Wednesday, August 3, 2011

860. Jurassic Park (1993)

Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton, David Koepp, from novel by Michael Crichton
Main Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards


Finally a working copy of "Jurassic Park" arrives from Netflix and I got the opportunity, last night, to settle down and give it a look. It's a film that I hadn't seen in it's entirety since it was released on VHS back in the day and it somewhat holds up and for the most part, serves it's purpose.

John Hammond (Attenborough) has just opened Jurassic Park, a theme park filled with real dinosaurs that were re-created from DNA, extracted from mosquitoes that were preserved and fossilized in amber. When a worker at Jurassic Park is killed while unloading one of the new creatures, the financial investors of the park get wary of the entire idea. Hammond proposes that he fly in a few scientists to give the park their seal of approval and get the ball rolling on opening Jurassic Park. Enter Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Dern), a paleontologist and paleobotanist respectively. Hammond flies to Montana where the two are digging and offers to fund their dig for the next three years, if they'll accompany him to Jurassic Park for a few days. They agree and are joined by mathematician Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), who dresses like a rock star, but talks like...Jeff Goldblum. The group arrive in Jurassic Park, but couldn't have picked a worse weekend. One of the chief technicians of the park, Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), has picked this weekend to scam the park out of their embryo samples and sell them to a corporate rival. In doing so, Nedry shuts down the entire park (including the electrified fencing that keeps the dino's from running wild) so that he can get what he need, unnoticed. Soon the dinosaurs are running rampant over the park and the scientists, along with Hammond's own grandchildren, must outrun, outwit and outlast the prehistoric beasts.

This shouldn't take long. "Jurassic Park" is neither very good, nor very bad. And actually, it's intent is served, so I guess 'ol Stevie accomplished his mission here. There's no denying that "Jurassic Park" has to be considered at least a little bit fun, if not a whole lot of fun. I had fun watching CGI dinosaurs running wild and they actually looked really good to boot. But unlike his first feature "Jaws", which provided fun and quality, I'd argue that "Jurassic Park" isn't all that quality of film. The actors are hit and miss with me, with Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough rising head and shoulders above their co-stars and Sam Neill and the kids just irritating the crap out of me. When you get down to the bare facts of it though, it's the special effects that are the real stars of this movie, as without dinosaurs you got nothing and that was really the whole appeal of the film from the get-go. There's really nothing else here going on, that doesn't have to do with the dinosaurs, and even before they show up, it's just a wait to get to the meat of the movie. In fact, when I was watching this last night I noticed how relatively quickly the dino's show up and realized that it must have been because the film maker's knew that everyone would just be chomping at the bit to see them anyway.

Another gripe is the fact that the script was far too detailed. Did we really need the Wayne Knight character scheming to steal the embryos? Couldn't we have just blamed the power failure on the storm and/or "Hey, it's a new theme park, we haven't worked out all the kinks yet". Did Sam Neill really have to be forced to learn a life lessons about the joy's of children all in the midst of fighting off a Tyrannosaurus Rex? To me, this is the type of film where less is more. The less riff raff you make me wade through to get to the meat and potatoes/the main attraction, the better. Don't make me follow hollow characters on life lessons and hear about intricate deception plots. It's a film about the cloning of dinosaurs, how they get loose from their cages and the characters that are forced to survive. That's it.

EDIT: I almost forgot. I also wanted to just briefly mention John Williams' score and say how much I loved it. I'm not the biggest advocate of big budget blockbusters, but when I see one, this is the type of score you want. The "Jurassic Park" score is fantastic and really oozes Hollywood and gets you pumped up for a big adventure story.

RATING: 6.5/10 I'm going to try my best to get "Saving Private Ryan" watched today (in it's entirety) and so "Spielberg Week" should be finished tomorrow.


August 3, 2011 4:31pm

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