I remember the first time I saw “Jurassic Park”. Mainly because I was obsessed with it before I’d even seen it. I had the comic book, the children’s book, the trading cards, and made everyone keep quiet whenever an ad for it came on TV. Strange then, that I spent so much of the movie with my hands over my eyes and trying to escape the horror of the T-Rex and the Raptors. The film horrified me to the point of nightmares (and gave me a slight fear of going to the toilet alone).
This didn’t stop me from seeing it again though, then getting the VHS for Christmas and re-watching it to the point that I can recite entire sections. So it was with a child-like glee that I approached news of a re-release earlier this month. After a few days of barely being able to stop myself peeing on the carpet every time I thought about it, I finally got to see it again in all it’s big screen glory. I am older now, harder to scare, there would be no hiding from the dinosaurs. There would just be a man letting the 10 year version of himself out for one night…………….and let me tell you, that kid had a ball.
Here’s a few reasons why this film will forever rank as a classic 60 million years in the making.
We Spare no expense.
Now hard though it’ll be to believe (especially to everyone who saw it in the cinema the first time) but Jurassic Park first graced our screens 18 years ago. The film is nearly 20 years old and the CGI and animatronics that shocked and awed a generation into believing they now knew what exactly a T-rex would have looked like still stand out as some of the finest on display.
I’m not going to say that there aren’t a few bits where things didn’t look as realistic as I remember them being or that it isn’t sometimes easy to spot the moment that the real life models are replaced by their CGI counterparts but it is of minor note. A lot of films that have been made recently don’t have visuals that will leave any kind of impression past the next few years, let alone nearly 20. Plus, these moments are only really evident in the slower scenes of the dinosaurs, once the action kicks off, you don’t have the time to worrying about if the Raptor currently doing it’s best to devour the token kids is looking a little bit too shiny.
Eventually you plan to have Dinosaurs in your Dinosaur tour. Right? Hello?
This leads me to one the best things about the film, pacing. Whilst the first hour spends what seems like quite a long time without too many Dinosaurs and definitely far too long before we get to see the Dinosaurs in all their horrifying glory, once the power goes out and the beasts finally do emerge, the film is packed with set piece after set piece.
This is something that has been lacking in movies for a while. With almost all genres, especially action/adventure, you can pretty much know when the next bit of action will happen. You will have a breakneck opening, a subdued introduction, a bit more action then a shedload of plot before the finale. Not with Jurassic Park, the slow build of the first hour leaves you (like the characters) desperately waiting to see the Dinosaurs, whilst the second half gives you everything you wanted and more as various members of the cast are either dispatched or just simply terrorised by the attractions of the park. It’s a testament to Speilberg himself that the pacing works so brilliantly, he suckers you in with the promise of the sights you will see without giving away too much before barraging you in the final hour with more Dinosaur attacks than you can shake a flare at (10 points for anyone who got that, -500 points from myself for being such a massive nerd).
Yeah, but John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.
Another thing worth noting is that the movie is only a PG. Now in this day and age where a 12A rating means there might be some violence and that at one point a character will say “Fuck”, the rating for Jurassic Park is pretty ridiculous. I saw it with a friend in her 20′s who spent the whole time cringing and hiding in her hoodie. A young kid was also there with his mum, and he too spent a good deal of the movie slightly scared and seeking re-assurance (The 10 year old in me wanted to give him a hug and say “It’s ok”. The 27 year old in me reminded me that I didn’t want to end up on the sex offender registar).
The film somehow manages to pack in more tension and produce genuine fear for the charcter’s lives than many of the 18 rated horror movies I’ve seen recently. The T-Rex attack is one of the greatest moments I can think off from any movie and still manages to have me sitting on the edge of my seat whilst the relentless onslaught of the Raptors at the end really pushes the limit for how long you can subject an audience to sustained tension.
