“John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
It’s hard to think of a 90s movie more iconic than Jurassic Park. Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jaws) and starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, this is a movie that captivated everyone who saw it in theaters. Like all great sci-fi movies, it sparked our imagination for what science could do while also reminding us of the importance of ethics. It has all of the classic sci-fi qualifications along with a thrilling plot, great special effects, and a better original score than most sci-fi films. And it’s just as impressive today as it was when it came out 24 years ago.
The plot tells the story of Jurassic Park, a theme park where science has resurrected dinosaurs and allows visitors to see them. John Hammond, the park’s financier and creator, invites a group of scientists, a lawyer, and his two grandchildren to preview the park before it opens. When an employee shuts down the park’s security system to steal dinosaur embryos, chaos is unleashed and it becomes clear that the dinosaurs are not so easy to control. It quickly turns into a race to escape from the island as deadly dinosaurs are hunting them.
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
Everything in this movie—the dinosaurs, the park politics, even the science—feels real and alive. The special effects were revolutionary for their time and really brought dinosaurs to life in a way that had never been done before, and the effects hold up pretty well today. We see the struggle of getting the park off the ground and the apprehensions some people have, even as the idea is optimistically pushed forward. We’re given just enough science to believe that this movie is grounded in reality, but not so much that we get lost. Everything is exceptionally well done, and there are no immersion-breaking mistakes or shortcomings. This movie generated so much interest in dinosaurs that the study of paleontology had a record-breaking number of new students in the years after its release.
But mixed with that sense of awe and wonder is terror and peril as we’re shown just how dangerous dinosaurs can be. The science and ethical questions are there, but make no mistake: this is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. There are so many iconic scenes that it’s hard to pick just one, but the kitchen scene with the velociraptors is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. The suspense and danger feel real and the movie doesn’t resort to cheap tricks to scare you—it’s scary enough without them.
Jurassic Park is an outstanding sci-fi thriller with a wide appeal, and it’s very close to perfect. Very young children may find it too frightening, but it’s suitable for pre-teens and even older children, as well as adults of all ages. I’d recommend it to anyone, and it’s probably one of those movies that everyone should see.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genres: sci-fi, thriller