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Why Jurassic Park Might Be the Most Rewatchable Movie Ever
How can we stand in the light of this movie, and not watch it again and again?
Life has, uh, found a way to create what might be the most rewatchable movie in existence. We loved Jurassic Park when it came out in 1993, and we weren’t alone. Everyone went to see the Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel. Dinosaurs ruled the earth that summer… and then they continued to for 30 years. Jurassic Park has proven over time to be a movie that we go back to over, and over, and over again. It is now 30 years later, and we haven’t gotten enough. Never enough!
Why? We’re glad you asked because that’s what we're talking about right now. At the end of it, you might find yourself ready to return to a not-yet-opened theme park full of genetically-engineered dinosaurs. If that’s the case, then the movie is currently streaming on Peacock. It’s generally not one of those movies that people sheepishly admit to never seeing at cocktail parties (Citizen Kane, Star Wars, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles), but in case it’s new to you, then by all means stream it on up.
Here are the major reasons why we haven’t stopped watching Jurassic Park since it entered our lives 30 years ago.
Bingo! Dino DNA.
The movie has dinosaurs. No sh*t, Santa. They looked incredible in 1993, and they still look incredible now. Practical effects were mixed with groundbreaking CGI to bring creatures both inspiring and terrifying to the screen. The characters look at them in awe, and so do we.
We cannot possible emphasize enough how well the effects in this movie have held up. Whether it’s a fully built Triceratops or a CGI Velociraptor, you’re never looking at effects. You’re looking at dinosaurs. The movie would be laughable if this wasn’t the case.
In many movies of this kind, the humans are stupid and boring. You can’t wait for them to get off the screen so you can get back to the dinosaurs/monsters/dragons/whatever. The human factor is huge. The movie is full of iconic performances.
Sam Neill and Laura Dern give us incredible heroes in the forms of Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler. Bob Peck (Muldoon) made the line “clever girl” the stuff of legend. Dennis Nedry is hilarious and frustrating to watch in the hands of Wayne Knight, and Samuel L. Jackson stands way out as Mr. Arnold, one of the tech wizards who is trying to get the park back online for most of the movie. PLEASE! He hates that hacker crap!
Of course we’ve yet to mention Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm or the dearly departed Richard Attenborough, CBE, as John Hammond. Goldblum has quips for days, but he also lays out the problems inherent with the park in elegant fashion. Attenborough’s Hammond is Walt Disney by way of a technological flim-flam side show. It is their respective points of view that lead us to another wonder of the film.
Slap It On a Lunchbox!
We came for the dinosaurs, and we stayed for the dinosaurs. That was the draw when we were younger. Some of us may have skipped certain “actors sit and talk” scenes in our VHS days. We don’t skip them now, because some of the best scenes in the whole thing have no dinosaurs in them at all.
The roundtable lunch conversation is a fine example. Everyone has just seen the wonders of the park, and Hammond expects to be lauded for his achievement. Gennaro (Martin Ferraro, also great) is seeing dollar signs and loving it. Grant and Sattler have doubts. Malcolm is the one who truly takes Hammond to task about ethical dilemmas run riot.
Hammond and his scientists have made a huge breakthrough in cloning, it’s true. They’ve done it on the backs of others. They took shortcuts, and that will have consequences. What do they do with the breakthroughs they made? They play god and bring dinosaurs back to life. Great! It’s so we can study and learn from them in a contained environment, right? No. Hammond is putting them in a zoo run by computers in an attempt, as he claims, to give tourists something real. He wants them to be amazed, but he also wants to be the one who gives it to them. Money is good too. They're gonna make a fortune with that place.
Malcolm says it best:
"I'll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you're using here, it didn't require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now… you’re selling it, you wanna sell it.”
Whether they had the ethical right or not (they didn’t), they proceeded anyway. The only thing left are the consequences. The first half of the movie is all wonder and awe, but the second half involves every character paying the fearful price of hubris. It’s all laid out in the lunch scene, clear as crystal. They lose. Good day, sir.
Other scenes that are great? Every single one of them that takes place in the control room. Watching Arnold, Hammond, Muldoon, and others try to regain control of nature with their wondrous technology is thrilling and almost hilarious. There is no true fix for the genetic horrors that an unseen corporate board of assh*les has put in the world, but that’s not even what our characters are interested in. As we’ve already said, they are trying to regain control. They never had it, that’s the real illusion. Sattler says as much to Hammond while they eat ice cream, in another boffo scene that we no longer skip.
This section has obviously spiraled, but such is the power of the themes on display. They are timeless. They are just as endlessly re-watchable as the initial T-Rex attack or the Brachiosaurus reveal on the plains.
The Jurassic Park Soundtrack Is Phenomenal
All of the preceding would be enough, but the movie has a not-so-secret weapon that sends it into the stratosphere. John Williams, the greatest composer in film history (and one of the greatest composers in musical history, period), wrote a score that is about as perfect as any work of art can be. We’re not going to say that he was at the height of his powers, because he's always at the height of his powers. Even so, the man behind the music of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Superman (and so much more) added another unforgettable bomb-drop classic to his canon.
You know the themes. They are in your head right now. The “Journey to the Island” motif is always memorable, and it’s right up there with the music that accompanies the initial wonder of the park. The latter theme eventually adapts to a piano piece, and it becomes melancholy. When it’s time for the wonder to turn to terror, Williams pivots with effortless mastery. The movie itself accomplishes this to a stunning degree. Spielberg has us crying, then laughing, and then screaming. None of it would work as well as it does without Williams.
Look, we could write about this movie for months on end. If you know, you know. Put it on a loop until the end of time, we’re good with it. It has Goldblum zingers and a T-Rex that they clocked at 32 mph. It has ethical conundrums that shoot to the very heart of human darkness. We’ll never get enough.
God creates dinosaurs, god destroys dinosaurs. God creates man, man destroys god, man creates dinosaurs, man creates an endlessly re-watchable movie about creating dinosaurs and the issues therein. Life continues to, uh, find a way.
Stream Jurassic Park on Peacock right now, and witness the staggering lack of humility before nature.