Back in 1993 (That’s 20 years ago!), this little movie called Jurassic Park came out in theaters. What Steven Spielberg did with a shark 20 years earlier, he did again here with dinosaurs. I can’t recall whether I saw this film in theaters or not. I would have been 10 and this movie was right up my alley, but we didn’t see a lot of movies in the theater. Regardless of where I saw it, I do remember watching the movie and loving the science and the visuals. It is probably one of the movies that I watched most frequently. I loved the movie and it has become a classic. Following the success of the the first movie, they decided to make 2 more and they even have a 4th planned for 2014. This summer, either to promote the new movie or just to make some more money, they released the original in 3D. I was very tempted to take my son who is now 9 to see this action-adventure popcorn flick on the big screen. Alas, that opportunity came and went. So, I settled for a Sunday afternoon viewing in house. So, I can;t speak to the quality of the post-processing 3D, but this movie was filmed before HD was even an acronym. I’m afraid if I did see it on the big screen I would have spent the entire time critiquing the technical side of the movie instead of just enjoying it with my boys, which is what I did.
So just in case you been hiding under a rock for the past 20 years and haven’t seen or heard about Jurassic Park, here is a brief synopsis. On Isla Nublar, a small island 120 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) a billionaire decides to create a new type of theme park; there are no giant mice or cartoon characters here (except for a very informative Mr. DNA). Instead of illusion, the attractions at this theme park are all too real. If you’re thinking about a zoo, it’s like that but much more flashy and the featured attractions of this zoo aren’t your run-of-the-mill animals; this park is full of real dinosaurs. The park has had some issues, so John invites a group of people to come and experience the park and hopefully give their endorsement. They include, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), a paleontologist and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), a paleobotonist. They make their living digging up dinosaur bones and studying them, they don’t know that they are about to witness a scientific discovery that will put them out of a job. I mean, who wants to look at the bones of a creature that you can see alive? They are joined by an irritating lawyer of little consequence and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), a chaos theory mathematician, and the final two members of the group are John’s grand kids Lex and Tim.
One of my favorite scenes is in the opening 40 minutes which runs dramatically slower in pace than the rest of the film. I was a bit afraid my boys would begin to nod off as some of the less entertaining plot points were lined up. The group of eager explorers arrive on the island, ushered in by John Williams amazing score. They take jeeps from the helipad to the welcome center and along the way they run into a group of dinosaurs, they are completely taken by surprised and in awe. Once they arrive at the visitor center, they take a tour explaining how all of this had been made possible. During which they get to observe a baby raptor being born. This series features some really great dialogue about the ethical underpinnings of cloning and the pride of man.
As the group takes their safari type tour to see the live dinosaurs, the excitement ramps up. Due to a combination of an impending tropical storm and sabotage by Newman (I mean the greedy computer programmer), the power to all of the electrical fences goes offline. The T-Rex breaks through the fence and attempts to eat the kids in the car. To summarize the movie, there’s a chase scene with a jeep and the T-Rex, the raptors escape from their enclosure, and finally they are able to get the power back on and meet up at the visitor center. However, before they can escape the island, there’s a scene involving two raptors and the two grand kids. This is probably the scariest scene in the movie, it certainly caused some gasps and eye-hiding from the boys. However, spoiler alert, they escape the raptors and everyone (well almost…) makes it to the helicopter and lives until the sequel.
My favorite character, even as a kid, was Dr. Ian Malcolm. Besides the humor he adds to the movie, he also brings up some great moral points. During a discussion about the park, Dr. Malcolm states, “Don’t you see the danger, John, inherent in what you’re doing here? Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun.” After some more discussion he concludes by saying, “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
This brings to mind the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The people wanted to build a tower to the heavens and they thought they could do it. But God didn’t approve of their purpose/intent in building the tower, so he confused their language. We have made an incredible amount of discoveries and technological advances in the last century. As our civilization continues to advance, we need to make sure we don’t let it get to our heads or abuse the power we have been granted.
In the words of Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just because we have the power to do something doesn’t mean that we should. Another main point that he brings up is the chaos theory. While very interesting to nerds like me, I’m not going to go into detail about it. But the gist of it is that even if we think we are in control, we really aren’t. John Hammond believed that the park was perfectly safe and under his control, but in the end Malcolm was right. Often times we want to be in control of what happens in our lives, but all to often we find out that we have no control. God is the only one who is truly in control and we must trust in Him.
So in conclusion, I think this is a great action movie. It has a little bit of everything in it: humor, suspense a chase scene, and best of all giant dinosaurs! The music, which was written by John Williams, is great throughout the movie. And despite being an action movie, Jurassic Park brings up some thought provoking ideas. Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t mean you should and who is really in control? Now go out and watch this movie!!!