Jurassic Park (1993)

on June 11, 1993 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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Steven Spielberg's long-awaited "Jurassic Park" is the big green monster of summer movies, living up to all of its hype and then some. The human characters are paper thin, the plot is so simple it could almost be called primal, and the filmmaker's own "gee whiz" view of science is at odds with the storyline's inherent (and classically science fiction-ish) phobia about the "things mankind was meant to leave alone." But none of this matters at all once a carnivorous T-Rex that is the most fully realized dinosaur in movie history lumbers onto the screen and begins wreaking epic havoc with a level of believability that is little short of amazing.
   The plot is equal parts "Westworld" and (believe it or not) "Jaws 3-D." Like those films, "Jurassic Park" is about a theme park run amok, only this time, it's genetically-engineered dinosaurs (rather than "Westworld's" robot cowpokes or "Jaws 3-D's" requisite great white shark) that have gone awry. For the first time since "E.T.," Spielberg's heart seems to be genuinely in the work on one of his more escapist offerings. The covert hostility he's shown toward this type of popcorn material ever since the critical failure of "The Color Purple" and "Empire of the Sun" dashed his hopes of graduating to "serious" themes is largely absent from "Jurassic Park," except for some wry, slyly subversive jabs at the lawyers and licensing departments that have become such a negative force in contemporary mass entertainment (thanks to merchandising-obsessed filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, of course).
   Of the human cast members, only Richard Attenborough (as the park's twinkly creator) and Jeff Goldblum (as a punked-out Cassandra of doom and "Jurassic Park's" resident "chaos" theoretician) really manage to shine within their under-written roles, primarily because both actors have their own, rather vivid mannerisms as performers, which suggest layers of human complexity the writing doesn't even guess at. When the frame isn't filled with king-sized lizards, there's a lean, unadorned quality to Spielberg's visuals that may mark the beginnings of a maturing pictorial style, leaving open the possibility that Spielberg's upcoming, holocaust-themed fall offering -- "Schindler's List" -- could be the art-film breakthrough its director is so clearly hoping for.
   Since Willis O'Brien first used stop motion photography to animate the dinosaurs in the 1925 version of "The Lost World," cinemagicians like O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen have attempted to realize "Jurassic Park's" effortlessly believable vision of the vanished giants that once inhabited the earth. With an able assist from an entire generation of effects masters, and state of the art technologies which had to be invented to make the film, Steven Spielberg has accomplished their goal at last. When the dust clears and the cash registers stop ringing, "Jurassic Park" will stand.
Ray Greene Universal 126 minutes
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