April 23, 2013
Jurassic Park: Still Giant
Twenty years ago, I sat in a movie theatre, anticipating what a real dinosaur would look like; at least as well as one could get millions of years after their extinction. Up until Jurassic Park, the realism of dinosaurs in movies, well, it pretty much sucked. In 1990, before Michael Crichton released his acclaimed novel by the same title, Stephen Spielberg and Universal Studios acquired the rights to the film. Later released in 1993, the film grossed over 900 million dollars and at the time was the highest grossing film of all time.
The world wanted to see what dinosaurs would realistically look like; Jurassic Park did not disappoint. Twenty years later, the special effects used in JP still hold strong to date, Spielberg used a mixture of animatronics, stop-motioned miniatures, and CGI to bring Jurassic Park to life.
Many went in thinking they were going to see two jam packed hours of nothing but prehistoric beasts; they were wrong, but no one was disappointed. The movie actually gave us a pretty realistic story plot, all things considered, and strong witty banter and dialogue. The build up to the first scene of a dinosaur, where Sam Neil’s character, Alan Grant, looks up in awe at a brontosaurus, is still one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history. And all of the plot and development leading up to that first scene made it that much more impactful. Several scenes involving dinosaurs’ sticks out in the film, including an edge-of-your-seat scene featuring the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, which was an animatronics beast that stood 20 feet, weighed 13,000 pounds,and was 40 feet long. To those who had the pleasure of seeing this Hollywood made gargantuan have come the closest to seeing what a real life dinosaur was like in person. That famous debut scene of the T-Rex also provided us some comic relief when he ate the blood sucking lawyer sitting on a crapper.
But, it was the Velociraptors who stole the show.
Many will argue that the dinosaur is not truly depicted with accuracy in the movie, that the real life Velociraptor was much smaller, or had feathers, and that the movies version was closer to a Deinonychus, and they weren’t smart but pretty dumb; yeah…no one cares. The raptors were awesome to watch and the last twenty minutes of the film were nail-biting because of them. It does seem, however, that they could have hunted in packs like the movie depicted as there have been fossil remains found close together, implying this.
But the movie wasn’t supposed to be a history lesson, but an entertaining film. There is no evidence that the T-Rex’s site is based on motion, but it added to the suspense of the film. If you want a realistic account of dinosaurs, read a book; if you want awesome prehistoric action with a solid movie plot, watch Jurassic Park.
The fact that it’s been twenty years and the effects still hold up to today’s standards, says something. In fact, each sequel thereafter became better, in regards to the special effects; but each sequel offered a worse script. If you watch Jurassic Park: Lost World, or Jurassic Park 3, it should only be for action sequences and not for any clever lines like we got from Jeff Goldblum in the first one, like, “But John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
Although I am a fan of the franchise, even the sequels, nothing will compare to the first. A solid cast, innovative effects, witty one-liners, suspense, and a movie that offered a fantastical adventurous escape, will always be one of my favorites. With a franchise earning almost two billion dollars, and a fourth installment set to be released in June of 2014, JP has proven to be one, clever girl.