(For the best reading experience, be sure to play this soundtrack while reading this review.)
Don't deny it. We all love dinosaurs as kids, and I bet most of us still do today. So when we first watched Jurassic Park for the first time, we are all amazed by the dinosaurs depicted on-screen, terrrifyed by the T-Rex and velociraptors making sounds, and being introduced to Jeff Goldblum's sexy voice and nerdy looks.
But what if we want more dinosaur action? What could satisfy our thirst when we watched the sequels too? Naturally, some parents figured out the best solution, which is to buy us a 'Walking with Dinosaurs' DVD! We want more dinosaurs, we get more dinosaurs. Why, it's the perfect gifts for dinosaur-loving kids! Yeah, but I'll have to admit that not only both the series and film have buttload of inaccuracies (Heck, a lot of 'documentaries' were guilty at it too), they never wow us the same as the blockbuster franchise do. Yes, we get to see a carnivour having some poor branchiosaurus as lunch, and yet it's never as satisfying as looking at a T-Rex munching us puny humans as snacks. I don't know why, but it's something about human interaction with dinosaurs, either friendly or hostile, that somewhat fascinates me more than dinosaur copulations.
Well lucky for us, Jurassic World will finally debut at our local cinemas next week, 14 years since the last film in the franchise. So before that, I'll take the chance to revisit one of Steven Spielberg's classic and the OK-ish sequels.
The movie starts with fossil scientists Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) being invited by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the boss of bioengineering company InGen, along with lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) and mathematician/sexy hunk nerd Ian Malcolm (JEFF GOLDBLUM!!!), to an island around Central America, where his company were creating dinosaurs out of DNA from mosquitos trapped in ambers, and then put them in a theme park where tourist gets to see the prehistoric creatures in real life. Sounds awesome, right?
Unfortunately, the park was riddled with major problems before it was even slated for opening. Besides small numbers of security personnel, crap computers with crap software, and modern plants that were poisonous to prehistoric herbivours, Jurassic Park is about to completely fall apart, thanks to a computer scientist who were hired by a rival bioengineering company to steal some dino DNA. So the 65 million dollars question is, how Alan Grant and co. will be able to escape the island?
Before the first sentence, let's be clear that the depiction of dinosaurs in the franchise is very inaccurate, only for the sake of being cool. Yes, actual velociraptors are just the size of a turkey and aren't smarter than gorillas, dilophosaurus aren't big and don't have frills, pteranodon can't pick up adults alone and so on. We get it, a lot of the depictions are wrong. But then again, the real depiction of velociraptors in the movies, "Utahraptors" might sound attractive to Mormons, but considered a sucky name by the rest of the world. It's extremely rare for mosquitos stuck in ambers to even contain dino DNA. And the fact that a lot of creatures here are genetically engineered with reptile and amphibian DNA, which make them dinosaurs mostly defined by what's left by their ancestors at best. At the end, movies are primarily to entertain us, if not accurately educate us. Fictional dinosaurs are inaccurate but cool, real dinosaurs are depicted as accurate but not as cool, let's just leave it at that.
First stop, the back-then top notch CGIs. They look a bit outdated today, but they're still blend in well with the scenery. Heck, the first scene where the branchiosaurus appears is still remarkable as before. Even the CGI T-Rex and velociraptors didn't look bad. Of course what makes the experience even better is that the filmmakers also uses practical effects as many times as they could. The small raptor coming out of its egg, the sick triceratops lying on the ground, the T-Rex chewing tires, those are some examples where the scenes uses models to depict them. The real-life looking models not only makes the whole thing feel real, they also at times make it difficult for us to differentiate between the real-life dinosaurs models and already remarkable CGI dinosaurs, which is great and might possibly enhanced the viewing experience.
Certainly looks real as it gets when you look at it in the eyes.
The action, mostly involving dinosaurs are pretty good. Whenever someone walking around the scene, you'll feel the tension throughout as you often wonder when will the dinosaurs jump out to the open and try to eat them.
There are also more evidence that Spielberg certainly spared no expense on making this film. The whole film was shot in Hawaii, maybe perhaps the Central American islands aren't as good-looking. He also hired his longtime friend John Williams, a famous senior terrorist composer who made a lot of haram ear worm-inducing iconic theme soundtrack that will play in your head whenever you saw a movie he composed. The video at the start of this blog is one of the examples of his audio terrorism masterpiece.
Now comes the downside, which is both the story and the characters. The whole premise of dinosaur theme park-turn-horror island still stand good to this day, it's just that there's not enough scenes that qualify as 'adventurous' for most of us who yearn more thrills than just shock. While the characters, like Jaws, are more likable than the novel source, they just didn't give us much reason to care about. Sure, there's Robert Muldoon the badass warden, Ian Malcolm the reasonably sane mathematician, and John Hammond the old man who sincerely wants the world to be astonished at dinosaurs, but overall they're just likable and sympathetic enough, if not worth cheering for their survival.
On the other hand, you should feel sorry for this poor chap.
Nonetheless, despite the weak human aspects, Jurassic Park is still a classic dinosaur film. If you have kids and want to introduce dinosaurs to them without scaring the crap outta them, it's advisable to let them watch some dinosaur documentaries to prepare them for the film. If you think your kids can handle a bit of PG-rated gore involving humans, you can safely let them watch this film, and be proud as they will be disappointed by pure dino-vs-dino action.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Ian Malcolm and his crew of misfits return to the islands to rescue his girlfriend, and being dragged into a plot to prevent Hammond's nephew from bringing the captured dinosaurs to America. Some good action scenes, particularly during the final climax, and Pete Postlethwaite as an even more awesome hunter in here. The bad is both good guys and bad guys did incredibly idiotic decisions that causes so many human casualties, that it makes us very unlikely to care if any of them, except Goldblum and Postlethwaite, lives. Watch it for both Goldblum and Postlethwaite, and said climax.
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Dr. Alan Grant was duped by a couple with a lot of money into being a tour guide to the dinosaur islands, while they were actually trying to find their son who were presumed missing there. Decent attempt at trying to replicate the adventurous theme of the 1st movie, but short film length and even less interesting characters kind of killed the mood. The 'birdcage' scene is pretty good, but other than that, there's nothing to talk about. While CGI dinosaurs still looks good, the effects is a bit more obvious towards our eyes than before. Filmmakers managed to follow science and put feathers on raptors though. Also, nobody likes the OP spinosaurus. Just watch it once and not touch it again. Odd words from someone who likes the third film more than the second one.
(Review for Jurassic World will be out a day or two before June 12, depending on your locations.)