the fascinating characters of Jurassic Park.

With the upcoming release of Jurassic World: Dominion, I thought now was an excellent time to ‘recycle’ an article that I wrote for Femnista a few years back. I hope you enjoy reading (or rereading) it as much as I did.


Steven Spielberg could have taken the easy way out.

Jurassic Park already had its selling point, its hook, the shiny thing that would make every kid and his family hyped to see the film: the dinosaurs—arguably the greatest achievement in CGI up to that point in history. Because of the dinosaurs, Spielberg could have skimped on other aspects of the movie, and it still would almost certainly have turned a big profit. But would it be the stunning classic we know today without John Williams’ legendary music? Without Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern? Without Michael Crichton’s and David Koepp’s storytelling/screenwriting skills?

And would Jurassic Park have been as, yes, lovable without its brilliant characters?

Doubtful.

Spielberg/Koepp could have created cardboard cut-out characters based on clichés from bygone films, and used them to keep the plot in motion. But they didn’t, and the result is that Jurassic Park is full of characters who defy stereotypes. Let’s take a quick look at four of them!

First, there’s John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). If Jurassic Park had gone the clichéd route, he would have been the villain of the film. I mean, a super-rich old guy with a British (okay, Scottish) accent who owns a mysterious island and dabbles in strange science? Are you kidding me? That’s textbook villain. But Jurassic Park is not a textbook movie. Even though Hammond is ultimately the one to blame for dinosaurs coming back to life and wreaking havoc, the film never paints him as a villain. A shyster, maybe. A showman, absolutely. But also a loving grandfather and a great host (yes, even considering everything).

Then we have Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). I know quite a lot has been written about her and how great of a character she is, but I’ve got to say a little more. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact that, though she is the only adult female character, the film never sexualizes her or turns her into a screaming damsel in distress that constantly needs saving. Ellie is, quite simply, a paleobotanist who knows her stuff and knows that she knows it.

However, because of all that, Ellie’s character could have gone in a different direction and still have ended up in cliché territory: the woman who wears glasses and is very stern and uptight until the perfect guy comes along. But Ellie isn’t like that, either. One of her traits that I actually find very relatable is how she’ll laugh/giggle at almost everything—such as when Ian Malcolm is talking to her and Alan on the way to Isla Nublar. She isn’t uptight. She’s capable of handling things, and she’s brimming with courage and laughter.

Then there’s Alan Grant (Sam Neill). Alan is quiet. Diffident, even (at least in some situations). He’s nothing like Indiana Jones, another of Spielberg’s heroes. Instead of taking charge of the whole situation on the island, bringing the film to a triumphant ending, and making out with the heroine at the end, he…babysits. But he’s still just as much a hero as Indy. Probably my favorite Grant moment is when Lex is freaking out over that horrid lawyer abandoning her and her brother and Grant, with an intensity that comes right out of the screen and grabs at you, says “But that’s not what I’m going to do.”

Last (but certainly not least) we have the fan-favorite character Ian Malcom, played by Jeff Goldblum. Here is another character that subverts audience expectations. Most people (at least before Jurassic Park–and probably even still today!) would scratch their head over the term ‘chaotician’ and probably conclude that anyone who was…one of those things would be pedantic and boring (after all, chaos theory is more mathematics than anything else). Ian Malcolm, however, turns out to be arguably the coolest character of the bunch.

And that’s not all! Ian could have been an ‘anything goes’ type of guy, but instead, he’s the person who takes the whole dinosaurs-coming-to-life thing the most seriously. He’s disturbed by Hammond’s/the scientists’/the lawyer guy’s attitude toward the dinosaurs, toward what has been unleashed on the natural world. Ian isn’t just there to make the film snazzier and *cough* sexier. He’s there to raise important questions–questions that make you think instead of just sitting there, watching dinosaur-on-dinosaur violence. As with so many of the amazing characters in Jurassic Park, there’s a lot more to Ian than first meets the eye.

In conclusion, the characters of Jurassic Park are a huge part of why I love the film so much.

Oh, and Jurassic World? It indulged in alllllll the clichés (and not in a fun way). So, no thank you.


Fun fact about this article: originally, I only planned to write about Hammond, Ellie, and Alan…until Femnista’s editor Charity emailed me after reading the first draft and said “this is good, but I think people are going to be upset that you left out Ian.” XD So after a bit of thought, I figured out a good angle for writing him into the piece. And I think the article really is the stronger for it!

Have you watched Jurassic Park? Who is your favorite character? (My favorite is Alan. *heart eyes*)

Eva-Joy

9 thoughts on “the fascinating characters of Jurassic Park.

Add yours

  1. You could base an entire film class around Jurassic Park and everything it does well. You’re absolutely right about these four characters being very well written and acted, but there’s more to it. The scene where they first encounter the dinosaurs is pretty much perfectly made on every level. The acting. The writing. John Williams’ soundtrack slowly building until you see the full herd. The cinematography focusing on their faces, and then the shots emphasizing how big the dinosaurs are. There’s the fact that up to that point, the audience hasn’t directly seen any dinosaurs – just an open cage that the worker unfortunately got pulled into at the start of the movie.

    There are actually a lot of differences between the movie and the book, even down to which characters survive and which ones don’t. Some characters are more likeable in the book, while others are far less likeable.

    Also, I almost fell asleep watching Jurassic World with how predictable and by the numbers it was. Haven’t seen Fallen Kingdom. I do have a soft spot for The Lost World though, even though I acknowledge it’s nowhere nearly as good as the first.

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    1. Oh yes, that scene is so perfect–a standout in a movie filled with amazing, masterful scenes.

      I haven’t read the book! Is it good overall? Or is the movie better?

      Yep, Jurassic World was infinitely predictable. I haven’t seen the sequel. I did start watching The Lost World, but lost interest. 😛

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      1. I haven’t read the book either, but I do like looking into the differences between books and movies. I’ve heard that the Jurassic Park book is good, but the Lost World book is a disaster that was pushed into existence so that Spielberg could make the movie.

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      2. Oh, I’ve done that before–looked up articles discussing the differences between a book and movie, even if I haven’t read the book. It’s pretty fun!

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  2. You really can’t leave out Ian Malcolm, of the infamous “one-liners.” This is a great article about a terrific movie. It STILL scares the dickens out of me and I’ve seen it, what, 20 times?

    Also, if Dominion kills off either one of them — I riot. 😛

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    1. I’ve seen it several times too, and I’ll never not experience that sweet, sweet sense of relief when the T-Rex comes to the rescue and they all head home. Just beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh, my childhood! This brings it all back! I missed this article the first time around, so I’m glad you brought it to my attention. Ian and Alan are going to have to share top billing in my favorites list. They’re so drastically different, but I love ’em both. Can’t wait for Dominion to come out!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed this article! The characters are just fantastic. I’m hoping that Dominion is good…but also not holding my breath. 😬😅

      Liked by 1 person

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