Jurassic Park (1993)
Life finds a way.
It might seem like I'm behind schedule on putting out a dinosaur movie to cash in on the sudden resurgence of the Jurassic franchise, but in all honesty it's just a mistiming in the queue delivery causing me to find a backup movie to do for this week and going "wow, I haven't done a single one of those movies eh?" So here we have it - Jurassic Park. It's been a while since I watched it, and there is always that lingering feeling of wanting to perhaps pick up that 3d edition I saw existed, but how well does it hold up after all these years? Is it just nostalgia coloring the world, or is it actually as impressive as dinosaurs stomping around in a park? Lets sit down and see just how extinct these dinosaurs really are.
Surprise, it holds up pretty well. That's not really a surprise to anyone whose seen the movie since it came out, as it looked pretty dang top notch then as well. I will admit however, that there is a bit of moments coming back to this movie where things did look a bit more fake than I perhaps recalled - such as the car sliding over the wall. To be honest though, the fact that i'm stating that everything still holds up is more in relation to the computer assisted or generated effects work than the practical stuff - if practical looks good at one point, it's pretty much always going to look pretty good. Computer stuff though, with such an advancing pace of enhancement, can easily become outdated in comparison to what it's newer times can offer. There are, after all, people who would swear that at the time games like Final Fantasy VII looked real. All of this is to say that yes, if you look for the seams you'll find cases where things don't look quite as well as you remember, but the general leather skin of the dinosaurs and how they are placed at most times are all very beneficially done to help keep it looking good through the time - granted, you can largely tell when something is practical just because of how it interacts with or is interacted with over it's less there counterparts.
As far as the plot goes, it's still about on par with what it was. It services the movie, and it nails its moments of wonder and impression in the same stride that it once did - although largely I question how much of that would be lost on a crowd whose already seen the dinosaur parks of the current generation - a reveal of a park with dinosaurs isn't quite as niche anymore I suppose. Characters have their little moments, some of which have gone on through the ages to become memes and frequently quoted by people who may not have even seen the movie. There isn't a whole lot of growth in this as far as the wide berth of crew, largely limited to a character growing to like or appreciate kids more, and one coming to terms with the fact that maybe his idea - regardless of how well intended - just isn't meant to be or worth the risks. Still, the movie is just as much about the creatures as it is these humans.
And in that regard, it's a bit of a odd twist that I don't quite recall. Outside of a spooky stinger at the front, and the initial reveal of "Welcome to Jurassic Park", it takes dang near an hour for there to be any real dinosaur action. The setup isn't bad by any means, it's doing a good job setting up characters and trying to get any questions you might have out of the way so you can just enjoy the ensuing chaos when things go wrong- but that does mean a lot of talking folks without too much going on. It does manage to stay pretty animated for the most part, although a watcher may start feeling much like the visitors sitting in the car waiting to see dinosaurs - a little "well, are we going to get to see any dinosaurs again?" Thankfully, when they finally come out in that second half, they add plenty of action and tension to the scenes while keeping up that sense of majesty one gets from seeing such good looking giant critters.
The plot and characters aside, the actors do a pretty good job of acting. The kids are alright to pretty dang good at times, but I do largely feel that our pair of dino diggers do the best jobs of the main cast. Yes, most will serenade you with lines from the Goldblum character such as "must go faster!" or "too busy thinking if they could, and not if they should." Fun lines and very applicable to plenty of things for sure, but at times the character comes off as cheesy as crap - the kind of character who might get picked apart for such in other movies - although not nearly as doofy a character as that of Nedry. Even with that, the adults all do a fine job, despite there being some moments of break-holes in their actions.
That break-hole isn't just a character thing though. There are moments when spacial retention is totally lost - we see a Rex pen with a goat in it, and then a Rex comes through the fence at one point, but later in that scene when the car gets pushed over it, it appears to be this chasm-sized drop to the ground that the Rex as sized in the movie should not be casually walking over. Granted, it really doesn't matter because the events are fun to watch and it makes for some great movie - but it's thing that happens. This could just be a watcher issue - getting lost or confused as to something that's shown spatially (as opposed to the car door being closed and then open again, which is an obvious whoopsie on the editors end). Similarly, characters making dumb decisions (looking at you in particular, expert hunter man) could just be from moments of excitement or stress getting the better of them and making a key detail slip their mind. Science also probably falls into this category - the ever changing field deciding things like dinosaurs being a different size or feathered or whatever other anatomical changes they have thought upon - that and the fact that the Rex apparently has a stinking stealth drive considering how it can make a stealth appearance despite a few moments calling out how obvious it is when it's approaching.
There's also some jokes in this movie. Mileage will vary, as I say, but it is enough to give you a bit of a good buzz while you are watching. Same thing could be said of the comeuppance of characters as well. Adding to the general mood - especially in the majesty department - is the well done score. The movie also has this tendency of spiking you with the score when dialogue or background folly work is minimal, really just maximizing the feeling they are trying to get across - such as that earlier mentioned "Welcome to Jurassic Park" moment. It probably also helps that the main theme is quite catchy - heck, over the years it's pretty much become to dinosaurs what the Jaws theme is to things being snuck up on for me. The other sounds are great as well, regardless of how accurate they could be. A roaring Rex in a theater would probably have been absolutely stellar to hear, if you could even hear anything afterwards with how amped up their sound systems are.
Lastly, I should mention the actual Crichton novel. The movie isn't an exact copy - for better or worse. If you ask me, it does some things better than the book, but the book also does some things better than it. A good example of this is the lawyer becoming worthless in the movie over his book counterpart, but Hammond not being quite as detestable. It's largely gonna come down to a personal situation, but I feel this is a rare case where neither the book nor movie really feels completely superior over the other and are both somewhat enjoyable without being two totally different things (looking at you when I say that, Starship Troopers). In the end, the movie holds up remarkably well in it's effects department, and somehow manages to keep you from getting bored with an opening largely devoid of dinosaurs. I would almost say that it deserves to be in everyone's collection, but considering even I don't actually own it I feel that might be a little hypocritical of me. Still, if you like dinosaurs or movies, it's a pretty good one to check out.