I bring the scientists, you bring the rockstar
Now I’ll get it out there now, I’m pretty sure I developed my first man crush watching Jurassic Park. Alan Grant was the coolest thing I had ever seen and from that day I have followed Sam Neill’s career to the point where his involvement in a movie/ TV show is enough for me to at least take an interest/ watch it. This has lead to me watching some great films (Dead Calm and The Mouth of Madness both being pretty good shows) and also some complete crap (Merlin). I don’t know what it is about the man, I think it may be that he loves dinosaurs as much as me (and his favorite was the triceratops, which was also mine) or the fact that he tricked me into thinking being a palaeontologist would be a good career (It’s not). Watching it again, I still think he’s the Balls and regret nothing!
I kind of feel the need to point out I fancied Ellie a lot too (possibly to counter balance the strangeness of having a man-crush and the notion of guy-love that I would only learn is an acceptable phenomenon for straight guys when Scrubs told me it was). She’s just so full of spunk and give em Hell attitude, I couldn’t resist.
There’s also snarky Ian Malcolm, I appreciate his humour more now, mainly because I’ve slowly become as sarcastic and cynical as he is throughout the course of my life.
Then we have Speilberg’s greatest weapon. Kids! The man is one of the few directors who can put children into a movie without them ruining the whole thing, Dakota Fanning in War of the Worlds and Drew Barrymore in E.T are also prime examples of this.
The two actors do a great job (Even if they never really seemed to go anywhere after the movie). You see, the best thing about the kids in Jurassic Park is that they are constantly in peril. They are slightly used for their cuteness factor but they are the main driving point behind two of the best scenes in the movie, in fact, they go through more shit than any of the adults. And sure, we know that they’re not going to die, but that doesn’t mean that the Kitchen attack isn’t a pant-wettingly scary scene.
(Note: Yes, it is just your imagination that Sam Neill appears in every cast picture. It’s not like I trawled the internet just so I could find pictures of him with various characters. That would be weird and possibly count as obsessive behaviour towards lovely Sam and I would never do anything like that….well not since I got that letter from Mr Neill’s lawyers.)
Alot of people forget that Samuel L Jackson was also in this movie. He’s the guy who gives Ellie a “hand” when she’s turning the power on ( Ha, Wordplay!). I’m not too keen on this picture though, there’s someone……I mean something missing.
We’ve made living biological attractions so astounding that they’ll capture the imagination of the entire planet.
Now it would be wrong of me to not to comment on this and I’ve skirted the issue in some of the other sections but the true beauty of Jurassic Park is the Dinosaurs themselves. The movie featured such recognizable Thunder Lizards as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Tricerotops and even a flu riddled Brachiosaurous. The masterstroke was the inclusion of Dinosaurs that people weren’t familiar with. I loved all things Dinosaur related and yet I’d never heard of the velocoraptor or the dilophsouras, yet they both made a lasting impression on me after the movie was done. The Raptors in particular were a great addition and whilst it has now been pointed out that they may not have been as big as they appear in the film and that they might in fact have had feathers, it doesn’t change the fact that all children today who love Dinosaurs the way I did when I was young now rank the Raptor as one of their favourites.
All of them looked better than any image I’d ever had in my small mind about what Dinosaurs might actually look like. He brought something to screen that I’d only dreamed about (and had only ever seen in all their stop motion glory from old 50′s movies). This is the best thing about the movie, the fact that while you’re watching it, you can actually visualise these things as living, breathing things. Sure, you know that they died out years ago but there they are, attacking cars, hunting in packs and generally doing all the things you wanted to see them do. Could you ask for more?? I’m not sure you can.
The film, like the Dinosaurs themselves, has withstood the test of time. There are few truly great movies that you could watch again and again without ever becoming sick of them or that can still have you tensing on the edge of your seat even when you know what’s coming. I worried that I’d maybe be to old now to enjoy it as much as the first time, oh how the 10 year version of me laughed at that as I left the cinema with a massive shit eating grin on my face and humming the theme tune.
Tags: jurassic park, sam neill, steven spielberg