In the run-up to seeing Jurassic World last week, we broke out the box set and sat through the first three films in the Jurassic Park saga and now we’ve rounded up our top ten favourite moments of everyone’s favourite dino disaster movies.
10: T-Rex in the garden – The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Not one for the dog-lovers out there, imagine a ten year-old version of yourself waking up from a blissful night’s sleep in the wee small hours to find yourself face-to-face with a bonafide T-Rex staring back at you through the window. Pretty terrifying, huh? Word of advice to any youngsters who may be reading this and who find themselves in this very situation: tell a responsible adult – they’ll handle far better than you ever could.
9: Mr. DNA – Jurassic Park (1993)
Who could forget Mr. DNA, John Hammond’s educational and fun-loving animated assistant, created to show visitors to the original, ill-fated (aren’t they all?) Jurassic Park just how his team of crack scientists brought the attraction’s dinosaurs to life. It’s a shame he didn’t win a part in a further film, or did he…?
8: The Aviary – Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III is widely regarded as the black sheep of the original Jurassic Park trilogy, but that didn’t stop it from delivering its fair share of heart-pounding moments. Here, whilst making their way through the aviary across a rickety bridge, the Kirbys’ are ambushed by a group of Pteranodons. This writer remembers seeing this one in the cinema, along with the feeling of absolute terror as the grim outline of the dinosaur emerges slowly from the fog…
7: Chaos Theory – Jurassic Park (1993)
Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm is arguably the best (human) character in the original Jurassic Park, and certainly one of the most memorable, so his explanation of Chaos Theory to Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler had to make this list. It may not have been conducted under laboratory conditions, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to us. Now where’s our glass of water gone?
6: The talking Velociraptor – Jurassic Park III (2001)
Alright so it may have only been a dream, but in films as scary as those in the Jurassic Park saga, a bit of light relief goes a long way. Here, Dr. Alan Grant’s on his way to Isla Sorna with the Kirbys’, who are looking for their missing son, and whilst he’s on the plane, he has an encounter with a particularly chatty Velociraptor. We’re pretty certain we don’t remember dinosaurs being able to do this in the history books!
5: The sick Triceratops – Jurassic Park (1993)
For us, some of the best moments in the original Jurassic Park film are those touching, subtle scenes when we get up close and personal with some gentle dinos and this one stands out above all others. Drs. Sattler and Grant, along with Ian Malcolm, John Hammond’s grandkids Lex and Timmy and Hammond’s lawyer Gennaro encounter a sick Triceratops whilst on their tour of Jurassic Park, which plays out in a real heartfelt way as Sattler and Grant comfort the female. Of course, the emotion dies down pretty quickly when Sattler sticks her whole hand in a massive mountain of the Triceratops’ poo (sorry, there’s not really many nicer ways of putting it!), but it’s a great moment while it lasts.
4: T-Rex attack on the mobile command centre – The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
What could be worse than a T-Rex attack? I’m guessing an attack from not one, but two T-Rex is probably up there in the danger stakes, and that’s exactly what happens to Dr. Malcolm et al. in 1997’s The Lost World. Another great example of a heart-pounding moment in a Jurassic Park film, the angry T-Rex push the gang over a cliff, resulting in Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding resting precariously on a rapidly-cracking pane of glass whilst their command centre is dangling over a cliff, waves crashing into jagged rocks just metres below them. Faced with the prospect of the humans taking their child, the parental T-Rex attack the convoy in retaliation. Danger doesn’t get much more extinct than this, folks.
3: Raptors in the kitchen – Jurassic Park (1993)
One of the stand-out moments of the original, the kitchen sequence puts our child stars Lex and Timmy in mortal danger, just when they thought they were safe. Cornered by not one, but two, Velociraptors, the broken and burnt (in Timmy’s case) kids have to stealthily make their way around the gleaming silver kitchen units whilst the distinctive click of the raptors’ claws resound ominously throughout the room. It’s tense, suspenseful stuff, made only more so by moments such as Timmy knocking the ladle onto the floor and Lex’s frantic scrabble to shut the oven door. You can’t help but breathe a massive sigh of relief when Timmy finally locks the door of the walk-in fridge on one of the animals and both leave the room (relatively) unscathed.
2: T-Rex breakout – Jurassic Park (1993)
It’s the all-time classic scene – rain is pouring down from a tropical storm, the electric tour Jeeps have come to a standstill outside the T-Rex paddock (where else?) and then… whilst our heroes are patiently waiting for the power to come back on… there’s a muffled thud and water in a plastic cup on the dashboard of one of the cars slowly ripples.
One of cinema’s most recognisable moments, you can’t help but get a giddy thrill each and every time you see this. It’s textbook Jurassic Park – thrilling, suspenseful and terrifying in equal parts – and it’s the key indicator that all hell’s about to break loose in the park. There’s so much ambience on display here it hurts, from the green, ghostly glow of the muddy landscape through the night-vision goggles Timmy finds in the boot of their Jeep, to the creaking of the T-Rex paddock’s cables as they come crashing loose from the force of the animal’s attack.
The T-Rex reveal has been held back until this very moment, which makes it all the more impressive, as one claw slides off the ‘Danger’ sign as we pan upwards to get our first real shot of the infamous dinosaur as it devours a goat before looking right at the audience down the camera – it’s frightening stuff. The lack of any form of soundtrack other than the pounding of the rain and the low growling of the dinosaur, coupled with the strangled cries coming from Gennaro and Lex’s hyperventilating make the entire scene feel claustrophobic and oh-so-real. It’s edge-of-your-seat stuff, each and every time.
1: ”Welcome to Jurassic Park” – Jurassic Park (1993)
Could it have been anything else? From John Williams’s now iconic theme tune to the late Richard Attenborough’s “Welcome to Jurassic Park” line, this is the moment when audiences knew they were in for something completely different.
Up to now, Jurassic Park had kept all its dinosaurs completely under wraps, so to see a herd of Brachiosauruses bathed in sunlight on the lush green grass is an absolute delight and, this writer has to admit, one which retains its delightfulness, appeal and charm on repeat viewing after repeat viewing. There’s fantastic swells in the score at all the right moments and the acting here is second-to-none, as the audience are introduced to the magnificent creatures at exactly the same time the film’s characters are, so our feelings mirror theirs exactly. It’s a great piece of cinema which stands the test of time, and I can only imagine what audiences must have felt and thought when they saw this back in 1993 for the first time. There’s emotions flying left, right and centre as Grant and Sattler see the creatures in all their glory and you can’t help but feel just as choked up by the sight as they are. Hammond’s gleeful chuckle is so endearing and his absolute pride written all over his face is plain to see, which only makes the audience warm to this strange, slightly oddball man all the more as both we and his guests marvel at what they see.
In today’s world of explosions, car chases and hyper-real CGI, it’s refreshing to revisit one of the scenes which paved the way for modern visual effects, and the fact that it evokes such feelings over a decade after it was first seen truly shows how epic Jurassic Park really is.
So there you have it, our favourite ten moments from the original Jurassic Park trilogy. Who knows? In another decade, we may be adding moments from Jurassic World to a new list, if this year’s latest instalment brings around a fresh set of films for a new generation and, judging from our thoughts on Jurassic World, it’s a very possible reality.