In 1973, author/screenwriter Michael Crichton’s film ”Westworld” opened in cinemas about a theme park when guests enter the area, they participate in a variety of activities to be a hero or villain. Things go awry when one of the robots (played by Yul Brynner) wrecks havoc leaving the guests fleeing in panic. The film went on to become an HBO series developed by Christopher Nolan’s younger brother Jonathan & Lisa Joy. Wanna know how Jurassic Park was conceived in the first place from the same guy who created ER responsible for catapulting George Clooney as an A-Lister?
Inspired by his film, Michael decided to craft screenplay called, “Jurassic Park.” He recycled the basic premise of Westworld swapping robotic cowboys as dinaosuars genetically engineered from actual dinosaur DNA. To avoid ripping off Westworld, he rearranged plot elements by heavily focusing on human scientists rather than a mass murdering robot. Michael changed his mind to turn the script into a novel. Before the novel was published, Steven Spielberg was good friends with Michael they first began collaborating on a script about a hospital which eventually became ER. Steven became fascinated with Jurassic Park’s concept of genetic engineering and his love of monster movies. This encouraged Michael to persuade Steven to make a film about it. He replied back saying “yes” because he wants to make film as a throwback to classic monster movies he grew up watching such as King Kong & Godzilla set in modern times.
Development began in 1990 around the same the novel was published. James Cameron nearly bought the films rights, until Steven Spielberg outbit him. During a three year gap of production, computer animation was created by George Lucas’ special effects company, “Industrial Light & Magic” (ILM for short) after viewing T-1000’s liquid form in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, they’ve decided to give technology a push to make the impossible possible. Steven had a busy schedule working between Jurassic Park & Schindler’s List.
The High Concept is basically described as, “What if we used innovative technology to resurrect dinosaurs to life and use our inventions to open a park similar to Disneyland?”
After a three year gap of production, Jurassic Park was distributed nationwide.
Jurassic Park opened nationwide in June 1993. (one month before I was born) The film earned critical acclaim among critics and movie goers alike as well as breaking box office records at the time earning $914 million. When it was re-released 20 Years Later, movie goers went to the movies to relive the experience in 3-D, (a trend of re-releasing films since Titanic) the film made additional revenue earning $100 million, combine $914 million and $100 million, resulting in a whopping total of over $1 billion. When Jurassic Park first aired on television, it became the highest theatrical broadcast in history airing many times on TNT.
The film spawned sequels including Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Jurassic Park III, Jurassic World & the most recent entry, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
I’ve decided to look back at Jurassic Park before I plan on seeing Fallen Kingdom to refresh my memory starting with the one that started it all in terms of innovating visual effects that forever changed cinema.
Today’s review doesn’t have any SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the entire movie, feel free to read the whole thing.
Gigantic & Tiny Elements
Gigantic: Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson & Wayne Knight all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Steven Spielberg did an amazing job directing and producing.
Screenwriter David Koepp (Sam’s Raimi’s Spider-Man, Mission Impossible, War Of The Worlds 2005) & Michael Crichton himself wrote the screenplay containing memorable dialogue such as Hammond’s catchphrase, “Spare no expense,” Ian’s obvious quip over a triceratops’ “soil” & Sam Jackson’s “Hold on to your butts!” You can’t forget Ian’s “Chaos Theory.”
Computer Animation at the time was groundbreaking bringing dinosaurs to life and the effects surprisingly still hold up to this day. I’ll give the effect team a tremendous amount of Bonus Ponts for all the hard work they had to endure.
Besides C.G.I. Stan Winston, (Terminator, Edward Scissorhands, Predator, Aliens) “The Leonardo da Vinci Of Special Effects,” was in charge of Practical Effects consisting of Animatronics, were also used to bring dinosaurs to life. I’m glad he didn’t go overboard on C.G.I. Sometimes you gotta go with old school tricks if you want to let your audience immerse the magic.
My favorite animatronic was a sick triceratops. I can imagine feeling sad for Cera from The Land Before Time.
John Williams provided the musical score, you know the familiar instrumental theme that we all constantly hum or whistle.
Cinematography looked decent without suffering from any technical issues.
Opening Scene sets up the tone for the movie. I finally got a glimpse of a dinosaur, indicating that you won’t get easily bored.
As the film progresses, you actually feel like he characters trying to evade deadly dinosaurs.
My favorite line in the first film is when Ian Malcolm said “Faster must go faster!” Jeff Goldblum also used that line in Independence Day. My other favorite line involves “one big pile of you know what.”
Dennis Nedry’s surname is an anagram for “nerdy.” Obviously meaningful if you ask me.
There’s no romance to shove down your throat. Alan & Ellie’s chemistry felt subtle, there are hints that they are an official couple. That’s right folks, we’re ditching a love story to focus mainly on how dinosaurs were genetically engineered while going on a fun ride as a group.
Nobody in Jurassic Park was annoying like Tea Leoni’s character Amanda Kirby in Jurassic Park III or the oblivious kids from Jurassic World.
Tiny: Without giving too much away, Wayne Knight’s character Dennis Nedry, didn’t have an actual motive is never fully explained on why he wants to double crossed Hammond. What was Newman from Seinfeld’s purpose? Was he attempting to replicate a T-Rex as his personal pet so he can command it to eat Jerry, Elaine, George & Kramer?
If you watch the movie at night, Steven’s trademark use of spotlights can hurt your eyes. Think of it as leaving a cave for the first time, then you stumble upon the outdoors seeing a bright flash from the sun. He has an unhealthy obsession with spotlights. Nostalgia Critic mocked Steven’s fetish for spotlights.
The Final Verdict: A-
Jurassic Park is a groundbreaking cinematic achievement for pioneering computer animation. The film encouraged notable filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick to begin pre-production on A.I. Artificial Intelligence, he unexpectedly died leaving Steven to take over directing duties, George Lucas immediately developed the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and his remake of King Kong and last but not least, James Cameron’s Avatar and his sequels he’s currently working on. Don’t forget that many film studios went on to develop their own animated movies by making the impossible possible. One dishonorable mention goes to Roland Emmerich’s American remake of Godzilla.
Despite two gripes listed, I had a fun ride watching this on TV as well as rewatching in 3-D on the silver screen. The first installment is a timeless classic and it will always be the best entry to the film series. Without Jurassic Park, our modern day use of computer animation would’ve never existed in the first place. If you want to refresh your memory before you go see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, I highly recommend the first film. Make sure you watch Jurassic World, because Fallen Kingdom takes place after the events of its predecessor.