(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Jurassic Park (1993)
One Sentence Plot Summary: A group of scientists try to convince a billionaire (who thinks he’s God) that opening up a dinosaur park is a bad idea while an underpaid member of the labor force shows his actual value by shutting the whole park system down and putting humans in danger.
Why It’s on the List: One of the most exhilarating piece of blockbuster filmmaking ever created. This movie is able to incorporate aspects of science fiction in the first half of the film by logically breaking down the possibility of dinosaurs in the modern world. There is humor, especially involving Ian Malcolm’s one liners and Dennis’s chicanery. There’s also great use of a lot of horror elements as the dinosaurs threaten the human beings. Stephen Spielberg created a believable world with just enough fantastical elements. The actors sold the world being real, and John Williams’s score elevated the film to classic status.
While some will point to the big T-Rex chase in the middle of the film or possibly even the final dramatic moments as a teenage hacker manages to save the day as their favorite moments, I always think about the Mr. DNA scene as being the best of the movie. Nothing else works unless there’s a sound logic behind the park. This is why none of the subsequent sequels ever work. This movie manages to perfectly balance the wonder of seeing living dinosaurs with the terror of what those dinosaurs might do. Smart characters are having intelligent conversations about the moral and scientific ramifications of whether a dinosaur park is ethical.
I appreciate how distinct each character was. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm are two very different people with different worldviews. Ellie Sattler is treated as an equal for the most part, and as much as children in movies can be annoying, they are given very different traits. John Hammond as a megalomaniac billionaire who thinks he can control the world has almost aged a bit too well. I think this is the perfect realization of who Spielberg is as a filmmaker.
*Alan Grant now wanting to have children is portrayed as a fundamental character flaw that needs to be fixed as opposed to a legitimate trait.
*The one adult female character (Ellie Sattler) wants to have babies. It’s never made clear whether she wants to give up being a scientist but in the third film, she has children and isn’t active in the field.
MVP: ILM in this case. They created computer generated dinosaurs that worked really well for long shots and animatronics for close-ups and the dramatic T-Rex scene. They deserve a ton of credit for the work they put in. The fact that all the subsequent sequels are still chasing this look says a lot.
Best Performance: Harrison Ford was originally scheduled to be Alan Grant, and I think his presence overwhelms the rest of the movie and steps on Jeff Goldblum’s territory. Sam Neill was the perfect choice in the end because he’s a great actor who makes the audience believe these creatures are there but isn’t too much of a celebrity to where the film can still feel like an ensemble piece. The dinosaurs are still the stars, but Sam Neill comes off like both a father figure and scientist at various points.
Best Quote: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” – Ian Malcolm
Is there a sequel? Yes, four of them.
How are they? The Lost World is okay because Spielberg is still involved, and the horror elements still work. Number three is an abomination that should never be spoken of ever again. Both Jurassic World movies are two of the dumbest pieces of filmmaking ever created. Some people will say the quality of the sequels diminishes the original, but I would say this movie stands out even more. It’s still a great adventure story.