Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)

Genre: Sci-fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.

Release Date: June 11th, 1993 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Steven Spielberg Actors: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Martin Ferrero, Bob Peck, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight

 


 

T

he Oscar-winning “Jurassic Park” was a huge advancement for computer animation when it premiered, showcasing unbelievably realistic and frightening dinosaurs as never before seen in film. Although the effects are now noticeably outdated, the story itself – with a screenplay co-written by David Koepp (“Carlito’s Way” and “Death Becomes Her”) and Michael Crichton, the novel’s author – is a marvel of suspense, adventure, comedy, and nonstop excitement. While it impressed audiences simply with the amazing dinos, it’s the combination of superb acting, intriguing characters, smart dialogue, and well-timed humor that promises that, regardless of the years, “Jurassic Park” will still rank among the greatest of all thrillers.

An instantly famous and often parodied opening scene finds an enraged dinosaur fighting containment in the new environment of Isla Nublar (near Costa Rica). But it’s a hiccup that won’t stop progress of a one-of-a-kind attraction. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the man behind the exhilarating concept, assembles a group of the most recognized scientists and specialists to endorse his remarkable new theme park – for the benefit of investors. Jurassic Park, sure to be more lucrative than any zoo or recreation ground, is a secluded wonderment of extinct monstrosities, brought to life by cloning the DNA of dinosaurs found in fossilized mosquitos.

The potential advocates include archaeologists Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and “bloodsucking” lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferraro). They’re also joined on an exclusive, private tour by Hammond’s grandchildren, Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards). But before long, a tropical storm and a double-crossing inside man (Wayne Knight) lead to security malfunctions and escaped man-eaters – including a Tyrannosaurus Rex that doesn’t follow park schedules.

It’s a theme-park-out-of-control tale (one Crichton is familiar with, having previously written “Westworld”) and a parable that instills moral lessons through the use of terrorizing monsters. “Life will not be contained,” remarks Malcolm. “Life finds a way.” Several quotable speeches later, audiences are reminded that messing with mother nature, taking the role of god, and raping the natural world lead to chaos; Malcolm goes further by explaining Chaos Theory and relates Hammond’s project to a kid who has found his dad’s gun. Not respecting the power and intelligence (in this case, of prehistoric hulks) or the unpredictable adaption of life results in disaster; control may be the illusion, with ethics having distant secondary importance, but from a visual standpoint, it’s simply a whole lot of fun to watch classic horror movie mistakes induce a slim but nerve-wrackingly assembled body count.

A great blend of CG and gargantuan animatronic puppets breathes life into some of the most mortifying and convincing dinosaurs in the history of cinema; the imagery has certainly come a long way since the works of Ray Harryhausen. Constant foreshadowing, unequalled suspense, action-packed chase sequences, appropriate drama, and even unanticipated predicaments (such as electrified fences and reckless cars) add to the awe of sustained dino mayhem. Spielberg trademarks, including a distaste for kids and their inclusion in scary situations, comic relief quips from nearly every character, an antagonist human (aren’t the dinosaurs enough?), and John Williams’ stupendous score also make their way into “Jurassic Park,” forever denoting this as one of the most spectacularly entertaining entries in such a visionary director’s unequaled oeuvre.

 

3D Theatrical Re-release (April 5th, 2013, 20th Anniversary):

 

While the 3D upgrade pales in comparison to the sheer wonderment of the film itself – rife with humor, tension, relatable characters, and computer graphics that haven’t been surpassed drastically enough to detract from the dinosaur immersion – this re-release still marks an exciting opportunity to revisit the film on the big screen. “Jurassic Park” has always been a blockbuster that demands viewing on a massive theater screen, with its thundering music and the ear-drum-shattering screeches of prehistoric titans. The 3D unfortunately misses several great opportunities – especially when dinos jump at the screen.

Perhaps the most underwhelming moment comes when the gang of survivors attempts to flee the control room by crawling through the ceiling and is thwarted by a velociraptor. Lex is pinned between the roof and an interior panel and nearly falls to the floor below, knocking down and momentarily stunning the attacking dinosaur. As it recovers, it lunges up at the camera to just miss her leg as she’s hoisted back up to safety. It’s an outstanding scene by itself – but the 3D adds nothing to the scares or the illusion of dimension when the creature snaps at the audience. But again, the movie is so visually phenomenal in the first place, it’s difficult to criticize any occasion to watch Spielberg’s primeval classic – a film that just doesn’t get old no matter how many repeat viewings.

– Mike Massie

  • 10/10