Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park returns to a time 'When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth'

Jurassic Park returns to a time ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth’

By Judy Berman

An unseen menace terrorizes a tiny island off Costa Rica.

It’s the premier attraction in a new theme park – Jurassic Park – that will feature living dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are the main event in this Steven Spielberg movie (the first one released in 1993 is now in theaters in 3D).

But there is much more to this film. Spielberg’s “basic ideas are family values, illumination and flight,” said Douglas Brode, author of “The Films of Steven Spielberg” and film professor at Syracuse University.

At night, as workers maneuver a crate near the gates, the creature inside attempts to escape and kills one of the workers as they try to contain it.

The dark side of greed emerges when Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) gleefully embraces a satchel filled with money. In return, he’s to steal dinosaur embryos from the park and turn them over to his boss’s competitor.

Miners in the Dominican Republic find golden amber that appears to be lit from within. One holds it up for us to admire. We see a mosquito from antiquity that once sucked a dinosaur’s blood.

When that blood is extracted, scientists at John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) lab use the DNA to create animals that roamed the earth millions of years ago. Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex) and Velociraptor are among the park’s deadly predators.

After that fatal attack, Hammond persuades two scientists – paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his girlfriend, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) – to visit and endorse his park. If they do, Hammond says he’ll then get approval to open. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a chaos theorist, and an attorney, Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), join them.

They gasp in amazement when they first see gentle plant-eating dinosaurs, Brachiosaurus, roam the park. Dr. Grant says dinosaurs are distant relatives of birds – not reptiles – and later wonders when they learned to fly.

But they’re concerned about the living biological attractions.

”Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they did not stop to think if they should,” Dr. Malcolm tells Hammond.

The T-rex in museums are scary enough.

The T-rex in a museum is scary enough.

Hammond tries to reassure them. He sends Grant, Sattler, Malcolm and Gennaro off with his two grandchildren, Lex and Tim, to tour the park in a computer-controlled Ford Explorer.

The tour is disappointing. The T-rex and Velociprators are a no-show. The Triceratops is sick, and Sattler stays behind to help the ailing creature. A tropical storm is approaching and the tour cars break down.

Nedry takes advantage of the chaos and deactivates the park’s security system so he can gain access to a secure area and steal the embryos. This also deactivates most of the park’s 10,000-volt electric fences that contain the T-rex. Soon, the stalled tour has an uninvited guest.

“The villainous Nedry loses his glasses (his source of light) at a key moment during his attempted escape. The Dilophosaur that stalks him, at first sight appears to be as harmless as a puppy. … he is unaware of the creature’s killer instincts, and suffers the consequences,” Brode writes in “Spielberg.”

Frustrated, Hammond and Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) decide to shut down the command center’s whole computer system and then reboot it. This disables the remaining fences and two Velociraptors are now on the loose.

Back on the tour, a sound of thunder as the ground vibrates. Water begins to tremble in glasses on the dash, signaling the T-rex’s approach. The attorney (Gennaro) flees the vehicle and races to a port-a-john, leaving the kids alone.

Lex finds a powerful searchlight and turns it on. This attracts T-rex. He kicks the car over and attacks it. Grant jumps out of the Ford, shouts at the T-rex and throws a flare. Malcolm joins him and yells as he also attempts to divert T-rex away from the children.

T-rex breaks into the port-a-potty and devours the attorney. T-rex returns to the vehicle and knocks it over the ledge. Grant and Lex escape. He tells Lex to hide while he returns for her brother.

She stammers, “He left us,” referring to the attorney.

Grant reassures her that he will be back. Grant rescues Tim. It’s night, and he takes the frightened children up a tree to sleep. When they awake, Lex is startled to see Brachiosaurus grazing nearby, but soon warms to them.

Later, Grant spots recently hatched dinosaur eggs, a reminder of Malcolm’s warning that “life will find a way.” The dinosaurs, who were all supposed to be female, are breeding.

On their return, they evade a Gallimimus stampede. “They’re like a flock of birds evading a predator,” Grant notes, and Tim points out “they’re flocking our way.” A T-rex attacks one of the “herd.”

Malcolm, who was injured in this skirmish, is rescued by Sattler and game warden Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck). The empty car gives them hope that the kids are safe with Grant. Then Malcolm sees the puddle in the T-rex’s footprint vibrating – an impact tremor.

T-rex is returning. They flee in a car with the T-rex in hot pursuit.

The ground trembles as the T-rex returns.

The ground trembles as the T-rex returns.

“Think they’ll have that on the tour,” Dr. Malcolm says sarcastically as they narrowly escape.

No one is safe. Restoring the compound’s power creates hazards of its own. The T-rex and the Veliciraptors invade the compound. The humans – in their ever-dwindling numbers – require outside help in their flight to safety.

What did you think of Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park movies? Will you see the one in 3-D? (I think the original movie does hold up. It’s great to see it on the big screen, but I don’t believe the 3-D version adds anything.)

