Classic Intel: Jurassic Park - TV Review

'if the costumes were updated to modern fashions and the film submitted as a final cut for immediate release tomorrow, it might well find itself accepted'

At the ripe old age of eighteen (if that doesn't make you feel old, nothing will), Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg's effects-laden 1993 dinosaur adventure, should look dated. It doesn't. In fact, if the costumes were updated to modern fashions and the film submitted as a final cut for immediate release tomorrow, it might well find itself accepted.

Watching it again, to trot out a cliché, is like becoming re-acquainted with an old friend, albeit an old friend with gigantic teeth, intent on sinking them in to you and ripping your head off. Indeed, perhaps the teeth were too gigantic for the UK's ITV station. The film was noticeably re-cut in places, most worryingly so during the sequence where Ellie (Laura Dern) is chased through a bunker by the Raptors. The nervous TV channel appear to have deleted Ray Arnold's (Samuel L. Jackson) severed arm which leaves a gaping plot hole around his disappearance from the narrative.

TV-influenced plot holes aside though, Spielberg's adventure plays out as a series of highlights, each with something fantastic to offer. Take the appearance of the T-Rex for example. An unforgettable shot of rippling water in a plastic cup (achieved by twanging a guitar string beneath the plastic dashboard) leads us into the grand reveal of the star attraction for the first time. We're a significant way into the film but Spielberg knows the reveal should be paced and times it to perfection, inspiring jaw-dropping awe and a prehistoric antagonist to terrify all ages. A later scene of the Raptors stalking Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards) through the kitchen is signature Spielberg; claustrophobic, tense and inventive.

The element that most often gets forgotten about in Jurassic Park is the performances, often marginalised by those of the CGI and animatronic non-human co-stars. Jeff Goldblum, whose character is completely altered in the sequel, steals the show with the best lines from Michael Crichton and David Koepp's script but his performance wouldn't work without Sam Neill as the stoical heart of the film. Neill makes lines of scientific and palaeoecological mumbo-jumbo sound like convincing fact and his development from cold-hearted desert rat to sole protector of Lex and Tim is convincing. Richard Attenborough's performance as ambitious businessman John Hammond is also notable. Attenborough manages to instill a usually unsympathetic character archetype with warmth and humour and Crichton and Koepp deserve praise for delivering a script which leaves him room to do so.

Refusing to weary with age the only problems with the film are those that have been there all along. The opening trip to the amber mine still seems unnecessary. The amber itself in fact is a weak MacGuffin of the highest order. Of the cast, Laura Dern has a few wayward lines ('run...ruunnnnn') as does Martin Ferrero whose presence seems perfunctory.

Minor gripes. An old-fashioned adventure with an incredibly young-feeling vintage.

Jurassic Park was showing on the ITV channels in the UK.

Look further...

'Crichton's setup also allows for explorations of the morality of genetic engineering in a time where scientific breakthroughs made work in the field possible -- two years after Jurassic Park, scientists cloned Dolly the sheep' - Not Just Movies


  1. So, if its that good, why the 4/5? C'mon, this film is completely 5/5! And, in fairness, it is dated in the costumes, granted, but you'd hardly hold that against CITIZEN KANE as the costumes are part of the context.

    Flawless cinema and my favourite... ever.

  2. I like it a lot but I don't think its perfect, Simon - a brave choice for your favourite film ever though so fair play if you rate it that highly. The costumes don't contribute to the reasons why I don't think its a five star film, I was just pointing out that they are the only thing that make it seem dated. The main reasons I don't love it are in my last-but-one paragraph but you could also add the Nedry character to that list; he's straight out of the file labelled 'overweight guy who knows unspecified stuff about coputers'.