curiosity getting the better of him for a moment, he wants to learn more about the creatures that nearly cost him his life years before.

In The Lost World: Jurassic Park John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) tries to sell a journey to Isla Sorna as possible vindication to Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Malcolm flat out refuses, only changing his mind when he learns his girlfriend, paleontologist Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore), has traveled to the island on her own to get a head start.

Grant agreeing to travel to the island after he labeled InGen’s creations “theme park monsters” during his lecture earlier in the film with the only motivator being a financial compensation was met with ridicule by fans, considered a lazy solution to get Alan Grant back into the film.

While I do agree it’s not the most elegant of solutions, it’s not entirely out of bounds either. Paleontology is a branch of science relying heavily on donations. Flying over the island and serving as tour guides is easy money for Grant and Billy, enough to fund their dig site and secure the continuation of their research.

The criticism of the money offered being enough to have Grant change his mind is often accompanied by the complaint Grant doesn’t really have any character development to speak of. We first meet him when he is sitting in the garden with Ellie’s son. He’s still not truly accustomed to being around children, and he again ends up trying to survive on a dinosaur-infested island, including having a kid in tow.

As we are taught early on, Grant publicly expresses nothing but disdain for InGen and their tampering with DNA. But privately, he can’t help passionately discuss the vocal abilities of the Velociraptors with Ellie; she’s one of the few other people having had such a close encounter with the animals, understanding Grant better than most.

Velociraptor vocal abilities become a recurring theme when Grant tries to have Ellie’s pet parrot Jack speak his name. “He used to know me,” he says, pulling away from the bird’s cage slightly disappointed when his attempts prove unsuccessful; the endeavor of trying to make the parrot speak transpires into the nightmare of the Velociraptor saying “Alan” on the empty aircraft.

By the end of the film, Grant uses the cast of the resonating chamber to imitate a Raptor’s cry for help, hoping the familiar sound created by the intruding humans will confuse the Velociraptors enough to prevent them from attacking.

Grant’s character does undergo a change, though it happens quite early on in the film. Once the group reaches the island, an almost lost passion is reignited within Grant while spotting living dinosaurs for the first time in eight years. “My god, I’d forgotten,” he says to Billy as they watch herds of animals pass below them.

The joyful moment is brief: the plane lands on the island. Cooper knocks out Grant as he tries to make his way towards the cockpit, objecting to the aircraft setting down. From that moment on, contempt for his hosts and a fascination with the animals they encounter take tumultuous turns during the journey across the island.

It’s hard to say if, by the end of the film and having survived the dinosaurs once more, Grant has undergone significant, lasting change. An exchange between him and Eric on how both would like to return to the island in years to come was left out of the film. Could it be Grant is never truly able to let go? Would he possibly contemplate one last adventure, properly prepared, to face the animals that are both his livelihood and haunt his dreams?

“I think I can manage the next two minutes without you.”

It’s equally impossible to tell if Eric Kirby would really consider a future return to Isla Sorna after his harrowing misadventure. Having adapted to life on the island and camping out in an old water truck, there is a nice reversal of roles when Eric rescues Grant from the Velociraptors. Much like Grant, the audience is quite astonished the boy has lasted this long. Unfortunately, we learn little about how Eric survived, other than him staying in the vicinity of the old laboratory, hoping a rescue mission would start searching for him in that area.

Neither do we learn how the more unfortunate Ben Hildebrand perished right after ending up on the island, still trapped in the parasail’s harness.

With this, Eric’s story might well be the most intriguing and adventurous, but the film never takes a moment to explore how Eric spent his time collecting the items stocked in the truck, evading dinosaurs and observing them, ironically making him the least interesting character of the entire film, while at the same time being the reason the entire expedition has been mounted in the first place.

Grant does inquire how Eric endured those eight weeks, but Eric remains quite tight-lipped on this; the conversation then shifts to issues Alan Grant and Eric Kirby have in common – being alive on Isla Sorna and a shared aversion for Ian Malcolm and his theories on Chaos.

“Paul Kirby, Kirby Enterprises.”

