Unless you've been living under a stone for the last ten years, this movie will need no introduction. A benchmark movie not only for it's content but a host of other reasons, Jurassic Park is the perhaps the first movie that I associate with the term "summer blockbuster". On it's release in the UK, it marked a shift in BBFC policy (the word backhander should be in there somewhere, I'm sure) as it was the first film to ever be released with a "PG" certificate followed by a specific warning that the film wasn't really a "PG" at all. Maybe it was a marketing ploy, but at the time Jurassic Park was considered to be almost too scary/gory for a PG certificate.
Jurassic Park will also long be remembered as the first theatrical release to ever feature a DTS soundtrack. Yes, we have Steven Spielberg's movie to blame for that eternal discussion between AV enthusiasts which will, without a doubt, raise it's head and show it's colours in this review: DTS or Dolby Digital.... which is better?
And, of course, the film will be remembered for the dinosaurs (but more on that later). So, after all that...is the film any good?
Jurassic Park tells the story of a screwball scientist's dream made real, of an island brought to life by the wonders of modern DNA technology, and inhabited by dinosaurs from a bygone age. Professor John Hamilton (Richard Attenborough) envisions a giant, life-sized theme park where people from all over the world can come and admire these ancient wonders, but - and isn't there always a but? - of course the beauracrats and lawyers are getting in the way....
Enter Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his girlfriend Dr Ellie Sadler (Laura Dern), dinosaur archaeologists who Hammond convinces to come and view his prehistoric playground, the agenda being that once they've seen the place they'll give the park their seal of approval. Along for the ride also are Tim and Lex, Hammond's teenage grandchildren. Add into the mix a mathematician - Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a money-grabbing lawyer, an experienced gamekeeper and the geeky systems nerd with financial problems, and we have the proverbial collection of walking dinosaur fodder...
So we have our theme park. We have our guests. We have our dinosaurs. Something's got to go wrong...
...and of course it does. Spectacularly. As the visitors go on their first automated tour of the park all hell breaks loose as Jurassic Park shuts down and the dinosaurs go on the rampage. There's lots of screaming, lots of stomping, and lots of very very sharp teeth.
Jurassic Park is a fantastic gem of a movie. The premise is very simple - prehistoric theme park gone mad/man losing control of a situation due to needless meddling - and as such it works well. The characters and script are first rate: Sam Neill is excellent as the archaeologist who loves dinosaurs but hates children (but obviously comes to like children before the end credits roll), Laura Dern convincing as the independent and beautiful girlfriend, and Goldblum superb as the odd-ball chaos theorist who sees disaster a mile off. Attenborough too, puts in a great turn as the eccentric rich scientist trying to fulfil his childhood dreams. All good performances, but it's the dinosaurs that steal the show.
The CGI is 10 years old but still stands up to critical viewing even today, which is no mean feat considering the technological leaps that keep being made. Stan Winston's dinosaurs are brought to life with wonderful authenticity, and the combination of puppetry and CGI is fused perfectly with the live action. With the T-Rex being THE dinosaur of the movie, it is the centre of many of the movies memorable set pieces.
If you've never seen Jurassic Park before, then go see it now. If you have, then it might be worth giving this movie another look. It's loud, it's brash, it's very simple. And great fun to boot.
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