“Can’t just suppress 65 million years of gut instinct.”
For the last few months, it has seemed like people have been trying to convince themselves they were excited about Jurassic World. Or at least, I felt like they were trying to convince themselves. Then, a few weeks ago, it opened and broke the box record for highest grossing opening weekend ever. So I guess people had been genuinely excited about Jurassic World and I just projected my own ambivalence about the movie on to them. Then I realised that the reason I was so ambivalent while the rest of the world was getting excited, was because I’ve never seen a single movie in the Jurassic franchise. I guess I had nothing to get excited about. So, it’s time to join the rest of the world in getting excited about Jurassic World. But before I can see it, I have to catch up, starting with the original, Jurassic Park.
Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are working on an archaeological dig for dinosaur bones when they’re summoned by eccentric billionaire, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), whisking them away to a secluded island somewhere in Central America. Joining them is mathematician, Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Landing on Hammond’s island, the three doctors soon have their minds blown when they see that Hammond and his scientists have brought dinosaurs back to life.
Using the contents of a mosquito preserved in amber for millions of years, Hammond has been able to clone all sorts of species of dinosaur, and intends to open his island as the ultimate theme park. The only problem is, his investors won’t fund the completion of this obviously risky venture, unless Hammond can have his park and creations endorsed by some experts. Hence the summoning of Grant, Sattler and Malcolm. Taking a tour of the park, along with Hammond’s own grandchildren, the new arrivals soon realise that Hammond’s investors were right to worry about visitor safety.
I was 12 or 13 when this movie came out. You’d think that would have been the perfect age to be seeing this ground breaking, special effects revolutionising, Spielberg-tastic adventure. And thinking back, I still have no idea how it escaped me then or in all the years since. I don’t think I developed my cynical distaste for Spielbergian sentimentality until a few years later. Maybe its world domination at the time just had me burnt out on the movie before it even opened in the cinema.
Now that I have joined the rest of civilization and actually seen Jurassic Park, I get it. The effects still look amazing now, more than 20 years later. So seeing them on the big screen back then must have been nothing short of brain melting. And while I still have an ample cynical distaste for Spielbergian sentimentality, Jurassic Park represents the other side of Spielberg’s career. The side where he proves again and again that no one does big spectacle, wide appeal, family friendly adventure, better than Steven Spielberg.