Surprisingly, Alan Grant and Paul Kirby have something in common as well. Their fragile professional relationship strained once Grant realizes he has been taken to the island under false pretences, it is interesting to see both have former partners who are now in relationships with other, presumably more successful, men.

In a twist of fate, Paul is unable to save Ben Hildebrand for Amanda, while Mark Degler is the one who, informed by Ellie, eventually intervenes and ensures the navy rescues Billy, Grant and the Kirbys.

While they have this in common, Alan Grant and Paul Kirby differ from one another like night from day. Grant is educated, capable and rugged, whereas Paul comes across as not very proactive, clumsy and even incompetent. Having you wonder if you’d trust him installing a bathroom or a kitchen in your home to begin with.

However, Paul Kirby does possess a poker face and guts. He not only manages ensnaring Billy Brennan and Dr. Grant with the promise of financial support for their dig site, he succeeds in enlisting the mercenaries and chartering a private plane to get them to Isla Sorna: Paul improvises his way through the entire ordeal, finding himself capable of much more than just being a dull salesman.

An ordeal not even his fault to begin with. After all, it was his ex-wife’s new boyfriend who took their son to Isla Sorna. Paul has graciously set aside whatever differences he and Amanda have to help her not just finding their son, but rescuing Ben as well – and he is convinced they will bring both back home safely.

He does so selflessly and in the process nearly loses his own life, trying to distract the Spinosaurus by climbing a gigantic construction crane, giving Grant, Eric and Amanda a fighting chance. Paul Kirby becomes the true, unacknowledged hero of Jurassic Park III.

Paul isn’t entirely blameless, having conspired with his ex-wife to bring Dr. Grant with them by carefully hiding the true nature of their trip. Yet, I can’t help feel for the poor guy. It’s not his fault his son was lost. He perseveres and remains endlessly optimistic, believing they will succeed and the outcome of their expedition will be positive.

Once the Kirbys and Grant make it to the barge Paul takes the lead, starting to plan ahead, trying to think of ways to attract the attention of passing planes or ships once they have reached the coast.

By the end of the film, having found their son and having lived through the experience together as a family, we can briefly see Paul and Amanda hold hands as the navy lands on the beach. Is it possible they have truly reconciled and might try to build a life together again?

“Dr. Grant, you have no idea how important it is to us that you come along. It would make all the difference.”

While Paul is the man wielding the pen and checkbook, Amanda’s invitation is heartfelt and sincere. Minutes before, Grant and Billy joining the Kirbys at the diner, she seemed nervous. After her husband explains they love the outdoors, she interjects they have two seats reserved on the first commercial flight to the Moon; the claim comes off as fabricated.

But convincing Dr. Grant to join them she partially speaks the truth; it truly would make a difference. His expertise is needed to survive. It’s hard to say if Amanda’s personal request or Paul’s offer of a sizeable compensation for his trouble is what eventually convinces Grant; it is clear her entire demeanor changes between the two statements, trying to persuade Grant to join their expedition, the true reason for his desired presence kept well hidden.

As one of the less popular characters in the Jurassic Park franchise, Amanda Kirby is the odd one out: the other leading ladies, Ellie Sattler and Sarah Harding, are both scientists, coming with experience, knowledge and predefined skills. In fact, the children aside, all characters in the previous two films were present on the islands in a professional capacity, either invited by Hammond or as employees of InGen. For the first, and so far only, time in the franchise the lead characters truly are civilians who are entirely out of their depth.

On the surface, this may make Amanda seem a little dull and uninteresting; it also makes her slightly unpredictable.

There lays a more complex character beyond the seemingly clueless, bullhorn-carrying woman. Leoni gives one hell of a performance when it comes to playing the guilt-ridden mother. Once the game is up and Grant and Billy know the true story, the mask falls away and she shows great versatility.

From her disbelief when they are ordered back on the plane by Udesky and Nash to evacuate (will they give up the search?), to the moment they find the abandoned camera and she learns Ben has died, leaving Eric stranded entirely on his own – hope, grief and despair take quick turns. Leoni communicates all these emotions through subtle facial expressions and body language.

