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Friday, January 14, 2011

Jurassic Park (1993)

#1 - 1993 Box Office: Gross $357,067,947

An Adventure 65 Million Years In The Making
Spielberg & Williams make their second MLiF appearance.  Based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, Jurassic Park is about a theme park built by billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough).  Only this theme park isn't filled with roller coasters and over-priced cotton candy; this park features hundreds of cloned dinosaurs.  Investors are wary, so Hammond invites some experts in the field for a preview—paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) & choas theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) join Hammond's grandchildren (the park's "target audience") to tour the island and give their approval.  Meanwhile, computer programmer Nedry (Wayne Knight) hatches a plan to steal cloned embryos for a rival company, shutting down the phones and park's security measures in the process.  Oh, and did I mention the tropical storm headed for the island forcing most everyone to evacuate?  With the island mostly empty and the fences deactivated, hijinks are bound to ensue.  The T. rex and Velociraptors escape, killing some characters while the rest try to reset the park.  The fact that there were two sequels probably tell you how the story ends...

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • The iconic water ripple effect in the glass on the dashboard was achieved by strumming a guitar string attached to the underside of the dash
  • A baby Triceratops was built for a scene where Lex (Ariana Richards) rides it. Special effects technicians worked on this effect for a year but the scene was cut at the last minute as Spielberg thought it would ruin the pacing of the film
  • To study the movement of the Gallimimus herd, the film's digital artists were ordered to run along a stretch of road with some obstacles, holding their hands next to their chest
  • Steven Spielberg directs Richard Attenborough, who beat him to the Best Director Oscar in 1983
  • Dr. Malcolm's quip that Sattler's and Grant's jobs are extinct is quoted from what puppeteer Phil Tippett said to Steven Spielberg after the director decided to use CGI instead of Go-Motion
  • In the original script, the T. rex skeleton in the lobby was hooked up to pulleys like a giant marionette. In the ending, Grant was going to man the controls and act as puppeteer, using the skeleton's head and feet to crush the raptors
  • There are only 15 minutes of actual dinosaur footage in the film: 9 minutes are Stan Winston's animatronics, 6 minutes of it is ILM's CGI 
  • Despite the title of the film referencing the Jurassic period, most of the dinosaurs featured did not exist until the Cretaceous period. In fact, when explaining the ferocity of the Velociraptor to a cynical young boy at the beginning of the film, Dr. Grant says, "Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous period"
"Alan?  Where are we going?  You see something?"
It's been way too long since I've watched this movie... While I remember the effects being fantastic in their time (and they do hold up pretty well), it's the little moments I forgot all about that make me really love this film.  One example—in the scene pictured above, Lex "trips" and after child-hating Grant helps her up, refuses to let go of his hand.  And some of the lines just make me laugh, like this exchange: "Well, we're back in the car again." "Well, at least you're out of the tree." or the lawyer asking on the tour, "Is that... auto-erotica?" instead of automaton.  From the opening scene ("Shoot her! SHOOT HER!"), I just sat back and enjoyed the adventure.  In the end, I realize it's probably not a perfect film.  I mean this has the same director as Jaws and what made that film great was the fact that you don't see the shark until the very end.  It seems once Spielberg realized just how real CGI dinosaurs could look, he added as many as he could.  But it's easy to overlook any flaws when you're given dinos chasing and smashing cars or kids outsmarting raptors.  And I haven't even mentioned the score, yet!  I do believe this was the first soundtrack I ever purchased—on cassette—and I listened to John Williams's fantastic compositions more than a normal 12-year-old probably should.  I already have Moby Dick and Harry Potters 4-7 on my To Read Queue, but I think I might append the list with Crichton's novel (I recall reading & re-reading that several summers in a row).

Ponch's Rating:


  1. One of your fun facts is that Grant was going to man the dinosaur like a puppeteer as the end to the movie. I can't exactly remember how the move ends, but I thought the big dinosaur had something to do with the raptor's demise, no?

  2. Yeah... [spoiler] The movie ends with one raptor locked in the freezer by the kids. Then the other two raptors pin them in the main lobby. Once Spielberg realized that the T. rex was the star of the film, he rewrote the ending to have her come in at the last second and kill the raptors, saving our heroes.

    In an interesting goof, when the T. rex shakes one of the raptors from side to side, there is a single frame where the raptor disappears showing the T. rex with an empty mouth!

  3. The big bad T. rex actually has a bid bad heart and saves the heroes!