Summer Movie Showdown: "Jurassic Park" Review
on 2013-05-28 15:00
Summer Movie Showdown: "Jurassic Park" Review
-- Rating: PG-13 (for violence, adult language, frightening images)
Length: 127 minutes
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Dinosaurs were indisputably awe-inspiring creatures. Even their fossils, which adorn natural history museums around the world, can inspire a sense of wonder. With the advent of special-effects technology, a movie about dinosaurs was inevitable, with the film "Jurassic Park" being released in 1993 based on a popular Michael Crichton novel. The film's main premise is a theme park devoted to living dinosaurs, which are resurrected courtesy of cloned DNA from insects trapped in amber.
The film starts with two scenes that show the process. First is a crate being offloaded onto an island in the Caribbean, and then a group of miners digging out amber chunks with perfectly-preserved mosquitoes inside. The film then cuts to Montana where the main characters are on a paleontological dig. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his assistant have unearthed the fossil of a Velociraptor, one of the most dangerous predators to have ever lived. Grant's sponsor, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), shows up at the dig and informs him about the project to create a theme park of living dinosaurs. However, before it can be opened it needs endorsing, and Grant and his assistant are invited to do so along with a chaos theorist, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Hammond's attorney, Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero).
They arrive on Isla Nublar, the location of the park, and begin their tour with the process of creating the dinosaurs. Grant gets to see a Velociraptor hatching from an egg when they visit the egg incubation room, and he wants to find the adults. There is a special containment facility where the adult Raptors are kept, and they are fed by lowering a live steer into the area for the dinosaurs to rip apart. Luckily for the audience, the feeding happens off-screen, and all that's seen is the harness picked clean of all blood and entrails.
Afterward, Grant, his assistant, Malcolm, Gennaro, and Hammond's two grandchildren ride through the park in a guided tour that uses automated vehicles while Hammond and some of his security staff watch from the main computer center of the park. Nedry, an assistant to Hammond, has been working for a rival genetic company named Biosyn all along, and it's his task to steal dinosaur embryos to reverse-engineer them. To do this, he starts shutting down the manual security systems in conjunction with the tropical storm closing in. The only preventative measures taken against the dinosaur escaping are electrified fences. When those go down, the dinosaurs are free to roam the island.
Although Hammond claimed to have "spared no expense," he'd in fact been cutting corners, acting only on his shortsighted vision. For example, he didn't consider the possibility of the dinosaurs breeding or the need to put manual defenses in place. In addition, he had the dinosaurs cloned from the DNA without considering the dangers.
The group spends the rest of the film running from the Velociraptors, the acid-spitting Dilophosaur, and of course, the T. rex. Gennaro gets eaten by the T. rex while sitting on a toilet and Malcolm is injured. The grandchildren are injured by the electric fence when the power comes back on to the point of possible permanent injury.
After a night of evading the various carnivorous dinosaurs, the outside group sees an herbivorous creature, the Brachiosaurus, grazing as they make their way back to the main visitors' center and hide. The Velociraptors are still loose, with two of them managing to trap Grant and company in the atrium. Although the T. rex was the stronger predator, the raptors are considerably more intelligent, using flanking and distraction to corner their prey. However, the T. rex comes in and eats the raptors, allowing the group to escape by helicopter, and Grant declines Hammond's request to endorse the park.
"Jurassic Park," like the novel, serves as a warning against humans tampering with nature. The dinosaurs weren't kept under adequate control, and they weren't suited for the environment in which they lived. Although it's easy to stare in awe at the big dinosaurs from behind the silver screen and consider their existence, it's also important for viewers to recall that they were predators beyond anything humans evolved to deal with.
The characters in the film create opposing viewpoints. Malcolm is the naysayer, whereas Grant has a little more enthusiasm about the dinosaurs-until people start getting ripped apart. The film also serves to stoke children's interest in dinosaurs, and has probably been responsible for the creation of many of today's paleontologists. On its own merits, you'll find plenty of exhilarating and frightening moments that make it a still-beloved science-fiction thriller.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars