In Jurassic Park, when Jeff Goldblum takes Laura Dern’s hand into his own, he deposits a droplet from his drink into the groove of her knuckles –an exchange of fluids between two humans brought together by resurrected, ancient reptiles. The water takes its natural course down her wrist, guided by gravity, by the bumps of the Jeep travelling over jungle roads, and when repeated, takes a separate path, showing that chemistry between two strangers is as divergent and natural as a tributary on a mountain slope.
Laura is so enthralled by the experiment that she forgets about that brontosaurus that might be observed if she only looked out the window to her right. As Jeff’s charisma works its voodoo magic, uncanny and miraculous as dinosaurs woken up from their epochs of extinction, another man, far from amused, watches his wife as she is swept off her feet by an enigma that in another movie is transformed into a fly. And in fact, Sam Neil, the husband in this portrait, feels as though Jeff, still holding Laura’s hand, is all words and no substance, that he is, like in his earlier film, nothing more than a pesky fly –a nobody.
Earlier in the film, Sam Neil cannot work out how to buckle his safety belt. As viewers, we naturally suspect he is an idiot-savant, a man who is all genius when it comes to paleontology but subpar in most everything else. Some of us may take this assumption a step further and presume the man has marginal mastery over his emotions. For example: as Jeff and Laura remain locked in each other’s sparkly, fuck-me eyes, one may get the feeling that Sam’s jealousy begins to bud into what would likely bloom into a full flower of red rage. Luckily, a diversion takes the form of a triceratops moaning in distress in a nearby field, a catalyst to terminate overt flirtations. One by one, three sides of a love triangle disembark from the safety of their wildly-painted Jeep to investigate a long-dead species brought back to life.
Soon, there will be an electric shortage. There will be dinosaurs out of their enclosures, giant lizards free from their cages. There will be goats that are torn in two, men on toilets that are devoured. There will be “veggiesauruses” that carry the common cold, sneezing typhoons of snot. Venom shall be spat from a frill-necked lizard, a cute, but deadly animal with an Elizabethan collar.
Later, there will be raptors. Clever girls, they will steal the last half of the film. Of course, a T-Rex won’t stomach second place, so it may just place those raptors in its belly. It will roar, and cinema will never be the same.
Despite the magnitude of this prehistoric wonder, this chaos in the form of genetically revived fossils –cable-jumped DNA encased in crystallized amber– there is an undertone of boy-meets-girl that quietly outshines all that modern science and Godzilla-sized hoopla. Regardless of the epic reinvention of Jurassic animals, a feat which supersedes nostalgic throwback; notwithstanding all that wild, reptilian carnage woven from black magic spells conjured by wizards clad in lab coats; looking beyond all of that, which amounts to a widely beloved and unforgettable film, the argument remains: the most bewitching moment of Jurassic Park just may be when two extant mammals, modern-day human beings, casually flirt in a Jeep travelling down a jungle road.
There is Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum. That, in itself, is enough. And there is Laura Dern, her 90s haircut and tourist shorts. Everything else from there is merely a bonus. Sorry, T-Rex, but everything else comes in second