Saturday, June 27, 2015

Favorite Scene Friday! Jurassic Park: Mr. DNA

Our month of Jurassic Park appreciation comes to a close today. Surely one of the greatest themes of the series is tampering with nature. So much like Hammond and his park scientists we have spliced together my FSF with Jay's. It's like the old saying goes: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Man creates Favorite Scene Friday. Oh, the humanity!

Beware minor spoilers for Jurassic World!

RZ: A lot of scenes in Jurassic Park were awesome simply because of the awe factor or they were just interesting. As we pointed out earlier in the month, the movie could feature scenes with no dinos at all and it was still awesome. Exposition is the name of the game here. The Mr. DNA scene doesn't really have any dinos but it's one of the best scenes in the movie. What do you think, Jay?  

JC: This is one of my favourite scenes because it's perhaps one of the greatest methods of exposition delivery in all of cinema. All too often plot explanations are given through stilted, forced dialogue between two people who both already know everything that is going on, and is purely for the audience's sake, but here it makes perfect sense. The main question on everyone's mind - both watching the film and the characters in it - is how are dinosaurs being made considering they're very definitely extinct, so of course there would be some kind of video explanation. And of course it will be simple enough and told through the kinds of easily understood cartoons you'd see in education videos at school, because children will be there trying to understand it! Every detail of the video is perfect, from the crude, simplistic animation to the manic anthropomorphised Mr. DNA, as how will kids possibly pay attention without a DNA strand with eyes jumping around and flying all over the place?

Jurassic Park Wikia

RZ: Was John Hammond supposed to be here for this thing every time? Or was this maybe supposed to be for friends, family and investors? Maybe they'd get another actor to do the regular tours?

JC: This is something that actually bothers me about this scene, as it's clearly set up for John Hammond to be there for every screening. If it's only going to be shown once a day then fine, I imagine that's conceivable, with maybe a backup video with Dr. Henry Wu there instead just in case Hammond is ill or otherwise engaged, but if it's going to be shown multiple times a day, or even continuously, then it's just implausible. And the Hammond on stage has so little interaction with the video - all he does is say maybe three lines from his script, then pretends to take a sample of blood from on-screen Hammond - that it seems ridiculous to even have someone interacting with the video in the first place. It'd make much more sense for the on-screen Hammond to do the entire introduction himself, pricking his own blood and going from there. Using a live person for thirty seconds outside of the video is just gimmicky.

RZ: The voice of Mr. DNA - Greg Burson - is great. I'm not familiar with any of his other work despite the fact that he's in a movie called Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland that I used to watch all the time. What did you think of Mr. DNA's cameo in Jurassic World? I was personally wanting more, I think it actually would have been great to have the John Hammond video playing on the exact same ride somehow.

JC: Whilst I was happy to see Mr. DNA cameoing in Jurassic World (even if his original voice by Greg Burson had been replaced by Jurassic World's director's, Colin Trevorrow) I didn't mind his limited screen time. It makes sense within the context of the film that there isn't a mandatory behind-the-scenes ride to go on now, seeing as people have become bored of the attractions, I can't imagine many would care how they came to exist, but those who do can see it on the relatively small mini-attractions in the museum area. I wouldn't have minded more of Mr. DNA, but I think they used just the right amount. Why do you think Mr. DNA has become such an iconic character?

RZ: I think maybe it's because he's just such a weird goofy bit of whimsy in a movie that's otherwise scary and/or serious. It was also just a great bit of world building that Spielberg and co. put into the film, so much so that I was hoping it would make a follow up appearance in Jurassic World.

JC: The only other scene in the original film that has aged worse than this is the hacking scene, which has its own set of flaws and problems, and there's no big surprise that we aren't covering it this month. It's a problem that occurs whenever technology is shown on film, it immediately becomes dated as soon as something more advanced comes along, and nothing looks more dated than virtual reality gloves, especially when those virtual reality gloves are being used to manipulate vitual reality DNA strands. Nonsense. The actual ride portion has aged well, although nowadays there'd probably be individual harnesses descending from above to restrain people into their seats, but then you wouldn't have the surprise that it's a ride, and the magic would be lost. And Mr. DNA would be CGI-motion-captured by Andy Serkis.

RZ: It is a bit of a novelty to see hand drawn animation in this day and age. And of course, the way they talk about supercomputers and virtual reality is chuckle worthy. The VR specifically reminds me of the goofy ass virtual reality scenes in Disclosure. Also, double breasted suit, what???

