Jurassic Park in Review: Jurassic Park Part One(1993)

Here’s another series where I’ll take a look at another movies series.

 

Jurassic Park, as many know, started life as a 1990 novel by Michael Crichton. Crichton basically took the concept of “Westworld”-his 1970’s film about a Western theme park with robots based on bygone eras of human history, which suddenly malfunction and get murderous (and it’s now a popular cable TV show as well) and mixed it with a clone Dinosaur movie script he’d been shopping around in the 80’s.

 

The novel-which featured the now iconic skeletal Tyrannosaur “logo” was a huge hit, and was optioned for a movie, and Steven Spielberg quickly took interest. After considering using stop-motion photography along with robots for the more complex Dinosaur effects, he instead decided to try out the relatively new computer animation technology being developed by Lucasfilm’s special effects division, Industrial Light and Magic, or ILM. The result captivated a lot of people, made the film itself a huge hit, one now with three sequels and a fourth on the way (Jurassic World II).

Let’s try to examine the film itself.

Jurassic Park opens with a mysterious box being lowered near a pen on Isla Nublar, near Costa Rica, It’s being overseen by Robert Muldoon, the Park warden. However, there’s a mishap when the cage’s occupant tries to rush the gate, throwing the guy opening the gate off-balance, causing him to fall near the cage and be grapped and mauled by it’s occupants. Muldoon has no choice to shoot the creature, but it’s too late.

 

One of the reasons the scene works so well is that it doesn’t really show us the Raptor, just some quick glimpses of it’s eyes, head, and of course it’s screams and snarls. Much like with Spielberg’s earlier JAWS, The Raptors’s violence and appetite is mostly implied rather than seen, and we don’t really see them until the third act, also like Jaws (Although the Raptors are a more appealing visual than the somewhat more fake-looking Shark).

This accident of course raises some serious questions about the safety of this mysterious establishment-and Donald Genarro as the attorney of the investors for John Hammond, the creator of this Park, wants it to be inspected by experts-or else he’ll shut it down for good.

 

Gennaro-one of the ‘good guys’ of the novel (although still incredibly naive)-is shown here to be sort of a wimpy, kind of milquetoast guy. Although in Spanish, the Amber miner’s line here says it all:

 

“Engo mil pesos que dicen que se cae (I bet a thousand pesos if he falls)”

 

Here we’re also introduced to the Park’s other revenue other than money-Amber-which contains the mosquitos that of course contain the DNA of extinct Dinosaurs. This science-even now-is a bit out of reach. We can technically kind of clone extinct organisms that have died fairly recently on the time scale-Well preserved Mammoths, for instance, or creatures that have gone extinct more recently than that-but that raises a whole other load of ethics/scientific gobblygook and this is just a movie review, so moving on….

Anyway, we’re now introduced to the film’s two leads, Paleontologist Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) Unlike the novel, there seems to be a romantic connection, but it seems to be fairly lightly portrayed. There’s no kissing or anything, like in some many other blockbuster films. They are however, having a debate about having children. Grant thinks kids are annoying and too much of a hassle; (This is by the way, the polar opposite of his book counterpart). He’s also not very good with computers, one of the film’s many comments on technology vs. nature/nurture. He’d rather dig in the dirt than use X-rays. In one of the film’s funniest scenes, Grant taunts a mocking kid with a quick lesson on the behavior of Raptors (Which he also feel vindicates his dislike of them).

 

Unexpectedly they get a helicopter visit from John Hammond-whose disruption of the dig and uncorking his champagne initially bugs Grant-but then when he realizes who he is, he quickly backs off. (Hammond’s charm works well also) Still, he’s a bit skeptical about the purpose of Hammond’s visit-to bring them in as inspectors-but Hammond’s charm, and the promise to sweeten the deal by funding their dig for another three years-wins him over.

 

 

Attenborough takes the role that’s was originally a villain-a “Dark Walt Disney” in the novel-and makes it much more genteel, good natured and compassionate-not only towards the humans, but many of the Dinosaurs as well. Most of Hammond’s greedy tendencies in the book are instead transferred to Gennaro.