Movie Trailer – JurassicPark  –  (1993) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bim7RtKXv90

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or
earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original

(link to Jurassic Park 3D movie trailer) http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/jurassic-park/

Photo: Jurassic Park – gate and dinosaur’s shadow http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/26900000/Jurassic-Park-wallpaper-jurassic-park-26962232-800-600.jpg

Photo: T-rex, (Tyrannosaurus rex), Palais de la Découverte, Paris, Copyright © 2005 David Monniaux http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Palais_de_la_Decouverte_Tyrannosaurus_rex_p1050040.jpg/594px-Palais_de_la_Decouverte_Tyrannosaurus_rex_p1050040.jpg

Photo: Tyrannosaurus rex (T-rex) footprint, size comparison. Taken at the “Museum of Science” by Chris Kirkman http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e9/Trex_footprint.jpg/399px-Trex_footprint.jpg

A Reel-Life Disaster Film

Three hundred miles away, I can only imagine chaos unfolding.

Three hundred miles away, I can only imagine chaos unfolding.

By Judy Berman

Sheila hasn’t called in a while, and that usually means trouble.

Movie script writers would salivate to be able to tell her story. But it often is one she doesn’t want to share because she doesn’t want to “trouble” any one. Sheila’s golden silence, however, automatically triggers the exact response she wishes to avoid.

“Hey, Sheila,” my calls always begin in an upbeat fashion. “What’s happening? I checked the obits, and you weren’t listed.”

“Everything’s OK … (a very pregnant pause) … now. Oh! (almost as an afterthought). When you talk to Jan (a mutual friend), tell her I wrote a letter, but it burnt in the fire.”Burning match

“What fire?” I ask. (I shake my head as I wonder: “how come my calls are never like the ones in the commercials? ring. ring.)

“Nothing serious,” Sheila says soothingly. “I lit a match to look under the mattress, and it caught on fire. Damaged my bedroom!”

“Got a pen handy?” she inquires casually. “I’ll give you my new address.”

“You moved?” I’m 300 miles away and am powerless to do more than just voice my concern.

“Yeah, had to after the fire. Didn’t need that expense on top of the parking tickets.”

Common sense dictates that, if I ever want another full night’s sleep, this is the point where I should hang up and get an unlisted number. But, a morbid fascination keeps me hanging on.

“Parking ticket problem?” I mumble, knowing the answer won’t be a simple one.

“Yeah, my neighbor had been moving it for me every day – alternate parking here. But when he went in the hospital, the car just sat there accumulating tickets. Sometimes as many as three or four tickets a day.”Parking meter

“What with the other problems I’d been having,” she continues unmercifully, “I sort of put it on the low side of my priorities. Up until I got the notice threatening to garnish my wages if I didn’t pay up, that is.”

Now, Sheila’s been relatively unruffled during this whole story. I, on the other hand, have not exhaled once.

I take another breath, pause and ask, “How much do you owe?

“Twelve hundred dollars!”

I inhale incredulously and then, mercifully, exhale. Despite that kind of money not being within her reach, she’s been calm. Almost Zen-like.

Still Sheila’s closing remark nearly unglues me.

“When you talk to Jan about me, try not to worry her.”

“No problem,” I assure her. “I know exactly how to handle this. Trust me”

As I hang up the phone, I’m thinking: “I’ll just tell Jan that they’re making your life story into a disaster film. And it’ll be bigger than “Titanic,” “Towering Inferno” and “Airport” all rolled into one.”

* Is your favorite disaster movie on the list below?  What are your candidates?

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original

Lincoln – a Country Divided. Again.

President Lincoln and General George B. McClellan in the general’s tent at Antietam, Maryland. Oct. 3, 1862

By Judy Berman

“The man with fourteen days to live is himself witnessing death.”

This is the opening line of “Killing Lincoln,” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Within six weeks after Abraham Lincoln was sworn into office for his second term, shortly before the close of the Civil War, he was the first U.S. president to be assassinated in office.

Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln,” focuses on efforts to pass the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would abolish slavery. The book has a different focus. It reads like a thriller that counts down the remaining days of Lincoln’s presidency.

Some deride those who now want to secede from the United States, following the re-election of President Barack Obama. Such talk is no laughing matter. During Lincoln’s presidency, when our country was deeply divided, some – perhaps connected to the highest ranks in our government – attempted drastic and violent measures to alter the direction of our country.

Five days after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, Lincoln was gunned down on April 14, 1865, by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln died early the next morning.

Lincoln was not Booth’s only target. Booth and his conspirators also plotted to kill Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln’s general-in-chief of the Union army.

“Rather than just kill Lincoln and Grant, he now plans to do nothing less than undertake a top-down destruction of the government of the United States of America,” the authors write in “Killing Lincoln.”

Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward also are on the hit list.

“There are rumors that General Grant will be in town. If he attends the theater with Lincoln … Booth can kill the two most prominent architects of the South’s demise within seconds,” according to “Killing Lincoln.”

