52 Reasons Why Jurassic Park Might Just Be the Greatest Film of all Time
11. "Attractions that will drive kids out of their minds"
Made the same year as Schindler's List... Spielberg never wanted to direct Jurassic Park. He only did so because the studio was nervous about his planned holocaust epic, Schindler's List, and said he could only make the more "worthy" picture if he also gave them a family blockbuster. As soon as he was done shooting, the director left the film in the hands of George Lucas for post-production and went to work on his Oscar-winner. I'm glad all this happened. Sometimes movie moguls make good calls and Jurassic Park is certainly a rare boon for calculated commercialism.
12. "We have a T-rex!"
Speaking of commercialism... Jurassic Park had some of the best toys ever. The human action figures looked nothing like the characters (the one on the far left, above, is supposed to be Dennis Nedry) and were, in fairness, pretty awful. But the dinosaurs were amazing: big, sturdy and had awesome rubberised skin. This t-rex (below) was the jewel in the crown and represented my favourite page in that year's Argos catalogue. Christmas '93 FTW.
13. "Are these auto.. erotica?"
And some cracking video games... The SEGA-developed Mega Drive platform game, which let you choose between playing Grant or the raptor, was immense. The SNES had a different version which saw you alternate between an isometric view and a first person one, with more emphasis on exploration. I played this in a branch of Virgin Megastore once and it also seemed good. As was the glitchy but influential 1998 PC title Trespasser. Better still is 2003's Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, a sim game which let you build and run your own dinosaur attraction island. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0taMRoKO9RY The upcoming adventure game, released later this year on PC/360/PS3, also looks like it could be special.
14. "We spared no expense."
Still amongst the best CGI ever... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSI8nP0m24M Industrial Light and Magic really kicked off the whole CGI craze with their realistic work creating the dinosaurs here. Whilst a lot of brilliant model work and animatronics were still used in close-up shots, the computer effects made possible the large scale shots of full-bodied t-rex and the "flocking" herd of gallimimus. Jurassic Park was originally supposed to use stop-motion animation rather than computers, as Spielberg was sceptical the technology was ready to render convincing organic creatures (previous use in Terminator 2, The Abyss and Young Sherlock Holmes had always been for shiny and geometric objects). However, what ILM were able to do changed cinema forever, paving the way for fully-realised characters like Jar Jar Binks and Gollum less than a decade later. Today most studio movies make use of computer effects for things like cinematography and altering the weather/time of day of scenes, as well as the big, obvious stuff.
15. "Eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your, on your dinosaur tour, right?"
Great subject matter... An obvious one, but the subject matter is just brilliant. Try making a bad movie about a shady genetics company building a dinosaur theme park (on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, no less). Ok, you could probably make a bad one (enter Jurassic Park 3) but it's a pretty compelling premise to begin with. It comes down to the simple fact that dinosaurs are awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
A regular film and video games contributor for What Culture, Robert also writes reviews and features for The Daily Telegraph, GamesIndustry.biz and The Big Picture Magazine as well as his own Beames on Film blog. He also has essays and reviews in a number of upcoming books by Intellect.