Speaking of antagonists, we’re right away introduced to the human ones of the film: Dodgson and Nedry. Wayne Knight of course was also famous as Newman, the nemesis of Jerry Seinfeld in the sitcom “Seinfeld”, but given that a lot of the characters in the show weren’t good natured at all to begin with, he almost comes across as a bit of an anti-hero in that. Here, he’s pretty much the only real ‘bad guy’ of the film (Although Gennaro comes pretty close, although it’s more due to cowardice than malicious intent). Grant notes that the Dinosaurs are simply what they are by nature: “They just, do what they do” as he puts it later in the film. But Nedry isn’t “naughty by Nature”-he’s motivated by greed, and feels his computer talents are unappreciated-and unpaid-by Hammond and the rest of the staff.

We’re also shortly introduced to Lewis Dodgson here. Dodgson is a much bigger villain in the novels, giving a lengthy speech at the beginning of the novel about how his rival company-Biosyn (Short for Biological Synthetics, but sort of a play on short-hand:”Bio-Sin” get it?) should go about stealing the Dinosaur embyros from Hammond’s company-and Biosyn’s rival-Ingen. He also plays a significant role in the Lost World sequel novel (Which is mainly taken in the film sequel by Peter Ludow), but here he’s just stuck on one scene.

 

Next, we’re introduced to our next lead-Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, who brings his awkward charm to the film, and many think he’s the highlight of the film-possibly why Michael Crichton ressurected the character for the sequel novel, despite a pretty definitive death in the first novel (From his much more severe injuries and being napalmed-I’m pretty sure you don’t come back from that!), and of course that led to him being prominently featured in the sequel movie as well  (Although that’s a topic for the next film!)

We then get some great shots and our first look at the island (Filmed in Kauai Hawaii), as well as some fantastic music from John Williams-a theme I consider the Jurassic Park “adventure” theme, the first and my favorite of the three core motifs of the movie.

 

After landing, Grant and co. are loaded onto visitor vehicles (One of the two main ones in the films-these ones are gas jeeps and not tour vehichles).  It’s worth noting that for those who’ve seen the teaser trailers, there’s a scene where Ellie grabs a plant she recognizes as being extinct as shown in the following scene that was cut from the final film.

 

 

We then come into an open field, and although Ellie is still focused on the mysterious plant, Grant and Malcolm notice something even more unusual….and Grant twists her head around to take a look at something that should be impossible-a living, breathing Brachiosaurus.

 

More to come in the next article in the series!

 

 

Metal Gear Profiles-Dr. Strangelove

An albino British scientist, Dr. Strangelove was an early disciple of Alan Turing, the computer scientist who cracked the enigma machine during World War II, and developed the “Turing Test” as a measure of computer intelligence.

 

(and I’m pretty sure she’s intentionally meant to look a bit like the character/movie of the same name).

Eventually, she was recruited into NASA where she became acquainted with the Boss when she was part of the Mercury program. Despite meeting each other for a short time, she became somewhat infatuated with her.

 

 

Eventually, Strangelove gets involved in the Peace Walker project, and develops an AI based on her idol as the “mammal” brains of the massive walking tank. Her reasons were twofold-she trusted the boss’s mind to handle tough decisions on nuclear retaliation, but also to discover what was going through the Boss’s head during Operation Snake Eater. She also worked on the project with Huey Emmerich, who had a major crush on her, but one that wasn’t quite reciprocated by Strangelove.

Eventually, Cecille Cosmidades stumbled on Strangelove’s experiments in Costa Rica, recording one of the AI tests. After Cecille escaped, this recording would be the catalyst for Big Boss’s investigation into the Peace Walker project.

Eventually the two met, and Strangelove tortured Snake using electroprods for answers.

 

 

Eventually she joined Snake’s MSF after Peace Walker submerged itself in Lake Nicouraga, stopping a nuclear strike, convinced that the actions of the AI had cleared the Boss’s name (Big Boss’s reaction was quite different). She later worked with Huey to develop Metal Gear ZEKE for MSF, which was unfortunately stolen briefly by Paz.

 

She also began a relationship with Huey Emmerich at MSF’s Mother Base as they were restoring the Metal Gear’s AI system.

