Cinerama: Jurassic Park

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Jurassic Park
By Mike Derderian

Well, it certainly wasn’t Barney or Denver the dinosaur, who devoured Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) after finding him all afraid and sitting on a toilet seat in the middle of a theme park filled with overgrown lizards mistaking the visitors for a delicious and nutritious snack. So who or what was it that ate the greedy lawyer?

After years of thinking, “how a world filled with dinosaurs coexisting with his fellow man” would be like, Steven Spielberg in 1993 introduced us and Dino fans to Jurassic Park. And the world was never the same for me!

Jurassic Park somehow managed to shutter the childish misconceptions of millions of children about dinosaurs; however, one wouldn’t say the same about dinosaur franchise. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel, which puts fourth a scientific theory on how dinosaurs can be recreated using the blood of a fossilized mosquito, Jurassic Park is about one scientific experience gone bad, especially to those who were unfortunate enough to visit the place. I mean if they mange to create such a park in the not so very far future, with all the cloning and scientific breakthroughs that are hurling us farther into the pit of the original sin, I would think twice before venturing into a place packed with cloned dinosaurs, be those friendly or not.

Starring Sam Neill, Laura dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel L. Jackson, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello and Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, the visionary billionaire whom created the theme Park, the film will take you in a ride packed with comedy, tragedy and horror—the latter provided by a Mr. T-Rex, a.k.a. Tyrannosaurus rex.

Most of the dinosaur visuals in Jurassic Park were created using computer generated images (CGI), however, some partial shots of dinosaurs, like in the scene where Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) stands face to face with a T-Rex weighing about 14,000 pounds, were created using animatronics. Before the CGI revolution film directors heavily depended on animatronics to create most of the visual effects of both wild animals and creature characters that was no less in quality, especially the ones created through Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

In animatronics a mechanical-hydraulic model of the creature fitted with a latex skin (flexible rubbery material) is operated by five puppeteers and sometimes more. Contrary to CGI this technique offered a more realistic and feasible dimension to a scene. But CGI, on the other hand, offered the director more maneuverability regarding the creature’s movements and agility.

Despite being packed with carnivorous Dinos more than herbivores, Spielberg managed to create an enjoyable action flick without resorting to gory death scenes usually anticipated in such films. If you remember Jaws and the cello playing in the background than you’d know what I mean.

For this film, there was no cello but there was a superb original musical score composed by John Williams that provided the film with a grandeur fit for an epic film. The strength of Williams’ score was felt during the scene when Dr Grant and Dr Ellie Sattler (Dern) catch their first glimpse of a dinosaur pack.

Each celebrity has a stalker and in Jurassic park heavy weights actors like Neill, Goldblum and Attenborough were bound to attract attention, however, it wasn’t just any attention it was an invitation to have them for dinner. Imagine a dinosaur stalking you; and not any dinosaur, but velociraptor, who was Mother Nature’s baddie roaming the Jurassic Park for victims.

Extracting dinosaur DNA from the well-preserved blood of a mosquito embalmed in amber billions of years ago is quite a logical plot for a sci-fi film, in fact Jurassic Park was the inspiration for several documentaries like the 1999 hit BBC Television series “Walking with Dinosaurs.”

Being an action flick with a blend of surprising horror their were moments of pure comedy and wise cracks on part of Dr. Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), who looks more like a rock star than a paleontologist, and Dr. Alan Grant. Most of the dialogues between Grant and Malcolm was of a comic nature, especially their comments on the way Donald Gennaro, left both Tim Murphy (Joseph) and his sister Lex (Richards) in the tour cart at the mercy of the T-Rex, seeking for shelter in the WC shack from the big lizard. One couldn’t but laugh when Malcolm says, “If you got to go you have to go,” or when they

both express their amazement on Hammond’s park, when Grant, looking at Malcolm, says, “It looks like we’re out of a job”.  “Don’t you mean extinct?” retorts Malcolm.

If you are a dino film addict and you haven’t seen Jurassic Park with its two sequels, The Lost World (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001), which were both as great, then you are missing a link to one of the best films of the century that has all the elements a perfect production should have: good acting, great effects and, most importantly, real dinosaurs. PS: I just remembered the fourth part will be out in 2005, so until then, “Ya ba da ba dooo.”

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