Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Jurassic Park

directed by Steven Spielberg

Jurassic Park poster  
It's a small step from learning about dinosaurs to dreaming of seeing them in the flesh. In this movie John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) attempts to make this childhood fantasy a reality by building a theme park based on recreating dinosaurs.

As a sign of the blithe disregard for health and safety with which the park is built, it suffers its first casualty in the very first scene. As a result of this it can't open without further authorisation. A small group of experts are brought in to sign it off as safe. Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are the palaeontologists given the task of examining the park, alongside Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a mouthy expert in chaos theory. They are joined by a lawyer and the two grandchildren of the owner.

As if live dinosaurs weren't dangerous enough, there's more trouble in the form of an attempt at industrial theft by a disgruntled employee who is involved in creating the security systems at Jurassic Park.

The impossibility of bringing dinosaurs back to life is explained away by splicing the DNA found in insects preserved in amber with frog dna. This may not fly with scientists (partly because DNA degrades too quickly, to the extent that finding intact samples after a few thousand years is unlikely, never mind after 65 million years). Scientific realism isn't the main attraction of this movie, however.

The dinosaurs are the true crowd-pleasers, and they look great for a film made in 1993. There are plenty of them, of various species. But there's no doubt the star of the show is the T-rex. The suspense as it approaches, spreading ripples through the water with the sheer weight of its footfall, makes for a classic scene. The massive T-rex is the stuff of nightmares, a cunning beast intent on hunting down the humans on the island as soon as the first opportunity arises.

Then there are the velociraptors, pack hunters with the intelligence to open doors and the speed of a cheetah. The park itself can be a menace thanks to its over-automation and buggy control systems which can pose almost as much of a danger as the animals it's meant to contain.

When they're not running for their lives from hungry carnivores the characters are making neat quips about the astounding hubris of the park's creators. Jeff Goldblum is especially sharp-tongued as the scientist, Malcolm. Spielberg hits the right note with a dinosaur movie that mixes horror, wonder and humour, never dwelling on one aspect long enough for the movie to lose its appeal.

Film Details

Decade: 1990s

Categories: Films

  Kids     Science fiction

Classification: PG

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
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