Amanda Kirby is, if nothing else, a desperate mother trying to save both her son and partner, no matter the cost.

While Amanda and Paul might be underestimating the dangers they face on the island because their focus is on the safe return of Eric and Ben, they both learn quickly.

Locked behind the laboratory’s cage’s gate with Billy, Amanda thinks fast and takes charge, her action temporarily trapping the Velociraptor hunting them and ensuring the group can make a dash for the jungle. She again takes the lead at the end of the film, having Grant hand her the eggs so she can push them towards the anticipating Velociraptors.

It is true she utters quite a few screams and the bullhorn scene draws as many laughs as it does eye rolls; from the character’s perspective she’s doing what seems both reasonable and out of utter despair.

Amanda Kirby not being experienced and unprepared for what they may find makes it a little easier to understand her plight when she, still clinging to the life jacket Eric wore, is confronted with Ben’s remains. While the reveal of the skeleton, practically falling on top of her, is played for audience laughs, it is a deeply traumatizing moment for Amanda.

Even though she witnessed the death of Nash and possibly saw what happened to Cooper as well, this is the first time she is bluntly confronted with the truth: people die on Isla Sorna, no matter hired hands or loved ones. Despite Paul’s assurances and optimism it could very well be Eric did not make it either.

Site… B-movie?

There is a strange duality to the criticism leveled at Jurassic Park III. While it is regularly considered a lesser work than The Lost World: Jurassic Park, you are at the same time often expected to think of Jurassic Park III as a more entertaining and better film than the first sequel.

As film is a form of art and art is usually not easily judged objectively, it is difficult to say where the third film truly should be placed.

Working against Jurassic Park III are the facts The Lost World: Jurassic Park was adapted from the accompanying novel (though the film’s story was radically changed), had Steven Spielberg at its helm and was the first, highly anticipated sequel to hit sensation Jurassic Park.

A second sequel, no matter how good, would most likely never be able to live up to the original, and perhaps not even its more recent predecessor. With Steven Spielberg taking a backseat as executive producer, the absence of Michael Crichton and David Koepp as writers of the script, and John Williams having other engagements preventing him from writing and composing the third film’s score, some of the magic seems at first sight lost.

However, other people taking over did offer a chance of exploring a different side of the franchise and taking risks with it, introducing some elements and scenes more recent blockbusters might not even have dared commit to paper. One of those being the, at first glance, rather underwhelming finale of the film.

The Kirbys reunited, with Grant having found Eric very much alive and the final hurdle overcome by returning the stolen eggs to the Velociraptors, the survivors find themselves on a beach where a mysterious man in a nice looking suit (Frank Clem) stands alone as if he has simply taken a small break during a leisurely stroll.

Raising a bullhorn to call out for Dr. Grant it quickly becomes apparent this man is not alone at all; he is joined by the navy landing on the beach, the armed forces ready to find Dr. Grant and his party.

The brief history of the Jurassic Park films and film logic itself dictate we should be rewarded with a final battle between man and beast. Originally, several confrontations were considered for the end of the film; ranging from Grant luring the Velociraptors to the river to battle the Spinosaurus (with the Velociraptors eventually killing the Spinosaurus), to Pteranodons attacking the navy’s helicopters, the ideas were nothing short of spectacular.

Instead, having Grant and the Kirbys plainly walk up to them, the troops pack up as quickly as they came. While this may be a disappointing end to the film for fans and viewers who had expected an all-out battle between the navy and the local wildlife, the quiet and quick retreat is a rather realistic approach to the situation. With the mission accomplished there is no reason to engage in a conflict with the island’s rulers and risking the lives of the troops sent to retrieve the survivors.

Against all odds, Grant and Billy are reunited. Having been found by the navy just before Grant and the Kirbys arrived at the beach, Billy is wounded but alive. It’s a surprising step off the beaten path for the film, having a character presumed dead return later on, very much alive – rumor has it Alessandro Nivola himself negotiated his character would survive, giving Billy Brennan a chance to return in a sequel.

