Monday, May 8, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #30: "Jurassic Park" (1993)

Movie Stats:
Released 1993 (USA)
American, in English (minimal non-translated Spanish)
Director - Stephen Spielberg
Stars - Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, and many others

Plot Summary:
When wealthy entrepreneur John Hammond (Attenborough) invites three scientists - paleontologists Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern) & mathematician Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) - on a private tour of his new dinosaur theme park, disaster occurs.

Violence; gore; blue language.

Bad Stuff:
I know it’s kind of the point of the film, that the people behind Jurassic Park were arrogant & didn’t treat nature with respect, but there are just a few too many things where you’re like, “Really? You didn’t think that through?” For example, [SPOILERS] Leaving computer security all in the hands of one man & not knowing any of his passwords or anything. Bringing your grandkids to the park after a man has just been killed there. Having a reboot of your computer system be dependent on shutting down the whole entire park, including the fences that guard the most dangerous animals. Apparently not having a back-up generator for your electricity when you live in an area that has tropical storms. [SPOILERS] I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Never have I made this kind of complaint about a film before: there’s an odd focus on butts. Particularly toward the beginning of the film, many of the camera angles make it so that you’re looking directly at someone’s (clothed) butt for the duration of the scene. I never noticed it before, but once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop seeing it. The fourth or fifth time, I was like, “Why am I looking at someone’s butt again?” It’s weird.

There’s not as much cutesy kid stuff as there is in most Spielberg films, but what there is feels out of place in context.

Good Stuff:
I do love a good John Williams soundtrack.

All of the acting is excellent. I can’t think of anyone who’s weak. Even the secondary characters are great, especially Bob Peck as intense big game hunter Muldoon and Samuel L. Jackson as mumbling, chain-smoking security guy Mr. Arnold. But I’m going to give my biggest props to the child actors who play Hammond’s grandkids, Ariana Richards as Lex and Joseph Mazzello as Tim. I remember the first time I saw this, the scene where [SPOILER] the T-Rex is attacking the kids in the Jeep [SPOILER], their terrified screams and faces gave me chills. I still think their performances are very impressive.

More than 20 years on, it still looks really good. Man, I miss practical effects.

Yay, a strong female character who has a story arc beyond "love interest" & who's integral to the survival of our heroes!

The Verdict:
This film was RED HOT when it came out. One of the big blockbuster hits of my youth. I was with the crowds, watching it in the theater and I loved it. I’ve seen it numerous times since then. I always find it immensely entertaining. I wouldn’t say that it’s a smart film, not in the way that Gattaca or Galaxy Quest or The Prestige is, but it’s scary and fun and satisfying. Now that I’m older and I’ve seen it enough times to nitpick it, I can certainly find problems, but they aren’t problems that I care all that much about. I’m willing to turn my brain off for this movie and simply have a good time. If you’re an adult who’s never seen it, I’m frankly shocked. You should rectify that.

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

Guess what started playing in my head the minute I read the title? Did you guess the John Williams theme? You are correct! It's such a good theme.

I saw this at the Egyptian Theater (the big theater in Boise) with my friend Eric during the summer before I left for college. We must have seen it early in the summer because he always went to Montana for the summers. I loved it. He loved it. It was big and huge and the effects were amazing!

Have I seen it since then? Maybe once? I liked it then, too.

balyien said...

I saw it with my first boyfriend. :)

Talking about this film (9 or 10 years after the fact) was one of my first experiences with "getting older," when someone in the group having the discussion said something about being so scared when she saw it in theater that she had to sit in her dad's lap. We were like, "Wait, how old were you?" She was 8 when it came out. I was just shy of 18. We had no idea she was that much younger than us (she was a new friend at the time) so it was pretty jarring.