The Greatness of Jurassic Park Comes From Its Many Bad Ideas

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Maybe waving a flare at a T-Rex isn’t such a great idea? Photo: All Images (Universal Pictures)

Bad ideas are the fuel that makes good stories go. If characters in movies, books, television, etc. made good choices all the time, we wouldn’t enjoy sharing in their trials and tribulations half as much. While thinking about that idea, the first thing that jumped into my mind was a film built off the back of one very bad idea—Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park is a movie that, let’s be very clear, is absolutely incredible, but incredible because it’s built on so many characters making horrible decisions. What are we talking about? First and foremost, the idea of making dinosaurs, period, is the biggest and worst idea in the entire movie. The entire film proves that fact, scene after scene, line after line. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite Bad Ideas from Jurassic Park.

- A lesson for the youth of the world? Never, ever, question Dr. Alan Grant about the prowess of Velociraptors. He will make you feel terrible.

- Initially, Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler have the good first instinct to not go with John Hammond to his park. Soon after though, they take what amounts to a bribe to do so. Accepting bribes is rarely a good thing, and here it changes their lives for the worse.

Simply going to the island is a bad idea for everyone: Grant, Sattler, Malcolm, etc.

For Dennis Nedry, the magic words should be “Bad Ideas.”

- Dennis Nedry is the king of bad ideas, as you’ll see later in this list. But his first is betraying his employer. What are you doing, Dennis?

- To be fair, Nedry is betraying his employer, John Hammond, because he believes Hammond underpays him. I thought you were “sparing no expense,” John! If you’re going to spend anywhere, it should be on employees who keep your big idea running. What a bad idea.

- During the first third of Jurassic Park, you continually hear calls for people to get to the boats. To me, this is the result of two bad ideas. One, lots of employees are straggling. Two, why isn’t there housing on this remote island?

Jurassic Park was a once-in-a-generation movie: a blockbuster that made tons of money, changed…

- It never plays out as such, but it always struck me as bad when Hammond takes the pieces of shell off the baby raptor. Let that creature do it herself!

- When a robot arm corrects you, you know you made a bad decision. So Dr. Grant, put down that dinosaur egg.

- Technically, the idea of denying the dinosaurs the X chromosome to control population sounds like a good idea, but defying nature so forcefully, as we know, ends up being a very bad idea.

The beginning of the end for these four.

- The scientists of Jurassic Park can make any dinosaur they want. So why, oh why, do they breed velociraptors, who are clearly way too smart and violent for a zoo? They weren’t even popular until they were in this movie, so it’s not like there were “fans” out there. Awful idea.

- In the words of Dr. Sattler, assuming control of an extinct eco-system is not a good idea.

- Inviting your young grandchildren to an unproven island filled with giant, killer dinosaurs was probably not the best idea, John.

- Everyone is leaving the island to go to the boat, right? So then why is the automated tour still happening? Maybe delay it until the full workforce is up and running?

- Talk about bad decisions—if Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler had not jumped out of a moving car to see the sick triceratops, everyone would have made it back to the visitor center safe and sound.

- Though the triceratops doesn’t have any traces of it in her droppings, doesn’t it sound like a bad idea to grow toxic plants like West Indian lilac?

Stick! Stick, stupid!

- It’s Dennis Nedry time! He’s got so many bad ideas we needed to make a list within our list of them.

  • Rushing his scheme because of the weather
  • Shutting down the security systems
  • Shutting down the electric fences (but good idea not shutting down the raptor fences, which is also proof just how bad the first idea is)
  • Leaves his fingerprints everywhere in the embryo room
  • Drives too fast in the rain
  • Doesn’t know the way to the ship well enough, so that he can still get there in the pouring rain
  • Shuts down the phones
  • Password protects everything (a good idea for him, a bad idea for everyone else)
  • Goes into the woods after crashing his car
  • Antagonizes deadly dinosaur, resulting in his demise

- Skeevy lawyer Donald Gennaro leaving Lex and Tim in the car when the T-Rex comes. He learned pretty quickly what a bad idea that was.

- Lex should not have taken out a large flashlight after the T-Rex got loose. She all but signaled where the fresh meat was.

- After being nice and quiet, Tim slams the door to the car, giving the T-Rex the final signal to where they are.

Grant is good at this. Malcolm, not so much.

- Alan Grant, a dinosaur expert, using a flare to distract the T-Rex? Good idea. Ian Malcolm, Chaotician, doing the same, then running with it? Very, very bad idea.

- When Grant comes to rescue Tim in the tree, he tells him not to look down. What’s the first thing Tim does? Looks down.

- Though it’s teased by Nedry earlier in the film, John Hammond later realizes that his over-dependence on automation in Jurassic Park was a bad idea.

- Hammond then makes it seem like he’s going to reopen the park! Bad idea, John!

Today is the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park. I was 11 years old when it came out. Here’s what I…

- Much like denying dinosaurs the X-chromosome seemed like a good idea, so too did filling in the sequence gaps with amphibian DNA. However, because amphibians can sometimes change sex, it ends up being a bad idea as the dinosaurs begin to breed.

- Maybe the only way to get around Nedry’s programming was to shut down the entire system...but, nevertheless, that too was a bad idea.

- Muldoon and Arnold briefly talk about the lycine contingency, which is a fail-safe to stop the dinosaurs in the park. Not doing that immediately was a terrible idea.

Great idea shutting down the system, you guys.

- Though you see it in the film’s first scene, as well as the cow feeding scene, it’s not until the end of the film that you realize the raptor cage is basically right next door to the visitor center. Talk about dumb. Maybe they should have put it on the far side of the park.

- We can’t be sure if it would’ve changed anything, but it’s probably safe to assume Mr. Arnold going to the maintenance shed alone wasn’t the best idea.

- Apparently the best way for Grant and the kids to get back to the visitor’s center was to climb over the electric fence. Even so, the mere idea of it does not seem very smart.

- Early on, the film makes a point of explaining how well Muldoon knows raptors. But, unfortunately for him, he makes the mistake of focusing on the one raptor while the other sneaks up on him. Not-so-clever, man.

Of course, there are LOTS of good ideas in the movie too: Grant protecting the kids, the scientists questioning Hammond, the eventual idea to not endorse the park, etc.—but what’s the fun in that? The bad ideas in the movie give it conflict, and that’s what makes it one of the best blockbusters ever.