Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Worst Things To Come Out Of The Jurassic Park License

     "Lookee, lookee, The Cynic is making another post about Jurassic Park.  What a shocker," said no one ever.  Look, if you folks know me personally or follow me on social media, you already know how much of a Jurassic Park fan I am.  If you're new here, hi, I'm The Cynic and I've been into Jurassic Park at nearly dangerously obsessive levels since I was six years old.  Now that we're caught up, let us proceed.

     When you have an intellectual property expand from a single idea, whether it be a book, film, etc., sometimes things get a little muddled and a subpar product comes out of it to remind you that nothing is truly perfect.  The Jurassic Park license is no different and with the fifth film going into production within the next couple of months, I thought it would be fun to share what I think are the five worst things to come out of the Jurassic Park license.  This is in no particular order and I am looking at more specific things, not just the movies in general.  If one of these things listed are one of your favorites, I’m happy for you that you like it but it doesn’t do it for me.

     Worst Dinosaur Public Image: Dilophosaurus

     I admit that Jurassic's depiction of dinosaurs, while mostly respectful, is not accurate.  It wasn't fully accurate in either the original book or film upon their respective releases and it’s not fully accurate now considering how much paleontological theories have changed in the twenty-seven and twenty-four years since said releases, respectively.  I can deal with that because one of the many things that make dinosaurs so fascinating is their mythological allure and despite new discoveries ever year, it still feels like we know so little about them and when adapting them into fiction, creative liberties have to be taken.  What bothers me is when one of the creative liberties created specifically for Jurassic Park keeps popping up elsewhere and that brings us to the Dilophosaurus.  I feel bad for this dinosaur: it’s only in one film in the flesh despite toys being made for it with every movie, it’s depicted at a reduced size so as not to be confused with the Velociraptors and its most memorable creative liberty feature keeps being outright ripped off.  I get that whenever the general public hears the word “dinosaur,” odds are their minds bring up this movie, considering how it set the bar in believability both within the story and special effects wise but I’m tired of seeing Dilophosaurus’ with neck frills and venom spit coming up outside of Jurassic Park.  This depiction has been “borrowed” in games like Jurassic: The Hunted, Ice Age 3 and ParaWorld as well as by various toy manufacturers including Animal Planet.  The latter really puzzles me because I always thought Animal Planet was about education but perhaps I missed something.  Basically, if you don’t have the Jurassic brand on your Dilophosaurus, lose the neck frill and venom spit, please.

     Worst Toy: Jurassic World Dino Hybrids Rampage Indominus Rex

      I thought long and hard about this one because of all the things from the Jurassic license I enjoy collecting, an argument could be made for the toys being my favorite.  I combed through the entire toy catalogue and had a few to pick out for worst toy.  Over-the-top hybrid dinosaur toys were introduced into the license in 1998 with Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect, a line I enjoyed upon release but as time went on, I realized it wasn’t for me.  I didn’t mind Hasbro’s line of toys to promote Jurassic World and have all but five of them (the Pteranodon vs Helicopter and Tyrannosaurus Lockdown sets were too ugly for me and I couldn't get over the Titan Raptors not having sickle claws) but when they announced a line of toys dedicated entirely to hybrid dinosaurs, I said, “Pass.”  While I suppose I probably could’ve gone with any of the Jurassic World Dino Hybrids toys, which are basically Chaos Effect 2, I’ve gone with this reworked Indominus Rex figure.  First off, the balancing issues from the original Indominus Rex figure weren’t fixed so it won’t stand on its own, the coloration is atrocious with said coloring stopping right at the attachable tail, not to mention the gold accents looking like skid marks rather than a smooth color blend and the action chomping feature seems to only work when it feels like it.  The worst part is that the prototype shown at the New York Toy Fair, while still ugly, looked more detailed, better colored, stood on its own and the gimmick, oh, I don’t know, actually fucking worked.  I know that these toys are meant to look like the hybrids in the JW mobile game but over-the-top hybrids didn’t work for me when Kenner was making them so they don’t work now with Hasbro.  I hate to use one of the more recent additions to the toy line but you have to call them like you see them.

