Trilogy Review: JURASSIC PARK (1993-2001)
With the upcoming ‘Jurassic World’ working as a soft reboot/sequel of the original films, I thought I’d revisit the franchise that brought wonder into our eyes as kids. Well those of us who were kids at that time. The others, well, just make sure you bring your heart pills to the screening of the new one. Read on for my Review of the original ‘Jurassic Park’ Trilogy.
‘Jurassic Park’ (1993)
The first film in the franchise centered around the proposed creation of an amusement park slash zoo, populated by actual real life dinosaurs cloned after the discovery a Mosquito trapped in Amber containing dinosaur blood. The story brought together an unlikely group of scientists and dinosaur experts, along with the park owner’s grand kids, in order to do a test of the park before it’s Grand Opening. But obviously as monsters movies go, something terrible happens in the form of sabotage of the security system by a corporate spy, causing chaos as the dangerous dinosaurs escape and run amok.
‘Jurassic Park’, while following a typical formulaic approach, worked wonders simply by leaving us amazed at the technologically advanced special effects, that had never been seen in films before. Not crazy action or science fiction stuff mind you, but the very real combination of animatronic effects and computer generated ones of bringing formidable creatures from our own history, to life on the screen. While that’s a feat that is accomplished pretty regularly these days, with a lot of our childhood coming to life with real life robots, superheroes and crazy monsters, this was arguably one of the first times that special effects on the big screen invoked true awe.
The movie itself was decent for what it was, a straight forward monster movie with plenty of jump scares and intense moments of suspense. Director Steven Spielberg further proved himself as a director very adept at action-adventure films with the right amount of story, action and all around suspense in the form of monster attacks. ‘Jurassic Park’ proved to be the seminal movie of the time in terms of brilliantly executed on screen special effects glorying the monster movie genre to new heights.
‘Jurassic Park: The Lost World’ (1997)
With every successful film, there must be a sequel and a shot at a franchise. While not living up to the greatness of the first film, ‘The Lost World’ built an interesting enough sequel around a new Island where the dinosaurs were bred, before being transported to the Park in the first film. This further expanded the universe to showcase an Island running rampant with dinosaurs, unchecked and uninfluenced by the interference of man. Losing control of his empire, the son of the man responsible for Jurassic Park, decides to import Dinosaurs from this island to San Diego to re-create a park in the U.S.A. As expected, the team sent to capture the animals are overpowered by the sheer number of animals, as well as some clever sabotage by another team sent to the Island for research. The main lead of this movie also happens to be one of the supporting actors from the first film, Jeff Goldblum’s Malcolm.
‘The Lost World’, while creating even more stunning visuals of dinosaurs, in the wild this time, failed to re-create as engaging of a story as the first film. After the initial conflict of the two warring teams on the island, the movie devolves into a straight forward formula where bad luck befalls the entire crew, moment after moment as they essentially try to escape a variety of long and dragged on dinosaur attacks that aren’t as interesting as the first. Eventually the 3rd act of the film seems almost tacked on with a large Dinosaur loose in a metropolitan city, an entire set piece that seems tacked on with no real purpose. Even the ending of ‘The Lost World’ is devoid of the sense of relief that the first film offered.
‘Jurassic Park 3’ (2001)
Removing the larger corporate greed elements of the first two films, ‘Jurassic Park 3’ becomes a more personal film about a group of characters who, again, return to the Island full of dinosaurs in order to save a loved one. After his adventure in the first film, Sam Neil’s Dr. Grant returns, unwittingly to the island, after a parasailing incident strands a young boy, causing his parents to venture into the island in search of him. ‘Jurassic Park 3’ has to be the worst movie of the franchise, and even Neil’s otherwise somber presence does nothing to redeem the film. There is little to no evolution to the story from the first films, as the characters return to the Island and basically spend the same amount of time evading dinosaurs and screaming. The only twist this time around is that the infamous Raptors, who have been the dinosaur stars of the franchise, can apparently speak and communicate with one another, despite that revelation being absent from the previous depictions of the creatures.
The third film in the franchise drags on, as it attempts to provide an emotional angle to the story with a family dynamic within it. However, it doesn’t work at all, as it just rehashes similar concepts from the first film with the grand kids, and in the 2nd film with Malcolm and his daughter. The ending of the film is preposterous and it completely undermines the premise as well. The husband and wife in search of their son have to sneak onto the Island using a chartered flight because every government involved refuses to save the life of a young boy who may be trapped on the island. But a vaguely screaming phone call by Dr. Grant to another character from the first film, saves the day as an entire cavalry of military vehicles and personel storm onto the Island in a manner of hours to save the remaining survivors of the ill conceived film. The last scene tries to imitate the ending of the first film, with no where near the same effect, and a gaping unresolved plot point of, quite possibly flying dinosaurs unleashed onto the world.
Before ‘Jurassic World’…
It took over a decade for the next movie in the ‘Jurassic Park’ franchise to appear. With a big star like Chris Pratt in the movie, and a scale that looks to be larger than life, ‘Jurassic World’ seems to build on the premise of the first film, by finally giving us a Dinosaur filled amusement park in full swing, with the same expected tragic turn to occur turning the park into a big Dinosaur buffet. While interesting as hell, here’s hoping the film does something interesting with the tried and tired gimmick of dinosaurs run amok.