John Williams

Jurassic Park

Year: 1993
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton and David Koepp

RYAN’S REVIEW

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, EnlightenedAlthough 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.

AMBER’S REVIEW

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.

jurassicpark

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)

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Raiders of The Lost Ark

Year: 1981
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay) George Lucas and Philip Kaufman (story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was in college I wrote a fifteen page paper on this movie for one of my classes.  It was a very in depth critical analysis in which I praised Steven Spielberg as one of the greatest directors of all time and accused George Lucas of being a hack that only did one good thing and fooled millions of people into thinking he had talent.  I made an A on the paper and I still stand by those positions today.  Spielberg has continued to make incredible movies and George Lucas has continued to destroy his greatest creations and ruin their legacies.  Not even this franchise was safe from Lucas’ meddling but nevertheless he did play a large role in making this movie, and it is a legendary movie.  This movie is so iconic and so awesome that it remains relevant even after more than thirty years since its release and in time I think we will find it still relevant in yet another thirty year period.

I’m not going to spend too much time talking specifically about how good this movie is because everybody out there already knows that.  If you are young and managed not to see this movie growing up you should confront your parents and demand an explanation.  This movie is exciting, interesting, timeless, and action packed.  Indiana Jones is a total badass and true American hero. He made boys all over the world want whips they could combat anything with. I like Jones as the hero because he is a strong character.  He is educated, secular, practical, and brave.  He doesn’t give credence to superstition. He follows his mind and not his heart. He does what needs to be done, and he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.  The guy can fistfight with the best of them and still be in class the following day blowing off the doe eyed babes trying to hit on him.  He rocks the shit out of that hat too, and it makes his silhouette one of the most memorable ever.  Another thing that makes him a great American hero is his hate for Nazis.  Indy is great at beating up Nazis and how can any red blooded American out there not love him for that?

The character of Indiana Jones was in fact created by George Lucas, but he originally named the character Indiana Smith.  When he and Spielberg were discussing the film Spielberg told him he loved the story but he wasn’t crazy about the name Indiana Smith.  So Lucas came up with the oh so clever second attempt of Jones which was what stuck.  Lucas couldn’t use the most popular name in the nation so he went with the second most popular.  I think that, in a nutshell, sums up the capabilities of George Lucas as a creative writer.  I cannot explain Star Wars because he did create something exceptional there, in the beginning, but I maintain he is a hack despite Star Wars.  I think the success of this movie and franchise is 100% because Spielberg was behind the camera.  He is one of the greatest directors of all time and he is in his element making movies like this.  Spielberg has a great imagination for action sequences and nobody films them with such an exciting impact as he does.  

He has always made great use of composer John Williams as well to his great advantage.  Williams is an incredible composer and has created a number of memorable scores.  The score for this movie alone will live on forever and that’s only one next to several very successful films over the last 30+ years.  His music has played a significant role in setting the tone for Spielberg movies such as this one, E.T., Jawsand Jurassic ParkWilliams was also the key composer for all Star Wars films and The Harry Potter franchise as well.  He has had a career for the ages and will be remembered for all time.

Karen Allen was nothing short of awesome in this movie.  As Marion Ravenwood she plays such a badass woman who will drink you under the table and stab you if you underestimate her.  I was really hopeful for her return to the franchise in the fourth film because I thought it certified that the movie would be awesome and tie them all together.  I was really disappointed with the fourth movie though, which I still think had the potential to be everything all of us wanted it to be.  Naturally, I blame George Lucas for what was ultimately put on the screen but I am biased in that regard.  Paul Freeman played the part of the lead villain well enough but Ronald Lacey showed him up as a bad guy.  For the longest time this was the only movie I knew John Rhys-Davies from and was shocked when I realized he was the man who played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Years ago I wrote so much about this movie that I found it difficult to do it this time because I hate to be redundant.  This is a movie and franchise really important to me though because as far back as I can remember I was watching Indiana Jones and loving every minute of it. These movies are timeless and I sincerely hope they are still being enjoyed by the rising generation today.  All three of the first three movies are worth your time but this one more than any other.  You have undoubtedly seen it already but if you haven’t I don’t know what you are waiting for.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is a classic. It’s almost blasphemous to say anything derogatory about it. Here is the poster:

raiders

Spielberg was obsessed with this style back in the day. This takes me right back to my Goonies review. I think what they are going for is this “adventurous” style so they make it all sketched out. I really don’t like it all. He has a super cheesy look on his face, the font for Raiders looks like it is bad word art (of course all word art is bad) and on top of that it is filled with a gradient! This movie may be a classic and this poster probably stands out in the minds of those who love it, but I hate this poster. It is definitely one of my least favorite.

NEXT MOVIE: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984)