It has been nearly a month since the release of Jurassic World Dominion and if you read my review, you know I absolutely loved that film. Since its release, I have reflected on my love for the franchise and the original film. If you have been following our website long enough you might also be aware that the original Jurassic Park is my favourite film of all time. Released in 1993 this film was successful from the beginning and received praise from audiences and critics. Now a year away from the 30th anniversary I would like to take a look at why I think Jurassic Park is a perfectly constructed blockbuster film.
Jurassic Park was directed by my all-time favourite director Steven Spielberg. Even if you don’t know much about movies there is a good chance you have heard of him and probably have seen at least one of his films. He has a huge filmography and to list all his films would not be worth it but suffice to say he has directed tons of films in a variety of genres. Of course, Mr. Spielberg is credited with the creation of the summer blockbuster with his hit Jaws in 1975. The rest is history with him having been nominated for 19 Oscars and having won 3 he is a hit with critics. Most of his films have been fan favourites and financial successes. I say all this to say he was the perfect director for the film and to create the success. He was a fan of the original novel and wanted to make this film. His passion for the story is shown through his direction and decisions made to amplify this movie to an 11.
One of the many genres that Jurassic Park fits is the monster movie. When we look at this film from that angle the characters in this film are so much better than they even needed to be. Most times in monster movies characters do not receive much if any development and sometimes they have little personality as they are usually used to explain the story and get eaten. In Jurassic Park, the characters are both memorable and a few of them do grow through the story as well.
Alan Grant ( Sam Neill) is a paleontologist who frankly dislikes kids. Through the course of the film, he sees his identity and passion threatened by the bringing back of dinosaurs. To make matters worse he becomes stuck in a jungle with these creatures who he knows are dangerous and he has to take care of to children who are dependent on him. During their time together Grant develops a bond with Tim and Lex and we get to see how he grows to care for them and begins to even joke around with them towards the end. When they are flying away in the helicopter it is Grant who they rest on. Ellie Sattler ( Laura Dern) plays a scientist who is way out of her field as she isn’t an action hero but she doesn’t crack under the pressure and is even the one to get the power back on in the park. Ian Malcolm ( Jeff Goldblum) is a chaotician who honestly gets everything right in this movie as we see every one of his predictions in regard to the park come to pass but he proves his bravery when he draws the T-Rex away. Malcolm’s speech pattern and timing create much of the comedy in the film and considering his character was originally going to die he provides much-needed levity and humour when the intensity rises. John Hammond ( Richard Attenborough) is our visionary and creator of Jurassic Park. His passion and enthusiasm are infectious towards his creation and as he says “Creation is an act of sheer will” he gets perhaps the most important arc in the film. He sees the inherent danger in his creation and how trying to play God will usually result in catastrophe. At the end of the film, he looks solemnly at his island knowing that he must depart. The movie did not need to put this much effort into the character work and a large part of this is the actors’ charm and skills making us care for these characters and their personal stories. Since we care it raises the stakes and intensity of every thrilling scene as we want the characters to make it out alive.
As I previously mentioned the film could fall under the category of a monster movie. It has the makings of one of those movies with a giant creature escaping usually in a secluded area and rampaging killing a lot of people. I think that these elements are present and are definitely utilised to the best of their ability. The later sequels lean into this more but I feel that this film does have elements of that monster film and that is a positive not a negative. Hand in hand with that is the Horror/Thriller elements utilised in this film. There is a build-up to the more scary and frightening dinosaurs. The opening of the film shows a Velociraptor attacking and killing an employee but we don’t see it fully it’s just a tease. Our first real scare is the T-Rex escape (my favourite scene) and the suspense there is tantalizing. From the water shaking in the car to this missing goat to the claw on the fence until finally the T-Rex escapes and she is intimidating. When she roars it shakes everything and I still remember as a 7-year-old watching this at my house being scared yet captivated. Another scene that perfectly uses suspense is the raptor kitchen scene as we see a kind of hide and seek between two velociraptors and Lex and Tim. The tension as the kids try to crawl around the kitchen making no noise and every close encounter has you on the edge of your seat. Now, none of this will really scare you especially if you’re older but the building of that tension still is in line with that Horror/Thriller genre. Science Fiction is another genre the film fits into for obvious reasons. The use of the science while far-fetched is explained well enough for audiences to believe that this kind of cloning could be possible. It takes an idea based on fact and science and sees where the imagination could take it. This film also could be classified as an adventure film with the Alan/Tim/Lex story as we see them have to make their way across a treacherous jungle to make it to safety which has been seen in many adventure films before. The combination of all the factors creates a story that feels familiar yet unique as it uses these genres in different combinations to create the story it wanted to tell.
I could not talk about the greatness of this film without acknowledging the amazing score by John Williams. John Williams is known as the man who scored your childhood and this is one of his very best. From the iconic main theme, the journey to the island theme, to the way he used the score to add the suspense and tension this film would not be half as good without his fantastic contribution.
All these factors from the director, the characters, the score, and the genres are all the reasons why I believe Jurassic Park to be a perfectly constructed blockbuster. Kids have always loved dinosaurs and now you put them in a film where they are in our modern world and that will captivate. When you hear that Jurassic Park theme and you picture those dinosaurs wonder and awe come to mind. There is a reason this film is beloved and became a franchise. It has been in pop culture since its release and there it shall remain for a long time.