Wednesday, February 24, 2016

CANON OF FILM: "JURASSIC PARK"

JURASSIC PARK (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Michael Crichton and David Koepp based on the novel by Michael Crichton



Alright, full disclosure on this one, I really, really don't understand why "Jurassic Park" is so highly-regarded and well-remembered. I got the appeal of it at the time, but still? We like this enough for three sequels now?

(Frustrated sigh)

Are there more Ross Gellar's in the world than I actually think there are; I mean, I know there are paleontologists and archeologists and whatnot but, I-eh- do we really like dinosaurs this much that this is still fondly remembered and recalled as one of his best films? This wasn't even his best film in 1993; I'll add "Schindler's List" to this canon eventually, but I've seen people think of it as his best. I don't think I'd even rank it among Spielberg's Top 20 features. Admittedly, that's as much a tribute to Spielberg's body of work than anything else, but this is basically just a well-made horror movie. Take out the dinosaurs and it's "Re-Animator" or "Frankenstein". Really the only reason to see the movie is because of the amazing special effects and yes, the practical and especially the CGI effects are still spectacular, even as we become more familiar and numb to effects like this, but even still, the world they create is pretty amazing. Rewatching the film, I'm actually more startled at how the they got all the little details like the blinking of the triceratop's eye or the dimensions of it's tongue. It's it's huge story with a giant scope and if the effects weren't this pristine, I'd argue that the film wouldn't work at all.

After that, what is there that makes this Spielberg's highest-grossing movie to date and still remain so popular that it's spawned an entire franchise that continues to this day? (And apparently is important enough that I have to now go back and watch the sequels now! Goddamn it! Why does this keep happening to me. Suddenly, I had to watch the "Mission: Impossible" sequels, I still have to watch the "Star Wars" prequels, 'cause apparently everybody did, instead of doing the sensible thing and realize "Star Wars" is of little-to-no importance and not relevant or essential to watch, even culturally [It isn't, I'm standing by that, just because something's popular doesn't equal relevance] and when the hell did suddenly become crucial that I see "Zoolander," what the fuck-, sorry, I'm ranting) Well, I guess it is basically just the spectacle of it all. There is a chance I've just become numb to it after dozens and dozens of times watching it on TV over the years. NBC, similar to what they did with "Titanic" bought the viewing rights early on and whenever there was a spare couple hours they needed to fill, they and half the cable channels afterwards, have replayed the film to death, so while I always enjoyed it, it's lost a lot of it's luster for me. Seeing it again for the first time in years, now I wonder if maybe I should be talking about "Star Wars" 'cause this does feel eerily as much a parody of George Lucas as "Spaceballs" was.

Bare with a second, but, all the actors and performances are fine first of all, yes even Jeff Goldblum, who I think gets way too much shit; I've always thought he was a great and underrated actor, but the only really interesting character is Richard Attenborough's John Hammond. He plays this genetic scientist, I guess, but he created "Jurassic Park", and the "Park" in the title, actually refers to a theme park. His moronic idea, other then the original stupid idea of cloning and genetically creating dinosaurs was that he was hoping to take the scientific discoveries and have them be the center of a theme park. Instead of rides, games (or maybe in addition to rides and games, I didn't see the entire designs and blueprints) and Mickey Mouse, you'd be going to see the dinosaurs and envelope a Land Before Time" and simulate the experience of the Jurassic era, complete with merchandise and memorabilia. Okay, partially this was the time period, 'cause there was a boom in major theme parks and expansions in the early nineties, most notable, Universal Studios, which I'm pretty sure Spielberg had some part in creating, but I didn't remember how much of it is in the movie, and it's all over the film. This is arguably the first film that's basically an entire product placement for it's own film. Now at first, I thought this might be a subtle jab at Disney but Attenborough doesn't strike me as doing a Walt Disney-type character, he definitely seems more like one of Disney's competitors, perhaps there's some Spielberg in him, but actually he remind me of George Lucas. Not just in appearance, but at how the character spends his life devoted to a single gigantic project and then immediately franchises it and it soon backfires on him completely and worst yet, he's so intertwined to this mass-marketed extravaganza that he will forever only be known for that project and have nothing else to fall back on and nothing that interests him enough to do something else if he wanted?

Alright, maybe that's me pushing it, trying to find something to justify the movie's greatness more than, "It has realistic, believable dinosaurs and dinosaurs are awesome!" I guess that's enough for others, but I've always found it much more hollow, but I guess if any movie has the right to be a little more lacking elsewise, it's probably this one.
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