With the survivors safely on board the helicopter, the troops leave Isla Sorna behind. Both the characters and audiences are given one last good look at some of the Pteranodons, now free and taking to the skies. No longer monstrous and terrifying but majestic and graciously gliding past the helicopters, they are leaving their former home and prison behind. With both Billy’s survival and the Pteranodons’ escape leaving room for a sequel, the animals’ destination remains unknown once the credits roll.

Jurassic Park III leaves quite a few practical questions unresolved. The film doesn’t always adhere to information established by the previous films, actual science or even simple logic.

Though Jurassic Park III does not concern itself too much with scientific explanations or consciously adding much to the mythology, it does take us to some locations not seen before; the laboratory and the aviary. Both locations were first introduced in the novels by Michael Crichton, albeit in slightly different forms.

When it does momentarily explore science, it is well explained within the movies’ universe and serves a purpose. The film continues Grant’s research on Velociraptor behavior and communication. It gives Alan and Ellie a private moment to reminisce on their shared experience, exchanging observations they made back on Isla Nublar and more recently through the study of dinosaur fossils.

What it lacks in science, it compensates for with human drama. While the pace is fast and the film is short, clocking in under just an hour and a half without the credits, the small principal cast allows us to get to know the characters and their motivations a little better than we do in some of the other films.

As a result of that small cast, he film offers its characters moments to reflect on loss, or to express the fear of loss; to grieve and to reconcile. Given the nature of the film, many of the characters’ responses to the situations they find themselves in feel grounded in reality without the actors’ performances being too over the top.

The only film in the franchise not featuring a human antagonist, the tension instead relies on conflict within the group and the characters’ different objectives: Grant refuses to believe Eric could still be alive and wants to push for the coast; the Kirbys don’t want to leave the island without their son; and Billy risks his friendship with Grant by stealing the Velociraptor eggs, endangering everyone as it turns out the Velociraptors are actively hunting them.

All these elements combined create a film that may not be perfect, but make for an adventure film with at its heart two desperate people who will do anything to find their loved ones; and is that not the one element all Jurassic Park films have in common – well written, relatable human characters with a strong desire not just to survive, but to save those they love and care for?

Jurassic Park III’s legacy

Having fully immersed myself in the world of Jurassic Park III for weeks on end, re-watching the film and a plethora of documentaries, making-of material, studying film stills, conceptual artwork, and listening to Don Davis’ soundtrack on repeat, one question remains: what is Jurassic Park III’s true legacy? It seems easy to dismiss Jurassic Park III as just a spin-off, good for a bit of entertainment during a rainy Sunday afternoon, as quickly forgotten as the adventure is enjoyed.

A little uncomfortably wedged between four larger and financially more successful films, the third movie is often blamed for putting the Jurassic Park franchise in the proverbial coma. On the surface it indeed seems to have had little to no influence on what would be to come fourteen years later.

Surprisingly, Jurassic Park III quite literally left a sizeable mark on the films that were to follow: Jurassic World (2015) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Whereas both Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park were mainly dominated by the Velociraptors and, in particular, the Tyrannosaurs, the third film’s creators soon realized the Tyrannosaurs’ reign over the islands and theme park was about to come to an end.

Having been the star dinosaurs of the first two films, the Tyrannosaurs would hardly present an element of surprise in any future films. Despite their historic and contemporary popularity, there were not a whole lot of options left to sweep audiences off of their feet with.

Originally, Baryonyx was considered as the new main threat to both the human characters and Isla Sorna’s wildlife. The filmmakers eventually settled for Spinosaurus aegypticus, a dinosaur larger than Tyrannosaurus rex and easily distinguishable from the other predatory dinosaurs seen before in the franchise.

Having done the unfathomable by killing the Tyrannosaurus rex, the act establishing the Spinosaurus as Isla Sorna’s heir to the throne, and the final shot of the Spinosaurus fleeing the river as Grant succeeds in lighting the gasoline floating on the surface of the river, left the possibility of the animal returning in a future sequel wide open.

