Steven Spielberg’s scary and horrific thriller may be one-dimensional and even clunky in story and characterization, but definitely delivers where it counts, in excitement, suspense and the stupendous realization of giant reptiles.
The $60 million production (a bargain at the price) follows the general idea if not the letter of co-scripter Michael Crichton’s 1990 bestseller.
Basis of this hi-tech, scientifically based, up-to-date version lies in the notion that dinosaurs can be biologically engineered using fossilized dino DNA. Having accomplished this in secret on an island off Costa Rica, zillionaire entrepreneur/tycoon John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) brings in a small group of experts to endorse his miracle, which is to be the world’s most expensive zoo-cum-amusement park.
Arriving to inspect the menagerie are paleontologists Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), as well as oddball mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), advocate of the Chaos Theory. Also along are Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), a hardnosed attorney repping the park’s investors, and Hammond’s two fresh-faced grandchildren, Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazzello).
Introductory scenes are surprisingly perfunctory and Spielberg lets the dinosaurs out of the bag very early, showing some of them in full view after only 20 minutes. Still, none of these problems ends up mattering once the film clicks into high gear. When a storm strands two carloads of Hammond’s guests in the middle of the park at night, a Tyrannosaurus Rex decides it’s dinnertime. Events from here on frighteningly verify the mathematician’s view of an unpredictable universe.
The monsters are far more convincing than the human characters. Neill’s paleontologist comes off rather like a bland Indiana Jones, while Dern considerably overdoes the facial oohs and ahhs. The kids are basically along for the ride, while Jeff Goldblum, attired in all-black, helpfully fires off most of the wisecracks. As for Attenborough, agreeably back onscreen for the first time since 1979, his role has been significantly softened from the book.
1993: Best Sound, Sound Editing, Visual Effects