Director:- Steven Spielberg
With its recent 3D release I thought I’d mark my return to reviewing with a recap of the 90′s belter – Jurassic Park.
Surprised as many may be, before this past week the last time I saw the movie was back in 1993 in theatre at the tender age of 7 years of age. Possibly being the most immersive and awe-inspiring movie experiences in my entire life. The fact I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety for 20 years gave me slight reservations on how the effects, the performances and some of the film’s plot elements would hold up with time. Well, let’s face it – it’s all nonsense really, huh?
—– As the story goes – zillionaire genius, John Hammond, creates an attraction park boasting real-life dinosaurs. Which he has created through the gift of SCIENCE!!!. Inviting archaeologists, Neill and Dern, Jeff Goldblum, plus his two grandchildren to vet the park during a special tour. And all shit breaks loose.
The great thing about Jurassic Park is that it hits the notes so sweetly, it is simply pure unbridled and crazy entertainment from start to end. At a 2 hour running time, the opening half is an oddly well-matched combination of dread and wonder, as we are taken off the Pacific Coast into Costa Rica via air, captivated by the world Hammond has created. While still feeling the uncertainty of just how much a dangerous game he is playing. Spielberg pulls this off with his own unique sensibilities of creating a real experience that’s palpable and emotionally alluring.
The first appearance of a dinosaur in all its glory is one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history – as Sam Neill’s Grant and Laura Dern’s Sattler almost look catatonic as the prehistoric creatures come into view on their arrival at Isla Nublar – with Hammond’s immortal words “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” soon following. It’s something I think most people seeing this film for the first time would relate to. The stunning work on visual and practical effects were and still are breathtaking, further enhanced by high-definition technology used to transfer the film onto blu ray form. There are some sequences that look slightly off-key but it’s nothing prominent or note-worthy.
The only issues I have with Jurassic Park are to do with its characters – A combination of stereotypical khaki wearing buffs, an old man with a God-complex, the ever-warning maths whizz and a whole host of generic cannon fodder park workers.
Grant and Sattler, while appearing well-intended and passionate about Hammond’s miraculous creations, eventually become an almost reluctant childminder and a constantly wailing unnecessary female lead respectively. Grant, being the prominent of the two, is our eyes and ears of the film. But the obvious awkward undertones of his suggested fear of relationships seem to prove he’s not the generic dashing hero that you’d expect. This is further accentuated through his interaction with Lex and Tim, whom incidentally are probably my favourite characters from the entire movie. And are respectfully portrayed by the actors in the film’s more frantically and dramatically terrifying sequences.
Ellie Sattler, on the other hand, is borderline annoying, stupidly self-assured and rather insignificant for the films narrative other than to be the representation of, what I believe to be, Alan Grant’s personal insecurities. If the character was far more of significant value in the Crichton novel – then I guess it’s a faux pas on the part of the screenwriters. I just couldn’t find anything remarkably likeable or screen time worthy about the character.
Goldblum and Attenborough deliver the token gravitas-laden performances with some clunky and groan inducing dialogue, and questionable motivations. That’s both of them, by the way
Spielberg’s direction is spellbinding. With the looming shots of the island filling us with a sense of foreboding and wonder, to the iconic T-Rex attack shots, this is really a movie that he obviously felt close to his heart. So much passion and attention to detail is apparent here, and with a timeless score from John Williams – I was really swept in with a real adventure ‘feel’ – but I honestly found it lacked a little bit in the adventure side as it blossoms into a survival/thriller/monster movie after the first half. Perhaps it would fair better, in this context, by focussing more on the kids as central characters. Deviating away from the frights and scares – opting for a more classic Spielbergian piece. But this just a major nitpick on my part. The creatures look beautiful, the lighting gives the daytime scenes a lush vibrance and tender tone to the more ‘friendlier’ dinosaurs. While the evening sequences, casted over by heavy storms and minimalistic score up the ante in tension and terror as we come to meet the more less favourable inhabitants. Makes for gripping stuff!
So yes, the answer is Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the greatest pieces of modern cinema. It’s issues are more noticeable these days, but it has not lost that wonderful essence that made us fall in love with the film all those years ago.