Jurassic Park ★★★★★

Most film fans will have one film that ignited their love of cinema. For many that movie experience will come at a young age and in a dark theatre where the large screen envelops you in a whole new world you never thought possible. For me, like many of my generation, that film was Jurassic Park. Of course I liked many movies before that point but it opened my eyes to the potential of the medium like no other film, before or since. Scorsese talks about the religious-like experience cinema can create in its audience and watching Spielberg’s classic for the first time I can fully appreciate what he means. It instilled a sense of reverential awe in me and whilst I had witnessed fantastical places like Oz and Tatooine I had never truly been transported to a foreign world as I had with Jurassic Park.

It’s a hard film for me to talk about rationally. It holds such a special place in my heart that I will never be able to find fault with the film, so instead I’m just going to gush about the movie’s many positive attributes. Attributes like the groundbreaking special effects. The film is always assured of its place as one of the great technical achievements in cinema. CGI had been used in films for many years before but never quite to the point that you believed wholeheartedly in the events and creatures on screen. It is remarkable to think how far computer graphics have come since 1993 yet the film still looks utterly convincing, even more so than both of its inferior sequels. I can only put this down to the seamless blending of effects from the use of CGI, model work and animatronics. The film constantly tricks the audience into believing the dinosaurs were real by having creatures the cast could directly interact with. Because CGI has become so advanced now filmmakers rarely rely on the other types of effects work yet without them Jurassic Park’s major moments would never have worked as well. Just imagine the T-Rex scene with the children trapped in the car, it is frighteningly believable because the creature is really there. Much of the critical attention is given to the computer wizardry but for me Stan Winston and his team are just as crucial to the film’s success.

Whilst the story is little more than a reworking of Westworld it is still so taut and full of genuinely magical moments that any familiarity in its conceit is immaterial. I can think of no other film with quite so many memorable sequences. The movie is packed with them, big or small, from the reverberating cup of water to the first dinosaur reveal, it is a film that has created more indelible memories than most filmmakers achieve in their entire careers. The cast are, with the possible exception of Laura Dern, perfect for their respective roles. When you compare it to a lot of modern blockbusters the film is surprisingly small in scale. Sure, you’ve got giant prehistoric creatures stomping around but the film doesn’t have a sprawling cast of characters and it has no end-of-the-world climax. Yet it is the narrow focus that makes it all the more effective. Each character is given time to develop and whilst they may fulfill defined roles in the story they do at least feel like real and believable people. Jurassic Park may be a theme park but the film is more than just a thrill ride as you feel emotionally invested in the characters and events on screen.

I’ve waffled on and not even mentioned the brilliant score by John Williams (a score so amazing it still sounds fantastic when slowed down by 1000%) or the film’s perfect balance between comedy and scares. The film is a masterclass in blockbuster filmmaking and a bona fide classic.