Top 100 Movie Review: No. 060 – Jurassic Park (1993)

Ranked 060 from the IMDb Top 100 Movie List (as at May 2017). Watched movie during April 2020.

Cast: Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant), Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Richard Attenborough (John Hammond), Bob Peck (Robert Muldoon), Martin Ferrero (Donald Gennaro), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy), Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy), Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold), Wayne Knight (Dennis Nedry)
Director:  Steven Spielberg
My rating: 8.0 / 10

The movie starts on an island off Costa Rica with a crew loading a mysteries and unseen animal that by an accident manages to kill a worker.  This leads to a lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), representing investors in the animal theme park called Jurassic Park insisting on independent experts to certify his park is safe.

The Jursica Park creator and businessman John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) recruits palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and palaeobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), to examine the park while Gennaro recruits  mathematician and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).

On arrival to the island the guests are shocked to see living dinosaurs, including Brachiosaurus.  Hammond reveals that the dinosaurs were created by a team of genetic scientists through cloning, a process that uses preserved ancient DNA from mosquitoes that are found inside amber, with DNA from frogs being used to fill in missing genomes. Chief geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) points out that breeding is prevented by having all dinosaurs genetically engineered as females, but Malcolm theorises that nature will overcome this obstacle in time.

Hammond arranges for the group, joined by his grandchildren Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards), to take a tour of the island in electric vehicles, while he oversees the tour from the control room with computer worker Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) and lead computer programmer Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight). Nedry had earlier been approached by Dodgson, a representative of a rival corporation, to steal dinosaur embryos for them.  Nedry apparently had some serious financial loses prior to the movie which he argues with Hammond about getting better pay.

After the Tyrannosaurus and Dilophosaurus fail to appear on the tour the group encounters a sick Triceratops. Sattler stays behind with the park’s veterinarian to study the Triceratops, while the rest of the group heads back to the visitor centre with the news on an approaching storm.

With most of the park’s employees leaving for the mainland, Nedry shuts down the park’s security systems to gain access to the embryos and the island’s dock, where he will drop off the embryos. Nedry’s sabotage also cuts power to the tour vehicles, stranding them in front of the Tyrannosaurus Rex paddock as the storm hits. The Tyrannosaurus escapes the paddock and attacks the vehicles, devouring Gennaro, injuring Malcolm, and forcing Grant, Tim and Lex into the park’s dinosaur reserves. 

Sattler, joining the park’s game warden Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck), attempts to rescue them, but they are only able to find Malcolm and must retreat with him when the Tyrannosaurus pursues them at high speed (Malcolm: “Must go faster”). Nedry, having acquired the embryos, attempts to reach the dock, but loses his way in the storm, becomes stranded, and underestimating a Dilophosaurus is killed with the embryos buried in the mud.

The storm passes, and the following morning, Grant and the children come across broken egg shells. Grant deduces that the dinosaurs were given the DNA of west African frogs, who can change from male to female in a single-sex environment, thus proving Malcolm right that breeding control methods would fail. The trio proceeds to return to the visitor centre.

Meanwhile, Arnold decides to reboot the park’s systems to undo Nedry’s sabotage and restore full power. He heads to a maintenance shed to turn circuit breakers back on, while the others take shelter in an emergency bunker. When Arnold fails to return, Sattler and Muldoon head for the shed, whereupon they discover that the reboot has freed the Velociraptors. Muldoon goes into the jungle to hunt the Velociraptors, while Sattler reaches the shed safely. In the shed, she turns the park systems back on and flees a Velociraptor which had killed Arnold. Meanwhile, Muldoon attempts to kill the other Velociraptors, he sneaks up on one resting Velociraptor but it was a trap with another Velociraptor sneaking up on him as well.

After returning to the visitor centre, Grant leaves the children behind to search for Sattler. Velociraptors attempt to attack Lex and Tim, but they evade the dinosaurs and reunite with Grant and Sattler. In the control room, the group completes the reboot for the park’s systems, but they are subsequently pursued across the visitor centre by the Velociraptors. The group is cornered by the Velociraptors until the Tyrannosaurus arrives through a big hole in the centre’s wall and kills the Velociraptors, saving the group and allowing them to escape.

Picked up by Hammond and Malcolm, Grant announces he will not endorse the park, and Hammond agrees. The group gets to a helicopter that was sent out to rescue them and they leave the island peacefully.

What’s to Like
The dinosaurs, the music, the landscape of the island, the tension, the special effects.

What’s not to Like 

This is the definition of a major summer blockbuster movie and one that started a massive franchise.  I remember seeing this movie in a cinema while still at University and being blown away by its scale and the amazing music.  The first time I saw the Brachiosaurus on screen I was stunned and drawn in to the movie and from there I never lost focus.  This was cutting edge use of technology in film. 

I remember be scared when the ground started shacking as the Tyrannosaurus Rex comes into view for the first time.  The movie has a large number of deaths as well, which is surprising as I think at the time it was rated Parental Guidance (PG), but there is little blood I guess.

The movie has deeper levels than just fun and adventure, the major themes about interfering with nature and not having respect and at a lower level about the importance of family.

A very enjoyable movie.

Academy Awards

Best Sound – winner
Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
 – winner
Best Effects, Visual Effects
 – winner
Best Sound (Robert Knudson, Christopher Newman)
 – winner

About Nathan

A World traveller who has so far experienced 71 countries (76 by June 2023) in this amazing world.
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