Life, Uhh, Finds a Way…
With the dawn of the 90’s, the world began to see lightning fast advances in computer technology. It seemed like every month things became smaller and more efficient. With all the new toys for scientists to wield like their dad’s guns, it seemed like the perfect time to release a movie like Jurassic Park. So three years after the smash hit book was released, again we were taken away on a fantastic voyage to Isla Nublar, albeit this time it was on the silver screen.
Just like the book, the film follows a small group of experts commissioned by the billionaire owner of InGen to give their professional opinions on the park where dinosaurs are kept in zoo like pens for the viewing public. As expected things go awry, and soon the visitors have become survivors, and a thrilling life or death struggle ensues.
One of the greatest things about the book was the sense of awe and beauty captured by Crichton. Especially in the early chapters it all seems like a pleasant dream. Between the tropical setting, and the majestic creatures inhabiting the island, it was hard not to be sucked into the world. Here in this film, Spielberg perfectly captures that awestruck feeling and inserts it into the movie. Nowhere is this more evident than the first time you see an actual dinosaur. As the eighty foot Brachiosaurus lumbers over to a nearby tree, and John Williams’ score crescendos, you might get chills.
And as long as we’re talking about John Williams, this score is another masterpiece from the man who has written as many classics as Beethoven. The Jurassic Park theme is one of the most instantly recognizable tunes on the planet, alongside his Superman, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones themes. The film also brilliantly mixes animatronnics and puppetry with computer graphics to create the most convincing special effects I have ever seen. Even in 2013, you will not find a big budget adventure film that look so damn good. If anything, this film stands as a testament to the power of real special effects, not just CG.
The film stays mostly faithful to the book, which is excellent because the book on it’s own was already a pitch perfect thriller. Crichton, who co wrote the screenplay with David Koepp, perfectly sums up all the important bits of the novel with visual references. All the major events of the novel make an appearance with the most notable being the infamous escape of the Tyrannosaurus. The perfectly placed cast brings heart to the characters of the novel. Richard Attenborough shines as the ambitious John Hammond, who perfectly captures his childlike glee at the park’s successes as well as his temper tantrums when things don’t go his way.
The fantastic Jeff Goldblum brings one of his most famous characters, mathematician Ian Malcom, to the screen with such sharp wit and perfect delivery that his performance is impossible to forget. Alan Grant is played perfectly by Sam Neill, and Laura “Blue Velvet” Dern also brings Paleobotanist Ellie Sattler to life, with her scenes giving the movie a wonderful touch of warmth. Samuel L. Jackson and Bob Peck also deserve mention for their fine portrayals of Ray Arnold, the park engineer, and Robert Muldoon, the park game warden, respectively.
Jurassic Park rightfully has a place in the pantheon of all time greatest adventure movies, right up there with other Spielberg classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws. If you have not seen this movie you are truly missing out on one of the most satisfying summer blockbusters ever made. With a fantastic cast bringing life to Crichton’s already memorable characters, another perfect John Williams score, and special effects that even after twenty years cannot be beat, Jurassic Park is sure to live on in history as a wholly great film.
Also, if you haven’t seen it or just loved it as much as I did, this Friday, April 5th, Jurassic Park will be released again in digital and IMAX 3D formats for about a week. I strongly suggest you see it, or see it again as the case may be. And if you have children take them too. This movie will blow their little minds!