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6th May 2024

Jurassic Park: T-Rexcellent or bit of a Dino-snore?

Does Jurassic Park still hold up or would Spielberg have been better off leaving the dinosaurs extinct?
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Jurassic Park: T-Rexcellent or bit of a Dino-snore?
Credit: Jurassic Park @ Universal Pictures

Jurassic Park – a film so iconic it’s hard to imagine a time without it. There aren’t many films from over 30 years ago in which audience members can picture an entire scene from just the mention of one line: “Welcome to Jurassic Park.” I bet you’ve already got its infectious “duh nuh nuh nuh nuh” stuck in your head – apologies for the next four hours, whilst you now try to get it out. With its ground-breaking use of CGI, the film became an instantly recognisable classic upon release, but how would it fare if released today?

Many of its scenes are still of good quality. For instance, the classic raptor scene, which is still as watch-from-behind-the-sofa-inducingly tense as I’m sure it was for a student reviewing it on opening weekend. Here, the film makes excellent use of sound design, highlighting the scraping claws against the kitchen floor paired with desperate shots of children trying to find refuge in the kitchen cupboards. It’s a thrilling watch.

When coupled with scenes like that of Lex (Ariana Richards), Tim (Joseph Mazzello), and Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) trying to climb over the electric fence before the power comes back on, Spielberg really starts to show off his skill in creating tension and spectacle.

But this couldn’t be a comprehensive review of Jurassic Park if we didn’t mention its pioneering use of CGI. Here, Spielberg continued his creation of spectacle by using never-before-seen techniques that allowed him to build believable dinosaurs from the bones up (no pun intended). This marked a major milestone for cinema, creating one of the most realistic creature animations ever made at the time with techniques that are still used today!

However, it is this realistic animation that the film appears to rely on to draw in audiences, rather than good storytelling.

Although the scenes are tense, the audience finds it hard to care about their outcome due to the film’s weak characters (could anyone actually have named the children before I reminded you above?). Ultimately, viewers are often left indifferent about events that should have a big impact. Jurassic Park struggles to stand up to its previous reverence now that its CGI is no longer as impressive as it was thirty years ago. Yet, it also cannot rely on its storytelling alone. As such, it probably wouldn’t do as well if released today.

Thus, Jurassic Park isn’t some thought-provoking masterpiece that will alter the way you see the world… it’s a blockbuster after all. It’s fun and it’s got some cool CGI – anything else and you’re probably best looking somewhere different, but you already knew that really.

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