Jurassic Park was released twenty two years ago. Does that make you feel old? In that time some of you will have went to high school, university and maybe even had a couple of kids. What I’m getting at is that twenty two years is a long time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Jurassic Park still stands up as a great film but it’s also interesting how well the effects have dated. Yes, some of the CGI looks out-of-date but if you compare the original with any of its sequels, you will see a timeless testament to Stan Winston and his team. Not that Jurassic Park is just about spectacle. There’s so much more depth to this classic film by Steven Spielberg. With the much delayed fourth installment, Jurassic World, due out soon, Moviescramble takes a look back at the film that was 65 million years in the making.
John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has a vision. That vision is to create the most wonderfully fantastic theme park the world has ever seen. He calls on the assistance of noted paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). Unsure as to what it is Hammond is selling, Grant and Sattler are persuaded to accompany him in the hope that they will endorse his park. They are paired with Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferraro), a lawyer, and Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a mathematician and chaotician. Once at the park they are presented with Hammond’s scientific miracle, he has created living dinosaurs. Grant, Sattler and Malcolm are critical of what Hammond has achieved with Gennaro optimistic for monetary reasons. Hammond convinces the four to enjoy the park and arranges a ride for them along with his grandchildren. Unfortunately for them, disgruntled employee Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) sabotages the power resulting in all the safety fences deactivating. Not the best thing to happen when you have a hungry T-Rex on the prowl.
Jurassic Park doesn’t shy away from exhibiting the dinosaurs. Unlike Jaws (Jurassic Park is considered a spiritual sequel) Spielberg doesn’t keep the T-Rex obscured and hidden, he wants to show it off. And rightfully so. The effects looked wonderful back in the day and as previously mentioned, many of them still do. If there’s a reason that the T-Rex looks impressive and imposing it’s because they built a huge scale T-Rex. The same applies to the villains of the film, the Velociraptors. They’re truly frightening as, for the most part, they are physically there for the actors to play off of. The CGI is used sparingly, something modern films could learn form.
Sam Neil’s Grant is the reluctant hero. A good man at heart, he’s consumed by his work and feels he has no time for family, most notably children. Grant slowly warms to the idea as he is forced into a situation where he becomes the kids’ protector. Not that Sattler is the damsel in distress. More often than not, she is at the forefront of a rescue mission as she’s chased by the more carnivorous dinosaurs. Dern exhibits a natural warmth with a tough interior as she battles to get the park back online. Sir Richard Attenborough plays the part with such ease you’d think he was born to play it (after Santa). He is misguided but not insane. He genuinely wants to create something that will bring joy to many. His naivety proves fatal for some but he is not without redemption. For me personally, Goldblum steals the show as he hams it up as the wisecracking Malcolm. Goldblum delivers every line with his trademark humour and intensity as he effortlessly switches between flirting with Sattler to prophesying at the futility of trying to control nature.
Spielberg ramps up the intensity and provides distressing scenes while staying PG. This is a skill he’s mastered as he will leave you frightened and distraught while keeping the censor happy. Despite the remarkable effects, the director demonstrates incredible proficiency by creating one of cinema’s most powerful moments with nothing more than a cup of water and a ripple.
Jurassic Park was a huge hit when it came out and after two decades it continues to impress. The actors give you characters to invest in and the script has enough depth to warrant further discussion. The humour beats hit at the right times as the thrill and awe carry the film with incredible suspense. The emphasis here is on fun, and although the theme park itself turns out to be a nightmare, Jurassic Park continues to be one hell of a ride. They spared no expense.