The return of the Spinosaurus did not become a reality. Jurassic World introduced a new threat that was bigger and more dangerous than both Tyrannosaurus rex and Spinosaurus. This new creature, named Indominus rex, was a fictional animal, made out of the DNA of different dinosaurs. Not only larger than its predecessors, it was capable of camouflaging itself in the jungle, becoming virtually invisible to humans and animals passing by it. This trait certainly gave it an edge over the Tyrannosaurus rex and Spinosaurus.

Jurassic Park III saw the Velociraptors return to their former glory; while an extensive sequence with the animals chasing survivors through the abandoned InGen worker village and laboratory had been planned for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, their screen time was cut considerably in favor of the Tyrannosaurus rex escaping from the cargo ship and terrorizing San Diego.

Looking quite different from their kin in the previous films, the third film’s Velociraptors were given far more time on film, chasing the survivors not just through the old laboratory, but open fields and jungle as well.

It’s this pack of Velociraptors in Jurassic Park III that paved the way for Blue and her siblings; displaying intelligence and highly developed communicative skills, the capability to set traps, the ability to restrain themselves from killing and reconsidering options when Grant tries to distract them with the cast of the resonating chamber opened up new opportunities not yet explored before.

The influence of sequels

Why are the Spinosaurus and Velociraptors from Jurassic Park III of such importance? How did they influence the new films? To answer these questions, we have to take into consideration a rumor that started during Jurassic World’s production.

The rumor was quite simple: Jurassic World was to be the true sequel to Jurassic Park, deleting the other two films from the franchise’s canon.

Director Colin Trevorrow himself quickly dispelled this rumor, assuring worried fans this was never his intention and the first two sequels would remain part of the canon. They simply would have limited influence on the new films.

Had the rumor been true, could Jurassic World directly following Jurassic Park have worked, and would Jurassic World have existed in its current form? I argue it would not have on both counts.

Had Jurassic World truly been the one and only follow-up to Jurassic Park, Indominus rex would most likely not have been brought to life; the jump from an animal that actually lived once, Tyrannosaurus rex, to an entirely fictionalized creature would simply have been too great, especially considering the absolute wealth of real dinosaurs known from the fossil record left unexplored by the films.

As it stands, the Indominus rex is the very product of the previous films going bigger and bolder with each new entry. Spinosaurus truly is the evolutionary step between Jurassic Park’s Tyrannosaurus rex and Jurassic World’s Indominus; the latter animal’s creation catering to a very clear desire of film audiences. They want it bigger, louder, more dangerous and with more teeth.

The same very much goes for the intelligence displayed by the Velociraptors in Jurassic World. Having been raised in captivity by human handlers, the Velociraptors are capable of following verbal and non-verbal commands. They are eventually set free to hunt down the Indominus rex, believed to be under control just enough to do so safely – and out of sheer desperation, every other option exhausted.

Going from Jurassic Park, where the Velociraptors lived in a heavily fortified and well-guarded pen, straight to Jurassic World, in which they interact far more closely with their human caregivers, would have been too large a step to be believable within the films’ universe.

Herein lies Jurassic Park III’s true inheritance the future films are indebted to, the film naturally bridging the two trilogies: introducing a menagerie of more dangerous and more intelligent dinosaurs than we had seen before, Jurassic Park III cleared the path for those far more outrageous avenues explored in both Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

In defense of the underdog

For now leaving Isla Sorna behind with Dr. Grant and his companions having made it safely off the island, how do I feel about the film as it recently celebrated its seventeenth anniversary?

I have certainly found a new appreciation for it. Despite a tumultuous production time and the looming deadline, Joe Johnston and his team delivered a film that’s tight, action packed and entertaining. It doesn’t waste much time on explaining in detail what we are seeing when the unwilling explorers find the laboratory or the giant barrier standing in the way of a true reunion between Eric and his parents; while possibly a missed opportunity to expand the mythology, it retains a slight air of mystery as well – and it’s this mystery that infuses the entire film. Much like the travelers, we see only those parts of the island they explore. None of them have an idea of what they might run into, there is no one telling them beforehand what they should expect or might possibly stumble upon.

