Dinosaurs have long been a source of fascination. For many people, their first foray into science was as a young child pouring over anything about dinosaurs, leading some into careers in paleontology. Only fossils remain from the reign of the dinosaurs, but that keeps scientists and the curious intrigued enough to try to discover much about Earth’s prehistoric past.
In late 1990, Michael Crichton released his science fiction novel, Jurassic Park. At the heart of the story was the idea, “What if someone recreated dinosaurs?” He worked out the details, who could afford the cloning equipment, why would dinosaurs be cloned and brought back, the legal issues in opening a theme park featuring wild animals.
In the novel, the CEO of the fictional InGen, John Hammond, created the titular park on the fictional Isla Nublar as a theme park where people could visit and see the returned dinosaurs in a somewhat natural habitat. The park’s investors, through their lawyer, needed assurances by academics that the park was accurate and safe. Hammond brings on board Doctor Alan Grant, a paleontologist, while the investors’ lawyer brings in Doctor Ian Malcolm, a chaos therorist. Dr. Grant brings along grad student Ellie Sattler, a paleobotantist, along.
During the tour of the main facilities, Hammond shows how the dinosaurs were recreated, replacing damaged genetic code with DNA from reptiles, birds, and amphibians. The new DNA was then modified so that only females were viable and that the creatures required regular doses of lysine to survive. However, among the more benign species like Triceratops were carnivores like Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus Rex.
For the tour of Jurassic Park, Hammond sends along his grandchildren, Lex and Tim. Tim, like many boys his age, is dino-crazy and is looking forward to the tour. During the tour, Velociraptor eggs are found, something that shouldn’t occur in an all female population. Dr. Malcolm also points out that a flock of Procompsognathi have a normal distribution of heights instead of the expected uniform height he’d expected from cloned creatures.
Elsewhere, a tropical storm forms and moves in on Isla Nublar. Dennis Nedry, a subcontractor with financial problems, takes advantage of the storm to steal genetic samples for InGen’s competitor, and sabotages the park’s computer systems to help in his escape. The sabotage disrupts all security, including the electric fences keeping the dinosaurs apart from not just each other but from the tours. For the herbivores, this isn’t a problem. For T. rex, it now has a larger range to hunt, and the tour group, in two electric trucks that are also out of power, had stopped near the dinosaur’s paddock.
Things get worse. Grant and the children get separated as the T. rex and its child attack. Malcolm is critically injured. The park’s power returns, but is soon again lost as only the auxiliary power was restored. With the loss of auxiliary power, the Velociraptors, quarentined due to intelligence and visciousness, escape. The ship that had left Isla Nublar for the mainland has Velociraptor stowaways, not the formerly quarentined ones, but wild ones.
The movie adaptation of Jurassic Park follows the plot for the most part. Given the length of the novel, some scenes in it had to go to keep the movie’s running time under ten hours, let alone the two hours, seven minutes it did have There were changes made, though. In the novel, Lex’s role is to be The Load, screaming anytime a dinosaur appeared. Her brother, Tim, not only was well-read on dinosaurs but also was a hacker. The hacking ability was transfered over to Lex for the movie. The fate of Hammond is different as well; he gets to escape the island in the adaptation. Helping to ease the transition from book to movie was having Michael Crichton on board as a scriptwriter. He was able to remove elements from the novel that let the movie still hold together without dragging out the film. Some elements removed, such as the Pteranodon aviary, returned in Jurassic Park III. Other elements, such as what happened to Malcolm, were added. The novel never went into details on whether he survived his injuries or died from them. The movie, Malcolm is seen in the helicopter, awake and alert, allowing him to return for The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
The core of the novel, the warning about hubris, the dangers of reintroducing an extinct species, the folly of trying to control nature, remains intact. The movie did not back away from showing the consequences of trying to play God. Even with precautions in place – the lysine requirement, the electric fences, the all-female population – dinosaurs ran amok and multiplied. People died from one man’s folly.
Some time back, I mentioned that there would be times when I would run into the adaptation before the original. This in one of those cases; I saw the movie when it first came out, but only read the book recently. The differences were startling, not only in the scenes that weren’t filmed or were used for Jurassic Park III, but the roles. As mentioned, Lex’s role expanded in the movie, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In the book, Lex was very much the damsel in distress, needing Dr. Grant’s assistance. In the movie, she took on dimensions, and the interplay with her brother felt more natural. Once she adjusted to the events, she took charge of her brother, particularly in the park’s kitchen.
Overall, the movie is faithful to the original work. Not all of Jurassic Park was adapted, but what was came through. The core of the story remained in one piece, keeping the thriller aspect of the novel front and centre without losing the message.
Next week, the problem with movies.
It’s been a busy month in the world of adaptations. Steve already mentioned the new Harry Potter-verse movie being scripted by JK Rowling herself. Here’s the rest of the news.
Daniel Curry, who plays one of the nine Spider-Men in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was injured during a performance. The Broadway show cost $75 million to put on and has seen a number of injuries amongst the actors. The show has also put out a casting call to replace Reeve Carney, who has played Peter Parker since 2010.
Rambo to become TV series?
Entertainment One and Nu Image are working with Sylvester Stallone to develop a Rambo TV series. No network has signed on yet, and the project could turn into the fifth Rambo movie. There’s a chance that Stallone would return as the titular character as well as being the creative consultant. Rambo may not be the only movie adapted as a TV series…
Reality Bites being adapted for TV series.
