With Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrerro

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Review by JB

     JURASSIC PARK has a lot to answer for. On the plus side, it was one of the most popular movies of the 1990s and created a general renewed interest in dinosaurs and paleontology that is still evident today to anybody who watches Animal Planet.  It was also a landmark film in the history of special effects.  On the minus side, its innovative use of computer generated imagery to recreate dinosaurs sparked a new fetish in Hollywood, resulting in an ongoing devotion to CGI over any other type of effects, as well as a over-reliance on the technology to the detriment of story, characterization, acting, stunt work and just about everything else that makes up a movie. 

     Today, with so many movies filled with CGI, it is impossible to recreate or even understand the thrill of that moment in 1993 when movie audiences saw, along with the film's characters, what seemed to be a living, breathing Brachiosaurus followed by a herd of the same wading through a lake.  The effects remain stunning today, but we now all live in an age of movies where everything is possible and, conversely, very little is really impressive anymore.  Still, through the use of CGI coupled with animatronics, Steven Spielberg makes us believe that his dinosaurs do exist.  Unlike the original KING KONG, where we know we are watching high quality stop-motion puppetry, JURASSIC PARK rarely makes us think about the special effects.  For the most part, we are thinking "Run!  There's a T-Rex after you!"

     Based solidly on Michael Crichton's novel, JURASSIC PARK is typical of the author's work.  Scientists attempt to do something wonderful, and things fall apart in unexpected ways. JURASSIC PARK is much like Crichton's WESTWORLD, another story about a theme park where the best laid plans of mice and eggheads go horribly awry.  The film version of the novel works as a sci-fi action-adventure flick that charms us with an hour of fun exposition before thrilling us with a second hour of non-stop excitement and danger.  On that level alone, it is one of Spielberg's most entertaining films.  However, the characters are all a bit colorless, and are thankfully played by actors who can bring a lot to parts that are not terribly deep.  Sam Neill relies on his stoicism, Laura Dern on her smile, Jeff Goldblum on his uncanny ability to be annoying.  But gone are the days of Quint the Shark Hunter (JAWS) or Roy Neary (CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND), heroes who were fully developed and carried the weight of the films on their shoulders.  JURASSIC PARK is all about spectacle, and the human characters are simply there to give the T-Rex and Velociraptors something to chase. 4 - JB

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