“Hold on to your butts.” As one of the best action adventure movies of all time putting dinosaurs and man together after 65 million years celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Originally conceived as a screenplay about a graduate student who recreates a dinosaur, Michael Crichton had a fascination about exploring dinosaurs and cloning causing him to write a novel that would become Jurassic Park.
In October of 1989 Director Steven Spielberg learned of Crichton’s novel. Spielberg was fascinated with the idea that Jurassic Park was “a really credible look at how dinosaurs might someday be brought back alongside modern mankind”.
Crichton was originally hired by Universal to write the script. Because his book was fairly lengthy Crichton’s script only featured about 10 to 20 percent of the novel’s content. Despite the gory descriptions in the book, the violence was toned down.
Changes were made to some of the characters when it came to the movie compared to the novel. John Hammond went from a ruthless businessman to a kindly old man, because Spielberg identified with Hammond’s obsession with showmanship.
Hammond’s grandkids Tim and Lex were also changed when it came to the film. In Crichton’s novel Tim was eleven and interested in computers, and Lex was only seven or eight and interested in sports. Spielberg made the changes so he could work with Joseph Mazzello and to show Lex’s adolescent crush on Grant. Grant’s relationship with the kids was changed making him hostile to them initially allowing for more character development.
Something some fans may not be aware of when it comes to the casting of Alan Grant. William Hurt was initially offered the role, but turned it down. Harrison Ford, Han Solo / Indiana Jones himself was also offered the role of Grant and also turned it down. Sam Neill would eventually be cast in the role just three or four weeks before filming began. Jim Carrey auditioned for the role of Ian Malcolm, but the film’s casting director, felt that Jeff Goldblum was the better choice.
Dinosaurs and man depending on what or whom you believe are separated by roughly 65 million years. Jurassic Park fulfills a fantasy many children and some adults have if we allow ourselves to believe. What the book does is makes us see what bringing two species together would mean and the ramifications of that kind of power.
What Spielberg did was adapt Crichton’s book in such a way to show the pitfalls that come with reckless abandonment when humans try to play God. The movie cannot give the viewer the full spectrum of imagination and wonderment like the book does. Dinosaurs, creatures who had they’re shot at life and lost due to a global disaster.
When it comes to Jurassic Park, there is no denying that the true stars of this movie are the dinosaurs. When the movie starts we see a shot of the jungle and a huge crate being moved into position to release a dinosaur we can’t see into the park. It’s reminiscent of other Spielberg movies like Raiders of The Lost Ark, where he mystifies the audience before unleashing the action.
Jurassic Park is the brainchild of John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who shows no respect for science when his chopper lands in the middle on an archeology site in Montana. Hammond needs the opinions of Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) to come to his island where he has built an attraction of sorts.
Grant and Sattler after arriving on the island become awestruck at seeing dinosaurs up close. But they also realize there is inherent danger with what Hammond has created.
One of the best storylines I feel, other than dinosaurs causing chaos, is that of Grant and Hammond’s grandkids Lex and Tim. From the very beginning of the movie it’s made very clear that Grant is not comfortable with kids. We even see just how uncomfortable he is when the kids show up and Tim is talking to Grant about his book.
But once the T-Rex begins causing problems and it’s up to Grant to keep them safe his attitude towards kids in general, more importantly Lex and Tim begin to change. That dynamic of Grant’s character is one of the highlights of Jurassic Park.
Jeff Goldblum’s character of Ian Malcolm is in some ways the movies voice of reason. One of the best examples is when Malcom warns Hammond on the dangers concerning his work with genetics a force so powerful never before seen on Earth and yet he wields it like a kid who has just found his fathers gun.
Wayne Knight, best known for his role on Seinfeld as Newman would be in my view the human antagonist of the movie as Dennis Nedry. Nedry is being paid by a rival company to steal dinosaur embryos and smuggle them off the island in a specially made shaving cream can.
At the time of Jurassic Park’s release in 1993 I was not a fan (at the time) of Seinfeld. I was not aware of his role of Newman. I actually found the character of Nedry to be whiny. When the character of Nedry met his demise at the hands of the Dilophosaurus inside the Jeep, I felt no sympathy for him. When it comes down to it, it was Nedry’s greediness that leads to the parks failure and the unnecessary loss of life.
Something that Spielberg did with Jurassic Park that no other director might have done was creating a tug of war of sorts between science and its entertainment value. Hammond was more concerned with presentation and entertainment than he was with studying the greatest scientific breakthrough used to bring back such terrifying creatures. Even after one disaster after another as the movie moves along, Hammond’s continually feels if he does it bigger next time then the same mistakes won’t repeat themselves.
Is there one scene that just screams Jurassic Park? Of course there is.
When Nedry deactivates the park’s security system to gain access to the embryo storage room the power goes out and the tour vehicles become stuck. The park’s electric fences are deactivated allowing the Tyrannosaurus Rex to escape.
I was in my early twenties when Jurassic Park hit theaters and when the T-Rex finally made his appearance and broke through the fence I actually felt a lump in my throat. Not because I was scared, but scared for the characters in the movie, specifically the kids.
The theater I was in was older and when the T-Rex let out his roar, not only was it loud but also made my seat rumble. A scene that last about nine minutes, but nine minutes that has become an all-time favorite of any movie.
With any movie, especially a movie like Jurassic Park you will have inconsistencies. When the T-Rex attacks, the area on the other side of the fence has low-growing bushes and trees, as well as the spot where the goat was tied up. In fact, the T-Rex is clearly seen walking on the ground through the fence. But Dr. Grant is able to escape the T-Rex by rappelling down the other side of the concrete wall, which has at least a 100 ft. drop. How did this drop suddenly appear?
I will admit when I first saw the movie in theaters I never noticed it and I never noticed until about the fourth viewing on home video, but once you notice it you can’t un-notice it. It doesn’t change how much I love the movie or that particular scene as a whole, but it is disappointing that such a mistake can slip through, assuming it was a mistake on the filmmaker’s part.
Twenty-five years later Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park has aged like a fine wine. Having re-watched the movie before sitting down to write this post, it has the feel and look of a movie that could of have been made in just the last ten years.
The special affects hold up better today than a lot movies made since. The use of practical and computer effects are done so seamlessly you would think it was all done with computers.
Jurassic Park is not only a movie still worth watching multiple times a year, but one of the best action adventure movies of all time. Steven Spielberg showed us why he’s one of the best directors in Hollywood when it came to Jurassic Park. Without his vision I doubt the movie would have been the same.
Jurassic Park is a movie that will excite you, put you in awe and make your heart race with anticipation. Everything a movie like this should do.
Jurassic Park was released to theaters on June 11, 1993
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, B. D. Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards
Jurassic Park Synopsis:
Paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group chosen to tour an island theme park populated by dinosaurs created from prehistoric DNA. While the park’s mastermind, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when the ferocious predators break free and go on the hunt.
Categories: Movie Anniversaries