Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)

I’ve seen the movie several times, not enough to quote whole scenes, but certainly enough to vividly remember much of it.  I imagine I went and saw it at the movie theater in 1990 — maybe more than once! I know I read the book before, and most likely after I saw the movie.  The book is quite different from the movie; the tone is more serious, characters are different. John Hammond is probably the most different - at one point Crichton writes that he “whined” which John Hammond in the movie would never do; Hammond is also the villain of the book, whereas in the movie he’s a kindly old grandfather who never quite takes responsibility for the fact a whole bunch of people are dead because of him.  The lawyer is completely different from book to movie as well - the lawyer is more heroic than in the movie. When I was a kid, I had the novelization of E.T. by William Kotzwinkle which included a lot of detail about characters and a padded plot, including some weird, albeit non graphic, alien sex stuff that my eleven year old self found very, very disturbing (icky). The extra stuff didn’t necessarily both me (minus the sex stuff) but the novel also certainly wasn’t the film.  Jurassic Park the novel feels the same way, minus the alien sex stuff. Jurassic Park wasn’t written as a script first (unlike, I assume, E.T.) but there are scenes in the book that seemed to have a movie in mind, including scenes that never made it into the movie (the T Rex’s tongue). The book is gripping - I was reading this in bed before falling asleep at one point, and had trouble putting it down, and also could feel my heart racing. There are some soggy parts - Malcolm drones; the computer stuff.  Is Jurassic Park a great book? No way. But it’s a fun book, and quite frankly, a classic of sorts for the genre.
Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of those (generally rare) cases where the movie really does out perform the book. The movie has bigger plot holes than the book, but Guys - Dinosaurs! Eating people! T-Rex noshing on various folks is exciting in the book, and way way more heart-racing in the movie. The T-Rex movie roar is also how dinosaurs sound now; once you hear the Spielbergian roar of the dino, you can't unhear it (very much like how the characters sound in the Jim Dale audio versions of Harry Potter). If you have only seen the Spielberg classic, I say to you read the book already. But expect some characters to be quite different than their screenplay counterparts.

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