Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton and David Koepp
I was nine years old when this movie came out in 1993. At the time my father was the manager at the Uptown Theater in downtown Washington D.C. and I was there when this movie premiered there. The theater only had one huge screen with a large auditorium and a balcony. I sat on the first row of the balcony to watch the movie and for two hours and seven minutes my mind was blown. It is still to this day the largest screen I ever watched a movie on and I don’t know that anything I had ever seen as a nine year old was more exciting than this movie about dinosaurs. I’ll never forget how I felt after seeing it for the first time, it was probably pivotal at my age in my development as a movie fan. I was so exhilarated; I remember immediately thinking about how awesome the inevitable sequel would be. I had suddenly discovered the coolest thing that had ever existed, the velociraptor, and here I had spent nine whole years thinking it was the T-Rex.
As I grew up I only came to love this movie more as I was able to understand more with my growing maturity. Eventually I read the book and was at first disappointed by how different it was but by the end came to love it as well. Michael Crichton is a good writer but he tends to wear me out as a reader sometimes. His books are fascinating and always have exciting stories but they are just so nonstop with danger around every corner. Things never cool down and the danger around every corner can sometimes be exhausting. Crichton of course was already a very successful writer long before he conceived the idea for this story. So successful that when he approached movie studios with nothing more than the idea for the book he was immediately offered tons of money for film rights. Four studios fought over the right to make the film, each with a director in mind to attach to the project. So Crichton had his pick of who would make his book into a film even before he wrote it. He ultimately chose Universal Studios who had Steven Spielberg penciled in to direct and I think we can all agree he made the right choice.
Nobody captures excitement and adventure quite like Steven Spielberg and his people. He brought along David Koepp to work on the script, John Williams to work up the musical score, and Kathleen Kennedy to produce. This group of people can almost be likened to a mathematical equation that equals success because they have created it time and time again. They know how to make great and long lasting movies and did that again when they got together for this one. Spielberg even tapped one of his other resources for this film by bringing on George Lucas to finish direction when it came time for Spielberg to work on his next film, Schindler’s List. I mentioned in a previous post that Spielberg had a great knack for growing as a filmmaker and adapting to the times and new techniques. He did that with this movie as the technology used to bring all the dinosaurs to life was very new at the time.
I have always liked the cast of this movie although none of the actors used were really big names. Sam Neill has never been much of a leading man but I thought he was great in the part. Most of the other films I have seen Neill in have been horror films and he is awesome in those. The number one that comes to mind is In the Mouth of Madness which I remember being particularly scary. Laura Dern was the female lead and she is another I would not call a leading actress. Although she has starred in the lead of her own television show on HBO, Enlightened. Although the show has been cancelled after two seasons. I haven’t seen much of it but Amber seemed really interested at one time. Jeff Goldblum has a large enough role to almost be considered a lead and he probably had the most recognizable name among the cast. I have never been a fan of Goldblum but I think he fit the role of Ian Malcolm really well. The only problem with him in the role was it required him to be the lead actor in the sequel. I think they could have been more prudent in choosing, but they didn’t know that at the time because the sequel hadn’t been written yet. Of his two rounds playing the part I think we saw him do better in this film.
I think the strength of this cast lies in all the supporting roles because they had many good people filling in the smaller roles. Samuel L. Jackson was relatively unknown when he was in this movie. It wouldn’t be till the following year when he was in Pulp Fiction that his star really began to rise. I thought he was great as the chain smoking park technician in this movie. I also particularly like Wayne Knight’s role in the film. This was probably the highest point in Knight’s career as he was starting to get plenty of face time on Seinfeld as Newman. Long after Seinfeld Knight saw a dip in his career and as far as I know it is all but over now. I read an article a few years back that he had lost A LOT of weight. So much so that he was barely recognizable as all his time in the public eye was as such a heavy man. I read that he was having a hard time getting roles because of his weight loss but he was happier to be in shape and living a healthier life. I think that is great for him and I hope Wayne Knight is still keeping it up and doing well, but I miss him in parts like this. Richard Attenborough also brought a lot to the film in his role as the park’s creator. Although his portrayal in the film is much different than it was in the book. In the book John Hammond was a real ass and I think all readers were really pleased when he is eaten by some of the smaller dinosaurs in the park. Of course in the film he lives and not only that but he has that great grandfatherly quality that Attenborough has himself so he is very likable. Joseph Mazzello also played a great part but he has had a hard time transitioning his success as a child into anything else. He is still out there popping up here and there but hasn’t done much of any significance.
This movie will always be important to me for more reasons than how awesome it might have been. I will never forget the premier of the film when I was there at the Uptown in 1993. I don’t remember seeing them all specifically but Jeff Goldblum was there, both of the two child actors, Laura Dern maybe, and I did see Muhammad Ali who attended. Although I didn’t see him I know that Vice President Al Gore was there as well because I met a Secret Service agent that was there to guard him. While waiting for the movie to start the VP had taken over my father’s office and when I went there looking for my dad I found my father wasn’t in there but there was a man in a suit standing guard outside. He was a really cool guy who humored my fascination in what he did with plenty of conversation. I will never forget it for as long as I live because at nine years he was quite possibly the coolest guy I had ever met in my entire life. He showed me his gun and even took the clip out to show me the bullets he used. I doubt this was something he was supposed to or even allowed to do but he left such an impression on me. I was quite lucky to meet one who was nice to me instead of being a hardass, as I imagine most Secret Service members are and should be.
I don’t have to tell you anything more about this movie because you most likely already have plenty of your own ideas about it. This is one of those films that simply everybody saw at the time because it was that popular. Both the film and the book are worth your time and I would suggest investing some in both of them. Universal Studios is still trying to harness the bank-ability of this film franchise and there is always talk of a fourth film in the works. Over the year I have heard all kind of ideas thrown out there, even one as wild as velociraptors equipped with laser technology that allows them to fight humans in battle. I doubt a film like that will ever be made but I am sure we will eventually see a fourth film in the franchise. Will it match up to this one? Of course not but that doesn’t mean that somebody else won’t pick up the torch and do something significant with it.
This classic movie is a movie that everyone should have seen by now. Who doesn’t love a good story about dinosaurs? I really like this movie. I still don’t mind watching it when it comes on television. It’s a fun ride and a classic flick.
I really think this is a successful poster. Who needs to show a poster filled with dinosaurs? I love that they decided to simply use the park logo as the focus for this poster. It tells you everything that you need to know. This logo is still iconic today, just as I said about the Ghostbusters logo. People automatically know what this is when they see it. Overall, I think this poster deserves a big kudos. It took a risk being so simplistic, but this works on so many levels. Love it.
NEXT MOVIE: The Lost World (1997)