Jurassic Park (1993) Review

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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

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:

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:

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

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.

Screenshots

Shades of the opening for Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I have rarely seen a character that screams it is the early nineties, louder than the guy with sunglasses and ascot there.
What the hell are Sam Neill and Laura Dern doing with a “Space Aliens Stole my Face” newspaper clipping on thier fridge.
Is the lady sitting to the left of Wayne Knight the same lady painted on the mural? The conspiracy goes deep people.
You know, I have never thought of matching my belt to my shirt. This opens up a whole new world of wardrobe opportunities.
Spielberg used the animated video to turn pages of scientific explanation in Crichton’s book to an easy to understand and digest story for the audience. Bravo.
The voice over work in the animated short is by Greg Burson, who took over for Mel Blanc for Warner Brothers doing everything from Yogi Bear to Bugs Bunny. His career was hampered by acute alcoholism. He was arrested by detectives in May of 2004 after barricading himself inside his Los Angeles home for six hours before surrendering. Initial reports claim that a SWAT team had responded to a call from two of his female roommates that he was inebriated, armed and holding a third female roommate hostage. It was reported that he had been depressed over losing voiceover work. I have no idea what prompts me to include this information in a Jurassic Park review, mind you. I just find it fascinating. Like Leaving Las Vegas meets Falling Down meets Three’s Company.
Ahh, it is a baby Xenomorph.
Longtime readers know I have a soft spot for in universe computer displays. Jurassic Park does not disappoint.
Peak Samuel L. Jackson is reached often in this film. The man simply can act with just a look.
When I was a manager at (Name Redacted) we had a fat IT guy with a desk like that. He was actually in charge of all our IT. He had his own parking space and his car was a Volvo station wagon filled to the brim with fast food wrappers and empty coke cans like some sort of Hoarders road show. He was eventually fired for getting caught masturbating at his desk. I mean dick out, porn on screen, going full speed ahead.
I used to think that a theme park of this type would have to use some sort of tram, but Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris use the same kind of setup with a longer (and more open) vehicle. No tyrannosaurus rex,
but those rhinos and crocodiles will do you in if you leave the vehicle.
Jurassic Park has better CGI than movies that came out many years later and is correctly praised. However, it is the combination of CGI and practical effects that make the whole shebang work as well as it does.
King Kong gates in Jurassic Park. I approve.
That is one impressive T-Rex.
The later Jurassic Park films never quite reach the level of this scene.
Ariana Richards screams in horror as Sam Neill cops a feel.
Sam silences Ariana lest the others find out what he tried.
Ariana reacts in horror as Sam explains his love for her. Will she fall for his lies?
Sadly, Ariana eventually succumbs to Sam’s charms to help protect her brother and from the shared trauma.
Everyone talks about the flirting between Laura Dern’s character and Jeff Goldblum. But there is little mention of the relationship between Sam Neill and Ariana Richards. (Okay, I will stop this silliness now. Hey you want to feel old. Ariana Richards is now in her forties. You’re welcome.)
Ahh it is dinosaur so ugly, he is cute.
This is nightmare fuel on so many levels.
Best Visual Gag Ever
This is the detail that turns it up to eleven. I am sure there is one of those machines that turns a penny into a dinosaur coin somewhere in these shots.
Sam Neill hates the children in this film. Seriously, after all they have been through, he still is trolling the poor tots. Spielberg isn’t that much of a fan of kids either as he electrocutes the boy on the same fence later in the scene.
UNIX FSN never really caught on after this film.
Bob Peck competes with Samuel L. Jackson for the most badass character in the film. I am considering it a tie.
Vegetarian Ariana Richards finds out what Jello is made of.
Another great visual gag in movie filled with them.
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