Eccentric millionaire John Hammonds newest business venture has run into a spot of financial trouble. The death of an employee at his new theme park has prompted his investors to get cold feet, and require the endorsements of experts in the field before construction can be completed and it can be opened to the public. Unassuming palaeontologists Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler along with mathematician and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm are invited to inspect the park and its attractions and they are astounded when they are presented with living breathing dinosaurs. However the initial “Oooh’s” and “Ahhh’s” are soon replaced with running and screaming…
OSCAR winner for Best Sound, Best Sound Effects, Best Visual Effects
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Steven Spielberg has been credited with the creation with the Summer event film. Ever since he terrified swimmers and nautical enthusiasts alike back in 1975 with Jaws, Spielberg has more or less consistently delivered on Summer spectacular, and Jurassic Park is no exception.
Cuddly millionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has uncovered a way to extract prehistoric dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes of the period then subsequently clone the previously extinct creatures. His dream is to put them on centre stage for the general public to see. After an extreme health and safety incident resulting in a worker at the Costa Rican site being killed by one of the ‘attractions’, the insurance companies demand reassurance that such accident will not occur when the park is opened. Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are promised funding from Hammond for their archaeological dig if they comply and inspect the island and its unusual inhabitants. The pair travel to the island along with perhaps the worlds coolest mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and investors attorney Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) for a free tour of what Jurassic Park has to offer, spared no expense.
Needless to say the dinosaurs are the stars of this film. The late Stan Winston; who was responsible for the visual effects in Predator, The Terminator, and The Thing to name a few excels in injecting life into the animals in the film; even now, 16 years on the film still looks great. However Spielberg’s excitement over the involvement of Stan Winston’s effects and the computer generated work of the Industrial Light and Magic team seems to have made him over eager to wow the audience with the groundbreaking special effects. Whereas in Jaws, the shark wasn’t seen on screen until about an hour into the film, Jurassic Park supplies the audiences with the ‘money shots’ perhaps too soon, which fails to recreate a similar sensation as to when Jaws popped out of the water for the first time. Jurassic Park shows an almost childish enthusiasm from Spielberg, hurriedly revealing the creatures before subsequent tension has been allowed to brew.
As the effects in Jurassic park take centre stage, the characterisation of the supporting cast of humans suffer. Richard Attenborough’s portrayal of John Hammond seems unusually endearing for someone who is responsible for a number of deaths in the film. Making Hammond come off as eccentric, naïve, and somewhat unfocused detracts from the mistakes he has made in the conception of execution of the park. The Huggable Hammond therefore gets an easy ride in the film and never really has the opportunity to face up to the consequences of his neglect and the choices he made that clouded his judgement. The film may have been best served to represent Hammond closer to he was in the novel, as a greedy egotistical businessman interested in profits, rather then a sympathetic ‘Uncle Walt’ figure who simply wants to make everyone happy and share his gift with the world. Alan Grant also suffers from the effects of being shunned by Spielberg in favour of the dinosaurs. He is essentially limited to the story arc of not liking kids, stuck in a unique situation with kids, and finally brought closer to kids as a result of the aforementioned unique situation.
Jurassic Park get lost in its spectacle at some points which affects the story; the theft of the DNA samples could’ve been treated with a bit more severity, when you consider the consequences of Dennis Nedry’s actions. This subplot could’ve been dealt with in a more intricate way with more emphasise of the planning that such an operation would demand, rather then reverting to the slapstick approach that could’ve been much more significant.
The films issues are forgivable though, few people would say they went to see Jurassic Park for the dynamic relationships between the characters and the dinosaurs were an added bonus. Jurassic Park is a milestone in cinemas history which expanded the possibilities of what was possible to do on the silver screen, and it remains a benchmark of storytelling.