Jurassic Park is the GOAT. Hold on, where is the goat?
Jurassic Park (1993): 10 out of 10: Based on the Michael Crichton novel, Jurassic Park is the story of a theme park/zoo that uses dinosaurs cloned from DNA found in amber as attractions. The parks founder, an amiable Scottish businessman (Richard Attenborough), invites two palaeontologists (Laura Dern and Sam Neill) as well as a chaos theorist (Jeff Goldblum going full Jeff Goldblum) to certify the park as safe. Along for the ride are his two grandchildren, a cowardly lawyer and some red hat personal.
The Good: Pretty much everything. Can I just say pretty much everything? This is Spielberg’s strongest outing since Raiders of the Lost Ark and everyone involved in the film is firing on all cylinders.
Highlights include the set design that really makes it look like a real working theme park down to the gift shop. The acting is solid and above average across the board. The script by Michael Crichton and David Koepp is brilliant in making excellent changes in characterization from the novel. (Having Hammond more of a Walt Disney like grandfather, the lawyer a cowardly, bad guy and ageing up the female grandchild and giving her agency to fight the dinosaurs.)
Other script changes such as condensing the science backstory to an easy to understand animated educational film. Emphasizing character arcs that are not plot driven (Jeff Goldblum’s character openly flirting with another’s girlfriend, Sam Neill’s character’s open hostility and cruelty to children). The script also nails the action sequences, creating some of the best suspense scenes in a very long time.
One of the goals of movies, particularly in this genre, is world building and Jurassic Park has one is one of the greatest world building accomplishments in the history of film.
The Bad: Well, for one thing, I keep spelling Jurassic with two “r”s and one “s”. Outside of that, there is nothing bad about Jurassic Park. If you are a nitpicker, you might think that Laura Dern is saddled with the weakest written character and the worst performance. I am not the biggest Laura Dern fan, so I will allow it. But it is hardly a negative and again with the way her character is written, I am not sure that is her fault. She has to compete with not just stronger characterizations from her fellow actors but also all those glorious dinosaurs.
The sick triceratops scene does its plot task of splitting up the group but otherwise goes on a little too long and adds nothing else to the movie.
I am also constantly misspelling palaeontologist and the spellchecker seems confused.
The Ugly: Saying I am not a racist is a sure sign someone is a racist. But what if you do something that seems… well, a little racist, but you are not doing it on purpose? Okay, confession time. Every time I see this movie I remember Wayne Knight (Best superhero name ever and Seinfeld’s Newman) is in the film. Okay, so far, so not racist. But every time I see Jurassic Park, I forget Samuel L. Jackson is in the film. Not just is he in the film, he is one of the best parts. I would love to give an explanation other than racism… but clearly my memory recall is racist.
Also, under ugly, are young people who do YouTube videos with the title Is Jurassic Park a Horror Movie? Um, people get bitten in half, arms come off, and the children star in a scene out of Aliens so yes, it is a horror movie. Fun story Jaws is also a horror movie in case you didn’t notice. I understand the premise, mind you. There are films like Gremlins and Mrs. Doubtfire that are clearly horror movies upon reflection but may not seem so at first glance. Jurassic Park opens up with a guy being viciously attacked and eaten by a velociraptor. It is not hiding its stripes.
In Conclusion: I have managed to go the entire review without mentioning the sequels. I am under court order not to start a rant about movie sequels or start an endless list of movies with horrible sequels. I will state that unlike the next movie in my review queue (The Matrix) the sequels do not diminish the quality or experience of viewing Jurassic Park (Not that Jurassic Park III doesn’t give it the good old college try. Really, Sam Neill chatting with a velociraptor on an airplane?)
If you have never seen the original masterpiece or it has been a while, check out Jurassic Park. And make sure to read my screenshots below where I highlight the hidden forbidden romance between Sam Neill’s and Ariana Richards’ characters. Now if you excuse me I have to go correct the spelling of Jurassic about forty times.