I'm not quite sure what came first; my love of dinosaurs or Jurassic Park. Either way, the dino-obsession started early and has yet to fade. I first read the book Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton right before the movie came out in 1993. I vaguely remember being attracted to the book because of the dinosaur on the cover and they were literally everywhere because the movie was about to be released, and well, that's just how marketing works. I was in 3rd grade and I begged and begged for the book and I think I finally got it for my birthday. Not implying that my parents didn't want me to read, they just thought it might be too advanced for a kid that age. I'd be lying if I said I fully understood all the science and technical jargon in the book, but even as an adult and having read my fair share of other Michael Crichton books I can't say I fully understand it all now.
I was instantly obsessed! I probably read the book two or three times leading up to the release of the film. Sadly, I wasn't able to see the movie in theaters. Understandable though as I was only 9 years old at the time. Since I couldn't see it in theaters I had to settle for playing with the toys and hearing about the film from my adult neighbors and parents friends. One of them mentioned that a guy got eaten while he was on the toilet. What?!? My tiny child brain exploded. I HAD to see this movie!
I finally got my chance to see it when the movie was released on VHS. I plopped on the floor in front of the TV and...I couldn't watch it all the way through! I was too terrified when the raptors corner Lex and Tim in the kitchen that I had to "get a drink" and watch via peeking around the corner. Other than that brief moment of terror I was floored. I couldn't get enough. I was officially hooked. And not just on JP, but on dinosaurs as a whole. My aspirations to become fighter pilot (obviously after watching Top Gun) went right out the window and I was convinced it was destiny that I become a paleontologist. If you though it was weird that I wanted to read Jurassic Park in the 3rd grade just imagine my parents faces when I started requesting college paleontology textbooks for Christmas.
When the subsequent films came out I was there. And I loved them all. Sure, they all pale in comparison and get a little bit ridiculous at times (ahem, Jurassic Park III) but, they've got that magic ingredient that keeps me coming back: dinosaurs! Spielberg did such as amazing job with the first film that it makes it almost impossible for me not to find some kind of enjoyment in any future JP film. As long as they sample just a sliver of the originals perfect mix of action, comedy, and tension they'll find my butt in a seat. Oh, and they've got to at least reference Dr. Grant or Dr. Malcolm and the original park.
I was actually quite happy with the reboot. I'm also looking forward to the latest installment. However, I don't think any future film will live up to what the original Jurassic Park is to me. Even upon rewatching I still find myself in awe at times. It is a wonderfully constructed film filled with incredible performances. The drama is real when you still find yourself tensed up for an outcome you've seen 20 times before. In preparation for this article we rewatched the movie and tried to recite the lines from memory. I was actually quite surprised by how much I knew. I mean, I know a lot of the lines because Andy and I are constantly quoting them back and forth ("Don't get cheap on me Dodgson. That was Hammond's mistake") but, in playing back the recordings we made it's pretty funny how closely our delivery matches up.
So, I'd just like to say Happy Birthday Jurassic Park! You're my all-time favorite movie. You still fill my heart with glee when I hear your trademark "thump-thump" and raptor screams. You're the covert can of shaving cream to my Dennis Nedry.