4/26/2015

Film Review - Jurassic Park

Fig.1
Release Date - 1993
Director - Steven Spielburg
Genre - Fantasy, Thriller, Adventure Film

The film is based around a theme park on a island, owned by a billionaire who has cracked the genetic code for cloning dinosaurs using DNA. The DNA has been obtained through blood found in prehistoric mosquitoes preserved in amber. In the film it's explained through a short animation during a sort of ride. From all this he is able to grow the dinosaurs in his laboratories and lock them away on the island behind electric fences, creating the ultimate theme park featuring real life dinosaurs. He asks a group of scientists from several different fields to come and view the park for their approval, but something goes terribly wrong when a worker on the island turns traitor and shuts down the power.

Throughout Spielberg has a great sense for timing and building up suspense, instead of obvious gore, this includes the scene of the kids trapped in a jeep watching a cup of water shake, letting you know something huge is coming, now a classic moment of cinema. A. Dowd mention this key scene and how its accomplished "the rippling water in the glass, accomplished through nothing more than a plucked, concealed guitar string. If Spielberg learned anything from Jaws—and his malfunctioning robot shark—it’s that not showing the monster can make the scenes where you do show it all the more effective." (AA.D, 2013) Other moments like when the raptors are prowling in the kitchen where the unfortunate kids are hiding provide more tense moments with the kids shuffling around on the floor trying to be as quiet as possible, it all builds up tension putting viewers on edge. But this is all part of the excitement, but leaves the real violence to the imagination, when ever it comes to dino feeding time Spielberg avoids obvious gore and shows the animals left in dinosaur pens untouched to suddenly disappear, making you wondering what happened and letting the audiences imagination do the rest. Also in the opening moments of Jurassic Park, where a caged raptor, still unseen, manages to attack one of its handlers. The sequence is bloodless, but it’s still brutal, As the man screams for help and people try to help and fight to hold him back, the beast in the cage is too strong, the shots of hands being pulled apart are scarier than any graphic bloodshed.

It's been said Spielberg bought the rights to Michael Crichton's novel before it was even published, the books were very successful in their own right and so was the 1993 film adaptation which went on to two sequels, but the third film was not based on a novel like the previous films.

During filming special effects were a primary focus of Spielberg’s, In a review by Roger Ebert, it's clear this is picked up "It's clear, seeing this long-awaited project, that Spielberg devoted most of his effort to creating the dinosaurs." (R.E, 1993)  regardless, he wasn't always happy with the test shots of the dinosaurs, saying they weren't photorealistic enough, he had popular makeup artist Stan Winston and his team create animatronics of the dinosaurs (to build and operate the live-action dino robots) certain dinosaurs including the T-rex were fully built, others were just the upper half or lower half. Michael Lantieri was also called in to aid the more special effects area, he would be supervising the interactive elements on set e.g. The final classic scene when the CGI T.rex throws a raptor into a T.rex skeleton, Lantieri was responsible for making sure the skeleton reacted in a realistic way to CGI elements that hadn't even been included yet (Fig.2) . Two more names are worth mentioning in this great team, Phil Tippett used a technique known as "Go-Motion", a slightly updated version of stop-motion, still using miniatures like stop-motion animation to add motion blur to make each frame smoother and more lifelike, last and not least, Dennis Muren, leading the effects team at ILM combining all the effects and elements in post- productions. Muren and his ILM team showed Spielberg an early CGI dinosaur test of a group of dinosaurs running through a field. Spielberg was finally happy and in awe of the smooth movement and realism of the effects. "Jurassic Park has broken the accepted rules of special effects photography by expanding upon traditional methods of character animation." (D. M, 2009)

Fig.2


Spielberg and his team changed the way film makers would use CGI forever, unknowing at the time spielberg was always wary that they wouldn't hold up under intense scrutiny even though it later went  on to win a best visual effects oscar in 1994. 



Illustration list - 

Figure One - Jurassic Park Movie Poster Andy Helms Geek Art Fan Art | Return To ... (2014)
From: Jurassic Park Directed by: Steven Spielberg [Film Poster] United States: Universal Pictures 
At: returntofleet.com

Figure Two - Steven Spielberg | The Best Picture Project (1993) From: Jurassic Park
Directed by: Steven Spielburg [Film Still] United States: Universal Pictures 
At: thebestpictureproject.wordpress.com
 

Bibliography - 

Dowd, A.A. (2013) '20 years later, Jurassic Park still feels like the quintessential special-effects movie' From: Jurassic Park In: http://www.avclub.com 07.11.13 (online)
At: http://www.avclub.com/article/20-years-later-ijurassic-parki-still-feels-like-th-105236
(Accessed on 26.04.15) 

Ebert, Roger. (1993) 'Jurassic Park' From: Jurassic Park. In: http://www.rogerebert.com. 11.05.93
(online) At:http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/jurassic-park-1993 (Accessed on 26.04.15) 

Morgan, David. (2009) 'Creating The Monstrous Effects For JURASSIC PARK' From: Jurassic Park.
In: http://www.wideanglecloseup.com N/A (online) At:http://www.wideanglecloseup.com/jurassicpark.html (Accessed on 26.04.15) 

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