Gift guide

Gift guide

Jurassic Park Adventure Pack

Universal, $26.98

First, let it be known that the new Jurassic Park "Adventure Pack" offers nothing new aside from a $10.50 coupon to see Peter Jackson's King Kong and a really nice dinosaur painting inside its box. No new extras or bonus discs packed with featurettes. No significant remastering or remixing. Let's have no tears or recriminations though, because Jurassic fans should understand above all others that commerce will find a way.

But I'm not altogether certain that this release is motivated wholly by the rapacious desire of Universal's DVD marketing department to tie in anything possible with Kong so as to recoup that gargantuan investment on as many fronts as possible. Sure it is, in part, but the inclusion of that really nice painting points toward a new strategy. Resembling the kind of dinosaur artwork that has adorned the bedroom walls of little nerdlings everywhere for the past 40-odd years, this box art elicits a deep response that can mean only one thing: The studio is now aiming squarely at dinosaur fetishists. A smart move, since only the fetishists have ever been fully satisfied by these movies. Everyone else seems to want (yawn) plot and characterization, and as our tastes in effects grow ever more jaded and decadent, the dinos themselves lose their luster for average moviegoers with every passing fantasy epic. But if there were any doubts before, know that now the studio seems to be owning up to the summer blockbuster series' true purpose as high-end dino-pornography.

The painting is a softcore come-on for the hardcore action on the discs, recalling the countless childhood hours spent staring into dino-themed posters, wallpaper, library books, commemorative plates, and fast-food-giveaway glasses thinking of one thing and one thing only: dinosaurs eating people. Okay, and maybe dinosaurs trampling people, too, but, you know, chiefly the eating. And as we all know, in the "dinosaurs eating people" department, the Jurassic trilogy fucking delivers, combining live-action puppetry with what is still some of the best CG animation to date, while producing "stars" that are the dino-porn world's equivalents of Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.

In terms of the films themselves, the original remains the popular favorite with a little plot, a dash of chaos-theoretical pretension, and all characterization located in the person of Jeff Goldblum, who gets to say that line about the pirates not eating the tourists when shit broke down at Disneyland. While there's a fair bit of hardcore people-eating, the mood is pretty sentimental toward the dinos, more Emmanuelle Forever than Deep Throat. That shit is so over in the second entry, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the least popular of the series, perhaps because what people thought they were watching was an actual movie. Wake up. By far the best of the series, it delivers more hot dino action than the other two combined. With a "plot" pilfered from Larry Cohen's It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive, this one puts an unreasonably large band of hunters on the island so as to keep the body count high. And when she runs out of food on the island, T. rex pops over to San Diego for dessert. Perhaps attuned to more esoteric and sadistic tastes, it might be the Behind the Green Door of the series, if you will. Finally, the less said about Jurassic Park III, which features a small cast who you know after a certain point will not be eaten, just menaced. All the good stuff comes in the first 20 minutes or so, and after that, it's like this late Marilyn Chambers movie I saw once where the sex too quickly gave way to nude postmodern musical numbers involving mirrors that would reflect her film crew. It is enlivened by the late arrival of flying dinosaurs, but as with the paintings and plates and Burger King glasses, people-eating is left too much to the imagination.

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