Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

JURASSIC PARK

Directed by Steven Spielberg (1993, Universal Pictures)
Starring Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Richard Attenborough

A team of scientists get trapped in a dinosaur theme park while evaluating it, and become hunted by the giant beasts.

 

 

4 stars

June 12th, 2015 on DVD for the 7th time  
    I think the visuals are what really make this movie awesome, especially combined with the incredible music. Of the story, the human moments between the kids and Dr. Grant are the best, from him wanting to be in a different car, to his cluelessness about how kids would lie about being okay, and then moving deeper into disaster, his rescue from the tree, the inappropriate joke about being electrocuted, and the tender moment in the tree.  

 

4 stars

January 1st, 2004 on DVD for the 6th time  
    The movie is back to its awesome self, after a hiatus of almost three years (my hiatus, not the movie!)... the dinosaurs are back, and the movie overwhelmed me except for the many plot details that didn't make sense.

The dinosaurs looked great in the digital widescreen of the DVD, which I should have purchased years ago. Once the dinosaurs are out, after the power failures, this becomes a classic Spielberg film, with monsters jumping out everywhere -at some points it reminded me of Jaws! The entire story from the initial trip into the park to the end was great, and showcased a small but detailed number of dinosaur species. Unlike The Lost World, we didn't get to see dozens of species for fractions of a second. Here, we saw half a dozen, and they were all given adequate screen time.

What I don't like about this film is everything regarding Nedry. So many stupid things had to happen for the events of this movie to take place, that any reasonably intelligent person should have seen it coming. Regardless, his death was very satisfying.

Another thing that I dislike when I think of this trilogy is the way all sorts of potential material was wasted in the sequels. There were so many set-ups that received no payoff, so many lost opportunities, including all of those questions that I asked in my first review of the film, below.

Fortunately, that doesn't detract much from this movie. While the acting could have been a little better, the characters actually did get some growth. Malcolm was hilarious; for a person expecting the unexpected, he sure was surprised a lot. I loved his unexplained (in the movie) comment about the Butterfly Effect. Grant's character got the most growth, however, in his appreciation of children. When we first meet him, and before entering the park, he is very uneasy around kids, even to the point of disliking them. But when the T-Rex appears, he manages to comfort them, even though he doesn't know how. I liked his conversation with Malcolm: he didn't even ask if the kids were okay, since there was nothing to be scared about -but kids get scared, because their imaginations go wild. Even I would have started to panic a little- before the T-Rex got loose. By the end of the movie, having spent about a day with the children, he is more likely to want one of his own someday.

Speaking of the T-Rex scene, I am a little confused on the geography of the paddock. When the goat arrived to "lure" the dinosaur out, it seemed to be on the same level as the road and the cars. (Where was the goat while underground -and who got to feed it? Is there a vast underground tunnel system on the island?) When the car was pushed over the edge, of course, there was a mighty drop. Both of these occurred in the one area where the fence was torn.

The movie has more going for it, though, than even just dinosaurs. I absolutely love the music to this film. The grand theme, especially when descending to the helipad, is just awesome! I also like the slower, smaller themes that appear throughout. The scenery is also terrific. In this time of nearly no CGI (other than the dinosaurs of course!), I have to conclude that the waterfall in that descent was real, somewhere in Hawaii! The other scenery was nearly as powerful. Great place for a theme park!

I understand more, now, what was included on the second videotape that I reviewed just below. At the time, I didn't have a DVD player, and didn't understand the power of special features. Of course, aside from the Making of Jurassic Park feature, the others contain almost no material worth watching. The Making of... was quite impressive, a very solid piece of documentary, a prelude to what would later be achieved in similar documentaries for The Phantom Menace and Indiana Jones. The pre-production meetings were mildly interesting, but I love watching Foley artists doing their art! There was a lot of text information, which was common on these early DVDs, and they don't really contain stuff that I would read twice. The trailers were a lot of fun, making even Jurassic Park II look interesting (the one for Jurassic Park III was almost non-existent).

As usual, the movie is the best part of the DVD, the part that I love watching. I am glad that I was able to feel something more while watching it this time, even getting goose-bumps when we were first introduced to the dinosaurs! The widescreen version of the film, combined with a very solid Making of feature, makes the DVD worth owning.