She was off the base when it and MSF were destroyed, while Huey was forced to work for XOF. After helping develop the initial parts of the Patriot’s AI network for Major Zero (The rest of the work went to SIGINT/Donald Anderson) she eventually ended up reunited with Huey, but in the custody of the rogue Cipher group, XOF. She recovered the Mammal Pod and brought it to XOF’s bases in Afghanistan, where she used it to work on Metal Gear Selanthropus, but she didn’t want to use the AI itself for the new model Metal Gear.

Eventually Strangelove gave birth to Huey’s son, Hal. However, Huey wanted to use Hal as a test pilot for Selanthropus. Strangelove was disgusted by this, and had her son sent away to America. This literally ‘sealed’ her fate, as she was then locked inside the Mammal Pod and suffocated. The Pod, Strangelove’s body, and a recording of her final moments where she expressed anger for Huey, love for the Boss and her son was recorded, and this was used to ultimately condemn Huey to exile from Mother Base for his horrible actions.

 

 

Hal of course, would grow up to Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, the friend of Solid Snake and a key player in the saga to come.

 

 

 

Metal Gear Profiles-The Boss Part IV-The AI Mammal Pod BS IMAGO/Peace Walker Basilisk

“When heavens divide
I will see the choices within my hands…”-Heavens Divide by Donna Burke, Peace Walker soundtrack.

 

Ten years pass. Big Boss, Zero, and the others from Operation Snake Eater, form the Patriots, based on what they believed was the will of the Boss. However, their views differ. Zero believes she meant total information control. Big Boss believes she meant a haven for soldiers. The last straw is when Zero clones Big Boss, creating the future Solid and Liquid Snake (and a bit later, Solidus Snake)-the Les Infant Terribles.

 

Snake, leaving FOX and creating his own mercenary force, Militaries San Frontieras-has an unusual client in Costa Rica-one who has the tape recording of the Boss, wondering if somehow his mentor had, in fact, faked her death. In order to figure out the mystery of the tape, he builds up MSF to fight against the Rogue CIA group, Peace Sentinel, and find out what they’re up to, and how the Boss is somehow involved with it.

Turns out that the Sentinel is developing the Peace Walker project, based partially on Metal Gear blueprints-but most importantly, it uses as it’s “brain” an AI based on the Boss’s mind-hence the recording sounding like her. The AI was constructed by Dr. Strangelove, who worked with The Boss during the Mercury Project and is obsessed with what happened to her to make her defect-hence he ‘rebuilt’ her mind, although she made it the brain of a nuclear walking tank (Designed mainly by Dr. Huey Emmerich)

 

Using her old horse (Which somehow wound up in Costa Rica) to pursue it-although he’s forced to end it’s misery after a nasty fall…

 

Snake/Big Boss takes on this digital Resurrection of his mentor, given control of this massive and deadly machine, and is able to disable it to keep it from launching a nuke. However, it was still transmitting false targeting data, causing NORAD to get antsy and perhaps start a nuclear war.  However, the Boss’s AI, controlling the “Mammal” part of the Walker, then drowns Peace Walker in Lake Nicouraga, disabling the reptile pod which wasn’t controlled by a human-based AI. Snake saw this symbolically as the Boss betraying him by “putting down her gun”….and vowed not to end up like her, fully embracing the title of Big Boss.

 

 

The Mammal Pod was later recovered by Strangelove after the destruction of MSF, and bought to XOF’s base on Afghanistan, where she used it presumabely as data to help with the work on Metal Gear Selanthropus, along with Huey. However, the Pod would also serve as her grave, as Huey sealed her within it. Although it still possessed the ( now somewhat corrupted in data) persona of the Boss, it also recorded Strangelove’s last moments (as well as her body), and is incriminating data in the trial against Huey when it was sent to Mother Base

It’s later wherabouts are unknown, although the breakthroughs made in Peace Walker’s AI would be incorporated into the Patriot’s AI, which would then try to realize a corrupted version of the Boss’s dream. After the Patriots are shut down, Big Boss-returned briefly to life in 2014-realized he finally figured out what she really meant, and saluted her grave one final time, echoing what he had done fifty years before.

Ever since the day I killed The Boss… With my own hands… I… Was already dead. Boss… You were right. It’s not about changing the world. It’s about doing our best to leave the world… The way it is. It’s about respecting the will of others… And believing in your own. Isn’t that… What you fought for? At last… I understand the meaning behind what you did. At last… I understand the truth behind your courage.

