IMDB Top 250: #239 – Jurassic Park
250 films, 250 reviews. This is a pretty crazy idea, but who doesn’t love a challenge? Here at Cultured Vultures we’ll be counting down the IMDb Top 250 with a review for each from one of our dedicated film writers. Everything from Goodfellas to Casablanca will be covered over the next year or so for you film lovers to enjoy. You can’t say we don’t spoil you, you lovely lot. – Ashley, Project Lead
Welcome… to Jurassic Park
I think it’s fair to say that as iconic cinema goes, Jurassic Park is definitely up there with the greats. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic is a testament to the power of cinema in transporting us to worlds where anything is possible. Including dinosaurs.
Jurassic Park is the epitome of what a good adventure film should be. It’s fantastical but with enough realism to suspend our disbelief. The characters are interesting and in like most good adventure films, the band of heroes are lead my a robust fellow who works with history. Seriously, think about it, Indiana Jones, The Mummy…
It has to be said, for its day the effects in Jurassic Park are utterly mind-blowing. I wish I’d been old enough to see it in the cinema in 3D, I think it would be an entirely unforgettable experience. I can still remember the sheer terror of watching the kitchen sequence as a kid. It was horrific. Credit really has to go them though, not only for creating visually believable dinosaurs, but for using a combination of (incredibly dumbed down and accessible) science and history to really add that extra layer of terror and believability. I absolutely adore that they very quickly point out that there were a lot more terrifying creatures out there then just a t rex. If faced with a choice between the T-rex and the velociraptor, I would definitely choose the T-rex. At least I’d have half a hope of running between its legs and confusing him.
Everything about the way the film is set up is just perfect for creating that atmosphere of suspense. From the very opening scene which is perfect foreshadowing of events to come, to that sense of remote isolation. They very cleverly separate the group at an early stage which is a very key technique in suspense/thriller films. It is pointed out several times in the early sequences that what they are experiencing is completely against nature and this really emphasises the suspense in this situation. It is something ungodly and beyond human control, but we know enough to appreciate that there are some vicious fuckers out there in the dinosaur world that you do not want to mess with.
When not being hauntingly terrifying, Jurassic Park lends itself to beauty. The early scene with the triceratops is sweet and touching, a reminder that despite all our stories of a dinosaurs as vicious beasts, they were also living creatures who shaped the world for centuries. The beautiful world created by the effects team is only amplified by the incredible soundtrack by none other than John Williams. It is always refreshing these days to revisit films that are unafraid to use music to set the tone. I think it is increasingly a lost art.
Spielberg, being the master of cinema that he is, carefully contrasts scenes of action and suspense with opportunities for character development and even the occasional dose of sentiment. When Alan and the two children spend the night in the tree, it is a really touching moment of a character going from no understanding of children to being a protective father like figure. The silly jokes the boy makes give us a sense of his innocence and helps us to care even more about them.
I have to admit, I think if I knew a little more about science, I would find the story a little exasperating and stretched possibly a bit too thin, but assuming that their target audience has a similar level of scientific knowledge as myself, I can’t see there being too much harm in that. I also found it a little strange that someone who knew so much about dinosaurs would want to leave the vehicle they were in in the first place, but then I suppose they were still a bit screwed either way.
Overall, Jurassic Park is a film that has cemented itself in cinema history and for good reason. It is masterful storytelling using what was the height of cinematic technique all rolled into one beautiful and terrifying package.
I just flicked back over to watching it and jumped out of my fucking skin. I think that says it all really.
Now excuse me, I need new knickers.