I don’t know what it is about the films and the animated series that keeps drawing me back this year. Maybe it’s my love of dinosaurs? Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m so desperate for a vacation. Outside of the shlep to Evanston for kosher food, I only go a quarter or a half mile from my apartment for groceries. At least, this is how things have been since the pandemic started.
Where did it begin? Oh, late April. I was all set to break out the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray of Saving Private Ryan to break in my then-new 4K Roku TV. But then, I learned of Irrfan Khan’s death and everything changed in an instant. I decided to watch Jurassic World. Because of how early I started in the evening, I also had time to fit in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I have no problem with the sequel. If I keep turning to the film for comfort in a pandemic, it speaks to how much I enjoy watching it. The same for Jurassic World, too. For some reason, I keep turning to these films more than any other film during the pandemic. For what it’s worth, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are among my frequent rewatches during the pandemic.
But outside of those films, I haven’t quite traveled enough to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. There was a few months ago where I decided to watch Rogue One and felt obligated to rewatch the original Star Wars trilogy. Cut to a few weeks later where I needed to fill time. The Mandalorian launches on Disney+ at 2 AM CT so I later watched Rogue One again. The film provides the thrilling action I require to stay awake in the late evening!
After J.K. Rowling spouted off her fakakta transphobic nonsense in June, you don’t need to guess which film I turned to in hopes of snapping out of the depression. The film that started it all back in 1993: Jurassic Park. During another spell in August, I watched National Lampoon’s Vacation and Xmas Vacation. Airplane, too, because we need to laugh. If laughter doesn’t cheer us up, what will?
Thrills and laughs are what got me through the 2020 portion of the pandemic. At times, new films have been tough to watch because the mindset just isn’t there. At times, my anxiety and stress are so high that watching new films simply becomes impossible. It comes as no surprise, really, that I keep going back to Isla Nublar. Maybe it’s the chaos? The park doesn’t work the first time but years later, Jurassic World is up and running. The late John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) would be proud! But again, the mistakes that get made here are different. The dinosaurs need to be bigger and scarier! Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of cutting fences. No, really. Why is it that the raptors have an extra fence but the Tyrannosaurus rex and Indominus rex don’t have the extra precaution?
Would the chaos transpire if the security fences actually worked? I don’t know because it doesn’t seem like anyone learns their lesson here. The same mistakes get made over and over. Okay, some of them are new mistakes but still! Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) is so secretive about the dinosaurs that his actions lead to multiple deaths. A shame because Wu becomes the new Denis Nedry (Wayne Knight). Nedry got greedy and well, we know the history. It’s a recurring them in the franchise–the chaos only breeds more chaos.
In all seriousness, Jurassic World–or the I. rex in particular–is a metaphor for how Hollywood works. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! There’s this need for wanting things to be bigger, faster, and louder among others. You can’t deny this when Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) talks about the corporate aspect early on in the film. The theme recurs throughout the entire film and continues to payoff in the sequel. If you’re paying attention to Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), this is exactly what happens: a dinosaur built for military use that is the fraction of the size.
Much in the same way that we have no choice but to embrace the past year (for better or worse), I keep coming back for more. Whether it’s making the same mistakes again in The Lost World or the outright silliness that is the third film, these films keep coming back to mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm’s (Jeff Goldblum) chaos theory. I wouldn’t have it any other way–well, except for a better third film but this is what happens when you rush into production and change it up with a month to go! The chaotic production is well-documented in the making-of documentary.
I cannot wait for Jurassic Park: Dominion when we finally get paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, and Dr. Malcolm together again. Malcolm only had a bookend cameo in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom but I cannot wait to see what Colin Trevorrow, co-writer Emily Carmichael, producers Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley, and company have cooking for the 2022 release. Having the opportunity to meet and chat with Frank Marshall was one of the highlights of SXSW 2018 (and over the phone in May 2020). I also had the opportunity to see Laura Dern during an informal conversation in fall 2019 for Netflix’s Marriage Story. If not for Jurassic Park, I would not have had those opportunities.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention John Williams and Michael Giacchino. Williams is a national treasure but Giacchino is able to capture everything we love about the Jurassic Park score but makes it his own. There would be no way to make the film without calling back to the film’s iconic themes. Yes, there are two of them (“Journey to the Island” and “Theme from Jurassic Park“) and I will always start humming the themes when I hear them! As much as I love Star Wars, Williams’s Jurassic Park score is one of my all-time favorite film scores.
But in all honesty, I would not be doing what I do without Jurassic Park. The 1993 classic was the final film I watched in 2020. I’ve written at length before about how much the film changed my life. Every time that I make the journey back to the island, I love it more and more. I keep discovering things that I didn’t see before. Even amid the chaos of Jurassic World, I keep discovering new things. I also love what they do in the animated series with tying things into the 2015 sequel. No matter what goes wrong–and something always will–I will always love these films.