 

 

 

Metal Gear Profiles-The Joy/The Boss Part III

“Petals of white
Cover fields flowing in grieving tears
And all the hearts once new, old and shattered now”-Heavens Divide, by Donna Burke (From the Peace Walker soundtrack).

When Snake returns, he’s quickly intercepted by the Boss, who intercepts him during the night, destroying his gun and forcing him to procure another from EVA and enemy soldiers. She and Volgin then proceed toward Grozni Grad, Volgin’s fortress, with her sending her Cobras to subdue Snake. However, she secretly was helping him, as she planted a transmitter on him. She also tried to reel in Ocelot and protected EVA, both who, in their own way, supported Snake. She also used a horse as transportation, and adopted a new suit, a “Sneaking suit” all in white.

To prove her loyalty, she was ordered by Volgin to cut out Snake’s eyes when he was captured and tortured. Thankfully, EVA’s timely intervention saved her from having to cut out Snake’s eyes, although he still lost one anyway when Ocelot misfired at EVA, instead hitting him in the right eye. It’s during all this we learn that Volgin has the posession of the Philosopher’s Legacy, a microfilm containing the location of the Philospoher’s massive fortune.

After Snake defeats Volgin and the Shagohod, he has to confront and kill her for her defection, in a field of white pedals. He’s torn over what to do, but she’s adamant that he must accomplish his mission. She also shares her vision of an ideal future: A world without borders-something Snake and her friend, Major Zero, will take to heart-and spawn an ideological conflict at the heart of the Metal Gear saga….

But the Earth itself has no boundaries. No East, No West, No Cold War. And the irony of it is, the United States and the Soviet Union are spending billions on their space programs and the missile race only to arrive at the same conclusion. In the 21st century everyone will be able to see that we are all just inhabitants of a little celestial body called Earth. A world without communism and capitalism… that is the world I wanted to see.

The two face off in a final confrontation.

He’s able to best her in combat. As she lies broken on the ground, she passes him the Philospher’s Legacy, which she took from Volgin.

Returning to the states, mission accomplished but with him feeling hollow, Snake learns the actual truth of the Boss’s defection from EVA-that her mission was to simply pretend to defect to steal the Legacy, but things got complicated when Volgin actually used the missiles she gave him.

The Boss’ defection was a ruse set up by the US government. It was all a big drama staged by Washington so they could get their hands on the Philosopher’s Legacy, and the Boss was the star of the show. They planned it so that they could get the Legacy that Colonel Volgin inherited and destroy the Shagohod at the same time. Only a legendary hero like The Boss could have earned Volgin’s trust. Finding out where the Philosopher’s Legacy was hidden was to be her greatest mission. Everything was going according to plan… but then something happened that no one could have predicted. Colonel Volgin fired an American-made nuclear warhead at Sokolov’s research facility. Khrushchev demanded that the US government provide proof that it wasn’t involved. They couldn’t just abort the operation to steal the Legacy, so the operation itself was greatly expanded and revised. The authorities in Washington knew that in order to prove its innocence they’d have to get rid of The Boss and that one of their own would have to do the job. The public couldn’t be allowed to find out about it, not ever. This, they concluded, would be the best way to keep the whole thing under wraps. The Boss wouldn’t be allowed to come back home alive. And she wouldn’t be allowed to kill herself. Her life would be ended by her most beloved disciple… that was the way the government wanted it. That was the mission she was given. And she had no choice but to carry it out… her death at your hands was a duty she had to fulfill. Out of duty, she turned her back on her own comrades. A lesser woman would have been crushed by such a burden.  The taint of disgrace will follow her to her grave. Future generations will revile her: In America, as a despicable traitor with no sense of honor; and in Russia, as a monster who unleashed a nuclear catastrophe. She will go down in official history as a war criminal, and no one will ever understand her… that was her final mission. And like a true soldier, she saw it through the end. But I think she wanted you, of all people to know the truth. She wanted to live on in your memory. Not as a soldier, but as a woman. But… she was forbidden to tell you herself. And that’s why she told me. Snake, history will never know what she did. No one will ever learn the truth. Her story, her debriefing… will endure only in your heart.  Everything she did, she did for her country. She sacrificed her life and her honor for her native land. She was a real hero. She was a true patriot….