     Worst Video Game: The Lost World: Jurassic Park – Trespasser

     Most video games based on movies are terrible, that’s just a fact.  The Jurassic franchise is no exception but of all of the games with that skeletal T. Rex branded on it (I don't think I ever played any of the games based on JP3), none of them felt as terrible as Trespasser.  This was a PC game released in 1998 that was supposed to revolutionize the FPS genre with its 3D graphics and physics engine and all it wound up doing was pissing off a lot of players, myself included.  Set one year after The Lost World, you play the character of Anne, a plane crash survivor who has washed up onto Isla Sorna and you have to get off the island alive.  Well, the kicker here is that you only have one arm to use (the other was injured) and have to use it to interact with objects to progress the game and/or survive.  An interesting idea, if the game mechanics weren’t so clunky.  I remember being killed a few times by oddly animated Velociraptors because the arm wouldn’t pick up a gun despite me gliding over it quite a few times and stacking boxes to get out of a jam only goes so far when a slight breeze will knock over your stack.  As far as graphics go, yeah they don’t look great now but I remember not being terribly wowed by them back in 1998 either.  I mean, this came out the same year as Resident Evil 2 and a year after the Playstation game for The Lost World, for crying out loud.  Sweet box art, though.

            Worst Novel: Jurassic Park Adventures – Flyers

            This was the final entry in a trilogy of spin-off books expanding on Jurassic Park III.  The first, Survivor, told of Eric Kirby’s eight weeks alone on Isla Sorna while its follow-up, Prey, had Eric and Alan Grant teaming up to save a group of teens sneaking onto the island to gain fame and fortune by filming the dinosaurs after the events of Jurassic Park III.  Flyers took the story to the mainland where Grant, Eric and Amanda Kirby have gone to Universal Studios in Orlando to discuss their time of the islands when the Pteranodon family that escaped at the end of the film descend on the resort.  I’ve never really liked when Jurassic Park goes off island because you lose that sense of isolation and helplessness when you have dinosaurs (or in this case, flying reptiles) in a heavily populated area and to have a whole book about it?  Yeah, I’m not with it and bringing back Amanda, arguably the most annoying character in the history of Jurassic Park, certainly doesn’t help it.  It wasn't terrible, exactly but of all of the novels I read, this one had to be the worst.

            Worst Comic Book: Jurassic Park – Redemption

            Okay, when I said that this was is in no particular order, I kind of lied because I had to save this one for last.  If I had to pick the absolute worst thing to come out of the Jurassic license, it would be this comic book story arc.  Why?  Because it is the worst.  As hinted at by this blog post, the expanded universe for Jurassic is…not very good.  It is full of shaky storytelling, lacking any of the awe-inspiring moments that the films had and all exist as proof that this was never meant to be a franchise.  The comics put out by Topps in the 90s weren’t really anything spectacular but they look like The Dark Phoenix Saga compared to the three arcs IDW Publishing put out.  While The Devils In The Desert was a mixed bag and Dangerous Games was more boring than offensively bad, Redemption was IDW’s maiden voyage into the series and wow, did it suck.  The story follows Tim Murphy trying to realize John Hammond’s dream of a functioning park, only having it in Glen Rose, TX instead of an island resort.  Lex is opposed to this but Tim goes forward with the help of a mysterious benefactor and of course, shit goes wrong when a Carnotaurus escapes and eventually all the dinosaurs escape.  The artwork is absolutely terrible, failing at Jurassic’s idea of trying to make the dinosaurs (and humans) look as believable as possible.  The writing is just awful, showing that this comic was more focused on dinosaur violence and shoehorning in characters for fan service and less on interesting story...or having a solid ending.  Seriously, the conflict doesn’t have a resolution but rather it just stops.  On top of that, this comic fails with its big twist when Peter Ludlow from The Lost World is revealed as the benefactor who is trying to sabotage Tim’s idea for revenge against John Hammond, stating that he only married into the family to partake in John’s wealth.  This may have been writer Bob Shreck’s first gig as a writer, but had he actually done his fucking homework, he would’ve seen that Peter refers to John as his uncle (the board room scene, anyone?), not his wife’s uncle (or his wife's father as he says here).  This would make Peter the son of one of John’s siblings and since Tim is John’s grandson, Peter would be his first cousin once removed, not his uncle.  Even putting the family tree blunder nitpick aside, there is no fucking way that Peter survived the ending of The Lost World.  I don’t care how well you pay your security staff, if they didn’t shoot Ian and Sarah when they took the baby Rex, they sure as Hell aren’t going to come into a sealed cargo hold with that baby and a tranquilized adult to save your ass, "Elite crew" or not.  Thankfully, it seems like Redemption was never intended to be canon and has more or less been erased from the fan base’s collective memory so my apologies for bringing it up.

     I'm not saying that the intention of this post is to say that Jurassic Park 5 is going to suck so don't take it as such.  This was just a fun exercise for me to find the worst of the worst in a property that means so much to me.  Agree or disagree, feel free to sound off in the comments.  If you like what you see on this blog, give that "Follow" button a nudge and stay cynical!

     -The Cynic