Saturday, July 25, 2015

Movie #321: Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a sci-fi movie starring Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Bob Peck, and Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by Stephen Spielberg!

John Hammond (Attenborough) is a rich dude who's created cloned dinosaurs on an island, and plans to open the place as a theme park so people can come see them. However, when a worker is killed, he needs some experts to endorse the park, so he recruits paleontologist Alan Grant (Neill), paleo-botanist Ellie Satler (Dern), and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Goldblum). They take one look and say, "are you fucking crazy?" but it's not until a disgruntled programmer tries to sell out some embryonic dinosaurs (Wayne Knight - the programmer, not the dinosaurs) that everything goes haywire, the fences go down, and people start getting eaten.

It's a pretty standard "technology goes nuts and kills us" kind of setup, except holy shit the dinosaurs. I mean, sure, dilophosaurus isn't really venomous and velociraptor isn't really that big and they all probably had feathers, but whatever. This movie came out in 1993, before the general public knew that, and nobody had seen effects like these. Some of it CGI, sure, but some of it is practical, and it holds up pretty damn well for a 20-year-old movie.

The script is pretty tight, the dialog is fun. It annoys me that Arnold (Jackson) gets to smoke the whole time, because characters that smoke around other, more sensible people annoy me because ew, and because smoking is so uncommon now that it looks weird that he's smoking indoors around others, but that's just a relic of the time. I love Attenborough's wide-eyed enthusiasm, and I love that Grant gets over his discomfort around kids as he takes them through the park. (By the way, I just now caught that parallel between this movie and the recently Jurassic World, and holy shit, that's just another way that movie is a clumsy clone of this one.)

Ellie is one of the high points for me. Teagan loves this movie, and she notices when there are women characters in movies who, like, do things. Ellie stands up and is an active, equal part in the proceedings, and when someone sexistly mentions that, she calls him on it. More than that, though, I enjoy how the tough game warden Muldoon (Bob Peck) never even comments or tries to stop Ellie from being helpful, he just gratefully accepts the help (and, later, sacrifices himself for her, though not intentionally).

It's a fun movie, just scary enough to be kid-appropriate without being grim (which is another place Jurassic World falls down).

My grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Kill Bill vol. 1