Explore Alastair's thoughts across two blog collections: 

 

contemporary

Articles about movies, TV shows, tabletop gaming and more. 

classic

Classic TV & film retrospectives from Alastair's personal movie collection.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

An adventure 65 million years in the making.

As I write this, I'm sat with my housemate who is watching Jurassic Park for the first time. There's a bit of an age gap between us; I was ten years old when Jurassic Park was released at cinemas in 1993, whilst she was only one. 

For this reason, it feels like a good place to start off my Classic Movie articles. Movies like Jurassic Park are so engrained in pop culture that most people know of them. But with respect for people like my housemate, these articles will always be spoiler free of any major plot twists that could otherwise ruin the movie for a first-timer. 

It was a huge movie, and everything from the moment you stepped through those front doors to when you sat down helped build up the suspense and anticipation in ways that don't happen now.

Jurassic Park was easily one of the defining moments of my childhood, and not just because I loved dinosaurs. When I look back at how cinemas have changed over the years, Jurassic Park is always the first one to jump to mind. And that's likely because it was always one of the best movie experiences of that era. It existed in a time before the Internet where all we had were TV commercials and magazines to feed us tidbits of information about the imaginative marvel that we were about to see. TVs were small. Picture quality of home movies was relatively poor, and you'd go into a cinema with a gigantic screen and a far higher quality picture than you've ever seen. UCI Cinemas in Warrington, England [which now exists as an Odeon Cinema] handed out magazines with movie information on them. There were TV screens hanging from the ceiling showing the trailer. You didn't have to pay extra for a Jurassic Park themed cup, because every size of cup had the Jurassic Park logo on them. There was a pizza restaurant joint onto the cinema and they had Jurassic Park themed everything. It was a huge movie, and everything from the moment you stepped through those front doors to when you sat down helped build up the suspense and anticipation - especially for every ten year old - in ways that don't happen to the same degree now. It was a magical spectacle in every way that mattered. 

That's not to say that cinema is worse today; it is just a very different kind of experience. 

For a movie made in 1993, the effects still hold up really really well. Even the CGI was ahead of its time. There are countless movies made a decade later which look far worse.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Jurassic Park, it's based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name. It revolves around a man who has managed to find a way to clone dinosaurs and open a theme park to the public for them to see real, live, breathing dinosaurs. But before that can happen, he needs approval from various experts whom he invites to test out the park prior to opening. Of course, opening a theme park full of dinosaurs is generally a bad idea and the dinosaurs eventually escape and begin eating the visitors.  

John William's soundtrack is perfect. The music really adds to the suspense and excitement all throughout the movie in ways I can't even begin to explain. But when that theme hits during their arrival at the island, you know you're about to experience something special. 

Also; that roar.  

For a movie made in 1993, the effects still hold up really really well. Stan Winston and Steven Spielberg always made a point to use real models as much as possible, and they were right to do so. But even the CGI was ahead of its time. There are countless movies made a decade later which look far worse. 

It's also very telling of the time. When Tim is playing with the night vision goggles, the 'blood-sucking lawyer' asks "Are they heavy? Then they're expensive, put 'em back." These days, technology is very much the opposite. 

It was also the first time I'd ever heard reference to a Unix system, when Lex is trying her hand at navigating files using a 3D interface. I remembered how cool that looked and I desperately wanted to have a go on one. Someone later made a similar interface that ran on Windows 98, and although it looked cool, it was crap and a poor user experience. But then again, most UI designs for movies generally are. But these days we have Unix operating systems like OS X and Linux, and so it would be nice to go back and tell ten year old me that he would spend his future using such a system on a daily basis, albeit without having to be told that I "didn't say the magic word" when trying to do stuff. 

Seeing my friend's responses to the 'veggiesauruses' and concern over the electric fences being turned back on is fantastic and just goes to show how well made of a movie Jurassic Park truly is. With Jurassic World on the horizon, I urge you to revisit the island one more time before the new movie hits cinemas. It really is worth it, and every time I do I am reminded of how excited my ten year old self was all throughout the film. 

As for the ending, this was my housemate's response;

Lydia: Why is is there nice gentle music playing when a lot of people just died?

Me: Because they've finally managed to get off the island.

Lydia: [Quietly] ...But a lot of people died. 

Yes they did. Yes they did. 

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