‘Jurassic Park’ Review: A Look Back at Spielberg’s 1993 Blockbuster

Revisiting Jurassic Park - A Look Back at the 1993 Blockbuster
Laura Dern and Sam Neill star in ‘Jurassic Park’ (Photo © Universal Pictures)

With the return to the world of cloned dinosaurs in Jurassic World, now’s the perfect time to turn back the clock and revisit the summer of 1993 when the movie-making master who brought us the very first summer movie blockbuster Jaws, Steven Spielberg, decided to do for dinosaurs what he did for Great White Sharks…make them every moviegoers worst horror.

“Welcome to Jurassic Park,” says John Hammond (played by the late great Sir Richard Attenborough) to Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern). Billionaire mogul Hammond hopes to get the two dinosaur experts to sign off and approve his new dinosaur theme park on an island off of Costa Rica that’s full of living, cloned dinosaurs. So began the adventure of a lifetime for movie audiences in the summer of 1993 when director Spielberg set out to bring to the big screen Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel about cloned dinosaurs running wild through the park after a major security and power breakdown occur.

The film has stand-out performances by Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sir Richard Attenborough and two young newcomers: Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards as Hammmond’s grandchildren Tim and Lex Murphy. The actors’ reactions in character to this bizarre new world of living dinosaurs are perfect, mixing excitement, shock, fear, and horror at just the right moments in the film all while playing opposite a green screen, a model, or a robotic T-Rex or multiple Velociraptors. Even among the effects, the characters in Jurassic Park were all able to establish their own personalities and the dialogue was both strong and believable.

The film also broke new ground with brand new special effects and the birth of what we now commonly know as CGI. Never before had dinosaurs looked or sounded so real in a feature film, or so close to what we and artists have imagined. It was a major breakthrough in filmmaking that made it possible for other filmmakers to at least attempt to create other creatures and worlds on a much bigger, epic scale.

Of course, with Spielberg directing Jurassic Park has that impeccable tense pacing, exhilarating action scenes and a few quiet moments and scenes in order to keep alive the humanity of the characters struggling to survive in the land of the monsters. Composer and conductor John Williams once again worked with Spielberg to create a stirring, riveting soundtrack for the film which enhanced and added tension and suspense to every scene. Even the opening scene of the film with simple drum beats and a flute accompanying just the title up on a huge black screen can still send chills and shivers down the backs of viewers.

After debuting in theaters on June 11th, Jurassic Park went on to become the top-grossing film of 1993 earning $402,453,882 at the box office, generating three sequels, a toy line, and an amusement park ride at Universal Studios Tours. It seems almost every television network has been airing the dinosaur classic as a build up to the latest entry in the franchise, and checking it out now 20+ years later proves the film still holds up today and is just as thrilling and exciting as it was back in ’93 when audiences were first welcomed to Jurassic Park.

GRADE: A

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