Life Finds a Way

Jurassic Park is an event 65 million years in the making. That can only be from the mind of master director Steven Spielberg. Whether big or small, everyone has loved dinosaurs at some point in their life. Michael Crichton published the book 3 years before the movie was released in 1993. He intended to make dinosaurs as realistically plausible as possible. The idea was so good that Steven Spielberg signed on immediately. He saw it as a Jaws style creature-driven feature on land.

Jurassic Park is easily the greatest dinosaur movie ever made. So of course my brother and I watched it several times when we were younger. Including two separate times in school for me. Which makes sense considering dinosaurs can be taught in science classes. My parents were lucky enough to experience Jurassic Park in theaters. The collective awe of seeing living breathing dinosaurs on the big screen earned the movie 3 Oscars for Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and of course Visual Effects. For its pioneering use of photorealistic computer generated imagery and animatronics. It also became the highest grossing film ever at the time…

1. Jurassic Park

A T-Rex roars

Welcome to Jurassic Park. Everyone knows the story of the most exotic theme park ever conceived. While the book painted him as some kind of a cold hearted billionaire, Jon Hammond is actually a kindly old man. Thanks to Richard Attenborough’s general enthusiasm. Hammond finances a theme park populated by once extinct dinosaurs. “Spared no expense.” The process is actually pretty feasible, but I doubt real life scientists would be willing to try it. As Mr. DNA explains, fossilized amber containing prehistoric mosquitoes mixed with frog DNA was used to genetically rebuild all-female dinosaurs. The park itself is like a nature walk at a zoo with a ride and gift shop.

After a memorable accident, experts are sent in to test the parks safety. Sam Neill rose to prominence as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant. As did Laura Dern as paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. This is easily Jeff Goldblum’s trademark role. All of his quirky mannerisms are seen in mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm. He’s the one making the most sense. Asking all the important questions of bringing an extinct species into the modern age. Danger is likely, because “Life finds a way.” Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim are brought in as well. Lex is a child hacker who makes many frustrating decisions like screaming and waving around a flashlight. Tim is a big fan of Grant’s who’s nearly electrocuted in an intense scene. Samuel L. Jackson tells us to “Hold onto our butts” in what is probably his most nonchalant role.

The group is flown onto the island Isla Nublar. Nothing beats the moment we see a Brontosaurus for the very first time. Made even better with John Williams awe-inspiring theme. Spielberg was originally going to go with stop motion, but it didn’t look convincing enough. So he instead went with the less common practise of CGI. Nearly three decades later and the effects still hold up. Same with the animatronics used on creatures like the Triceratops. Everything goes wrong when a disgruntled employee sabotages the park (Newman!). Dinosaurs are let loose when the electric fences are shut off.

Although Jurassic Park is generally referred to as a sci-fi adventure, there are a large number of scenes that scared and/or frightened me as a kid. The T-Rex reveal is one of the greatest scenes in movie history. There’s the water vibrations, the iconic roar, eye close up, flare misdirection, car drop, and the lawyer’s death on a toilet. All done with a seamless use of animatronics and CGI. Equally iconic is the T-Rex chasing Ian, Ellie, and hunter Robert Muldoon in a car (“Must go faster”).

Personally the scariest scene for me was the one involving the ink spraying Dilophosaurus. Next to it are the breakout stars of the movie. The Velociraptors are even deadlier than the T-Rex. The scene of them hunting Lex and Tim in a kitchen is still one of the most tense scenes in a non-horror movie. The climax is equally nail biting until it ends with a cheer worthy last minute rescue by the T-Rex. The banner falling as the T-Rex roars will never get old. Jurassic Park found a way to be one of the best Steven Spielberg, dinosaur, and overall blockbusters ever to walk the earth.

2. Jurassic Park

Raptors in the kitchen

Followed by: The Lost World: Jurassic Park

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