May 6, 2015

Review: Jurassic Park (1993)

There are few films as beloved as Jurassic Park is and I'm going to hazard a guess and say that it will only become more beloved once Jurassic World is released. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and it's something that I sadly lack for Jurassic Park. I wasn't even three years old yet when JP was released, so obviously you can understand why I never saw it then. But in the time that it was later released for home video, my parents never bought or rented Jurassic Park and as a result I never got to see it until my latter years of high school.

I guess it's because my parents were never all that big into "event" movies, so I don't really blame them for not getting Jurassic Park for me. They'd rather have me and my sisters watch stuff like Canadian film Atanarjuat which effectively put an end to me being able to enjoy watching movies with my parents since I always scared there would be a nude scene coming up. Jurassic Park would've been so much better as a family film no? I even went through a dinosaur phase! Ah well, doesn't matter. Love you anyway mom and dad.

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At a Glance


Genre: adventure, sci-fi, thriller
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen, Lata Ryan, etc.
Written by: Michael Crichton, David Koepp
Music by: John Williams
Running time: 127 minutes
Production company: Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by: Universal Pictures, United International Pictures, Deliverance Pictures, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English, Spanish
Budget: $63,000,000
Box office: $1,029,153,882 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, BD Wong, Wayne Knight, Gerald R. Molen, Miguel Sandoval, Cameron Thor, Christopher John Fields, Whit Hertford, Dean Cundey

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Synopsis


Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are working on a dig which gets interrupted by a visit from InGen CEO John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). He invites the two to join mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) in order to inspect a major attraction that his company has built on Isla Nublar off the coast of Costa Rica. That attraction is Jurassic Park.

 

Review


Jurassic Park starts things off on the right foot. Spielberg pretty much teases the film's scariest antagonist very nicely without giving too much away. That way when we're later introduced to the absolute majesty of the leaf-eating (and quite peaceful) Brachiosaurus, we still have that shadow of doubt that was created from that opening scene. No matter how amazing and spectacular things seem in the park, the Velociraptors are always lurking nearby it seems.

But seriously, there aren't very many scenes that can rival the movie magic that's created when we see the Brachiosaurus for the first time in what is nothing less than a legendary scene. It's a shiver inducing moment that owes a lot to the perfection of John Williams' score. There's no doubt that Jurassic Park would not be the movie that it is if it didn't have Williams doing the music. The main theme is insanely memorable and it's one of those songs you could just listen to on repeat again and again. Spielberg is a lucky man.

That's not to discount what Spielberg has accomplished with Jurassic Park though. He's created one of the most thrilling CGI spectacles that's ever been done in cinema history and that's certainly not nothing. Action sequences are very well executed and it's really quite something that all the effects have aged as well as they have after all these years. Whether CGI or animatronic, the dinosaurs in JP look great and that's absolutely crucial. Can you imagine if they didn't?

Tension is also very well maintained throughout the film as the characters get into some predictably tight situations with all these dinosaurs running around. Yes, the kids (Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards) can get pretty annoying, but they have good reason to be. After all, Dr. Alan Grant is supposed to dislike children (as he demonstrates in a scene where he explains to a cynical kid why Velociraptors could easily kill him) and you can definitely understand why he would when you got little Timmy badgering you about dinosaurs. It's not a brilliant piece of character development, but it's certainly passable.

Spielberg saves the best for last however with an extremely thrilling scene involving Velociraptors, the annoying children in question and a kitchen. The Velociraptors are scarily intelligent which makes you wonder, should the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park ever have been cloned after having been extinct for millions of years? What gives us the right? These are questions that Dr. Ian Malcolm brings up early on and John Hammond struggles to find the answers to satisfy him.


Jurassic Park is blessed with insanely high production values in terms of effects, cinematography and sound. It's amazing what $63 million could buy you back then isn't it? It's no surprise at all that it took home the Academy Awards for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Spielberg probably had one of the best years of any director in history in 1993 since Schindler's List was also released that year and won in a few categories of its own to say the least.

While I may not have the nostalgia goggles to watch Jurassic Park with that most people seem to have, I just see an entertaining, action-packed and visually impressive blockbuster that deserves its spot in the sun and its "classic" status. Here's to hoping that Jurassic World can recapture some of that magic.

Rating


8/10

Related Reviews:

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) 
Jurassic Park III (2001)