Jurassic Park (1993)

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Sally
Jurassic Park is probably the most contentious film in my parents’ household. When this was released in 1993, my mom discussed the movie with her sister after she had watched it, and decided it would not be appropriate for my sister and I, both under the age of 10, to watch for a few reasons (scary dinosaurs, people getting eaten, gender swapping, etc.). My sister and I were disappointed, but the battle over Jurassic Park was far from over.

The next year it was released on VHS, and my parents rented it. Mom still wouldn’t let us watch it. My dad, on the other hand, saw no reason why we shouldn’t. So one night when my mom was working late he rented Jurassic Park and let us watch it on the condition that we not tell our mom.

The movie itself didn’t bother me. It was the nagging guilt that we went behind Mom’s back that eventually got to me. About a month after our covert movie rental I confessed to my mom what we had done. My little sister was experiencing no such guilt, and was mad at me for telling. My dad shrugged off Mom’s wrath– he knew she’d eventually find out (she always found out). Mom watched us a little closer for awhile, and also started claiming that she hated this movie. I doubt she actually does, because who could hate Jurassic Park?

This is not only one of the best action-adventure films ever made, it’s also one of the best book adaptations I’ve ever seen. I’m a big fan of authors writing the screenplay for the film adaptations of their work (Gone Girl is a stellar example of this), and had to double check if Michael Crichton worked on Jurassic Park. No surprise, Crichton helped write the screenplay for this film. His involvement is most evident in the characters, notably the three adult leads played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. The personalities of these three are directly lifted from the pages of the book, brought to life by excellent performances. Jurassic Park also excels by making all the right choices in terms of the changes made from page to screen. A lot of scenes are cut and the violence is toned down, but the spirit of the novel is maintained.

Jurassic Park is non-stop thrills from start to finish, but never forgoes the story in favor of action. I’ve seen this movie several times and am still on the edge of my seat during some scenes (the T-Rex attacking the cars, the Velociraptors in the kitchen). This film is still captivating thanks in part to the heavy use of mechanical models. The CGI used still looks good, but is slowly showing some age (very slowly, it still looks pretty damn amazing). However, the “practical dinosaurs” are what really sell the concept.

I definitely love Jurassic Park so much because this is Steven Spielberg at his best. He’s the king of blockbusters, and this is Jaws on land. He may have access to all the best technology, but he hardly needs it. This is first and foremost about the story and the characters.

Rating: A


Ben
I love this film. This is the first movie I can remember seeing on opening day when it was first released. I saw this with my best friend Oliver and his family while we were on summer vacation. It is a moment I will remember forever, just being in awe of what I was seeing on the screen. As any child, I loved dinosaurs, so a story about a bunch of them running amok in a theme park appealed to me so much. I enjoyed this film so much I went and read the book. I was not a huge reader growing up, so for a movie to have this sort of impact on me was pretty amazing. I ended up seeing Jurassic Park three times in the theatre and again when it was re-released last year for the 20th anniversary. I was actually hesitant to see it again on the big screen. How could a movie I’ve adored for so long possibly be as good as it was twenty years earlier? The good news is that it was still amazing. The animatronic dinosaurs still hold up today, the raptors are still scaring the bajeezers out of an entirely new generation of children. I showed this movie to my nephew not long ago, and it was awesome to see a whole new generation being as impressed with this film as I was when I was 11.

For those that don’t know the plot, Jurassic Park is the story of a cloned dinosaur zoo called Jurassic Park. The owner (Richard Attenborough) asks a few scientists (Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum) to come and explore the park before it is opened to the general public. He has also got his grandchildren (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazello) to come along for the weekend too. Things go into meltdown when a greedy programmer (Wayne Knight) shuts down the park so he can steal the dinosaur embryos for a rival. When the dinosaurs attack, everyone needs to get off the island safely.

It is no coincidence that Steven Spielberg directed this film. The man is a master of creating perfect adventure films for the whole family, Indiana Jones being a great example. I know I will get in trouble for this, but I think I prefer Jurassic Park to Indiana Jones. Sally loved archaeology growing up so Dr Jones spoke to her, I was the same way with Jurassic Park. I loved them growing up and could not get enough of them. The whole idea of seeing dinosaurs roaming around in the present was so cool, I just could not get enough of this film. I was reading recently that James Cameron was the second choice after Spielberg to direct this film, and I just can’t imagine anybody doing what Spielberg did. Cameron has admitted as much, saying he would have made his Jurassic Park film very adult and more of a horror film than the fantasy adventure masterpiece that Spielberg produced.

The big selling point of this film is the dinosaurs. Jurassic Park would not have worked if they weren’t believable on screen. Luckily we have Stan Winston, the man responsibly the terminators, predators and aliens. The dinosaurs he has created seem real, especially the raptors. When they are hunting children in the kitchen, they seem to have a glint of evil in their eyes. It is amazing that they feel so realistic and so scary. Even twenty years later the dinosaurs are still a great achievement in cinema. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is also a marvel to behold. Winston created a giant head for his scenes, with the rest of the body being achieved using CGI technology. The Rex is always scary, every time she appears on screen, the dinosaur feels enormous. It is very easy to be swept away into this movie. I am every time I watch it.

Rating: A+

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9 thoughts on “Jurassic Park (1993)

  1. Actually your father rented and watch it with you, having never seen it himself. Then insisted I watch it to prove I was wrong about the appropriateness. That said, I don’t like it because I don’t like dinosaur movies in general. This one has and interesting story but one big flaw in how it plays out. If they had a cow and a goat to feed the carnivores then there had to be others. Somewhere on that island was a heard of goats and cows so they could continue to feed those dinosaurs. So why, when they got loose, did the dinosaurs go inside the building in search of food? But then it would have been an even more boring movie if they just found the cows and goats and had a feast. Or they could have gotten in to the herbivore enclosures and ate them. Of course that would just be confused for documentary on the History Channel. So it is true I’m not a fan of Jurassic Park. Just to torture me they made a sequel and added my home town to try and persuade me……..

    • Where is your review, Mom? You watched this with us and have had months to write one– no excuses! lol

      About your “plot hole:” The Velociraptors are really the only ones who go into buildings (with the exception of the T-Rex right at the end). They are highly intelligent, so I always thought they were just exploring their now expanded environment, much like they were testing the fence in their original enclosure for weaknesses. If they happened to find food along the way (i.e., vulnerable humans), they would certainly not pass up the opportunity to eat.

      The T-Rex is actually shown hunting herbivores, but again, she’s a big animal that would likely need to eat often. She may have already eaten all the livestock available (the island relied on supply ships, so we don’t actually know how many goats or cows were on island at the time; they could have been running low on fresh meat), and was also exploring while on the hunt.

      I really feel like you’re grasping at straws here…

  2. Unfortunately I think the biggest plot hole is the fact that they extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquitos in amber fossils. The bonds holding DNA together would be long gone after a few thousand years, let alone 65 million. In order to use frog DNA, they would need to know which genes could be replaced with which. Not an easy task when you consider that some organisms have literally millions of genes. I still hold out hope though. A pet T Rex would certainly be a talking point around the Christmas dinner table 🙂

    • I’ve had to same thoughts about the DNA viability. My biggest pet peeve is that they’d have to find a massive amount of mosquito samples to get the variety found in the park and Site B. Also, I’d imagine they’d get a lot of “junk” species as well– frogs, small lizards, etc– that lived concurrently with dinosaurs.

      Personally, I think the odds of reviving an ice age animal would be better. I was hoping the upcoming movie would revolve around Sabre Tooth Tigers and Mammoths, but no such luck. :/

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