JURASSIC PARK (1993) – Revisiting The Original Classic

JURASSIC PARK 1993 poster


North Dallas Movie Review was a publication created to let filmgoers know about free screenings in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  The monthly publication was published monthly from 1984 to 1999.  The publication had free screening information, movie reviews, interviews, contests and more. 

Selig’s John Strange was a partner and assignment editor and Gary Murray was the lead writer.  

The review below originally ran in the July, 1993 edition of the North Dallas Movie Review on page 5.



By: Mark Arndt & Beckye Look

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, BD Wong, Wayne Knight

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense science fiction terror)

Selig Rating: FULL PRICE

Runtime: 127 Min.

In the deep, dark prehistoric dawn of Hollywood, dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  They rampaged across the screen, from lost continents to city streets, bowing only to the likes of Ray Harryhausen, whose stop motion photographic magic brought them to life.  We bowed as well, placing millions of dollars into movie theaters and cried, “Scare us! Amaze us!”  And still we wanted more.  But as time went by, the frights and amazements were being supplied by a flock of aliens, axe murderers; unstoppable freaks in hockey masks and nightmarish ice cream vendors with razor gloves.  Thus granting dinosaurs the distinction of extinction being reduced to TV sitcoms and Saturday morning amusement for the kids; a grave injustice to creatures that once ruled this planet. Clearly, director Steven Spielberg thinks so, for with Universal’s production Jurassic Park the dinosaur returns to his former menacing glory.  Industrial Light and Magic, the technical wizards, have created the most impressive performances out of his international cast.

The cast is lad by Sam Neill as archaeologist and “digger”, Alan Grant.  Content to excavate skeletal remains of velociraptors in Montana and to preach his theories of their ferocious pack hunting techniques to his young volunteer helpers, he effectively foreshadows the terrifying events to come.  Neill is so natural in the role that it’s easy to forget his many screen credits, and truly believe he is an archaeologist out there facing the awesome prospect of living dinosaursin the 20th century.  He struggles hard to keep even the slightest macho-ism out of the kid-silly academician; and in doing so produces a totally believable character.

Laura Dern costars in an equally believable role as Alan Grant’s colleague and love interest, Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist.  They are to be among the first to see Jurassic Park.  With amazement and sensitivity, Ellie projects the warmth and kindness the role needs.  Maternal instincts show not only with the children but with the dinosaurs, too.  Ten Minutes of tending a sick Triceratops landed on the cutting room floor, sadly cutting short Dern’s powerful performance. 

Jeff Goldblum, Dern’s real life romance, plays Ian Malcolm a mathematician.  Ian cleverly lends a healthy contrast to the main characters by his sometimes loud and pessimistic views particularly in regards to containing and controlling natural forces.  Struggling to find laymen’s terms for the theories of chaos, Ian concludes that “life finds a way” the suggestion is subtle but well placed by his character as it (life) ultimately does find a way.  Goldblum’s talents not fully utilized by his part but he provides a good support for the leads to play from.

Sir Richard Attenborough plays the chief target of Goldblum’s tirades.  Billionaire developer John Hammond (Attenborough) is the proud builder of the world’s greatest amusement park.  The joy he feels over the wonders he has to give to the world blinds him to the potential risks his “exhibits” pose.  So much so, that he gladly sends his own grandchildren along for the tour.

And you would do well to keep an eye on the two child actors portraying Hammond’s grandchildren.  Joseph Mazzello as Tim and Ariana Richards as Lex, nearly steal the show from the adult cast.  More so than any others, they help the audience to truly feel the horror of being hunted.

The movie is straight out of the pages of Michael Crichton’s high-tech thriller of the same name.  Though loyal to the basic story, the film gives a homogenized version of some of the more difficult hard science concepts.  In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Jurassic Park is an excellent roller coaster of a ride for most audiences.  The only exception may be very young children, who might find the incredibly real dinosaurs too frightening.  But for the rest of us, this movie is not only suitable, but a FULL PRICE offering as well.


The Selig Rating Scale:

FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price

MATINEE – Good movie

DOLLAR – OK movie

CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.

COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.

FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.

GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!

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