Revisiting the Jurassic Park Franchise – Part One

Jurassic Park posterBefore we take the trip back in time to revisit the Jurassic Park universe, let me first say thank you. The last several months have been challenging with moving once again but the dust is beginning to settle. Plans for Monster Movie Kid were postponed, such as my Peter Lorre tribute month. However, as the boxes get unpacked and normality is returning, it’s time to get back on track with regular reviews. So thank you for hanging in there. Get ready as the rest of 2015 is going to be fun.

With Jurassic World opening this weekend, I decided it was appropriate to revisit the Jurassic Park franchise. It’s been quite a few years since I went back to Isla Nublar, so I unearthed the DVDs and over the next week, I’ll be looking back at the first three films and offering up my thoughts on the new fourth film.

It’s hard to believe that 22 years ago, Jurassic Park (1993) was released into the theaters. I honestly can’t remember the theatric al experience but I do remember rewatching the first two films quite a bit on VHS. From a technical standpoint, it was groundbreaking. Then state-of-the-art CGI made us believe these dinosaurs were real. The legendary Stan Winston would create fantastic animatronic creatures while director Steven Spielberg invested in DTS, a digital surround sound system that made those amazingly real dinosaur sound effects. All common place now but in 1993, it blew us away.JP 1

Jurassic Park was originally a novel by author Michael Crichton. Before the novel was even published in 1990, Steven Spielberg purchased the film rights for $1.5 million. Michael Crichton was then paid $500,000 to write the screenplay. Not too bad for a little book about extinct creatures come back to life. The story was about John Hammond (Richard Attenborough, 10 Rillington Place, Séance on a Wet Afternoon) and his bioengineering company InGen creating Jurassic Park, an amusement park full of dinosaurs located on the tropical island of Isla Nublar. After a worker is killed, the investors demand that the park be certified safe by experts.

JP 2The experts were paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, Omen III: The Final Conflict) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, Grizzly II: The Predator), along with mathematician and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day, The Fly). Along with John Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) and the stereotypical greedy lawyer, they take the trip down the rabbit hole and tour the park. But they soon find themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature in more ways than one. With a raging storm hitting the island, a computer genius (Wayne Arnold, Seinfeld) planning to steal embryos for another company and a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the loose, the ride offers anything but amusement.

At the time, the movie was a huge hit. Courtesy of a $65 million marketing campaign with 100 companies, Jurassic Park made more than $900 million worldwide in its initial release. Thanks to a re-release in 2011 and a 3D upgrade in 2013, it has now made more than $1 billion. With the perfect recipe for success featuring a solid script, a stellar cast, amazing special effects, the music of master John Williams and the guidance of Steven Spielberg, it was an instant classic. But how does it hold up 22 years later? For me, it was still a cinematic experience. From the beautiful imagery to the melodic sounds of John Williams, it is what movie theaters were made for. Full of excitement and adventure that is held together by actors who can act and a script that is more than just explosions. Many of today’s modern day filmmakers could take a lesson or two from Jurassic Park.JP 3

I’m sure everyone has seen Jurassic Park but in the event if you haven’t or, if you’re like me, and you haven’t revisited it recently, do yourself a favor and rewatch it today. It hasn’t lost any of its appeal and is just as engaging in 2015 as it was 22 years ago. And besides, it has Samuel L. Jackson in it, the man who is in everything today. ‘Nuff said right there.

Next time, we journey back to 1997s The Lost World: Jurassic Park. How does the original sequel stand up to the test of time?

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