Jurassic Park

After creating an island park full of living dinosaurs, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) invites a team of scientists and his two grandchildren to tour the park before opening it to the general populace. Sabotage cripples Jurassic Park, and the visitors fight for their lives against prehistoric predators.

Jurassic Park was one of the very first films that I ever watched, and I watched it dozens of times. I vividly remember sitting awestruck before the television screen, eyes glued to the dinosaurs that were brought to life. I loved dinosaurs.

Watching Jurassic Park again, twenty-something years later, I am a bit torn. My nostalgic memories are at war with my critical adult mind. Jurassic Park is not a bad film, don’t get me wrong, but it is certainly nowhere near the amazing masterpiece that I once thought it to be.

Let’s start with the plot. Why were Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello) even on the island? I believe this is explained in the book, but there is certainly no reason given in the film. They exist simply to elicit empathy from an older audience that views children as precious. I found them both unbearably annoying.

Which brings up the question: why was Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) maligned for not wanting to have children? I find this to be a perfectly normal opinion and, frankly, I would think his experience with Tim and Lex in the park would push him even further in that direction.

Anyways. Tim getting hit with 10,000 volts of electricity and surviving with nothing more than some bloody ears and mildly injured hands was comical. Not even remotely plausible. I’m all for the idea that dinosaurs were intelligent creatures, but my suspension of disbelief was severely breached several times throughout this film. It came to a point where the velociraptors were behaving more like serial killers than predatory animals.

One of my biggest issues with Jurassic Park is that the entire film is a series of set pieces. What I mean is that the viewer is transported to scene after scene of action with nothing in between. For instance, here is the set piece of the T-Rex attacking the car. And now the set piece of Grant and Lex hanging off the side, followed by the set piece of the car in the tree. There’s no feeling of time or space or location to the film, because the audience never sees any kind of transition.

The script is mediocre throughout. The only character that says anything of import is Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and he practically disappears after his ordeal with the T-Rex. There is a really good message about humanity playing God and meddling with nature but, again, it is dumped halfway through the film along with its proponent.

While the musical score is fantastic and iconic, the sound effects are often times abysmal. There are literally cartoon noises interspersed throughout, mainly any time a character slips or does something stupid. The practical effects are still stunning but the CGI has not held up over the years, and much of it looks awful. It must be noted, also, that for a film about dinosaurs eating people there is very little blood to be found. Every attack is obscured in some way, leaving Jurassic Park feeling extremely sanitized and sterile.

Most people consider Jurassic Park to be a classic and, upon watching it now, I would have to disagree. While certainly not terrible, the severity of its faults keep it from ever transcending beyond an entertaining, yet ultimately empty, action film.

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