Repeat Watch: Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg’s classic, Jurassic Park, debuted on June 11, 1993. The $63 million blockbuster went on to gross over $900 million worldwide in its initial theatrical run, taking the crown of the highest grossing film of all time until Titanic dethroned it in 1997. It stars Sam Neill as Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Ellie Sadler, Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm, Richard Attenborough as Richard Hammond, Joseph Mazzello as Tim, and Ariana Richards as Lex. Other supporting roles were filled out by BD Wong, Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and the screenplay was written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp. It went on the win the 1994 Academy Award for Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects.
So, why is this worth a repeat watch?
1. The Scope of the Story
This film has the advantage of standing on the shoulders of a fantastic novel of the same title. It even received a treatment from its author, Michael Crichton, who, combined with the vision of Spielberg, managed to craft an engrossing and believable story one hundred million years in the making. It’s a story that was way ahead of its time, and it still holds up today. Much of this credit goes to Crichton, who I still believe is one of the best writers in recent decades. He always knew how to engross you in the world he created, and matched with a world class filmmaker like Spielberg, the results were purely magical. It manages to cover the scientific and social issues revolving around the notion of playing God by bringing a version of these dinosaurs back to life. It’s still a fascinating premise, and as a kid that was obsessed with dinos growing up, this movie was like a dream come true.
2. The Visual Wizardry
There aren’t many films over twenty years old that hold up from a digital perspective as masterfully as Jurassic does. The early VFX still look amazing, and it shows the care and time spent by ILM as well as the incredible creature effects done by the late great Stan Winston. In the current climate of filmmaking, creating a literal animatronic of a T-Rex would be a crazy premise with the advancements of CGI, but the dedication of Winston’s team still shows in spades. Much like some of Spielberg’s other films, the restraint of when to show the dinosaurs and the combination of digital and practical is what sells it so well. The magic of seeing dinosaurs come to life before my eyes in a way that previously was only possible in my imagination will stick with me forever.
3. The Performances
The cast of actors that make up Jurassic Park were not unknown, but apart from Sir Richard Attenborough, most of them were not the leading men and ladies that some ended up being after the film’s release. To me, this always helps in selling a film’s realism. Having a cast you haven’t seen a million times makes it feel fresh. If Harrison Ford had been Grant, I don’t think you would have bought it as easily due to Harrison’s fame at that point alone. I’ve seen the film hundreds of times, if not a thousand at this point, and every time I believe them as they see a tennis ball on a stick or in some cases an actual animatronic dinosaur. The cast sells the movie, and it also contains some memorable dialogue that is still popular in our culture today.
Back in 2013, the film was re-released in theaters for its 20th anniversary in 3-D, so naturally, I went to check it out. It was as magical as it has always been for me between the John Williams score, the iconic lines, and the sight of the T-Rex bursting through the gates. It was so inspiring being in a theatre with other families and kids that hadn’t seen it at all or hadn’t seen it before on the big screen. It is a theatre experience I’m not soon to forget. Jurassic Park is always worth a repeat watch, and I encourage you to check it out again; you’ll be glad you did.
Jonathan is a film buff, tech nerd, and a certified member of the Star Wars fandom. He is the co-founder of The Digital Shore and Above The Line. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @beachjd.