The Re-Visit: Jurassic Park

On August 29, 2013 by Bob Simms

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About a week ago theater audiences in China had the chance to see JURASSIC PARK on the big screen for the first time ever—which is insane, considering the film celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. That’s right—20 summer blockbuster movie seasons have come and gone since Steven Spielberg’s JURASSIC PARK hit the big screen. If you remember seeing this that summer (1993), I trust you feel old as fuck right about now.

Partly to celebrate its 20th birthday, partly because it made a shit-ton of money in China over the weekend, and partly because my 5 year old son is really into dinosaurs right now, I decided I’d re-visit JURASSIC PARK and see whether the movie is still awesome or if those 20 years of copycats and advancements in movie magic and special effects have made if feel dated.

I’m happy to report the movie is just as epic and impressive now as it was in 1993—maybe even moreso, as the special effects of T-Rex screaming like a pissed off banshee and the two tag-teaming asshole Velocoraptor are so realistic that  it puts most other movies released over the last 20 years to shame. Probably because, unlike today where everything is CGI’d up the ass (like blood, of all things… blood!), JURASSIC PARK didn’t over-do it with the CGI and rather used it where it was necessary—and used old school animatronics for everything else. That giant T-Rex head? Really there. The T-Rex eyeball dilating from a flashlight? Yup, that shit was real too. The mix of practical and computer generated effects was perfected in JURASSIC PARK… filmmakers today should take note: not everything has to be green screened and added later in post

The movie holds up incredibly well on every other level, too. Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are great, Laura Dern and the two kids are spot-on, and let’s not forget the film’s biggest villain: Nedry aka Newman aka Wayne Knight. I fuckin’ hated this tub of shit then and I really hated him all over again now. And by hate, I mean that in the most positive way possible, of course. The dude nailed it! Samuel L. Jackson was also pretty awesome, as I’ve used his line “Hold onto your butts!” often over the years and that shit never gets old.

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The brilliance of JURASSIC PARK never dawned on me until now, which is why re-visiting shit in your 30s that you loved in your pre-teens is so great: you inevitably get something different out of it, even F/X-filled adventures like JURASSIC PARK. When I was a kid, I related to the two kids in the movie more than Sam Neill. Now that I’m an adult, I related to Neil and Goldblum, hence the film’s brilliance and why it became such a mega-hit. Kids and adults alike where able to latch on to the film’s characters and side with them and relate to them. Kids and adults are intertwined in each and every one of the action sequences, thus kids and adults are both invested in what’s going on, making each sequence intense for every member of the audience. That shit doesn’t really happen anymore, probably cause it’s hard to have kids who don’t suck. And for the most part, these kids don’t suck.

Spielberg is in total JAWS mode here and that’s what makes it awesome: by carefully leading up to the revelation of the dinosaurs. He doesn’t just start the movie off with a dino in your face and show them in all of their glory from the beginning. Not until the Brontosaurus scene about 20 minutes in do we see any dinosaurs at all. He could have showed them earlier, but waiting a bit before doing so was genius. As was the revelation of the T-Rex—and the Velocoraptor, for that matter. We see bushes moving, we hear growling and screaming, we hear them stomping around,  but we don’t see shit until their due time. Utterly fantastic.

And finally, I gotta bring up the one thing that kept bugging the shit out of me while watching this early 90s movie today: the over abundance of mom jeans. Laura Dern is hot in this—but not so hot when she’s wearing mom jeans (at the dig site) then later mom jeans in khaki shorts form. Mom jeans never were nor are they ever the right way to go. The little girl also sports a pair of mom jeans, which makes her look way older than 12 and also way dorkier in every way. MOM JEANS ARE AND WERE NEVER OK. Spielberg should have known better than to flash so much mom jeans at us, but as this is my only real complaint about the flick, I guess that’s not so bad.

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In the end, JURASSIC PARK holds up as strong (if not stronger) today than it ever had before (and goddamn that John Williams score is fantastic).  It’s a great re-visit, a fun adventure, and the effects hold up and look better than most the crap that’s released today (I’m talkin’ to you R.I.P.D.!).

Grade: A

NOTE: Upon re-visiting it became clear that if I showed this flick to my dinosaur loving 5 year old, he wouldn’t sleep for a week straight and he’d probably be terrified of dinosaurs for the rest of his life. So in favor of not inducing night terrors, JURASSIC PARK won’t be on the viewing docket for a few more years.  

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