Snake is then commemorated and promoted at Langely, and given the title of Big Boss by Lyndon B Johnson. But saddened and betrayed, he quickly leaves and heads to Arlington.

He salutes her anonymous, empty grave, tears in his remaining eye, as he does so, laying her Patriot gun on the tomb.

But although her life has ended, her effect on Snake-and on the world-is just beginning.

Metal Gear Profiles-The Joy/The Boss Part Two

 

 
Strangelove: …Your crossing a suspension bridge. The bridge is wide enough for only one person to pass at a time. A man is approaching from the opposite side. He’s carrying a gun.
The Boss: I shoot him.
Strangelove: Suppose he’s your husband.
The Boss: …I shoot him.
Strangelove: In self defense?
The Boss: To spare him the grief. One must die, and one must live.
1964. Tselinoyarsk, southern USSR.
Operation Virtuous Mission. FOX unit operative Jack, code-named “Naked Snake” for this mission, is sent to rescue the scientist Sokolov from the Russian colonel Volgin, especially as Sokolov, under Volgin’s orders, is developing a new nuclear weapon: The Shagohod. The Boss served as mission support via radio, and was believed to be on a submarine nearby.
The mission mostly went off with only minor problems, at first, such as Snake facing Ocelot and his unit for the first time. But then things went terribly wrong.
 The Boss wasn’t on any submarine-but on a suspension bridge, blocking their escape route. What’s worse, she was defecting to Volgin’s faction in the Soviet Union (Which planned to overthrow the current leadership) and carried two nuclear devices-Davey Crockett missiles-as a ‘gift’ to Volgin. She quickly got the better of Snake, using CQC to disarm him.
Bosssnake
She then left with the COBRA unit, Volgin, and Sokolov, as well as the Shagohod.
She threw Snake over the bridge, although he was able to grab her bandana. Badly hurt, he was able to survive the fall. Meanwhile, Volgin used the Davy Crockett to destroy Sokolov’s factory (killing many of his own countrymen). This would seal the Boss’s fate.
bosswave
As Snake spent the next week recovering, the ramifications of the mission were felt in Washington.  Khruschev of course didn’t like the fact that an American hero had pretty much used an American nuke on a soviet facility (although it was technically Volgin, she was still complicit as she had given him the device). Lydon B. Johnson assured him it wasn’t their doing.  But, to keep nuclear war from happening over the incident, Johnson commanded the FOX unit-and Snake to once again infiltrate Tselinoyarsk, rescue Sokolov, destroy the Shagohod, and Volgin.
And also, to kill her, his former mentor. Operation Snake Eater had begun.

Metal Gear Profiles: The Joy/The Boss Part One

Once upon a time. There were two
young men who idolized a hero called
The Boss.

One day, they suddenly lost the point
of origin – The Cipher – that was like
a mother to them.

Unable to come to terms with their
sorrow, they each decided to carry on
the will of their hero.

But they could not agree on what that
meant.

In the end, they became bitter enemies,
and the Zero from which they both started
was split into two.

The Boss, or as she was initially called, “The Joy” was a world War II hero who was the mentor of Naked Snake/Big Boss. She is also pretty much the origin point of the series conflict. She also bears an uncanny resemblance to English actress Charlotte Ramping. Which I’m sure was intentional.

               

Although with the recent Pachislot version of Snake Eater, looks like the “Rampingness” has been….ramped down a bit.

She was the daughter of one of the members of a group known as the Philosophers, a group of people from various countries who agreed to use their money and power to help unite the world after World War I. She learned much about the organization from her father, and he was later killed.

She then worked with the SAS during World War II, meeting David Oh/Major Zero and participating in several missions, and developed a fighting technique called CQC (Close Quarters combat). She also worked with the Cobra Unit, an elite group of soldiers with unusual talents. Her codename? The “Joy”. as she had the “Joy of battle”.

She later developed a relationship with one of her squadmates, the Sorrow, who had psychic abilities. She then discovered she was pregnant, which caused her to botch a mission-but she continued to press on. During the Allied invasion of Normandy, or D-Day, she gave birth on the battlefield. The child however, was taken from her, and raised by the soviet philosophers as Ocelot. She received a snake-shaped scar from her C-section.

