Way late review: Jurrasic Park

I’m a Spielberg fan, so it should come as little surprise that I enjoy Jurrasic Park. That’s not to say that Spielberg can do no wrong. But, Jurrasic Park does much more right than wrong.

I’m sure there are endless debates all around the Internet about the science behind Jurrasic Park. Finding dinosaur blood in a mosquito from way back in the day to recreate the DNA and clone dinosaurs sounds like a boring debate waiting to happen. Whether the science is solid or not, the setup to explaining how the park came to be is definitely solid. Rather than drone on with needless exposition we’re taken through an amusement park like ride that explains everything in a brief and entertaining manner. From there we launch into what becomes an action packed thriller full of dinosaurs.

The biggest complaint I can lodge against Jurrasic Park is that everyone we want to survive does and everyone we don’t want to survive doesn’t. It’s an easy out and especially hard to accept when you get scenes like the following. Tim, one of the kids trying to make it back to the headquarters, gets 10,000 volts through him as he hangs on one second too long to the electric fence that regains power. Tim survives the fall and shock. The worst part? His first word is to finish his count, “3”. It’s a terrible scene. Fortunately it’s followed up by a classic game of hide and seek in the park’s industrial kitchen with Tim, his sister Lex and a pair of raptors. That still got me jumping a bit, at least once.

Jurrasic Park is a fun and fast paced movie. The main characters are archetypes but serve their purpose. The drama is never melodramatic and the focus stays where it should – the dangerous journey of trying to escape from an island overrun with dinosaurs. Speaking of dinosaurs, they generally hold up on screen 18 years later which is no small feat. Bad CG or animatronics can ruin the suspense of a film. Jurrasic Park was ahead of its time in that regard. Debate can be had on whether we see too much of the dinosaurs too soon, but there is no denying that the action delivers even though we know exactly what is after our human protagonists.

In the end, it’s a fun blockbuster that doesn’t pretend to be more than that. It’s competent in the areas it needs to be (story and characters) and excels in the other areas (action, computer animation, set pieces). Current day blockbusters would do well to take note.

NOTE: I watched the Blu-ray version this time around. A good but not great looking blu. I’m hoping the great remastering is saved for Spielberg’s true classics that have yet to hit the format.


This post is part of my Way late reviews. Read more reviews here.

Way late review: Searching for Bobby Fisher

I recall seeing Searching for Bobby Fischer in the theater when it came out in 1993. I also recall enjoying it, but if you asked me for any details about the film I would have been hard pressed to give you more than: chess, a kid savant, and Bobby Fischer wasn’t the focus of the story. When I saw that Netflix was streaming the movie I decided to refresh my memory and see if it was as good as I vaguely remembered.

The story, straight from the synopsis:

After watching speed chess in Washington Square Park, 7-year-old Josh Waitzken (Max Pomeranc) gets hooked on the game. Josh’s father (solidly played by Joe Mantegna) learns that his son is a chess whiz and decides to hire an implacable chess master (Ben Kingsley) to coach the boy. When Josh is entered into high-stress competitions, what was once a pleasant hobby turns into a source of anxiety and indignation, forcing dad to reassess his decision.

Random thoughts as I watched the story progress:

  • I don’t know how to play chess
  • Ben Kingsley has hair and an Irish accent?
  • Soundtracks can be soooo manipulative
  • Do that many people play chess in the big city?
  • Max Pomeranc looks like Elijah Wood
  • Before he was Frodo, Elijah Wood was in the movie North – AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
  • When in doubt, show Josh’s puppy dog eyes
  • Laurence Fishburne here vs. Laurence Fishburne in the movie 21 – same person?
  • I really do enjoy typical sports movie narratives and the Karate Kid, teacher/student type relationships
  • Why is this movie failing to capitalize on those narratives and that relationship?
  • Why is everyone so deadly serious in this movie?
  • I wonder if Bobby Fischer watched this
  • Did Robin Williams get some of his ideas for his role in Good Will Hunting from Ben Kingsley in this flick? Hmmm…
  • I still don’t know how to play chess
  • We like to think there are two kinds of “sports parents” in this world – those who go overboard and those who could care less
  • Do the kids ever get in arguments with each other in these chess tournaments?
  • I kind of like the two polarizing teachers element – Ben Kingsley the traditionalist vs. Laurence Fishburne the streetwise
  • Is this movie responsible for motivating the mind boggling “we don’t keep score” movement in youth sports these days? Hmmm…
  • Why doesn’t Netflix allow me to use half stars in my ratings?
  • I like Rudy. I like sappy (sometimes). I still like this movie overall.


This post is part of my Way late reviews. See more reviews here.