Tag Archives: Jurassic Park series

Jurassic Park (1993)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Jurassic Park</strong> (1993)

(Second viewing, On DVD, March 2017) If memory serves me right, I saw Jurassic Park on opening night, which happened to be my last day of high school classes. A fitting anecdote for a movie that pretty much redefined the modern blockbuster, with top-notch special effects, near-perfect direction by Steven Spielberg and iconic performances that are still references even today. Revisiting Jurassic Park nearly twenty-five years later is not unpleasant. The movie holds up far better than most of its contemporaries—the blend of practical and digital effects is still largely effective and the pacing of the movie remains exemplary. In-between Sam Neil, Laura Dern, peak-era Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough (not to mention Samuel L. Jackson in a minor role!), the movie benefits from an embarrassment of thespian riches. Still, the star here is Spielberg—Other than Jaws (which I’ll revisit soon) I’m not sure he’s directed a better suspense film than Jurassic Park—the T-Rex sequence is an anthology piece, but the Raptor climax is really good, and there’s something justifiably wondrous about the first glimpse at the dinosaurs (ba-ba-baaa, ba-ba). Ironically, the thing that dates the film most are the glimpses at the computer screens—the CGI itself, save from some imperfect compositing, is still pretty good. It helps a lot that the script is so slick at what it does—from the “Mr. DNA” exposition sequence to the great way in which the script improves upon Michael Crichton’s original novel (which was quite a bit more scattered and needlessly dark), David Koepp’s work on the script remains exemplary. Jurassic Park is the complete package: great lines, great actors, great direction, great scenes, and great special effects. It remains a landmark for a reason, and could be the best movie of 1993 if it wasn’t for that other Spielberg film Schindler’s List. Two near-perfect movie in a single year: peak-Spielberg time.

Jurassic World (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Jurassic World</strong> (2015)

(On Cable TV, April 2016) I wasn’t exactly demanding a Jurassic Park sequel, but there’s still some kick to the idea of humans facing down unnatural predators and considering the progress in special effects technology since the 1993 original, I’d have to be almost willfully incurious not to see Jurassic World. The result is … middling. Nearly twenty-five years of CGI development means that this fourth film is crammed with action, sweeping camera moves and dinosaurs once it’s done teasing audiences during its third act. The climax comes complete with a long thrilling single-shot in which nearly everything gets destroyed around our running, ducking, dodging protagonists. Technically, it’s a super-polished production on par with nearly every big special-effect spectacle we’ve seen recently. Director Colin Tremorrow pole-vaults from indie feature Safety Not Guaranteed to blockbusters with this one, and Chris Pratt solidifies his unlikely rise to superstardom. However, as you may fear, the script (liberally reflecting the original Jurassic Park) is also on par with said special-effects spectacle: It moves the pieces across the board in time for the next action sequence, but it’s pure surface work with little underneath. The structure is intensely familiar, the plot beats are predictable and the overall dramatic arc holds few surprises. (There’s a nice acceleration in pure chaos as the film advances, though, at least until the suddenly more tepid third act.) As a result, Jurassic World feels a lot like its fictional theme park’s namesake: a carefully predetermined ride with obvious commercial sponsors, bereft of heart when going for simple entertainment and far more predictable. At times, the script almost becomes playful, but then retreats in comfortable mediocrity. (There are exceptions, such as an unwarranted lengthy death scene that seems taken from a different film.) Is Jurassic World entertaining? It sure is. Could it have been much better? Almost certainly: It’s light on thematic content (“learn that we’re not in control”) is bluntly stated, and that’s almost it), exceptionally predictable when it comes to drama, and even mentioning its own absurdities (see; high-heels) isn’t enough to make them forgivable. But, as we know and as the characters of the movies know (because a lot of stuff was packed in boxes in anticipation of the sequel), there will be another Jurassic movie, and another, and another…