As World War II led to the cold war, she continued to train new people. Her most promising student? A young man named Jack. Taken from her own child, the two developed a sort of mother/son bond, and she learned many of his CQC techniques from her example.

However around this time, a series of problems arose that further led to her rift with the CIA. First, a sleeper agent of hers defected to the Russians, causing a sloppy cover up in order to allow for a smooth transition of power for JFK. It also led her on a mission to kill off the sleeper, but she also ended up killing The Sorrow, who had returned to Russia after World War II.

Secondly, she had participated in the Mercury program, becoming but due to her past mistakes, she was not ‘officially’ the first human in space, and was brushed out of the Mercury team photo. Nevertheless, two things occurred: Here, she met the female Doctor Strangelove who worked on the project, and left a notable impression on her; and she witnessed the view of a borderless Earth from space….something that would not only shape her future philosophies, but that of her protege and friend as well. The seeds of Operation “Snake Eater” had been planted….

Star Wars Comics history-The Dark Forces saga

Star Wars Dark Forces-or alternatively, Jedi Knight-was a series of action games published by Lucasarts in the mid-to-late 2000’s, spanning 4 games (and some expansions as well). The series mainly dealt with ex-stormtrooper turned Mercenary Kyle Katarn, who soon discovers he is force sensitive and becomes a Jedi Knight. Like pretty much every Jedi ever, he has a bit of a dark side fall (and fortunately gets redeemed with the help of Luke Skywalker’s future wife, Mara Jade) and briefly abandons the Jedi lifestyle, until he’s ultimately called back to the life of the Jedi and permanently becomes part of Luke’s new order.

 

There were also adaptations. These aren’t necessarily comics per se, more like novels with a series of illustrations. Dean Williams drew the first one, Ezra Bridger the second, with frequent Star Wars cover artist Dave Dorman doing the final novel. They’re also published by Dark Horse so I’m putting them in this category. The graphic novels use the likenesses of the characters from Jedi Knight’s live-action cutscenes.

The first book deals with Kyle’s backstory. Turns out he’s a Stormtrooper, but his father, a simple father, is force sensitive although not a Jedi (In a way he’s somewhat similar to Chirrut from Rogue One, but with far less fighting ability!) He also knows the location of a hidden valley and is friends with a surviving Jedi Knight. He’s eventually killed by a Dark Jedi-Jerec-and Kyle, after learning the truth, becomes a mercenary and works with Rebel alliance operative Jan Ors to steal the Death Star plans, the first level of the game.

The novels skip over the rest of the Dark Forces game-which has Kyle going up against a new form of Droid stormtrooper known as the Darktrooper-and instead jumps into the story-line of the Jedi Knight game. Like “Force Awakens” this story at first revolves around a map-to the Valley of the Jedi, the last ancient battleground between the Jedi and the Sith. This would be weaved into Star Wars lore later on, with it pretty much being used as a n explanation for why the Jedi think the Sith are extinct in the Prequels….and also the place from where Darth Bane-who rebuilds the order under the “rule of two”-began his own order. Kyle is in a race against time to keep a group of Imperial Dark Jedi-led by Jerec-from harnessing the Valley’s power.

 

The adaptation is split into two, with “Rebel Agent” and “Jedi Knight”. The story of course embellishes the plot, giving more backstory to the various Dark Jedi as well as additional scenes. There’s also more of a romance between Kyle and Jan, which wasn’t really present in the game (although it appears in the sequel Jedi Outcast).

 

 

Dark Forces’s influence on the comics did not end there. The anthology series Star Wars tales features two Dark Forces related stories. The first sort of makes up for the novels not covering the main plot of Dark Forces, the Darktrooper project. Here we’re given another view of the Darktrooper attack that propels the game’s storyline, and then a Darktrooper gives some grief to a swoop gang on Tatooine.

 

darktrooper release

Much later on, another Tales story featured Kyle and Jan going up against the Yuzzhan Vong, the bad guys from the “New Jedi Order” series (If you’re wondering about the stormtroopers, the “New Jedi Order” takes place in an era where there is peace with what’s left of the Empire)

 

When Hasbro decided to bring back “Expanded Universe” characters into their figure line, and also pack in comics with them, Kyle and the very muscular Vongs from the story were put into action figure form.