Jurassic Park [1993]

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck
Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 127 minutes

Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg's 1993 mega-hit rivals Jaws as the most intense and frightening film he'd ever made prior to Schindler's List, but it was also among his weakest stories. Based on Michael Crichton's novel about an island amusement park populated by cloned dinosaurs, the film works best as a thrill ride with none of the interesting human dynamics of Spielberg's Jaws. That lapse proves unfortunate, but there's no shortage of raw terror as a rampaging T. rex and nasty raptors try to make fast food out of the cast. The effects are still astonishing (despite the fact that the computer-generated technology has since been improved upon) and at times primeval, such as the sight of a herd of whatever-they-are scampering through a valley. --Tom Keogh The Lost World: Jurassic Park After the global phenomenon that was Jurassic Park, it was a given that novelist Michael Crichton would conjure up a sequel and that Steven Spielberg would then commit it to film. Considering the potential profit involved, it was practically a commercial mandate. Perhaps it was inevitable that both efforts were contrived, and well below the talents of Crichton (well, maybe) and certainly Spielberg, who just didn't have the heart for this recycling after the artistic triumph of Schindler's List. What we're left with, for better and worse, is a redundant blockbuster that still benefits from Spielberg's mastery of high-intensity action sequences and the further development of amazing computer-generated special effects. What's missing is the awe and wonder that made Jurassic Park a technical marvel and a dazzling product of scientific imagination. The story's a no-brainer: after the deadly fiasco of the original dinosaur theme park, we're taken (along with returning star Jeff Goldblum) to a second island where genetically engineered dinosaurs still thrive under the watchful eye of Goldblum's biologist girlfriend (Julianne Moore). But a devious capitalist (Arliss Howard) is determined to export dinosaurs to a new park in San Diego, financing a hunt-and-capture expedition that results in another series of fatal disasters. In Spielberg's hands this movie's more exciting than it has a right to be, given the creative paucity of Crichton's novel and David Koepp's adapted screenplay. The special effects are state-of-the-art, and the T. rex's rampage through the streets of San Diego is nothing short of spectacular; but apparently an improvement upon the shortcomings of Jurassic Park was too much to hope for. --Jeff Shannon

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