Imagine; you’re at a party that you’ve been invited to. You don’t know anyone there and you have no idea if you’re going to have a good time. Then, they show up. That one person that stands out from the rest. They seem so different, in a good way, from everyone else. Yet, they immediately catch your attention because of how interesting they seem. When they show up, that’s when you know this party just got a lot more memorable. This made-up scenario is similar to how I became a fan of Dr. Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park. I had seen this movie for the first time last year and I didn’t know if I was going to like it. When Ian showed up on screen, he instantly got my attention because of how cool he seemed. As the film went on, he became my favorite character in Jurassic Park. This list illustrates why Dr. Ian Malcolm is the one that became my favorite. I’ll bring up examples directly from the movie. Before I begin, I want to take the time to thank the moderators of the Jeff Goldblum Blogathon, Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Emma from emmakwall (explains it all). Because of you, I now have an excuse to talk about one of my favorite characters!
Breaking Down “Nerdy” Stereotypes
Over-sized glasses. Suspenders. Obsessive conversations about “geek” or “nerd” related topics. These are some of the stereotypes that we’ve seen in books, movies, and television shows when it comes to characters that are labeled as “nerdy”. Because Dr. Ian Malcom is a mathematician and earned a doctorate degree, he would be someone that could get easily labeled as a “nerd”. His actions, behaviors, and even his wardrobe goes against the created image of what some people expect from a “nerd”. He looks as if he’s on his way to lead a sold-out concert at any moment. Confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem are the things he carries in his pocket. The way that people interact with Ian in Jurassic Park shows the audience that not only is he well respected, but that he’s popular enough to get invited to theme parks before they’re open. This film was released in 1993, a time when we still saw characters display the stereotypical idea of a “nerd”, such as on Full House and Family Matters. The idea of a character with “nerdy” qualities going against the grain is something that was probably mind-blowing back in the day.
Influencing Other Characters
In my review of Queen of the Damned, I mentioned that Dr. Ian Malcom was probably one of the factors that influenced the creation of that film. My reasoning was that because Ian is a likable rock-star-esque mathematician, Lestat became a mostly likable rock-star-esque vampire compared to the film’s predecessor. Almost two decades after the release of Jurassic Park, the world was introduced to Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr.’s depiction of this character helped create a superhero that a large number of people would choose to be a fan of. Tony Stark is quick-witted, popular, and grows as an individual over the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Similar to Ian in Jurassic Park, Tony becomes well-respected within the Avengers group. But beyond the glitz and glamour associated with this character, he has the qualities that would classify him as a “nerd”. He’s an inventor, works with Bruce Banner on scientific experiments, and has one of the most gifted minds in the MCU. Because a character like Dr. Ian Malcom broke the mold of what it means to be a “nerd”, it allowed Iron Man to distance himself from the stereotypes and portrayals of yesteryear.
The Voice of Reason
The reason for the existence of Jurassic Park was because John Hammond wanted to create a unique experience for people of all walks of life. When all of the key characters come together to Jurassic Park and learn about the logistics of the operation, Ian Malcolm is the only person that’s bold enough to tell John that the park is a bad idea. Throughout the film, Ian’s point is proven right while John’s dream falls apart. Among these characters, Ian represents the Voice of Reason through a sense of realism and common sense. He doesn’t let the magnificence of the idea of Jurassic Park deter him from his beliefs. No matter how much objection he faced, he still stood up for what he believed in. Ian even became physically injured because of the violent nature of Jurassic Park. Instead of letting his emotions get the best of him, he helped the other characters find a way to stop the madness.
Great Writing and Acting
When it comes to movies, a character is only as good as the performance of its actor, as well as the screen-writing. Both acting and screen-writing need to work together, instead of contradicting each other. Ian Malcom is a good example of these two factors working side by side. The script allowed this character to be a likable and unique individual. It also gave the screen-writers the opportunity to go against the grain when it comes to how their characters are presented. If it wasn’t for the screen-writers taking creative risks, we would have never gotten the iteration of Ian that we did. Jeff Goldblum also helped when it came to bringing this character to life. With the right amount of charisma, Jeff gave audiences a character that they wanted to root for. What also added to his performance was a good amount of well-roundedness. Every emotion was expressed by Jeff with realism and believability. Because of the quality of his acting performance, it helps the audience stay invested in what was happening to Ian.
Jurassic Park is a film that has captivated the world for over twenty years. The thrill of the adventure and the beauty of prehistoric creation are the things that, prior to its release, would be considered “the stuff of dreams”. While the idea of dreams is not necessarily a bad thing, reality shouldn’t be entirely excluded. This is why Dr. Ian Malcolm is so important in this story. He was the only one that kept his feet on the ground when everyone else was ready to fly toward John Hammond’s dream. John was so obsessed with the idea of Jurassic Park, that he, pretty much, forgot about the reality behind it. When we pair dreams with a healthy sense of reality and common sense, there is a chance that we can find more satisfaction. Our goals can be more attainable and results can be beneficial for ourselves, as well as the people around us. Had the characters in Jurassic Park paid more attention to what Ian had to say, they would have learned some important lessons a lot sooner.
Have fun at the movies!