Book Review: Jurassic Park

I don’t remember why, but about a week ago I got the sudden urge to read Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park.” As a product of the 90s, I had, of course, seen the movie several hundred times, but now I was going to venture into the very text on which the film was based.

Major character departures from the book:

Gennaro. By far the most significant and most disappointing difference between the book and film was the portrayal of Gennaro, the lawyer who represents John Hammond’s investors. In the film, he is a small, balding, whining man who takes Hammon’s side repeatedly throughout the film, obsessed with making money. In the book, he is literally the exact opposite: he’s tall, muscular, handsome, openly opposes the park and sides with Ian Malcolm on just about everything, and is only interested in salvaging what he can of the 5 percent his firm as invested in the project. He is the primary protagonist of the book – Dr. Grant, like the others, is a secondary character. Many of the qualities Gennaro possess were transposed to Dr. Grant and Elli Sattler, but the portrayal of Gennaro as a scumbag lawyer is a real disappointment. Gennaro goes with Muldrom to find the two broken-down cars, where they find Ian Malcom. He also goes to the maintenance shed to manually turn on the power (not Dr. Sattler).

Ed Regis. Don’t remember this character? If you only saw the film, then you wouldn’t. But, in the book, Ed Regis is the park manager and one of the main protagonists throughout the first half of the book. He, not John Hammond, uses the phrase “We spared no expense,” and only does so twice. Regis is the one who flees from the car with Lex and Tim when the Trex breaks through, and he is later killed by the juvenile (not the large) trex. His character doesn’t appear at all by name in the film, but his qualities are transposed onto Gennaro, who is eaten by the trex in the movie.

Henry Wu – Another character who’s time was condensed down to almost nothing. Wu is the lead geneticist for Jurassic Park. Not only does he not leave the island with the boat, but he is another main character up until the end of the book, when he is gutted by a velociraptor at the visitor’s center. He is arrogant and selfish, but wants Hammond to see the danger in the park, as well. He is the one, not Malcolm, who says “we were so worried about whether or not we could that we didn’t stop to think whether or not we should.”

Muldron. You probably remember him better as “the raptor hunter guy.” Yes, he was obsessed with raptors in the book – mostly because they were horrible creatures. In the book, he’s a drunk, and not only does he NOT die in the book, but he doesn’t do a whole lot to save the day, either. He’s sorta useless.

Ellie Sattler. Is supposed to be 24 and a “babe.” She struts around in short cut-off jeans and tied-belly shirts, and is still a graduate student (not “doctor” yet). She isn’t the object of Grant’s affection, either. Though she is just as smart and just as balls-to-the-wall as portrayed in the film.

Ian Malcom. Jeff Goldblum was perfect for the role of the sarcastic, outgoing, strange mathematician from Texas who spends all his time talking about philosophy and antagonizing John Hammond.  Hammond really hates Malcolm – they fight throughout most of the book, as Malcolm has warned Hammond that the park will inevitably fail and Hammond, naturally, does not want to hear that. Malcolm is injured when the trex escapes, and dies at the end of the book before the people on the island are rescued. He spends the last quarter of the book doped up on morphine, talking about paradigm shifts in science. He’s pretty hilarious up to that point, though.

John Hammond. Is the bad guy. Shocking, I know. “Not Santa Claus!” you say? Yes, Santa Claus is a money-hungry, blood-thirsty, egotistical and delusional rich bastard who doesn’t listen to the scientists around him. His only concern is making money. He even hates the grand-kids, Lex and Tim, and says he only brought them to the island to soften Gennaro. Ouch. Oh, spoiler, he dies, too – he’s eaten by a pack of Procompsognathus (who aren’t even shown in the movie).

Lex and Tim. Tim is supposed to be the older sibling and the one who is good with computers, and Lex is supposed to be about eight and annoying as hell. 

Plot departures:

The entire plot-line stems from an EPA investigation into Hammond’s island. Gennaro pushes Malcolm to come to the island, since Grant doesn’t quite know what they’re up to, and plans on abandoning the project throughout the book, even before things go wrong. In the beginning of the book, the EPA suspects Hammond of multiple violations of bioengineering laws and codes, and are looking for a way to search the island legally. This is no random outing. The investigation stems from several dinosaur attacks on the mainland of Costa Rica. The animals had been breeding and getting off the island while InGen was none-the-wiser. Grant actually finds out about this BEFORE Hammond comes to him, so he knew what to expect when they got to the island.

Animal breeding. Grant’s storyline focuses entirely on getting back to the compound to warn the security team that velociraptors were on the boat heading to the mainland.

The Jeep/T-rex chase scene never happened.

The animal Ellie Sattler sees that is sick is a stegosaurus, not a triceratops. They find out that the dinosaurs ARE actually eating the poisonous berries. Also, the veterinarian, Dr. Harding, has a much larger role in the book.

Things the movie got right:

Dennis Nedry (Newman from Seinfeld) and Mr. Arnold (Samual Jackson). Both characters were nailed perfectly.

The velociraptors were the primary antagonists.

Things both the book and film got wrong.

Mixing dinosaurs of different time periods would not work. Period.

The adult trex doesn’t kill anyone. The juvenile only kills one person (Ed Regis in the book, Gennaro in the film), and does it seemingly on accident.

How do dinosaurs eat mammals? They only ate other dinosaurs, how could they eat goats all of the sudden?

Velociraptors were 3-4 feet tall and covered in feathers; not 6 feet tall and lizard-like.

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