“Jurassic Park”
“Jurassic Park” won 3 Oscars in 1993: for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound Editing. It was when CGI (computer graphic imaging) was first starting to have a strong impact on movies, and Director Steven Spielberg utilizes both his technical wizardry and his leadership artistry. Now it’s coming out on 3-D, and it’s well-worth the trip to re-visit Jurassic Park.
Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, slightly wooden but passable) is a paleontologist who works with Dr. Ellie Sattler (Lara Dern, doing the attractive young professional who also is not above flirting). They spend their lives digging up dinosaur bones and spinning theories on how they lived: whether they hunted in packs, communicated with each other, etc., so imagine their astonishment in discovering that there is a remote island somewhere on earth where there are actually living dinosaurs.
The scientific explanation, admittedly, requires some suspension of disbelief, also: mosquitoes lived during the dinosaur era. Some contain the DNA of dinosaur blood, having been stuck in tree sap which then fossilized. Now genetic scientists can extract the DNA, and combine some of the “missing links” with….frog DNA? Yeah, it’s a little far-fetched. But it allows the mumbo-jumbo science to complete its full circle: the amphibious mutation then allows the spontaneous gender reversal, as some amphibious forms are known to accomplish in the wild, so that though all the dinosaurs produced in Jurassic Park were supposed to be female, they have found a way to propagate, anyway.
The power inherent in Nature is also one of Spielberg’s themes, but Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm the tagalong “chaos theory” mathematician (an oxymoron?) provides not only the wisecracks, but also the commentary that sets up the adventure: the dinosaur ecosystem set up on this remote island is not benign enough for theme park development. There is real danger here. But the theme park developer, the wealthy capitalist John Hammond (Richard Attenborough, acting like Colonel Sanders on happy pills) is so convinced of its complete safety that he invites his two grandchildren to visit.
And here’s where evil lurks. First, the humans: one of the genetic research scientists has “sold out” to a higher bidder, and his computer expertise allows him to shut down the security systems while he secures his purloined material, the problem being that’s when the chaos hits. Then, the animals themselves: raptors are not benign. None of the carnivores are. The herbivores, maybe: though the scene where the kids pet the brontosaurus like some oversize Barney is a little much.
Now we’re set up for the dinosaurs to run amuck and the humans to be the hunted. Let’s see, first to go is the slimebag lawyer. Then the crooked scientist. Then the rifle-toting game warden. (Detect any political bias here?) The useless mathematics professor only gets wounded. The rest are playing a deadly game of hide-and-seek, but through courage, resourcefulness, and just plain good fortune, some will survive intact, and live to tell the tale.
Well, it’s best not to think too much about this one, and just enjoy the spectacular special effects, which are more enhanced in 3-D. It’s a good premise, well executed, and the kids will enjoy being frightened along with you.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas