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‘Jurassic Park 3D’ instills respect for the power of creation

“Jurassic Park 3D” (1993 original release, 2013 3D re-release). Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight. Director: Steven Spielberg. Screenplay: Michael Crichton and David Koepp. Book: Michael Crichton. Web site. Trailer.

The power behind acts of creation, no matter how seemingly trivial, is tremendous. The process of bringing forth an idea into manifestation is truly miraculous, something not to be taken lightly. But, when we treat this notion casually, we run the risk of paying a high price. Such is the message of a recently re-released screen classic presented in a new format, “Jurassic Park 3D.”

Theme park developer John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has a full plate of problems to resolve. He’s heavily invested in getting his latest venture off the ground, routinely proclaiming that he’s “spared no expense” in doing so. Even with that, though, the project is beset by technical glitches, untrustworthy employees, worker safety issues and investor jitters, concerns so worrisome that major backers have asked attorney Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) to investigate the attraction’s viability. But then that should probably come as no surprise for an undertaking as audacious as Jurassic Park, a unique fusion of Disneyland and a prehistoric version of the Bronx Zoo where the main attraction is truly something to see – live dinosaurs.

To qualm investors’ fears, John decides to seek the endorsement of several experts, convinced that their stamp of approval will lend legitimacy to the project and enable plans to move forward. He contacts paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), whose field excavations he’s been bankrolling for some time, and invites them to tour the park. Although initially hesitant, Alan and Ellie quickly relent with the promise of three years’ additional funding for their research, a handsome payoff for one weekend’s work. And so, before long, the scientists, along with attorney Gennaro and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), are off to Isla Nublar, a tiny island west of Costa Rica, to see John’s newest playground. It’s an experience they relish with wonder and anticipation, but little do they know what they’re getting themselves into.

Upon arrival at Jurassic Park, the visitors are blown away by what they see. Wide-eyed idealists Alan and Ellie witness their life’s work come to life – literally. Gennaro, meanwhile, gleefully envisions dollar signs filling his head (and his backers’ pockets). But, despite his peers’ enthusiasm, Malcolm, as an expert in the unpredictability of chaos theory, sees trouble – big trouble – at the prospect of what this place represents. And, when his fellow scientists learn how the Jurassic Park staff managed to create this spectacle, their amazement quickly turns to skepticism, too. Alan, Ellie and Malcolm raise their concerns with John, who tries to deflect their criticisms with deft touches of spin, but the only one sold by his arguments is Gennaro, who’s too busy counting the money investors will make to truly hear what the others are saying.

Despite the visitors’ doubts, John nevertheless convinces them to take the park tour, joined by two additional guests, his grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards). And so, with a curious mixture of hope and anxiety, the visitors set out on a narrated afternoon excursion. Anticipation quickly turns to disappointment, however, when the featured attractions seclude themselves in the tropical underbrush, out of sight. The hoped-for excitement dissipates as the stars of the show fail to make an appearance. But that all changes when the park’s shortcomings begin to make their presence felt. What was supposed to have been a pleasant day at the park turns into a nightmare beyond expectations. Needless to say, John’s problems suddenly get a lot worse.

On the surface, Jurassic Park probably sounds like a really cool idea. So why do the scientists (especially Malcolm) see it as such a potential danger? Well, when’s the last time you had an up-close and personal encounter with a dinosaur? And, if you’ve never had such an experience, do you have any idea how you might react? Not a clue, right?

On one hand, delving into such unexplored territory can indeed be exhilarating. But, at the same time, it can also be fraught with a host of unknowns. Now, since humans and dinosaurs have never been known to co-exist, there’s no telling what could happen, even with whatever well-meaning “precautions” we might take. Such precautions may seem sufficient, based on our expectations, but they might ultimately prove to be wholly inadequate, given that we have no practical experience interacting with these creatures. Our beliefs about their behavior could be fundamentally way off base, so, if they act differently than anticipated, we’d be left with problems to solve for which we’re totally unprepared. Then what?

The foregoing exemplifies one of the key problems that can result when we approach the act of creation recklessly, both materially and metaphysically. By seeking to manifest our conceptions without due consideration for the consequences, we disregard the innate power underlying conscious creation, as well as the inherent responsibility that comes with the materialization process. This practice, known as un-conscious creation or creation by default, can set us up for real trouble if we’re not careful, perhaps resulting in wide-ranging impacts far beyond anything we can conceive of. Indeed, as Malcolm so astutely points out, just because we can create something doesn’t necessarily mean that we should. Using the dinosaur example for illustration, Malcolm notes that nature selected these creatures for extinction, that they represented a line of evolution that played itself out, and that, even though we may be able to facilitate their return, perhaps it’s an idea best left alone. When viewed through the lens of conscious creation, the dinosaurs represented a line of probability that was carried through as far as it could go, and their disappearance marked the end of a line, one not to be revisited.

The act of going back – no matter what the endeavor – seldom pans out as hoped for. In part that’s because, as conscious creators are well aware, “everything is in a constant state of becoming.” The consciousness that permeates all things in the Universe – what some might call the essence of God – seeks to continually discover itself through its myriad manifestations (with us serving as its corporeal emissaries of discovery). In doing so, however, it’s not disposed to staying put for any length of time, let alone returning to revisit an expression of itself that it has already experienced. If this sounds a bit abstract, think about what it’s like to peer down the tube of a kaleidoscope, noting that the colorful patterns it creates never repeat themselves. So it is also with the constant state of becoming, a phenomenon we physical beings might more commonly know as “evolution.”

Based on the foregoing, and for what should be obvious reasons, “evolution” is integral to the narrative of this film. It applies on multiple levels, too, not only where the dinosaurs and their progeny are concerned, but also in the nature of the characters and their relationships with one another. Their experiences in Jurassic Park help to foster their own personal evolution, helping them to discover parts of themselves they never knew existed and allowing them to go through their own process of becoming. Alan, for instance, is not comfortable around children, a quality that impinges on the evolution of his romantic relationship with Ellie. However, when faced with imminent peril in the company of two defenseless youngsters, his outlook toward kids changes drastically, a realization that gives him access to a previously unexplored aspect of himself and that holds promise for making a significant alteration in the nature of his romance with Ellie.

While such self-discovery is often accompanied by tremendous wonder, it also speaks to the unpredictability factor that Malcolm raises. Unpredictability often makes us uncomfortable, because we can’t see what’s coming, filling us with feelings of vulnerability. This is where becoming “conscious” has its benefits, because it provides us with a deeper understanding of how and why things materialize as they do. By “waking up,” we have an opportunity to fashion realities more to our liking. But, as noted earlier, manifesting in this way comes with conditions we must bear in mind (such as the aforementioned power and responsibility considerations).

The aim of conscious creation, of course, is creation. But, in arriving at that outcome, we must be aware of the driving forces behind it, our beliefs and intents, for they ultimately determine the result. Being clear, or conscious, about them is essential to getting where we want to be.

So, in light of that, how do the characters in “Jurassic Park 3D” end up under the circumstances they experience? When we consider where each of them is coming from, they’re exactly where their beliefs put them. Alan and Ellie, for instance, are quite awe-struck with what the park’s creators have wrought, and given that it embodies their life’s study, they can’t help but behave like the proverbial kids in a candy store. But, like those giddy youngsters, they also may not be aware of the consequences of consuming too many gumdrops until it’s too late.

In a similar vein, John is a grand visionary who dreams large and is exceedingly successful at bringing his imagination to life. However, he’s so focused on an idealized outcome that he can’t fathom that others, such as some of his closest associates, might not operate from the same noble intent. For instance, while he no doubt wants a fair return on his investment, he’s not the shameless greed monger that Gennaro is, who can hardly contain himself when he thinks about the cash this venture will generate. But, even worse, John’s oblivious to the devious schemes of shifty computer programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), who self-servingly tries to manipulate circumstances to his advantage and ends up setting in motion a chain of events destined for disaster. (So much for John’s honorable vision.)

As things fall apart, John reflects on where he went wrong, citing a need for having better control over the conditions he employed in realizing his vision. But Ellie correctly points out that such hoped-for control is an illusion, akin to trying to place an undersized lid on an oversized pot and hoping it will suffice for an extended period. Conscious creators are well aware of the futility of this misconception, cognizant of the principle that the present moment is the only time at which we have any direct control over our circumstances. If a creation is inherently “faulty” or if its attributes are fundamentally inadequate, they’ll continue to be so going forward, no matter how much we might like to think we have “control” over it. Wishing for something to be true without adequate beliefs to support it simply doesn’t work. This is particularly true for co-creations, because the parties involved in the undertaking may not be approaching it with the same underlying intents. Considering where John and Dennis are each coming from, for example, it’s no wonder that things play out as they do.

All of this is not to suggest that we should never try the untried; no progress would ever be made if we took such a timid approach to life. However, we must bear in mind the beliefs we employ in shaping our existence, for if we don’t, we just might end up sharing the fate of the occupants of Jurassic Park – and I don’t necessarily mean the dinosaurs.

“Jurassic Park 3D” is a thoughtful, edge-of-your-seat thriller that holds viewer attention from start to finish. It’s classic Steven Spielberg in the same vein as “Jaws” (1975), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), pictures the director made when he was clearly at the top of his game. It features an excellent, substantive screenplay co-written by famed science fiction author Michael Crichton, terrific performances across the board (particularly Goldblum and Attenborough), and one of composer John Williams’ more underrated musical scores. In fact, perhaps the only disappointment is the picture’s 3D effects, which don’t really add much to the movie (not unlike other recent retrofit re-releases, such as “Titanic” (1997 original release, 2012 re-release)). That said, however, the film’s truly outstanding special effects have held up well since its original release 20 years ago, elements that earned the movie three Oscars (on three nominations) for sound, sound effects editing and visual effects.

Those who tempt fate by casually tampering with the power of creation should take this cautionary tale to heart. Such carelessness can yield disastrous consequences, with outcomes that might be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. We’d be wise to heed the lessons of “Jurassic Park 3D,” not only for the sake of our well-being but perhaps for our very survival as well.

Photo courtesy of Universal City Studios, Inc. and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.

Copyright © 2013, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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