Monday, December 19, 2016

at the movie backlots of Kualoa Ranch

The Kualoa Ranch is a popular location for movie companies. During my visit there, I joined three tours that led to different parts of the ranch; all of them have been movie lots... like those places where movies are shot. It's exciting for me to visit the place because I've always been fascinated by how movies are made behind the scenes because the clips they film are normally not in chronological order, plot-wise, but usually end up making sense once the final movie has been shown. 

Ka'a'awa Valley
Long ago, before humans populated Earth, the land was home to giant beings called dinosaurs. This was the Jurassic Period and the Tyrannosaurus rex was the undoubted king of the jungle. Eventually, the dinosaurs became extinct and humans discovered the possibilities of DNA science. One guy decided to build Jurassic Park, a theme park around dinosaurs engineered from dinosaur DNA (extracted from mosquitoes preserved in amber) inserted with frog DNA (and the frogs, unfortunately, could change their sex depending on the population structure... allowing the dinosaurs to mate and reproduce), in Isla Nublar (fictional, supposedly in Cuba). Doubling as part of Isla Nublar is this portion of the Ka'a'awa Valley. It's where the dinosaurs were chasing the children and a scientist down a valley. 

But aside from Jurassic Park, K'a'a'awa Valley was also where a road scene in 50 First Dates was shot. The girl with amnesia drove on this road daily and so the guy who liked her placed blocks here to make her stop, including a penguin. She also beat up a guy here who was pretending to hurt the guy who liked her.

I haven't seen Godzilla and Lost, but scenes from this movie and this TV series were shot along this valley too.

Moli'i Fishpond

Hawai'ians have been practicing aquaculture since ancient times. They built a brick wall into a shallow part of the bay, trapping fish inside, ready for catching when they grow big. In the Kane'ohe Bay, there is the Moli'i fishpond. Rocks from the mountains were brought down to build the fishpond, leading to such a scenic landscape, attracting movie scouts. Near this fish pond, Lost, 50 First Dates, one of the Karate Kid movies, and Tears of the Sun were shot. Behind the fish pond, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 featured the waters of Kane'ohe Bay.
Twenty-two years after Jurassic Park became out of control, another company took over and built Jurassic World on the same site in Isla Nublar. It's unbelievable how short people's memories are about dinosaurs running wild in an isolated island and the risks of experimenting on making new species... particularly like the highly intelligent Indominus rex. But yeah, people could be stupid and clueless. Anyway, the enclosure for the I. rex can be found deep within the jungles of the Hakipu'u Valley, complete with the deep gash along its cement walls. The rain, the fog, and the cloudy atmosphere made the place look realistically like Jurassic World and not like a movie set.
The Ka'a'awa Valley was also the location for a National Geographic Society documentary on the Easter Island statues. In the show, the scientists wanted to find out how the giant statues (moai) were transported to their present locations. For a moment there, I thought that the statue in the valley was a real one and was already worried that I won't see any statues when I eventually find myself on Easter Island!
Hawaii Five-0 also shot scenes in Kualoa Ranch, at Battery Cooper. In the scene shot there, they used one of the rooms to depict a South Korean bunker.
Being here in Kualoa Ranch's movie locations was a real treat. I bet this is a much better experience than just being in the movie backlots in Hollywood. With one big exception: We just might be able to see movie stars or movies being shot while in Hollywood.