JC: I love how even though he's being shown the wonders of how dinosaurs are being created in the modern day, Ian Malcolm still takes a moment to check out Ellie whilst she marvels at the discovery of cloning. She seems mesmerised and fascinated with the whole process, whilst there's a sense of realisation behind Alan's eyes that he may no longer be necessary to the world. In the brief shot of Malcolm, he seems to already be forming his arguments for the lunch scene against the whole ordeal, and when we see Gennaro, well he may as well just have dollar signs covering his whole bemused face.

RZ: Everyone genuinely seems to love this video, yes, even the blood sucking Gennaro. But I totally agree, you just know he's gotta have dollar signs on the brain still. Regarding the main three heroes, I love that they're almost instantly talking about "massive sequence gaps". I also particularly love the shot of Grant as the camera zooms in on him and under the restraint bar.

What's your favorite scene in Jurassic Park?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Favorite Scene Friday! Jurassic Park: Not From The Front, But From The Side

Last week I was here moaning how difficult it is to pick just one favourite scene from Jurassic Park, and  here I am doing it again. There's just so many! I left the selecting process up to the misshapen, worryingly sticky hands of YouTube by just picking a scene from amongst the first few that came up after searching "Jurassic Park Scene", and wouldn't you know it but I opted for one that calls back to last week's scene? You may recall (and if you don't then you can go read about it here) last week Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) set up everything we'd need to know about velociraptors, whilst simultaneously traumatising a child for life. His main point regarded the raptors' hunting technique; setting a decoy to distract their prey, whilst the rest of the pack catches them unaware and opens the human buffet. Anyone who's ever seen a film before will notice the blatant foreshadowing, and now, over an hour later, it's time for that little speech to pay off.

Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck), Jurassic Park's game warden, is the most badass character in the first film, and only really has Pete Postlethwaite's Roland Tembo from The Lost World as any kind of competition within the franchise, so the scene in which Muldoon dies must be iconic. Before now, the dinosaurs have only taken out the incompetent, the evil or the evilly incompetent - Rex snacking on Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) on the toilet, a dilophosaurus killing the thoroughly deserving Nedry (Wayne Knight) - but this is the first time they take out someone competent. And not just competent, but the most competent. If there's anyone stranded on that island who should be capable of surviving and handling themselves in the midst of a dinosaur attack, it's Muldoon. If they can take him out, all hope is lost. And then this happens.

Whilst protecting Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) as she reboots the park's power, Muldoon finds himself in the presence of a velociraptor. He can see it directly in front of him, but it's unclear whether the raptor has seen him or not. As quietly as possible (whis is actually pretty damn noisily it turns out) Muldoon slowly readies his gun, aims, and then the camera swings around to reveal a second raptor attacking not from the front, but from the side, leading to perhaps the most quoted line from the entire franchise, "Clever girl." Then there's teeth and flailing, a bush being shaken vigorously to hide the actual death, and Muldoon is no more. He really shouldn't have taken his hat off, clearly that was the source of all his power.

You know what makes this scene terrifying? The way the first raptor, the decoy, doesn't join in on the attack once it has begun. She just stands there, watching, barely even blinking her eye at the carnage. For her, this was not a kill necessitated by hunger, she just knew Muldoon was in the way, and needed to be forcefully removed. And why not throw a snake in for good measure?

One of the biggest positives I regularly laud over Jurassic Park (and what makes it far superior to Jurassic World) is the use of animatronics and practical effects, real solid things that can be touched and interacted with, and here is a prime example of them being used well, The raptors are all puppets, well hidden by the use of the aforementioned active foliage. Today this scene would probably be predominantly CG, and it really doesn't need to be. And I love it. And the screeching! Dear lord the screeching. That truly is the stuff of nightmares. This may not be my favourite death scene from even the original Jurassic Park (I had a freeze frame of Genarro being half-bitten by the T-Rex as my desktop wallpaper for years) but it's up there. Despite my love for Muldoon, it sure is exciting watching him die.

What's your favorite death scene from Jurassic Park?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Let's #LAMBwatch True Detective Season 2!

#LAMBwatch is a LAMB feature where we (virtually) watch a movie or TV show together and tweet throughout, tagging our tweets with, you guessed it, #LAMBwatch. Examples of past #LAMBwatches can be found by clicking here.

Well it's time once again, because this Sunday, June 21st at 9:00 EST marks the premiere of True Detective Season 2 on HBO! Please join me and other members of the LAMB community in live tweeting the sumbitch! Just tag your tweets with #LAMBwatch.