Cosmos: Old School (2001) – part twenty

Following in the (very large) footsteps of Mad Magazine and Bill Amend’s Foxtrot, I set myself the task of creating ‘movie stories’: tales in which the Cosmos cast would go to see, pass judgment on, or otherwise interact with various sci-fi / fantasy / superhero movies that were OMG So Hot Right Now. A laudable goal, and I started with (somewhat) a full head of steam – Star Wars: Episode One (2001, parts 17 and 18) had already been given the Cosmos treatment, and now I was moving onto a movie I’d been looking forward to for quite a while: Jurassic Park 3! I know, I know, sequel of a sequel; but it’s a dinosaur movie! Work with me on this. I’d teasered the tale in my preceding set of Murph strips (check out the magazine Gene is reading in the seventh strip in 2001,
part 19), but it was soon time to go whole hog….

2001 20_1
Top: Yep, that rule is indeed a thing. Although there was nothing stopping Artie and Gene (or, in fact, any Cosmosian) from geeking out over The Valley of Gwangi or Reptillicus on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I still wanted to keep Earth-type prehistory out of Cosmos in anything other than a pop-cultural context. For example, if someone went to the museum, they would see ancient Cosmosian wildlife, not dinosaurs and mammoths; and the same would go for a time-travelling jaunt back to 97 million years BP. Separate worlds, separate histories, separate evolutionary origins.

Bottom: I fear I put rather too much of myself into Gene’s dialogue here – while I can see him becoming enthused enough to do some preparatory reading (and, as per the ‘No Dinosaurs’ rule, he would have borrowed the books from me, not the library), his gushy dialogue might as well be me with a Gene hand puppet going “Look at me! Look how much I love dinosaurs and stuff!” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the joke, but the script seems a little bit contrived….

2001 20_20001
Top: See, this is a better way of doing the dino-geek thing – fully pop-culture factoid-ed, exactly as Artie and Gene would do it. Rather conveniently (and presciently), the flash forward in panel four is set in the right year for the release of Jurassic World, so in that sense, it’s bang-on accurate! There weren’t 154 different species, though, only 14 – but that’s still two more than Jurassic Park 3, so the trend continues unabated!

Bottom: Another strip that suffers a bit form the same Get-Out-Of-It-Jon problem as strip no. 2, but at least this time I’m at least lampshading it by making no bones about the fact that I can’t stop myself…. as much as Gene has no qualms about aiding and abetting my heinous crimes!

2001 20_30001
Top: In my experience, there’s nothing more enjoyable than watching a movie with a group of friends – not only is it a fun social activity, but you can also laugh / gasp / grumble / rant along with everyone else, share movie snacks, swap trivia, and have a good post-movie critique / deconstruction afterwards! Seriously, though, Macy, what were you expecting to go and see, if Artie and Gene were inviting you along?

Bottom: The one thing that annoys me about movies these days (says the bitter, cynical old man) is how easy they can be spoilerised before you see them; courtesy of the internet, TV and magazines. In the build up to Jurassic Park 3, I tried to avoid as much as I could – but then I came across an article in a sci-fi magazine (which I couldn’t not read, y’know?)…. and all of a sudden, I knew there was going to be Ankylosaurs and a Ceratosaurus in the movie, which otherwise would have been a nice surprise. And not long thereafter, there was a thing on the news about JP3 – which had pretty much the entire T.rex / Spinosaurus fight in it! AAAAAGH!!!

2001 20_40001
Top: Hey! Gene! What was I just saying about spoilers? You can call it ‘getting warmed up’ all you want, but if it’s telling everybody else in the theatre things they don’t want to know yet, then you’re just ruining the experience for them….

Bottom: Once again, a case of ‘Too much Jon-wants-to-talk-about-dinosaurs, not enough letting-the-characters-get-on-with-it-themselves’…. the dialogue isn’t exactly clunky or overly wordy (for a change), it just sounds rather forced coming from Ax and Macy rather than, y’know, me. Ax, for example, would not be able to site chapter and verse on what is or isn’t a Therapsid – let alone know what the word even means.

2001 20_50001
Top: Oh yes, Gene, the Pteranodon sequence was indeed a highlight of the movie, given that good Pterosaur scenes (especially scientifically-accurate ones) are pretty rare in the history of dino cinema. Traditionally, they are limited to background fly-bys or really bad props with visible wires (I’m looking at you, Land that Time Forgot); and only on the odd occasion – say, Ray Harryhausen movies – were they given a chance to strut their stuff properly. But how much sugar-coated junk did you snarf to make yourself see that, Mr. Ellis? Artie-dactyl has a very good point – you need to cut down!

Bottom: Frankly, I’m amazed Gene and co. haven’t been thrown out of the cinema by this point, what with all the explaining / arguing / yelling / tripping out they’ve been doing (and the Spinosaurus vs. boat bit was well into Act three, remember)…. So either there were very few people in there with them to start with, or whoever was in there has long since left! The fourth panel is taken from real life, by the way: my firends and I definitely found that goofy purple nightmare more terrifying than any of the other dinosaurs….

2001 20_60001
Top: Clearly, Artie and Gene did not watch the same evil, spoilery news story that I did before rocking up to see JP3 (Good work, boys! Better than me!) – still, given that the Spinosaurus was front-and-centre on the movie logo, making any sort of wager on the outcome of the fight would be rather a silly thing to do!

Bottom: Another one of Gene’s Sugar High-llucinations? Yeh, let’s go with that.

My ‘movie stories’ proposal was a great idea, but it had one fatal flaw – I had so many other Cosmos strips to do, that were usually quicker and easier to complete; any regular pattern of yearly movie critiques / promotions was lost (especially since I was already referencing so many other things anyway, in my regular strips). More often than not, I couldn’t find enough snarky things to say about a particular movie that hadn’t already been said, or I ran out of steam halfway through; or by the time I got around to doing a story, it was long past the time when the movie was the ‘latest must-see thing’! In fact, in the Old-School era, I only did four further ‘movie stories’ after this one – one for the first Hulk movie (2003), ones for Star Wars: Episode 3 and King Kong (2005), and one for the first Bay-splosion Transformers movie (2007). Stories for Star Wars: Episode 2, Cloverfield and the ensuing Transformers sequels didn’t make it past the sketches stage, and any others I considered were either passed by or dealt with in basic nerd-reference format whenever I dang well felt like it. Shackling myself to a schedule of I-have-to-do-this-story-just-because-it’s-there wasn’t go to do anything than drive me nuts…. so I just went with what worked. And look at that! It did!

TO BE CONTINUED….

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