In short, the film leaves a lot to the imagination while at the same time rewarding its viewers with some of the finest animatronics, visual effects and set pieces the franchise has to offer.

For a long time, Jurassic Park III was my third favorite film in the franchise, after Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

The second and third film traded places on that personal list recently. The Lost World: Jurassic Park undeniably is the bigger, more ambitious film with higher stakes for its characters and dinosaurs, serving as a renewed warning on the unpredictability of tampering with genetic material and the short-sighted belief nature can be controlled and molded to our own specifications and desires.

Jurassic Park III is a continuation and result of both Dr. Malcolm having breached his NDA by revealing InGen successfully resurrected dinosaurs and the film’s spectacular finale. The secret now out, it shows us how thrill seekers, tourists and adventurers might attempt to get to Isla Sorna to catch a glimpse of the dinosaurs.

As a film it is smaller than its predecessor, at times more claustrophobic and a little simplified. At its core there are big ideas and action sequences the other two films did not get around to incorporating; these are not simply rejected elements not deemed good enough for the original films – at the time those first two films were made some of these scenes, such as the river attack, were technically too challenging to be executed in a believable and satisfying manner.

As such the film should not just be measured by its financial gains or records broken. It should be measured, too, with an understanding of the effort put into the project, the awareness of a difficult job fulfilled under tremendous odds against the endeavor.

To me, the films traded places (not by a large margin, I greatly appreciate both) because, despite all the troubles it faced, it works. It tells the endearing story of two estranged people who try to find their son, willing to do anything to succeed, even if that means inadvertently taking everyone else down with them in their attempt.

It sounds like a dreadful concept for a Jurassic Park movie but the film pulls it off with a fresh spark and flair; while short, it manages to be more than just an endless rollercoaster ride – it gives both its characters and the audience a bit of room to breathe and reflect at various points throughout the movie.

Appealing too is the aforementioned mystery. The characters have no true guide across the island; they are not even in possession of a map. While The Lost World: Jurassic Park gave alcoholic Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) the benefit of the doubt because he had knowledge of the village and operations building (and the way leading to it), the characters in Jurassic Park III are entirely left to their own devices. They truly represent the audience; they are unprepared and inexperienced when it comes to dealing with the new dinosaurs and trying to find their way around and off the island.

It’s this mystery and these new characters that ultimately won me over again. Paul and Amanda Kirby, Udesky, Billy Brennan and, of course, Dr. Alan Grant returning, form an odd bunch to go tramping around Isla Sorna with; the story, the performances, the characters’ different motivations and objectives, the astounding visual effects, locations and sets make for an achievement that is nothing short of sensational, an adventure I now keep returning to – Amanda Kirby’s request having become the invitation I can never decline.

Acknowledgements

There are several people I would like to thank for their help, both directly and indirectly, in the writing of this article. Without them, it would have been a far lesser work.

First of all, Justin. Two years ago, Justin graciously let me publish an article called “From Jurassic Park to Jurassic World: the influence of sequels” on his personal Jurassic Park fan blog. Parts of that article formed the basis for the conclusion of this renewed visit.

You can find Justin’s blog here.

Daniel for his encouragement, offering to proofread and our discussions on The Meg (2018). Entirely unrelated to Jurassic Park, our ongoing conversation on both the book and film about the Megalodon is a joy.

Last, but absolutely not least, John. John’s continuous help and tireless encouragement have proven invaluable; not only did he proofread the entire article several times, he created the new background for the logo accompanying this article and helped find several of the images used.

Our discussions helped me gain a better understanding of the Jurassic Park films in general, and Jurassic Park III in particular.

John passionately writes about Jurassic Park, games, music, books, comics and Tomb Raider on his own personal blog, which can be found here.

As we so often affectionally joke about the Kirbys: “still the best.”

 

Pictures courtesy of Universal Studios, Amblin Entertainment and Ed Verreaux