Jurassic Park (1993)

reviewed by
Sarah M. Elkins


                                JURASSIC PARK
                       A film review by Sarah M. Elkins
                        Copyright 1993 Sarah M. Elkins

*JURASSIC PARK*: Action-adventure with dinosaurs running amok and people running away from them, with some food for thought as well.

PLOT/KICK-OFF: Various experts are called in to assess safety and other issues of a mysterious theme park located on an island off of Costa Rica. They find out the park's theme is *live* dinosaurs ... then things start to go wrong.

CHARACTERS/ACTING: All the characters were pretty natural in their roles, both their interactions with each other and their reactions to the dinosaur FX. I had no trouble believing Sam Neill as the paleontologist, Laura Dern as the paleobotanist, Richard Attenborough as the island entrepreneur, or Jeff Goldblum as the chaos theoretician/mathematician. I thought Neill, Dern and Goldblum did particularly well when debating the ethical and potentially disastrous impacts of the project; from other actors, their lines might have sounded stagey, glib or pedantic. There were a couple of kids too, used pretty well for the most part.

CINEMATOGRAPHY/FX: One of the early shots of a dinosaur was a little too obviously people against some sort of matte motion effect, but other than that, the look and FX were seamless, superb, and quite believable. Considering the variety of dinos and their different behaviors the movie depicted, this is quite a feat -- we see a lot more than those few effects in the previews. At one point, although this is not a 3-D movie, I really did have the sensation that a dinosaur was leaping directly at *me*--quite a visceral impact. Clearly a movie to see first on the big screen.

SCORE/SOUND: Okay. SKIN/SITUATIONS: None. VIOLENCE/GORE/LANGUAGE: A severed limb here and there, but other than that, not much gore (nowhere near the level of the Alien movies, for example). Actually not much blood at all, but there is quite a bit of violence nonetheless: you do have dinos chomping on each other and people. Stephen Spielberg (the director) has said he won't let his 8-year-old see it for a couple more years.

ANALYSIS: Scary fun. I and others in the audience shrieked and screamed at several points in the movie. None of the movie directly contradicted the dinosaur-related info I've picked up from SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN articles, although it did refer to some points which are still controversial. There was one annoyingly silly product placement, and a shot which was a bit too obviously staged for irony (analogous to the shot of the Terminator mowing down the crowd in the Tech-Noir bar, only not as well done), but otherwise it's a great, gripping ride. I also appreciated the discussions on cloning, biogenetics, and chaos theory between the scientists, though I think some of the explanations were cut short in the interests of pacing. Good ending, especially because the room for the sequel is embedded deeply in the movie and not referred to again.

COMPARISON TO BOOK: ******* Minor SPOILERS ******* The movie is tighter than Michael Crichton's book. I think they did well in combining a few of the characters and paring out extraneous introductory subplots. Hammond is less of a mad fanatic in the movie and more of an enthusiastic idiot. The kids' ages are reversed; the girl is less of a whiner (thank goodness) and has more to do. The boy is more annoying at the beginning. They did change some of the final confrontations between the people and the dinosaurs, and Alan and the kids are never on a raft, and the ending itself is changed a little, somewhat for the better, I think.

- Sarah (elkins.wbst139@xerox.com)

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