Jurassic World worships at the altar of Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park, while behaving like Spielberg’s own sequel Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Joe Johnston’s Jurassic Park III are practically extinct from our collective memories. But if you haven’t seen the original in the 22 years since its release—or haven’t seen it at all—here’s 12 of the new movie’s callbacks to help guide you through the new park. Yes, there are SPOILERS lurking…
There’s a Jiminy Cricket-like animated fellow named Mr. DNA who helps explain the science behind Jurassic Park to the film’s characters—and, of course, to the audience. He describes how scientists extracted dinosaur blood from preserved prehistoric mosquitoes and, crucially, how they filled in the missing parts in the dino DNA strand with the genes of a frog. (Which was a misstep in an already crackpot idea, since the amphibian they chose could change its gender.) But this all matters more in Jurassic World, with its hybrid abomination Indominus Rex, which is a genetic horror smoothie of multiple dinosaurs and animals.. .including one species that proves to be a major game changer late in the film.
Precocious kids in peril
Spielberg set the tone in a way only he could in Jurassic Park, placing adorable children (played by Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) at the center of the monster mash. The boy even suffers electrocution in one of the film’s most cleverly edited sequences. But the kids club deteriorated in the film’s sequels (particularly the unctuous daughter of Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcolm in The Lost World and the death-wishing brat son of William H. Macy and Tea Leoni’s characters in Jurassic Park III). The two tykes of Jurassic World follow that tradition—compelling as a hors d’oeuvres for Indominous Rex, but not much else.
Running among the beasts
The original Jurassic Park contained only about 50 computer-generated shots. (Blockbusters of today contain thousands.) But perhaps the most impressive was the scene of Sam Neill’s Dr. Grant and the two kids running among a scrum of galloping Gallimimuses. In 1993, it was a sight audiences had never seen. In Jurassic World, director Colin Trevorrow mimics that same scene—to demonstrate the spectators’ boredom.
Cruising in style
The first film introduced the Ford Explorer XLT, which were brightly painted and outfitted SUVs that escorted the characters around the park. Nowadays the means have been updated to Gyrospheres, which are sleeker but curiously resemble Mr. Garrison’s NSFW IT invention from South Park. But Jurassic World knows something about nostalgia for old cars and gives a sweet cameo spot to a circa 1993 antique.
“The voice you are now hearing is Richard Kiley,” says John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) in the first film, referring to the famous Broadway actor who’s heard in the Ford Explorers narrating the exhibitions. The visitors to Jurassic World, naturally, are much more hip—and so they get the coolest guy in late night as their tour guide.
Say hello to [SPOILER]
Jurassic Park’s sharp-toothed main attraction was a mixture of computer effects and a 20-foot tall animatronic puppet, ingenuously designed by Stan Winston. The giant T. rex doesn’t make her first appearance until the one-hour mark, but ultimately saves the day by plucking a raptor as it’s leaping on Dr. Grant. Jurassic World pays homage to the first film’s delayed gratification—she’s back, but her characteristic flare-waving entry comes just late enough for us to appreciate the old girl.
Everyone came to Jurassic Park for the T. rex but stayed for these nasty beasts—equal parts gremlin, femme fatale, rage zombie, and Hannibal Lecter. The slinky lizards have a long, anarchic history in the franchise and can always be counted on for spicing things up. The first film’s kitchen scene is one of the most diabolically precise and disquieting action sequences ever. Watch out for the Hitchockian mirror trick.
Beasts of burden
In a classic Spielberg bait and switch, the first full dinosaurs we actually see onscreen in Jurassic Park are not bloodthirsty killing machines but grazing Brontosaurus and a sickly Triceratops, lying on its side in the grass. (The franchise has had fun with poop—the fecal spelunking included in this scene is played for even more laughs in Jurassic Park III, when a cell phone gets browned out.) Jurassic World throws back to the Triceratops scene with a poignant moment in which the characters encounter a dying Brontosaurus in a field.
The John Williams fanfare
Maestro composer and longtime Spielberg collaborator Williams imbued the original film with a soaring and hummable score. At 83, he’s pulled back on his workload, but his trumpet-pumping is heard in all its glory during an early scene of Jurassic World. And it also can be heard later in a subliminal twinkly piano version threaded through composer Michael Giacchino’s score.
The real bad guys
The most dangerous predators, of course, are still homo sapiens. Wayne Knight had only been on a handful of Seinfeld episodes when Spielberg cast him in the original Jurassic Park as Dennis Nedry, the evil nerd who sets the mayhem in motion. Arliss Howard played a smoother corporate baddie in The Lost World, and Vincent D’ Onofrio shows up in Jurassic World as a combination of the two, with a twisted and quite confusing motivation to train Velociraptors… to fight ISIS?
People getting devoured has been one of the great frights/thrills of the franchise. Actor Martin Ferrero was first on the Jurassic Park menu as a lawyer who gets chomped—on the can, no less—by the T. rex in the original film. Future West Wing PR director Richard Schiff played an engineer who’s torn in half by two T. rexes in The Lost World. (Jurassic World doesn’t disappoint, of course, with a lengthy and icky dino-homicide of a woman—the franchise’s first.) But the scariest and stickiest death still belongs to Wayne Knight’s Nedry in the original film.
Returning cast members
Park stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough all appeared in either the second or third film. Attenborough, who played park founder John Hammond, died last year, but appears very briefly in voice and pictorial form in Jurassic World. Tthe only actor from the first film to play a significant role in JW? B.D. Wong, who had less that two minutes of screen time as the genetic scientist Dr. Wu—and shows up for about the same amount in the fourth, albeit 22 years older and about that many times more cynical.