Director: Stephen Spielberg
Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Peck, Wayne Knight, Martin Ferrero, Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Attenborough
Plot: John Hammond (Attenborough) has dreams of opening up a dinosaur theme park, inviting several experts in the field to give it their approval and permission. Things don’t go smoothly, to say the least…
There is something magical about Jurassic Park. Sometimes, older classics suffer through time. The appeal of a new Star Wars trilogy comes from the fact that some of the effects in the older movies need updating to restore the spectacle. However, Jurassic Park beats all the odds. The dinosaur models look just as impressive as they did on the opening night. Nothing looks dated. Jurassic Park is essentially the very definition of timeless cinema.
Of course, it has a ‘not-so-secret’ weapon: dinosaurs. I have never understood why there aren’t more films about dinosaurs, because they are the core ingredient in a kids’ dream movie. Even the lacklustre sequels aren’t truly terrible, because there are dinosaurs in it. I had a massive fascination with dinosaurs as a child and I know that I am far from the only kid that had this obsession with the prehistoric creatures. Seeing this awe-inspiring dinosaurs on the big screen is a dream come true. And they are definitely the stars of the show. I could talk about Sam Neill’s restrained yet elegant performance as the protagonist (thankfully, they didn’t try and go further down the action hero route), or Jeff Goldblum’s impossible-to-hate depiction of Ian Malcolm, but they are pretty much shoved to the side by the model dinosaurs. Everything is forgotten as soon as the Tyrannosaurus Rex strides onto the big screen. Spielberg truly is a master of suspense, dropping all of the clues and foreshadowing. Everyone knows that the big T. Rex is going to be making an appearance sooner or later, building up this amazing climax. And when the star of the show eventually makes his big screen debut, no one is disappointed. The animatronic model of the Tyrannosaurus, and every dinosaur featured, is faultless. Superb work from Stan Winston, the creator of these models.
However, while the Tyrannosaurus was the most famous dinosaur around, it is harder to realise the risk taken with the true villains of the show, the Velociraptors. Raptors were a pretty unheard of dinosaur, everyone much more focused on the bigger beasts, like the Stegosaurus and Diplodocus. However, Spielberg must have heard of these particular dinosaurs and realised that they were the perfect antagonists for the movie. They are strangely elegant and have an eerie intelligence, lacking from the Tyrannosaurus. Watching them on-screen never becomes boring and while the characters always have a chance at escaping the T. Rex, when the Raptors turn their attention to you, we totally expect someone to get gruesomely killed. The best scene in the entire franchise so far is easily the iconic kitchen scene, where the two raptors stalk the child actors. Our heart is constantly in our mouths and this one scene rivals the entirety of Jaws for Spielberg’s most suspenseful cinematic moment.
The strange thing about Jurassic Park for me is the rating. Take World War Z, a zombie blockbuster released in 2013 that was largely criticised for being too family-friendly, lacking in any gore at all. However, then we take Jurassic Park and call it one of the best classics of all time, despite the fact that it is a PG rating. Spielberg has all of the trademarks of a horror movie, yet he sidesteps the gore-porn side of things that anyone making a dino-feature these days would be unable to resist. He doesn’t even avoid the body count. Characters die left right and centre, yet it never seems appalling to the eye. Sometimes, it is the clever ‘cut away’ trick. When a Raptor pounces and takes someone out of the shot, our imaginations are left to come up with how the character met his bloody end. Sometimes a character doesn’t even die on-screen, but we catch up with their dismembered hand much later in the story. Spielberg knows that this is a film that the kids will love and treat like a classic, so he skips all of the horror movie features that will get this an R-rating. It is a lesson more directors should be picking up on, in my books.
Final Verdict: Just as impressive as its first showing, Jurassic Park remains the best monster movie of all time.