 

 

3+ stars+

April 28th, 2001 on Video for the 5th time  
    The danger of watching even a good movie again so soon (it feels so soon, anyway!) is that it rarely seems as good the second time around. Everything that I found I could tolerate the last time I saw this movie I laughed at this time -in absurdity.

The reason for watching Jurassic Park a second time was the Collector's edition. I can't see why I got this set, though, because the movie didn't change -it wasn't even available on VHS Widescreen. The second video came with a "making of" sequence, which had been seen on TV once before, and a whole bunch of junk seemingly put on the video just to fill up space. This is not worth it. 

The dinosaurs were still awesome, but the human characters and the plot were mere ciphers. I could not stand Nedry for a second, but the others were not usually much better. 

Strangely enough, it was the kids who shone through this time. They were themselves, latching on to the good paleontologist with a grin, even though they end up in different cars at the beginning. 

I still enjoyed the movie, but much less than the last time around. I spent too much time heckling the movie because of the absurd things the characters did and said, instead of sitting in awe of the dinosaurs, as I should have been. Better luck next time.
 

 

4 stars

June 19th, 2000 on Video for the 4th time  
   

This is the classic that introduced us to real-life dinosaurs.  Although it stumbles in a few places, with silly dialog, and stupid actions by many characters, it is still overwhelming in what it sets out to do.  The story is simple, which is good, because the characters can't stand up to the effects, anyway.

This was probably the best way to do the story of the return of dinosaurs to the world.  Open a theme park, with the giant beasts as the main attractions.  Nothing else is needed, except for some danger.  Nothing like the stuff that happened in the sequel, The Lost World, which I will never see again (except possibly to reaffirm how bad it is). 

The opening scene sets the stage quite well.  We don't know what kind of dinosaur is in that cage, but we can immediately tell that it is very dangerous.  Based on what we see in the movie later, it is obviously a velociraptor.  Chilling, especially the first time around.

The next scene establishes Dr. Grant, expert in dinosaurs, as both an expert at what he does, and as an inept when it comes to handling children.  Of course, when he is in the park, he gets attached to the children, grandkids to the park's owner.  He grows, but the actor is still sub-par. 

I thought the plot that gets everything to fail, namely Nedry disabling the electric fences and letting the dinosaurs get out (inadvertently), could have been done much better.  He was stealing embryos, which he could have done at almost any time.  He was well prepared in the computer department, hiding his tracks, but ill-prepared in every other way.  It didn't have to happen that way, either.  But it did get the job done. 

And once the dinosaurs were unleashed, they were awesome.  The brachiosaurs at the beginning looked too much like a matte painting (on video, at least), but the rest of the time, they appeared to be directly in touch with the humans. 

And eating them, of course.  The objections that the scientists made to creating this sort of park were right on the mark.  Somebody must have done some actual research (Michael Crighton, obviously -but they kept it in the movie!).  And their reactions when seeing the dinosaurs for the first time, and all throughout the movie, were priceless.

The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but it also established what it needed to do -get the people off the island and out of the grasp of the dinosaurs.  And without the special enzyme in their system, they will die.  Except perhaps for the ones born in the wild.  I was never clear on the enzyme, though.  Was it supposed to be given to the dinosaurs with their meals?  Did they track down every 'saur and give it a shot?  How did they know that every dinosaur would get its daily quota? 

The movie was great, though far from perfect.  It left way too many questions unanswered.  Such as:

-- What was the triceratops sick from?  Personally, I think she was pregnant.

-- Will the embryos that Nedry stole (and lost when he become dino food) mature, as is implied by the camera zooming in on it?

-- Who was going to look after the hatching embryos when everybody was off the island?  Would the baby raptor get to cozy up against the other eggs until everybody returned?  Or does it get free reign around the lab?

-- How the heck does John Hammond get to see every single birth in the park, if he is off the island so often trying to get support, and placating his financial backers?

-- And how the heck did Dr. Sadler reach that ice cream bin, which was about six or seven feet away in the next shot!!!

There were others, but these stuck in my mind.

 
   

Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.