When Dr. Allen (Sam Neill) and Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) first lay eyes on a Brachiosaur ambling around close to their jeep, it is the sort of scene that you can easily imagine spawning a generation of new filmmakers in 1993. The slow reveal, John Williams’s iconic score, Laura Dern’s priceless expression, special effects that twenty-years on – twenty years – still hold-up. It’s a watershed moment in the memories of so many young filmgoers.
I first watched Jurassic Park when I was nine-years-old. 16-years on, thousands of films later from directors spanning centuries, that scene still gives me chills.
Most directors upon filming something like that would pack up their things, dust their hands and retire, happy with what they had contributed to cinema. Jurassic Park is full of those moments. The resonating cup of water, the entire sequence with the T-Rex in the rain, ‘clever girl.’ It seems endless.
In the current big budget blockbuster climate, Jurassic Park is a conspicuously small affair; as contained in its scale as the gates of the park itself. The cast of characters is modest but universally strong, let down only at times by a script that doesn’t quite match up with Spielberg’s assured direction.
Most impressive, of course, are the special effects. It is a combination of CGI and animatronics that pack a punch, even now. After two decades, given how much technology has moved on since then, it creaks in places, but to say Jurassic Park still looks fantastic is not at all a rose-tinted sentiment. Jason and the Argonauts it most certainly isn’t.
Jurassic Park is a blueprint for how blockbusters should be done, yet it is arguably the last great film of its kind. Did everybody in the post-Jurassic era simply not see any point after such a film? Who knows. With the new entry in the series on its way, even if it ends up falling short, we will always have the first: standing tall and magnificently today as it will no doubt continue to do so in decades to come. (9)