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Jurassic Park Movie Review

hammond john story dinosaurs

1993 – Steven Spielberg –

Michael Crichton's blockbuster novel was the basis for this tale of genetically resurrected dinosaurs that quickly became one of history's highest grossing films. Billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has found a way to extract dinosaur DNA preserved in amber and uses it to create living dinosaurs. Hammond intends for the prehistoric animals to be the center of the world's most exciting and unique theme park, located on a remote island, but nature defies his plan when the dinosaurs get loose and create havoc and carnage on the island. Jurassic Park represents a landmark in filmmaking, not because of its story or its characterizations, but because of its technological display of unprecedented developments in computer-generated visual effects. Like most Spielberg films, the movie is exceptionally well-made on a visual level, both in terms of imagery and editing, but what the story lacks is character development. For all intents, the stars of Jurassic Park are the dinosaurs, which demonstrates both the movie's greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

The plot of the film involves a group of scientists brought to Hammond's island to evaluate the park's feasibility. Unfortunately, while they are there, a disgruntled employee of Hammond's, in an attempt to smuggle out dinosaur embryos to sell to a competitor, shuts down all security measures in the park, allowing the dinosaurs to break free and roam around the island. The rest of the story consists of the main characters running from and narrowly escaping being eaten by the big lizards, a terrifying encounter with a T-rex.

While a few interesting questions are raised about responsibility in scientific research and the arrogance of mankind, character development in the story is slim. John Hammond realizes his arrogance has put those dearest to him at risk, and scientist Dr. Allen Grant (Sam Neill) learns to tolerate children as he gets to know Hammond's grandchildren, but for the most part the human characters in Jurassic Park serve as dinosaur appetizers or predictable “types.” Maybe all that time acting before a blank blue screen took a certain toll.

The most effective elements of Jurassic Park involve the creatures themselves. The tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors are certainly some of the most stunningly realistic creatures ever developed for the screen, and much of the fascination of the movie lies in watching these believable, frightening creatures move. Spielberg's talent for creating intensity and suspense provides the film with some of its most memorable moments, as when Hammond's grandchildren see a vibration in a glass of water resulting from the footstep of an as-of-yet unseen tyrannosaurus, or when the children are trapped in a kitchen with two highly intelligent velociraptors. In some ways, the superb visual effects and these kinds of suspenseful sequences compensate for the lack of story and character development, but little would remain if these elements were absent.

Cast: Sam Neill (Allen Grant), Laura Dern (Ellie Satler), Jeff Goldblum (Ian Malcolm), Richard Attenborough (John Hammond), Bob Peck (Robert Muldoon), Martin Ferrero (Donald Gennaro), B.D. Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy), Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy), Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold), Wayne Knight (Dennis Nedry), Jerry Molen (Dr. Gerry Harding), Miguel Sandoval (Rostagno), Cameron Thor (Lewis Dodsgon), Christopher John Fields (Volunteer #1) Screenwriter: Michael Crichton, David Koepp Cinematographer: Dean Cundey Composer: John Williams Producer: Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen for Universal MPAA Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 127 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1993: Sound, Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects; MTV Movie Awards, 1994: Nominations: Film, Villain, Action Sequence Budget: $63M Box Office: $356.78M (domestic gross).

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