Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chris' #93: Jurassic Park


Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Michael Crichton, David Koepp
Release Date: June 11, 1993

Availability
Streaming on Netflix

First Time
When this was released, I was six. If I had a six-year-old, I don't think I would let him or her watch this one. Because I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, my parents took me to see this in the theater. I want to say that's true - I'm seeing flashes of a theater experience, but I'm not certain.

Why it's on the List
I re-watched Jurassic Park this past week to make a decision: to keep it on my list or to remove it. I've had a strained relationship with this franchise. When Jurassic Park was released in '93, I loved it. I loved it even though I've never really had an affinity for dinosaurs. It seems like a lot of people are obsessed with them, and while I can understand the fascination, I've never been able to share their level of passion. For that reason, the franchise kinda fizzled out for me. I watched The Lost World around the time that it was released, but I don't remember anything about it. I've never seen the third film, and I wasn't a fan of Jurassic World.

I was about to launch into a paragraph about how 1993 was my peak dinosaur phase, but that isn't true - ABC's Dinosaurs premiered in April of '91 and my family and I missed very few episodes of that show. Anyway, I feel that Jurassic Park made the tyrannosaurus rex a cool thing to like - it really put it on the map. By the same token, raptors got a bad rep. I've retained very few facts about dinosaurs, but I do know that, while the movie often refers to raptors as six-foot tall turkeys, raptors were actually the same size as turkeys. Someone made the decision to make them six-feet tall so that they'd be more threatening.

My brothers and I had several toys from this movie. One of my favorites was my Dr. Alan Grant action figure. The fact that I had a toy of Sam Neill will always amuse me. Don't get me wrong, Neill is an amazing actor, but this will probably be the only point in his life where kids think he's cool. I was one of those kids - Dr. Grant rules. He's intelligent, kind yet a bit of an asshole, and has a good sense of humor - what's not to like?

Laura Dern is also great in this, but admittedly, I've never appreciated her nuanced performance until this most recent viewing. She's strong, smart, dorky, and authentic. Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight, Bob Peck, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards are all very good in this and bring something different to the table.

I had forgotten how intense this movie is, and the tension is handled brilliantly. The T-Rex/SUV sequence is phenomenal; when I talked about making the decision to keep this on my list or remove it, that scene was the deciding factor. The ripple effect is iconic, and from that moment until the SUV containing Joe Mazzello is nudged into a tree, the direction and editing are perfect.

The CG has held up pretty well, too - it certainly looks better than Attack of the Clones, which was filmed almost a decade later.

So with all of these positive things to say about Jurassic Park, why was I considering its removal? When I re-watched this, it was the first time I'd seen it since the mid-90s. This was not a movie that I've felt the need to revisit, but I'm glad I did. 93 is a good spot for it.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is the first of three Spielberg movies on my list (counting the films he's directed).
  • Jeff Goldblum will appear on my list two more times and Laura Dern will make one more appearance.

4 comments:

  1. Saw this when I was 10 in theaters. Snuck into Cliffhanger after.

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  2. The CGI and animatronics in this look better than 95% of the shit that's come out since '93.

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  3. I had read the Crichton novel and was super excited about this one when it came out. I remember overall enjoying it, but being stupidly disappointed that it wasn't as good as the book.

    Like Jeff, I've always been impressed by the fx.

    I've tried watching this twice in the last week and fell asleep to it twice. So it goes.

    Jeff Goldblum on your list three times? Chaos theory in action!

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