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Jurassic July - Jurassic Park (1993)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Peck, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight

All hell breaks lose when Attenborough attempts to impress a group of scientists with his island of cloned dinosaurs.
At the time of it's release, the dinosaur movie was practically extinct. Audiences were no longer impressed by the sight of rubber monsters with jerky movements. "Jurassic Park" would reignite the monster movie with it's revolutionary computer generated effects. Looking back with twenty year's hindsight, it's clear the movie's most impressive shots are actually those which feature the animatronic creations of Stan Winston. The recently released blu-ray exposes the CG work in an unflattering manner. Having said that, computer effects haven't really made much visible progress in the intervening years. The digital dinosaurs on display here are far more realistic than those featured in Peter Jackson's "King Kong" for example.
As great as the effects are, without a master storyteller like Spielberg this would be no more than another soulless summer blockbuster. He's on fire here and the movie contains some of the most thrilling set-pieces of his career. A scene involving raptors stalking Mazello and Richards in a kitchen ranks alongside his best work. He would repeat the scene a decade later almost verbatim in his under-rated adaptation of "War of the Worlds".
Unfortunately the scriptwriting by Michael Crichton, adapting his novel,  and David Koepp isn't on a par with Spielberg's directing. The science is ridiculous but they cleverly manage to make it convincing in a very simplistic way. Had they worked as hard on making the characters as believable as the science it could have been a truly great movie. None of the characters have any depth and are simply stereotypical representations of scientists, lawyers and computer nerds. There are subplots introduced which seem to fizzle out, one involving an attempt to smuggle dinosaur DNA has far too much time spent on it only for it to lead nowhere. Goldblum's character seems pointless given he disappears halfway through with an injury.
Rewatching this on blu-ray I was struck by how impressive the sound mix is. It was actually the first movie to use DTS surround rather than Dolby Digital which was the norm at the time. Listening to the low bass noises of an approaching T-Rex is one of the best uses you can find for your surround system.
"Jurassic Park" may have it's narrative flaws but it's a seriously impressive piece of film-making and monster movie fans will lap it up.
8/10

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