Saturday, August 6, 2016

REVIEW: Jurassic Park (live action movie), on DVD

I re-watched this a few months ago and should have reviewed it back then. But I kept putting it off because I wanted to include comments about the extras, but then I dragged my feet and eventually ran into problems. So I'm finally just going ahead and reviewing it.

A synopsis feels a little unnecessary, but I'll include a short one anyway: A billionaire invites several people to his not-yet-open theme park (or is forced to invite them – the lawyer is there because a worker's family is suing and there are now questions being asked about how safe the park really is). Amazingly, the park includes real, live dinosaurs. Unfortunately, the park's tech geek decides to make a little extra money by stealing and selling some of the park's dinosaur embryos. Things go wrong, and a bunch of the dinosaurs accidentally get free, putting the lives of everyone on the island in danger.

Listening to the audiobook version of Jurassic Park made me want to re-watch this movie. The overall framework was very similar to the book, but in a lot of ways it was very different. Hammond was portrayed less like a slick salesman and more like a naive idealist – a good deal more likeable than he was in the book. Malcolm and Lex were both less annoying (although still annoying). Grant and Ellie were turned into a couple, and Grant was portrayed as being much less comfortable with kids than he was in the book. The story was streamlined and, after a certain point, completely changed. To my mind, it was all for the better – the movie was much more enjoyable than the book and had aged significantly better.

This even applied to the special effects. For the first time that I could recall, I noticed the slight jerkiness in the larger dinosaurs' movements but, overall, the movie looked really good. There was still that sense of wonder when Grant and Ellie saw their first dinosaurs on the island, and the T. rex and Velociraptors looked great. And I still want to own an animatronic Velociraptor, even though I have no idea where I'd keep it.

The movie was, overall, simpler than the book, but that wasn't a bad thing. I enjoyed re-watching it, and I smiled a little, thinking of how much it scared me when I was younger – it was the first “scary” movie my parents let me watch, primarily because I was a wannabe paleontologist who was fascinated by Spielberg's dinosaurs. It's now over 20 years old, and its dinosaur scenes still make me feel like an excited kid, even knowing that the T. rex's mouth is probably wrong and that at least some of the dinosaurs probably would have had feathers. I'd still recommend it over Jurassic World.

The extras were almost all interesting, but there was so much to watch that my attention wandered. Then my player forgot where I'd last paused, and I just gave up. Even so, it was nice seeing the planning that went into creating the dinosaurs (the animatronics, models, and CGI elements) and making them believable.

  • "The Making of Jurassic Park"
  • Early pre-production meetings
  • Location scouting
  • Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the kitchen - I watched this before attempting to watch any of the other extras. This made for a bizarre experience, because it included absolutely no context - it looked like some kid's weird low-budget Jurassic Park scene. The thing I found most interesting was that, at this point in the planning stages, the Velociraptors were going to have flickering forked tongues, like snakes.
  • And apparently some DVD-ROM features that I had no interest in trying to look at. Anything I have to stick the disc into my computer to see might as well not exist.

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