Jurassic Park

Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, and Ariana Richards

"Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?"
-Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill)

I can't believe that it's been two decades since Jurassic Park was released.  It's one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time and the mega blockbuster for a generation of moviegoers.  It's Steven Spielberg doing what he does best by pushing technologies to new limits and wowing audiences worldwide with terrific filmmaking.  Because he has such a magnificent filmography, Spielberg may not have a signature film.  If he did, Jurassic Park would certainly be in the running.  In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Universal has decided to re-release Spielberg's sci-fi classic back to theaters in IMAX 3D.  I couldn't wait until April though.  I just had to see the Tyrannosaurus Rex again.

John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the head of a corporation named InGen, is on the verge of opening a theme park 65 million years in the making.  Hammond's Jurassic Park is a biological preserve housing dinosaurs cloned with DNA from prehistoric mosquitoes.  To get the park open, Hammond needs approval from his board of directors.  They're not going to give him the clear until he has the foremost scientific authorities in the paleontology community inspect the facilities to ensure that the park is safe.  While the board's attorney Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) brings mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) to inspect the park, Hammond brings paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Neill and Laura Dern), two doctors whose work is financed by Hammond's largesse.

On Isla Nubar, the island home of Jurassic Park in Costa Rica, Hammond kicks off the tour for his experts.  He introduces them to the park's wildlife, including creatures not seen in millions of years.  The group is eventually joined by Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello), Hammond's grandchildren.  A tropical storm fast approaches the island, but the group continues to tour the park in electric SUVs.  Meanwhile, park employee Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) starts playing for the competition and deactivates most of the park security to conduct a little corporate espionage.  When the storm strikes and knocks out the power, Dennis's activities become less mischievous and more dangerous.  The park’s security is rendered ineffective.  Grant, Malcolm, and several others are trapped in the park, and all the dinosaurs are loose looking for fresh meat.

Jurassic Park is the definition of an awesome blockbuster.  There's no one more fitting than Steven Spielberg to adapt Michael Crichton's innovative novel.  Spielberg, the science fiction auteur, knocks it out of the park and crafts a pop culture masterpiece.  Jurassic Park is a majestic yet thrilling piece of cinema.  His cast delivers with a wide range of performances and helps us to suspend our disbelief as we look at the highly improbable.  In bringing dinosaurs back to life, Spielberg pushes technological limits and offers groundbreaking CGI for the era.  With solid performances from the cast, dazzling special effects, and the brilliant eye of Spielberg, Jurassic Park is ultimately a film that makes the impossible possible.

Jurassic Park starts as a beautiful, magical film.  With stately creatures, gorgeous landscapes, and a score lush with bravado from the great composer John Williams, Steven Spielberg crafts this enchanting world full of graceful biological attractions.  He really turns Jurassic Park into a place full of wonder and majesty.  Spielberg then slowly erases this facade and leaves us only with some blood-thirsty dinosaurs, some of the most vicious predators the world has ever known.  With mankind for dinner, Jurassic Park gets pretty rough, pretty fast.  The dinner menu for these carnivorous dinosaurs was 65 million years in the making.

Once Spielberg erases the wonderful notion of this park, he turns Jurassic Park into a nonstop thrill ride.  That's never clearer than the moment when the Tyrannosaurus Rex arrives on screen.  As water splatters and its thuds become louder with every step, the alpha dinosaur makes its presence known in a terrifying yet captivating way.  Spielberg gives this kingly creature its jaw-dropping moment on camera and crafts some of the most iconic blockbuster filmmaking of all time.  For anyone who saw this movie back in 1993, this was a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic experience.  Everyone remembers the impact tremors and the fear they instilled that something big and nasty was coming.  Everyone remembers the moment the T. Rex arrived on screen.  It was utterly gripping.

The other creatures that keep the thrills coming are the velociraptors.  Able to achieve cheetah speeds up to 60 miles per hour and proven to be alarmingly fast learners, these pack hunters add a dimension of intelligence to their hunting that's downright scary as they terrorize the amusement park and feast on human flesh.  They're just as menacing and terrifying as the T. Rex in a different way because of their high aptitude.  They're the predators that will find you no matter where you're hiding.  Those damn velociraptors are the ones who always get their prey because they're watching and relentlessly waiting for their moment to strike.  They're natural killers, and Spielberg makes sure we know it.

There's so much creativity that goes into making a film like Jurassic Park and bringing all these extinct creatures back to life on camera.  While I've focused on Spielberg's brilliant directorial eye, the technological innovations of this movie are utterly groundbreaking.  The CGI used to create all the life on the island is incredible for its time.  While it may seem like nothing today, this kind of imagery in a movie was unfathomable a couple of decades ago.  The lengths through which Spielberg's technical team had to go to bring each and every one of these extinct animals to life are unimaginable, but their efforts paid big dividends for us as moviegoers.

The cast does a great job as well.  As Dr. Alan Grant, Sam Neill is a man's man.  He's a hilarious grouch who doesn't like kids.  This gutsy paleontologist turns into a caring male figure though.  He's the perfect tour guide for Lex and Tim as they navigate the dangers of this park.  Laura Dern is a feisty addition to the film as Dr. Ellie Satler.  Dern is tough as nails in this movie.  More importantly, she often brings common sense to the table when it's desperately needed.

Despite solid performances from Neill and Dern, my favorite lead has to be Jeff Goldblum.  To the characters in the film, he offers a deplorable excess of personality.  For us, this mathematician offers sheer charisma and hilarity throughout the movie as chaos theory helps prove him right time and time again.  He has no desire to be eaten by the attractions at Jurassic Park and makes this abundantly clear throughout the movie.  Amongst the supporting cast, Richard Attenborough is a definite standout.  The famous actor-director manages to carve a place for himself in the film as John Hammond, the visionary mind behind this landmark park.  Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello also turn in strong performances as Hammond's grandkids.

Jurassic Park is one of the greatest blockbusters of all time.  There's nothing quite like it.  It's a nonstop thrill ride that just keeps going and going and going.  For Steven Spielberg, this film may just be another notch in his illustrious filmography.  For us though, it's a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that's not to be missed.  If there was ever a film to give a sober rating, Jurassic Park is it.  This sci-fi classic is as big as movies get!