Booth also despises Vice President Johnson. He “views the Tennessee politician as a turncoat for siding with Lincoln.” Secretary of State William H. Seward also has angered Confederate sympathizers for his “oppressive policies toward the South.”

Lincoln had opposition from all sides – Radical Republicans and War Democrats – as he tried to reunite the country and bring an end to slavery. He wanted the reconciliation with the South to be one of compromise and understanding.

President Abraham Lincoln – 1862

Secessionists, who wanted to break away from the U.S. government, plotted Lincoln’s death. Booth killed Lincoln. But the other intended victims eluded death and the conspirators were eventually caught.

The book and the movie on Lincoln’s death serve as a reminder that we must be vigilant in order to protect our country. Tommy Lee Jones, who played Sen. Thaddeus Stevens, a radical Republican abolitionist, in “Lincoln,” said the movie “gives you an opportunity to think about the fact that politics is still dirty. And that great things are done by people, working hard.”

We’re a diverse nation and we’ve weathered difficult times before. When we work together, we can achieve great things.

Official full movie trailer (2:21 min.) 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Main Photo: President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan in the general’s tent at Antietam, Maryland, October 3, 1862. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lincoln_and_McClellan_1862-10-03.jpg

Photo: President Abraham Lincoln – 1862 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862.jpg

Lincoln’s final days http://www.history.com/topics/abraham-lincoln-assassination

“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat.”

By Judy Berman

Danger lurks on a moonlit beach as a girl romps in the water.

The teen ventures in while another partygoer lies drunk on the beach. Moments later, she screams when she’s attacked in the water. An unseen force drags her under, and she is gone. Later, her remains wash ashore.

The villain: a great white shark. Sharks have had a lot of bad PR ever since “Jaws” first hit the movie theaters in 1975.

Note to spring-breakers, tourists and snowbirds: You’re more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than become shark bait while surfing or swimming.

Some statistics to consider:

  • Florida was known as “Lightning Capital of the World.” NASA has recently given that distinction to Rwanda, Africa. “With more deaths and injuries than all other states combined, Florida ranks as the #1 target for public safety and lightning awareness campaigns,” states weather.about.com website.
  • “Florida led the nation again last year with 11 of 29 shark attacks. None were fatal. Worldwide, there were 75 shark attacks; 12 of them were fatal, the most since 1993,” according to TCPalm’s web site on Feb. 25th.

Still, I’m not reassured. There have been three shark attacks in Florida this month – one at Playalinda Beach on March 4th and two at New Smyrna Beach on March 14th. All three teen surf riders were injured, but are OK after the sharks’ bites.

The only shark adventure I’m after would be on celluloid or digitally. In this case, “Bruce,” the name given to the mechanical shark in “Jaws,” is the only kind I’d care to meet up with.

We don’t see “Bruce” for most of the movie. That’s because they had trouble getting the mechanical beast to function as it should. If I were to compare this movie to an Alfred Hitchcock film, it would be “Psycho.”

We know something bad is about to happen to Janet Leigh in the shower scene. We can see some sort of menace beyond the shower curtain and know she can’t hear us scream that she’s in danger.

It’s much the same in “Jaws,” when the theme music plays … “dun-dun! dun-dun! “dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun.” Something awful is about to happen, and we’re powerless to warn those in the water.

We’re scared wondering when it will strike again.

This film has captured our family like few others have. We’ve had Jaws-themed birthday cakes, Jaws movie marathons and Shark Week extravaganzas. This, at the request of our youngest daughter, Jenn, who’s had a lifelong love affair with sharks.

It began with this movie. Director Steven Spielberg nailed this when he deviated from the novel, and added the right touch of terror and humor.

The scene that captures that best is when Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) got an up-close look at “Bruce.” He’s on a boat with fisherman, Sam Quint (played by Robert Shaw), who is determined to kill the shark, and oceanographer Matt Hooper (played by Richard Dreyfuss).

As Brody backs away from the shark and into the boat, he tells Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

At one point, Scheider tells Dreyfuss: “I used to hate the water.” Dreyfuss: “I can’t imagine why.”

Even though I live near the ocean, I rarely venture near the frothy waves. In my mind, I hear … dun-dun! dun-dun! That’s all I need. I quickly dive back onto my blanket and grab a book – anything but “Jaws.”


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Main photo of shark silhouette in the Maldives, taken Oct. 29, 2003 by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shark_Silhouette.jpg

* Family photo of Jenn’s Jaws’ themed birthday cake in 2011 which was designed by her sister, Danielle. Yup, Ernie’s gonna need a bigger boat.

* video clip of Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) backing away and telling fisherman, Sam Quint (Robert Shaw): “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat,” from “Jaws” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gciFoEbOA8

* Jaws’ theme song: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=jaws+theme+song&view=detail&mid=BFF2316080871FFC7F93BFF2316080871FFC7F93&first=0&FORM=LKVR7

** MSNBC story about a shark attack: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/15/10701089-like-jaws-girl-pulled-under-by-shark-twice

** updated MSNBC story about shark attacks: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/46774631#46774631