With great monsters comes great responsibility. Or something like that? Paraphrasing from one of the most famous lines in fictional adventure, I’ve gone all upside down and inside out and, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m almost definitely talking about dinosaurs here, not spiders. Or men. Sorry about that. No Spiderman here.
In 1994 what could be expected of a film was much different than what would be expected now. Back then, the focal point of a film would be physical, would be real. Actors, costumes, animatronics. These sorts of things. What you often found was poor special effects leading to quite frankly weird-looking films. I suppose this is always going to happen and the less budget a film has the crapper their special effects effort was going to look. As well as poor budgets, the biggest problem with special effects was the evolution of the craft, and although throughout the 80s Pixar was making great headway within the CGI art form – with award-winning results – there was still nothing that could be put to a wider, more mainstream audience. The technology was still not advanced enough. In 1994, THE game changed.
Back in the day of ‘old school’ special effects to hear about a dinosaur film would probably invoke thoughts of “how are they even going to do that?” and whilst development is always constant, it’s safe to say that the release of Jurassic Park changed everything.
The reviews for the film broke ceilings. So did the box-office totals. The most exciting thing about the film for the industry could arguably have been the visuals, with the film shot well and the acting – considering dinosaurs aren’t, you know, real – was awesome. It’s easy to lose yourself in the film without stopping to think that the beasts at the heart of it were created by a man on a computer.
I suppose breaking boundaries will never be the coolest thing in the world and, to quote Ian Malcolm – the slightly sleezy scientist champion of chaos theory – “nature finds a way” (or in this case, filmmaking) so to expect that cinema wouldn’t be as computer-literate now without the film is naive, but Jurassic Park certainly sped up the process. After a CG smash hit, everyone wanted a piece. This is what was revolutionary for the industry. The audience, however, saw something altogether more exciting: another world.
Jurassic Park is a modern-day classic. It really is. It’s absolutely everything you want and need from a blockbuster. The film itself just screams ‘blockbuster’ – the perfect visuals, the writing and storyline and the whole creation of a universe that brings an extinct species to life. It is well-loved because of the same reason people love Sci-Fi. The unknown is brought to life. We knew what these beasts looked like; through textbooks, TV and media yet to see the story of them on film allows us to truly get lost in the possibilities. In this other world, we can see the possibilities of ambitious sciences.
As far as the film itself goes, the story is simple yet effective. ‘Rich man rather selfishly wants to entertain and educate – chaos ensues’. Yet the thing that brings the story to life is actual its charm. It’s got a great way of entertaining you even when the film isn’t going 100mph. The speed the film goes in regards to its development of the non-dinosaur-centric plot helps the film to stay engaging and fun from scene 1 to the end.
A good bad guy is good but a few are better and, even though the dinosaurs aren’t technically the bad guys in the film, they take up the mantle with enthusiastic results. The second bad guy is Dennis Nedry.
Nedry is the park’s chief computer programmer and the eventual downfall of the island. Tempted by a dollar sign and a significant improvement on what he’s doing within Jurassic Park, he tries to sell scientific research on to a rival company. Spoiler alert: this doesn’t go well. That’s all I’ll say on that.
Jurassic Park is arguably the best film of its decade. The best way to describe it is a smash and even now, 22 years on it looks and feels stunning. Not in a “oh, don’t polaroid pictures looks much better than digital” when we all know it’s a lie, but actually, properly stunning. There’s little difference in the dinosaurs CGI from film one to film four and the amount of time that has passed deems that one of the franchises greatest successes. So many times, so many films have felt, looked and seemed completely alien even 10 years on; from another era, where the world wasn’t so advanced, when film-making wasn’t the finished article. It’s hard to know where the advances in cinema come from in the future, with 3D pictures not taking off, yet whatever happens to develop the industry, Jurassic Park will always stand above many of its peers.
With great monsters, produced great responsibility.