Jurassic Park (1993) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Jurassic Park (1993)

In college I had a great film professor named Joe Heumann, who had the interesting idea that the first generation that grew up with VCRs and access to watch their favorite movie at any time were changing how films were being watched.  Quickly, films had gone from a medium where 100% of attention was given to watching the film to something that might be on in the background while doing chores.  With the invention of watching movies at home, favorite films became like beloved albums for the past generation, that are always on but seldom given the full attention.   I believe that this is becoming more and more apparent now with smart phones, tablets and affordable laptops. People are using movies as almost CD’s in the way that they just want background noise on while surfing the internet, doing work or countless other things.

I am as guilty of this as anyone else out there. Most of my papers in high school and college were written with movies blaring in the room.  Usually for me it had to be an action movie that I didn’t need to pay attention to other than looking up for the occasional gunfight or car chase.  The Rock, Long Kiss Goodnight, Speed, Face/Off, and Terminator films were constantly being played when working on homework, playing on the computer or just hanging out with friends.  Much like how I can pinpoint the movie that started my movie collection it is very simple for me to figure out the first movie I had constantly on repeat, 1993’s Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park when it was released in the summer of 1993 destroyed any and all competition.  It broke records for biggest opening, sold a crap ton of books, video games and action figures and it made over $130 million MORE than any other film released that year.  It is not a surprise that the movie did giant business since it had a beloved filmmaker in Spielberg doing what audiences loved to see him do, making big budget rides. The fact that it was based on a popular book and it had freaking dinosaurs in it didn’t hurt matters either.  Let this be a math equation that will always be true: Spielberg + dinosaurs= lots of money.

The movie also holds up well and certain scenes are rewatchable over and over.   The biggest problem (and it is a big one) is the first hour DRAGS, especially on repeat viewings.  Jurassic Park is not the hardest concept for someone to wrap his or her head around.  Man recreates dinosaurs, man tried to put dinos in zoo, dinos have other plans, break out and start eating people.  Yet, the movie takes the first hour to slowly put all of the pieces in their places so the movie can get going.  We have numerous scenes of faux science talk, explanations of chaos theory, characters explaining how dangerous dinosaurs are (if people couldn’t figure that out themselves) and Newman from Seinfeld screwing over everyone for a quick buck.  From a strictly story point of view, I can understand why this is important since it is setting the “table” but it could have been cut down considerably.  Truthfully, it probably could have been cut out completely because if you would have had the hand of god place the characters in front of rampaging dinosaurs in the first frame, I don’t think audiences would have cared because the second hour of Jurassic Park was as exciting of a movie as they come.

While I am not god and could not place the characters in front of rampaging dinosaurs, my trusted tape of Jurassic Park and my VCR could come close.  After buying the film on its vhs release, I quickly learned how far into the movie the initial T-Rex attack (which is still one of my favorite scenes from ANY movie) was in the film and everyday after school I would cue the tape up to that point and watch the film.   At first, the movie had my complete attention and I studied how Spielberg did what he did with staging, editing and sound.  Then after awhile, scenes started to bore me because I had them memorized, so I would work on homework or read or go into the other room for a snack.  Then the raptor attack would start and I would be glued to the TV again, much in the same way a person might be listening to a CD and blast the volume when their favorite song comes on.   I watched Jurassic Park so much that my tape got worn out at the point where I would start it every day.  In all honesty, I have probably seen the last hour of Jurassic Park at least 50-60 times and the whole film another 15-20.

The T-Rex scene kicks this film into high gear.

Jurassic Park also was the film that made me want to always have the most badass and loud sound systems there were for home consumption.  The sound mixing in the film was so crucial to the scares and the overall tension of the film, that it wasn’t as awe inspiring to watch it on a 13 inch TV with one speaker as it was on a 46 inch TV with surround sound and a subwoofer.

Much like people have been making mix tapes of their favorite songs and favorite artists, I would not be surprised if people don’t start doing the same thing for movies because the technology is now there.  Sure jumping from scene from movie A to scene from movie B would not make any narrative sense, but as a greatest hits clips package it could be entertaining.  I know if I ever had the time or desire to do this I could easily do a best of Spielberg scenes.  These greatest hits would have quite a few scenes from Jurassic Park because it is a movie where a top-notch director was at the peak of his skills.  Although Jurassic Park had a lot more story problems than some of Spielberg’s better films, I still argue with anyone that says Spielberg didn’t give this movie his all.  And with how many times I had watched some scenes, I feel safe to say that I am an expert.

Posted by Ryan

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