Words: Andrea Zanin
Image: Fleur Beech

In 1993, cinema-goers shrieked in horrified glee as dinosaurs chowed down on people like children on popcorn. Jurassic Park was the bomb; a pop-culture phenomenon. Nothing was more awesome. If the population could’ve gone to their local pet store and bought a Brontosaurus, they would’ve. Not even Mrs Doubtfire, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Alice in Chains or Buckingham Palace opening its doors to the public (big woop!) could rival a guy getting his ass chewed out of a toilet by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a kid called Lex being lambasted with Brachiosaurus snot.

There was nothing to compete with the most menacing water ripple in the history of cinema (something… big… is… coming) or Velociraptors that could open doors and stalk kids in a kitchen with a stealth that even Jason Bourne would be at pains to emulate. No other film offered Coke in Jurassic-themed bottles – all the cool kids had ‘em; the ones whose reluctant mums went with them to watch the PG certified film. Some mums didn’t go. Hmph. Some kids had to wait until it came out on VHS (VH-what?). But not even a T-Rex in miniature dulled the hype’s contagion. Jurassic fever was rife. Jurassic World has a lot to live up to.

The film wasn’t only about killer graphics. Michael Crichton preaches a cautionary tale that exposes the dangers of biological tinkering

Yes, that’s right; another Jurassic feature, due out June 2015. Admit it (no one’s looking) – life just got triple awesome. Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World – featuring the likes of Vincent D’Onofrio, Katie McGrath, Jake Johnson, Judy Greer, Bryce Dallas Howard and (fail-safe) mega-stud Chris Pratt – is currently in post-production, but the trailer is out and a frenzy is in formulation. It’s a sure bet that Millennials of a 90s ilk are going to speak about this film, watch this film, love this film and love it some more because it’s not just a cool dino-flick, it’s a throwback to scrunchies and crimped hair, Blur v Oasis, Winona Rider in Reality Bites, Power Rangers, Tomagotchis, combat trousers and Beverly Hills 90210 (The original). But is a hearty dose of nostalgia plus a snaggle-toothed T-Rex enough to pull the new kids on the block?

One of the things that made Spielberg’s Jurassic Park such a huge success was its ground-breaking computer generated imagery (CGI), which introduced audiences to a prehistoric world like never seen before. But the film wasn’t only about killer graphics, not even in the 90s. Michael Crichton, who wrote the book and scripted the first Jurassic film, preaches a cautionary tale that exposes the dangers of biological tinkering; when human knowledge is combined with greed and complacency, and is unchecked by wisdom, ethics or the oversight of a responsible organisation, the results are calamitous.

In the film, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the founder and CEO of bioengineering company InGen, creates a Jurassic theme park on (the fictitious) island of Isla Nublar; a cacophony of cloned dinosaurs the star attraction. And, as euphemism would have it, things go wrong; in metaphoric protest against the very unnatural manner of its being, Nature rears its head in an all-out war against the enemy – us. Jurassic Park thus offers an astute commentary on the ethics of cloning. Remember the lunchtime debate? When Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) calls out John Hammond on the moral implications of what he has set out to achieve: “Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun.”

In Jurassic World, Isla Nublar is back on the radar, only pimped with a dinosaur theme park with the benefit of 20 years of CGI development

Genetic engineering was topical at the time of the film’s big release. It was in 1993, when dinosaurs once again ruled the world, that two American Scientists managed to successfully clone a human embryo – the first time ever. And man’s desire to play God has not diminished an iota since Spielberg and Crichton used dinosaurs to unpick the ethical implications of gene manipulation. In fact, the more man knows, the more the ‘God-complex’ seems to set in; the core point of Trevorrow’s new film.

In Jurassic World, Isla Nublar is back on the radar, only pimped with a dinosaur theme park that has the benefit of 20-plus years of CGI development. Theatrics aside, after 10 years of operation not even the spectacle of genetically engineered, mass-produce Jaws-sized sharks used to feed ‘the bigger beast’ is able to pull a crowd. Scientists, under pressure to deliver, much like Colin Trevorrow, decide to go big rather than home. So they create a genetically mutated hybrid dinosaur, translated in filmic as Disaster; yet again man’s arrogance lands him in the dark and nasty. Of course the plan backfires; the dinosaurs get out of hand and people get eaten. “Déjà vu”, you say?

True, it’s not an unfamiliar plot but in all honesty it’s not like we couldn’t do with an ego check, and all the better if it comes under the guise of a mighty man-eating Tyrannosaurus Rex or hybrid monster-thing (there’s a lot to be said for an entertainment-spewed moral). One can only assume that the repercussions for the havoc wrecked by our innate arrogance are going to be bigger, ‘badder’ and way crazier this time around. Bring. It. On.

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