Ben Stiller, who directed the original movie, is on board as executive producer of the TV series, as is Helen Childress, who wrote the script for the original. The TV series will follow Lelaina Pierce, originally portrayed by Winona Ryder, after graduation in the 1990s, following the events of the movie. Keep in mind that, during the closing credits of the movie, it is revealed that Michael Grates, played by Stiller, turned the relationship he had with Lelaina into a TV show.
Star Wars: Episode VII to be shot on film.
Unlike Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the next Star Wars installment will be on film instead of digital cameras. Film allows for a different approach, including getting the feel of the original movie and the addition of lens flares. If Episode VII goes 3D, it’ll have to be converted after being filmed.
Matt Damon returning as Bourne?
Damon and Paul Greengrass could be returning for a new Bourne movie. Damon has said that he’d be back if Greengrass was. Meanwhile, Jeremy Renner is still slated to be in a sequel to Bourne Legacy. No word if the two movies will merge or if the two streams will crossover.
Sharktopus sequel wraps up production.
Sharktopus vs. Mermantula brings back the shark-octopus hybrid that terrorized a Carribbean beach resort. This time around, Sharktopus has to deal with Mermantual, a failed experiment in creating the perfect man. Roger Corman, producer of this epic, has also opened “Corman’s Drive-In” on YouTube as an archive of the 400 movies he and his wife have produced.
Terminator 5 in pre-production.
Alan Taylor, director of Thor: The Dark World, is in talks to direct the fifth movie in the Terminator franchise. T5 is the start of a stand-alone trilogy of movies in the Terminator setting. However…
Terminator rights return to James Cameron in 2019.
A change in copyright laws changed the length of time before rights return to the creator to 35 years. The current licensees, Megan and David Ellison of Skydance Productions picked up the rights to make three movies, but the time limit may lead to just two. Cameron could license the rights back if he chooses to do so.
Speaking of Cameron, Avatar to get three sequels.
The three movies will be shot simultaneously. Tapped for screenwriting are Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Shane Saerno (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem). Release dates are already set for December of 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Bradley Cooper to play Rocket Raccoon.
Cooper joins Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, and John C. Reilly in the cast.
World of Warcraft movie to film in Vancouver.
If Azeroth looks familiar, it’s because Vancouver and environs have been seen in many, many movies and TV series, doubling for such exotic locations as Caprica, Starling City, Storybrook, Maine, and every planet seen in the Stargate TV series.
50 Shades of Grey gets cast named.
Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam have been cast as the leads to the movie adaptation of the Twilight fanfic. 50 Shades is due out in 2014. However…
Fans aren’t happy about the casting choices.
They want the actors EL James used as models for her characters, Alexis Bledel and Mat Bomer, and have set up a Change.org petition. What, they don’t want Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson?
Stargate to get reboot trilogy of movies.
Roland Emmerich, the director of the original Stargate movie, is rebooting the movie franchise. He originally wanted a trilogy of movies the first time round, but MGM went with a Stargate SG-1 instead. Fan reaction will be mixed and heated.
DiCaprio producing The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s company will produce the sixth adaptation of the HG Wells novel about a geneticist running amok and playing God.
Blade Runner sequel in the works.
After over 30 years, Blade Runner may be getting a sequel. Hampton Fancher, who contributed to the original screenplay, and Ridley Scott will be on the project. The script is being rewritten by Michael Green, who worked on the Green Lantern script.
Dwayne Johnson is The Fall Guy.
The old Lee Majors TV series about a bounty hunting stunt man is being remade as a film, helmed by McG. Production has not yet started. Any guesses on what the next old TV series to be remade as a movie?
Anne of Green Gables musical adaptation looking for Canadian filmmaker.
Based on the popular children’s novel, the musical is to be filmed on location in PEI. No release date has been set. Line ups in Tokyo should start the moment one is announced.
Ant-Man rescheduled for Summer 2015.
The release date for /Ant-Man/ has been moved up from November to July, 2015. This places the hero who, in the main Marvel universe, created Ultron almost three months behind the killer robot’s debut in The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Cracked.com covers why remakes don’t work.
A Quick-Fix, but hits several major points. Point #2 is particularly relevant – relevance. Many works are a product of their time and don’t adjust well to modern sensibilities. Not covered, lack of respect for the original work.
Dungeons & Dragons film faces court challenge.
Not from fans of the game who saw the original movie, but from Sweetpea Entertainment. Univsersal Pictures received the D&D license from Hasbro, current owners of Wizards of the Coast, publisher of the RPG. Sweetpea alleges that they had received the D&D license in perpetuity in 1994, when the third edition of the game was released. The timeline given in the story is off; WotC signed the original 1994 licensing agreement, whatever the terms were, and Hasbro purchased WotC in 1999. Looks like many lawyers are going to get experience to level up in this case.
Fourth Jurassic Park sequel given release date.
Universal Pictures has until June 12, 2015 to make Jurassic World, already slated to be in 3D.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes to be delayed.
With the first of the trilogy, City of Bones a financial flop, the second movie is having its release delayed. The film is in production and will add Sigourney Weaver to the cast. Not helping the movies is that the books never reached the mindspace of the general audience that Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games had. Most people, even if they haven’t read any of Twilight could name several characters. The Mortal Instruments doesn’t even have that.