I have a quick question for you…If the chance were available, would you venture to a theme park that was filled with dinosaurs? I would guess that the obvious answer to most people would be yes, but not for me. Dinosaurs were animals much like the rest of the animals out in the wild, even your cats, dogs, hamsters and so forth. They may be awesome to look at and take pictures of, but when you get down to the basics, they are just an animal trying to survive the world they are living in. Jurassic Park is one of many Steven Spielberg’s most recognized films and we celebrate its 25th anniversary of when we, the audience, were able to see the most accurate depiction of dinosaurs on the big screen. It’s his most successful film of his career and the sequels have fared well themselves, although they will never capture the amazement of the original. With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom just around the corner, let’s explore a time when a unique species was brought to life after being wiped out by an asteroid sixty-five million years ago.
First of all, if you haven’t read the novels that were written by the late Michael Crichton, you need to find a copy and call in sick from work. They are amazing and given the time that they were created, the level of creativity is astounding. One thing that is important to know is that the books and the novels are vastly different. The movie itself only covers about twenty percent of what’s in the book, plus the violence is quite extreme. The film would’ve no doubt received an R-rating or possibly an X-rating if it followed the book exactly. I suppose that’s why it was rated PG-13 and was marketed to get kids interested in dinosaurs despite the fact that the film is far too extreme for young children, especially under ten years old.
Dinosaurs are something that kids enjoy learning about…why? Dinosaurs are unlike anything that has walked on Planet Earth, plus the fact that they’ve been gone for so long and we only have fossils to look at makes us wonder about them even more. Going to a museum and seeing the amazing replicas of the dinosaurs will impress anybody at any age. Jurassic Park is a movie that brings the dinosaurs back to life and with its amazing detail, they still impress after all these years even though the technology has vastly improved; Jurassic Park hasn’t aged at all.
With E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spielberg created this amazing sense of wonder. A sight to gaze upon and once you left the theater, it was something you wouldn’t forget. Jurassic Park does this for some time, but when you think about it, the movie is really a giant chase between humans and monsters. Now, I’m not saying that the dinosaurs are monsters but they hunt, kill and eat – the essentials of survival. We see the dinosaurs and are blown away by not just how they look, but how real it all feels. Then after some point, the dinosaur breaks free and causes havoc and sheer chaos. You know the one I’m talking about! It almost seems like a missed opportunity for Spielberg to make us feel like a kid again when Jurassic Park resorts to scary moments involving children and the sense of wonder fades rather quickly once the park shuts down, allowing our friends to wander freely.
I don’t want to delve into the plot that much here but I do want to focus some attention on the characters in the story. Paleontologists study life that occurred prior to the Holocene Epoch, a time prior to human existence and civilization as we know it. Essentially this period began 0.0012 million years ago. They uncover bones, fossils and study how life would’ve appeared during that time. Imagine studying something for years, making this your life’s work and then being able to discover that what you’re studying could in fact be brought to life. For me, this would be the discovery of life independent of Earth. It would be the greatest discovery in human history.
Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) soon discover that dinosaurs can be brought back to life in the present day. They are brought to Isla Nublar, an island off the coast of Costa Rica, by John Hammond (the late Richard Attenborough), a wealthy industrialist who wants to open a theme park where everyone can step back in time to see something truly amazing. It’s here where we see the dinosaurs for the first time and it’s truly groundbreaking to say the least.
All the work that went into making the dinosaurs through the use of animatronics and computer-generated imagery works impressively. We aren’t watching a movie, we are on the island ourselves. The paleontologists are brought there to over-see the project and approve of the park, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The island is vast, is filled with life and offers an opportunity to see something we only would dream of. The dinosaurs roam free and the history of how they were able to be brought back is fascinating to watch. The idea of it all is truly unique. After a quick tour, the group is brought back to discuss the opinions of the experts. One of the best characters in the movie is Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a mathematician who specializes in “Chaos Theory”. Basically, if something bad can happen, it will. The island itself can’t house these dinosaurs forever, because “life finds a way.”
