JURASSIC PARK
   Film (1993). Amblin Entertainment/Universal. Dir Steven SPIELBERG, prod Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen; screenplay Michael CRICHTON and David Koepp, based on JURASSIC PARK (1990) by Crichton; starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards. 127 mins. Colour.
   A theme park on an island off the coast of Costa Rica has been stocked with dinosaurs cloned from DNA that was found within mosquitos preserved in amber. A malepalaeontologist Dr Alan Grant (Neill), a woman palaeobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler (Dern) and a male mathematical expert in chaos theory Ian Malcolm(Goldblum) are invited by the entrepreneur who had the place built, John Hammond (Attenborough), to give their opinions of his success. Also present are Hammond's two grandchildren, Tim and Lex (Mazello and Richards). A criminal scheme from the chief of the park's computer systemscombines with an oncoming storm so that the security systems break down while all these characters but Hammond, along with a nasty lawyer, are on a tour of the park in automated cars whose power fails. The dinosaurs are loose, the characters are stranded in the wind, rain and darkness, and a tyrannosaurus rex is not far away. The rest of the film is a jolly roller-coaster ride with only subsidiary characters getting killed (unlike the book), and an astonishing display of convincing dinosaur animation-these dinosaurs will be definitive in the history of special effects-climaxing back in the park's headquarters with velociraptors out to get the kids. This, unsurprisingly from Spielberg, the man who directed E.T.: THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), cost $60 million to make, was theblockbuster of its year and, internationally, the highest grossing film ever made. Although it easily won a HUGO in 1994, and was hugely enjoyed by almost everyone, it did not escape criticism.Nearly all intellectual toughness has been leached out of Crichton's original novel: the Luddite chaos theoretician who explains why things are bound to go wrong when technology is on the loose has nearly all his lines cut in the film, which leaves him little to do; the theme-park designing capitalist, rather nasty in the book, is rendered as cuddly as Santa Claus; a miscellaneous collection of narrative loose ends points towards what must have been gargantuan script difficulties never adequately resolved. In rendering the film not too scary for kids and not too critical of the entertainment business, the film is softened. The relationships play it cute, notably child-hating Grant having to take care of the two children, and becoming a sentimentalist. There has been much discussion of who first had the idea of cloning dinosaurs from DNA; it appeared in an exploitation film of the same year, Carnosaur (1993), based on the 1984 horror novel by Harry Adam Knight (John BROSNAN) which predates Crichton's, but in fact it has been arepeated theme in sf, an early example being "The Hunting Season" (1951 ASF) by Frank M. ROBINSON. But a more direct and obvious source for bothbook and movie is Crichton's own film WESTWORLD (1973), which was also about a theme park whose inhabitants-in this case robot gunslingers-become homicidal. But criticisms cannot harm this state-of-the-art sf extravaganza, for the heroic abilities of the myriad special-effects designers and the cinematographer (Dean Cundey), far outweigh the shortcomings of the script for nearly all viewers. After all, it is primarily a film for children.
   PN

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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