Jurassic Park Midnight Movie Review
By Bret Dorman
Two big events happened to me when I was 8ish:
1) I had my first sleep-over at a friend’s house. Sleep-overs are great for two reasons. Firstly, you get to stay up all night, which is not allowed under most normal circumstances. And when it is ‘allowed’ (or just turned a blind eye to) it is a very rare occasion. Secondly, the day after the sleep-over you’re in this trippy state, which can be pretty weird when you are 8 years old.
2) Before I saw Jurassic Park I had a normal, healthy obsession with dinosaurs like any other young boy. After JP, I wouldn’t say my obsession turned ‘unhealthy’, but I did become aware of the term Paleontologist… and what it meant. It mean that some lucky, privileged adults could actually study dinosaurs… and make money for it. Money! Studying dinosaurs! Just think of all the cool stuff I could be doing AND how much candy I could buy! (Side note: A vast majority of my ‘grocery bill’ now that I live on my own is candy and junk food.)
I was 8ish when I first saw Jurassic Park, which I saw on VHS. I don’t bring up VHS to point out how old Jurassic Park is, but rather to point out the first time I saw it, it was not in theaters. You see, my parents took the ‘PG13’ warning as a sign that they should see it first, to decide if it was ‘appropriate enough’ for me. Unfortunately, they deemed it ‘too intense’ and I had to wait while all my friends were talking about it at school.
I mean, come on! What kind of sick parents would deny their 7 year old boy a chance to see DINOSAURS in a movie?!
When I finally did see Jurassic Park, I’m pretty sure I had nightmares for a week.
I mean, come on! What kind of sick parents let an 8ish year old boy watch a movie where a T-REX attacks children?!The Plot: Dr. Alan Grant (a badass Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (a charismatic Laura Dern) are flown to a mysterious new amusement park by its creator, John Hammond (a sometimes Scottish Richard Attenborough). There they meet Dr. Ian Malcom (a perfect Jeff Goldblum) and a bunch of dinosaurs. Following the Chaos Theory, pretty much everything goes horribly wrong. Also, Newman from Seinfeld tries to play fetch with a dilophosaurus!
Jurassic Park has a lot of things going for it. The script is solid. Based on a very scientific book by Michael Crichton, who sometimes will go on for several pages about how evolution really did kill the dinosaurs or how a T-Rex’s sight is most likely NOT motion based (contrary to the movie). Crichton luckily wrote the first draft which help preserved a lot of the balance of science and carnage. David Koepp was then brought on to probably make the movie more ‘family friendly’ if not formulaic. The formula approach isn’t just forced into the movie here, but rather integrated to create earned moments of triumph.
The cast is all top notch. Especially given the fact that some of their co-stars were added in later.
The music is invigorating and memorable, thanks to the expertise of the one and only John Williams.But with all these elements working together… the most important one is the Director. With just the right amount of ambition, experience, and natural talent, Steven Spielberg makes this movie more than just a high concept idea with fun moments and typical characters. Anyone who wants to be reminded of how to shoot a movie economically and artistically should refer to this movie like a chapter in a Film Textbook.
Every camera movement is calculated and has a purpose. The camera shows what’s important before the viewer knows it to be, whether it be a bag or a puddle. Characters moving within the frame to change the shot (from Medium Shot to Close Up). Revealing locations through a mixture of Wide Shots and Close Ups. Letting the action play out in front of the camera instead of simply cutting fast to try and recreate action. Spielberg proves once again he not only knows how to tell a great story, but how to tell it visually.
Plus, talking about vision, Spielberg had the foresight to look at early Stop Motion (Go Motion) footage and decide that the early, unfinished Computer Animation was the way to go instead. The end result, for better or worse for Hollywood and movie-goers, is the fact that Jurassic Park changed everything forever.And if that wasn’t all, you can basically pinpoint the ‘coolness’ of Velociraptors to this movie. Any movie, cartoon, comic, internet meme, or prank that features the coolness and badassery of the viscious dinos can be traced back to how awesome and menacing they are in JP. Before this movie, you would be saying “Veloci-wha?” After this movie you say “Hellz yeah Velociraptors are bad mother- (Shut your mouth!) But I’m just talkin’ about Velociraptors!”
Even given the fact that this movie has a ten minute T-Rex scene, a ‘car chase’ in a tree, a dinosaur stampede, and almost 20 minutes of Raptors being badass Raptors; all of that happens in the last hour of the movie. The first hour is rather tame and focuses more on the people. And why not? If we are going to see pretty realistic dinosaurs (even by today’s standards the effects still hold up relatively well), we should have characters and a world built around them just as real. Spielberg’s movies aren’t just about the special effects, but the people who we follow on the journey inbetween them.
Why You Must See It At Midnight: You might not be like me and need to make up for not seeing this in theaters upon its initial release, but even if you did there’s still one element you can try to recapture.
Being up at Midnight, at Music Box Theatre, to watch a movie about Dino Destruction, is a very rare occasion. And much like with being 8ish at a sleep-overs and staying up late you need to take advantage of it any time it comes along.
Besides, even if you own the movie on DVD (or just recently BluRay) and have a nice HDTV… the Big Scream of the T-Rex deserves to be seen on the Big Screen.