The discussion scene in the movie is one of the best scenes in the film as these experts all agree that while the idea is unique, they’re dealing with something that wasn’t meant to be caged forever. Dinosaurs are animals and can adapt to life and their surroundings. Throw in the mix when Hammond brings his grandchildren to visit the park. We have Lex and Tim (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello, respectively) both of whom are young and at great risk to be there. As you are well aware, chaos happens. People are killed, the children are in danger and the whole island is in a state of emergency when a storm kills all the power. The cages open and the dinosaurs have their freedom. They’ve never experienced humans before and being brought back to life in an unknown world is a curious thing for them, and that curiosity puts people in grave risk.
Now, I don’t want to think that I don’t like Jurassic Park, I really do. I just look at the big picture and ask questions that most of my friends wouldn’t think to ask. Jurassic Park is a perfect summer movie but I do believe that it isn’t for kids. When I was a kid and walking around museums, I was amazed look at the dinosaur exhibit but as I got older I realized that dinosaurs are animals and nature has a way of handling life on its own. Nature isn’t peaceful. Nature is brutal. Things are born, things die, and nature is unforgiving. This is something I didn’t know when I was younger.
Steven Spielberg’s direction is outstanding here, from the deeply involving talking scenes filled with drama to the action set pieces, and even the comedy, Jurassic Park is handled very well. It was the highest-grossing film of 1993 and remained the highest-grossing film of all time until Titanic swopped that title in 1997. In fact, James Cameron wanted to make Jurassic Park but lost out on the bid by a mere couple of hours. The cast he had in mind would’ve been quite different. When someone watches Jurassic Park, I often ask people to sum it up in a sentence and almost every person I talk to always says the same thing, “It’s a great summer movie. Great action and awesome characters. Those dinosaurs look amazing!” Yes, they are right, but I’ve never heard the words, “scary, terrifying and not for children.” These are my words. Jurassic Park is awesome, but one must caution their children and parents as well, who should respect and understand the ratings.
Over the years, Jurassic Park has made its mark in just about everything. From toys, lunch boxes, clothing, accessories and sequels that are entertaining but don’t encompass the sheer wow factor from the first film. Jurassic World was one film that I was very nervous about but walked out of the theater smiling ear to ear. It was a lot of fun and I’m still nervous about Fallen Kingdom, but I sincerely hope that it’s just as good, if not better. Spielberg is a great director, a wise storyteller and captures things that the child in us always dreams about. My suggestion is that children should watch Jurassic Park when they are teenagers, I can just imagine little ones having nightmares upon a first viewing.
It’s here that we honor a movie that was groundbreaking for its use of CGI and animatronics and even though the film is twenty-five years old, the effects will always hold up and will still amaze movie-watchers for years, no matter the improvements that have been made. Jurassic Park is a movie that anyone would see if it hit the big screen again and seeing that Jurassic World grossed over $1 billion when it was released, shows that people are interested in dinosaurs and the story that Michael Crichton left behind for us to enjoy. I’m a fan of the sequels, yes some of them are goofy, but are entertaining nevertheless. There’s only two things that I ask for the future installments.
- Remain true to a good story and never rush something. Take your time and do right by the fans that love your work, me being one of them. Always surprise us and please don’t settle for CGI overload. Bring about a sense of wonder that the original made us feel.
- Can we please have a cameo appearance of Dr. Alan Grant, Dr. Ellie Sattler as well as Lex and Tim? I miss them from the first one even though Grant and Sattler appeared in Jurassic Park III. I think fans of the original would enjoy this and I can’t wait to see Dr. Malcolm in Fallen Kingdom.
A special thanks to Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton and everyone involved in the making of Jurassic Park. It has shown that people are interested in the field of dinosaurs and recently it was revealed that velociraptors would’ve have feathers, but in all honesty, they look better without them; but, it would be different to see them like that! Jurassic Park has a special place in people’s hearts and just wait until Fallen Kingdom is released – it’s going to be a wild summer! I’ll leave you the unforgettable theme by the amazing John Williams. It’s a piece of music that will stay with you forever, and the memories will never fade.