“The world has just changed so radically, and we are all just running to catch up. I don’t want to jump to any conclusions now, but look… Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution, have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect…?” – Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill)
We had no idea. We had absolutely no idea what to expect. The power of pop culture phenomenons are so egregiously massive and unmitigated, they tend to become inevitable lightnings in a bottle. That is exactly what Steven Spielberg’s colossal dinosaur epic Jurassic Park was. It’s the quintessential blockbuster masterpiece (besides Star Wars) that not only defined the entire 90’s generation, but Jurassic Park cemented my personal childhood fantasy of witnessing dinosaurs come to life on the silver screen as well.My childhood was extremely tempestuous. I remember jumping from foster care to foster care and struggling with not only external factors but with an inner duality of mental liberation and confinement. The only thing that stayed relatively consistent throughout my adolescent years was my diverse range of peculiar fascinations with cinema. From controlling artificial intelligence beyond the realms of our universe and beautifully majestic mermaids of underwater nations, to super-powered extraterrestrials and costumed vigilantes that instilled hope within dark worlds- these are just some of the examples from cinema that have consistently provided an escapist reality for me. But it was when I witnessed (for the first time) the glorious moment of a gargantuan Brachiosaurus delicately eating her lunch of emerald plants while the golden sunshine cascaded upon her reptilian skin that I knew just how impactful cinema could be in terms of seeing the impossible on the big screen, which only further enhanced my love for filmmaking.
Based on the techno-thriller novel written by Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park tells the cautionary tale of a billionaire philanthropist named John Hammond and his team of bioengineering scientists who have created a wildlife amusement park of genetically-cloned and recreated dinosaurs on the fictional island of Isla Nublar. When the dinosaurs slowly begin to escape their confines and run amok throughout the islands, the existential power of Hammond’s ideology is questioned as renowned paleontologists Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler, chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm, as well as Hammond’s beloved grandchildren must learn to survive the perilous, treacherous, and prehistoric dangers of Jurassic Park.The dinosaur epic was released to unanimous critical acclaim with praise towards the groundbreaking, computer-generated imagery of Industrial Light and Magic visual effects company, the realism of Stan Winston’s miraculous work on life-size dinosaur animatronics, John Williams’ iconic, virtuoso soundtrack, and of course, Spielberg’s impeccable and meticulous direction. The film became an instant global success earning $914M worldwide, becoming the highest grossing film ever made until the release of Titanic in 1997. After it was re-released theatrically in 2013 to commemorate the 20th year anniversary, Jurassic Park grossed over $1B worldwide. It also won many accolades and Academy Award recognition for its technical achievements in both visual effects and sound design.
But the greatest cinematic achievement with Jurassic Park, thus far, was the revolutionary inception of the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. The T. Rex, who is often nicknamed Rexy throughout this dinosaur blockbuster, makes her first appearance as the glass of water inside a jeep vibrated to the tyrant lizard’s thunderous footsteps. And in that glorious moment, the prehistoric and modern worlds would collide. Rexy escapes during that same stormy night and goes on to viciously attack a herd of Gallimimus. These moments, in addition to the monumental finale in which Rexy coincidentally becomes the anti-hero as she saves the human leads by attacking the incredibly dangerous and terrifying Velociraptors, have led to Jurassic Park‘s legendary and memorable imagery of dinosaurs in cinema. Furthermore, she has cemented her place within pop culture’s stratosphere of iconic movie monsters such as King Kong (1933), Jaws (1975), Alien (1979), and Godzilla (1998). Rexy’s sheer terror is only matched by its exquisite beauty; and for once in my life, I believed dinosaurs truly roamed the earth.Jurassic Park is a difficult film to explain without getting caught up in the whirlwind of overwhelming emotions that it clearly induces. It is more than just a film, more than just summer blockbuster entertainment, and definitely more than a transcending experience. Jurassic Park is a worldwide phenomenon that captured the hearts of an entire generation. The groundbreaking visionary filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, crafted his blockbuster magnum opus of tyrant lizards with pure tenacity and a sensitive touch of sentiment and unconditional wonder. What separated Jurassic Park from other “monster movies” and made this film so incredibly special was its miraculous believability. Spielberg made me believe not only from his technical wizardry of advanced technological achievements with computer-generated visual effects but with sentimentality, that undisputed childlike wonder, awe, curiosity, and adventure, and a delicate admiration for his young, individualistic force of nature.