Hi, my name is Annice and I have never seen Jurassic Park…
Last year I watched Die Hard for the first time and it is now my favourite Christmas film ever. That’s why I thought I’d finally take a look at one of my other cinematic blind spots: Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dinosaur-based classic Jurassic Park.
For the first time in this miniature series, expectations were high. The opening did not disappoint.
Could Jurassic Park have the most intense opening scene in any blockbuster ever?
I thought this was a nice film that had some dinosaurs in, but a man is eaten in the first scene! Is this not for children?
After the dinosaur is fed, we meet our team.
First we have John Hammond played by Richard Attenborough – it appears that overall I have very few issues with this film, but one of them is Attenborough’s accent; is he supposed to be Scottish? – who is a wealthy businessman who has managed to clone dinosaurs and wants to create a theme park to help others share in his awe. But first he needs the help of a merry band of experts to sign off on his science and give their blessing to the park being opened.
Our band consists of: stuffy lawyer Gennaro (Ferrero); mathematician, chaos theorist and sex symbol Dr. Ian Malcom (Goldblum); Palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Neill); and Palaeobotanist and bad ass Dr. Ellie Sattle (Dern). Samuel L. Jackson appears later constantly smoking, even when talking. What an absolute dream cast.
Jurassic Park is a strong movie from the opening credits, but the reveal of the dinosaur is something else. It’s pure Marty-approved cinema.
We see the characters react before we see the reveal, Spielberg tightening in on how overawed each of them are as they react like dominoes one after another, increasing expectations and the film’s child-like wonder all at once.
They even react as you’d believe each character would – Dr Sattler is so impressed by the plant life that she does not see the giant dinosaurs next to her; Dr Grant exclaims ‘It’s a dinosaur!’ and falls to the ground; Ian Malcom is impressed stating ‘You did it. You crazy son of a bitch you did it’; whereas our lawyer is, well… a lawyer: ‘We’re going to make a fortune with this place’.
Hammond says ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park’ – and honestly, what could possibly go wrong?!
The “Welcome to Jurassic Park” song begins, and that John Williams really knows how to make an emotive score, huh? Now I wish I had seen this in the cinema, full surround sound blasting it into my soul. Have no doubt, this is a soundtrack I will be listening to forever and ever.
I was 100% convinced that Hammond was evil 25 minutes in. Not pure evil, like leaving his grandchildren to be eaten by dinosaurs, but more like he gets a God complex and thinks he is above everyone else – needless to say I was not impressed by the way that he imprints Twilight-style onto the baby dinosaurs. It actually turns out that his character is evil in the novel, but because he was played by the lovable Richard Attenborough it turned out he couldn’t possibly be evil in the movie.
In general, I love the way that Spielberg frames the narrative – we are at the theme park with the characters. We go on the tour with them, we even learn about DNA with them. If only we could actually get in the cars.
Spielberg also masterfully builds anticipation for that first major T-Rex reveal by promising us two other dinosaurs on the tour and then disappointing us with their failed appearances, subsequently hitting us square in the face with the impressive and later scary presence of the T-Rex.
How did this film come out in 1993? This dinosaur is genuinely impressive – it still stands up!
Here comes the film’s sudden turn – a man is eaten by a dinosaur while on the toilet, there are cars in trees and children in mortal danger.
Jurassic Park actually uses fear in a really interesting way. Dinosaurs are of course scary, but we know they aren’t a genuine threat to our everyday lives, which is why it’s so important and genuinely harrowing to see the characters not only have to navigate these monstrous pre-historic creatures but also very normal dangers such as heights and electrical fences. It’s so very, very clever.
With this in mind, our young friend Tim seems to have 9 lives! The car he’s in gets crushed and pushed over a hill into a tree, then he gets electrocuted by 10,000 volts in a very tense scene, and he even survives being hunted for food by the smartest of all the dinosaurs, the Velociraptor.
I think we ought to dub him: Big Tim – Human Piece of Toast!
Recommended for you: Jurassic Park / World Movies Ranked
The most surprising and definitely my favourite part of Jurassic Park was its very real sense of girl power.
For 1993, Jurassic Park is very progressive – the dinosaurs are all females and still manage to pro-create because we don’t need no man, while Laura Dern is the hero and saves the day.
While Goldblum is injured early on and spends the rest of the film laying down looking pretty, and Sam Neill is the one left looking after the children for almost the entire second and third acts, Dern is kicking ass and saving the day.
More of this please.
Overall, I absolutely loved Jurassic Park. I don’t really know why I have only just seen this for the first time – it has everything you want in a family friendly movie, and it all comes with (pardon the pun)… a bite!
This surprisingly feminist tale is one that baby Annice would have appreciated; definitely a new Sunday morning favourite.