Top Summer Movie #7: What Kinda Park Is This?
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Tickets Sold: 86,248,296
Total Box Office (Adjusted): $656,349,535
Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler travel to a remote island off Costa Rica, where eccentric billionaire John Hammond has created a theme park filled with real dinosaurs (or at least real cloned dinosaurs).
Wow Factor: A Steven Spielberg movie about dinosaurs? Jurassic Park had a place reserved for it in the top 10 before it was even released.
Re-Watchability: Unlike some of Spielberg’s other work, Jurassic Park is fairly straightforward; crazy billionaire tries to play God, chaos ensues. People weren’t coming back over and over to pick up on the finer points of the plot. Instead, this movie relied on the theme park effect. After you’ve been on a rollercoaster once, there aren’t any more surprises; you know where the big drops are, you know when to smile for the camera (even though there’s no way you’re dropping $40 to actually take the picture home) and you know how it’s going to end; yet you keep getting back in line to do it again. Jurassic Park is the same way. You know what’s coming, but it’s still fun to experience the ride. Also, it was 1993, there were like 50 channels total and the first internet browser was only a few months old; so it could have just been a lack of options.
Improvement: One thing that always bothered me about this movie was the stolen DNA that Newman stored in the shaving cream can. It’s introduced very early in the movie and shown more than once, so as an audience we assume it’s important. In the midst of a tropical storm and dinosaur attack, Newman drops it and, unbeknownst to him, it rolls away down a hill. This would be fine except there’s a lengthy shot where the camera dramatically settles on the can as it is engulfed in mud. I always believed this meant we hadn’t seen or heard the last of it, but two sequels and 18 years later, it appears that I was mistaken.
Lessons Learned: Give the audience credit, but not too much. Nearly every part of this movie performed like a well-oiled machine, but what really made it stand out was the way they handled the science. If the dinosaurs had been created using a magic wand, or with some unknown element, the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as good. Jurassic Park excels because it makes you believe that it could actually happen, and that enhances the experience. However, Spielberg made sure the movie didn’t get weighted down by the (fake) complex science behind cloning dinosaurs. By creating a cartoon that explained the process in terms that most everyone could understand, they correctly assumed that the audience would be willing to follow a cartoon and learn the process, but probably wouldn’t be willing to listen to a scientist drone on for 5 minutes explaining the intricacies detailed in the book. They gave them credit, but not too much.
armovieguys score: 9.25 out of 10.