At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Jurassic Park

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure/ Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, BD Wong, Miguel Sandoval, Cameron Thor/ Runtime: 127 minutes

I would like to start this review off by saying that movie magic isn’t extinct. Oh some people may tell you that, but you see I have to politely disagree. I say that because I think every movie, be they good or bad, has a degree of magic to it that simply cannot be understated or ignored. Yet there are some movies that don’t have a degree of movie magic to them; this is because in that moment the movies themselves ARE the magic. Indeed these are the movies that can inspire your inner greatness, can chill your spine on a dark, rainy night thereby clinging a little closer to the person you love, or indeed that can take you on a journey for the ages and give you the chance to see things done in film that quite simply had never been done before and haven’t been done either as well or just to that level of excellence since. Thus it is with that last category in mind that I now submit such a movie to fill in as an example, and that movie is Jurassic Park. Indeed this is not just an extremely well-made and well-acted movie. Rather Jurassic Park is proof that not only does movie magic exist, but that a movie can manage to change the world and inspire the people in it in ways that we never could truly have begun to imagine. Indeed, armed with a top-notch cast and crew as well as special effects that are truly unlike anything that we could ever have imagined, Jurassic Park is truly a film for the ages in all the best ways and easily one of the finest modern sci-fi films of all time.

The plot is as follows: adapted from the best seller by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park is the story of what happens when an eccentric billionaire named John Hammond invites his lawyer, a paleontologist and his paleobotanist girlfriend, a chaotician mathematician, and even his 2 grandchildren to his new island resort off the coast of Costa Rica which he promises is “truly unlike anything they have seen before”. Intrigued, our heroes decide to set out for the island and it isn’t long after arrival that our heroes see the answer to their question of “Why?” takes the form of the living, breathing fact in front of them that their host has, incredibly and miraculously, found a way to bring dinosaurs back from extinction. However, when an unscrupulous employee decides to shut down the security systems during a horrific storm in order to commit corporate espionage, it isn’t long thereafter that the greatest discovery of modern times quickly turns into a fight for survival for these people against some of the fiercest creatures the planet has truly ever known…..

Now right off the bat can we just sit back and appreciate for a moment how masterfully this film was made by Mr. Steven Spielberg? Indeed, by taking the notes that gave him a smash hit with Jaws all the way back in ’75 & just changing the animal involved, Spielberg manages to put on a master class in how wonderfully this film deftly builds suspense. Indeed by cleverly building up to the revelation of the, as called by Lex in the movie, ‘meatasauruses’ by first showcasing and stunning the heck out of us with the visual treat of some cuddly if not imposing herbivores, Spielberg manages to make it truly magical when we do finally meet the imposing Tyrannosaurus to the extent that the T-Rex’s intro scene is truly one of modern day cinema’s most exhilarating set pieces of the past 30 years. Yet, not feeling satisfied with just one moment, Spielberg then decides to match this with another in the form of the quite chilling cat-and-mouse game between the kids and the Velociraptors in the kitchen much later in the movie. Indeed, despite not being terribly gruesome, this is still a quite intense and downright terrifying to watch film and it all can be attributed to Spielberg’s wise decision to let the human characters come first and then subsequently to use the dinosaurs only if and when they are necessary.

Speaking of the dinosaurs though, I feel that one of the HUGE things that people remember and love the most about Jurassic Park is the special effects wizardry done by Special Effects Sorcerer Supreme Stan Winston and the special effects team. To be honest though I don’t blame those people for just remembering the masterful effects on display. Not one bit. That is because this was the first time ever in cinematic history where we were given dinosaurs that actually looked and felt real. Now to be fair there are a lot of movies out there from the 90’s where the effects have started to show their age yet praise therein too must be given to this movie. This is because the effects astonishingly have not aged one single bit and no matter if this is your first time or your 25th time you will find yourself entranced by the creatures on screen. Indeed I will not blame you if you really start to wonder if maybe the filmmakers actually managed to pull a fast one and bring some dinosaurs back to life without telling anyone. It also goes without saying, but without the effects work done on Jurassic Park, I feel some of modern cinema’s greatest effects achievements might not have been possible; it is that revolutionary and that next-level.

Now another major area of praise must belong to the legendary composer that is John Williams and the beautiful, and quite moving score he composed for this film. Indeed from the very beginning, Williams manages to contribute a score that not only proves to be just as grand, magnificent, and truly majestic as the resurrected titans themselves, but also knows when to start ratcheting up the tension ever so slightly, and also when to really give us a chance to just sit back, and think about just what this movie is really trying to say; not just about our relationship with nature, but with our fellow human beings as well. Indeed this is truly magical work from a man who has been nothing but magical his entire career.

Now the acting in this film is also fantastic. I feel that this is because Spielberg wisely recognized, again like with Jaws, that you don’t need names; you just need really talented actors to get the job done. Suffice it to say it paid off with Jaws and it pays off again here as everyone involved truly manages to bring their very best work to this project. I mean normally in this section of the review I would take a moment to highlight one or two performances that I really enjoyed, but the truth is that I do not think there is a single weak link in this cast. That and they all do a wonderful job of really making us feel like we are watching real, three-dimensional people go through the events being played out on screen and everyone really truly makes every minute of screen time they get count no matter how big or small their role may be.

All in all Jurassic Park is a fantastic cautionary tale about the dangers of bringing the past to the present, but presented to us as a thrilling sci-fi adventure spectacle. Indeed this is a movie that as long as there is love for either the creatures that last roamed the Earth over 65 million years ago, or for just a wonderful movie night will always find an audience. After all between a terrific cast, a moving and majestic score, and some jaw-droppingly next level special effects that took movie making into the 21st century you really could argue that this movie wisely chose to spare no expense when it came to making movie magic. A decision that now and always I will be personally glad that they made. On a scale of 1-5 I give Jurassic Park a solid 4.5 out of 5.