Welcome to Jurassic Park - An interview on seeing it for the first time
Everyone knows the T-Rex attack sequence. The Raptors in the Kitchen scene. Hammond announcing continuously that he 'spared no expense'. Well, nearly everyone. I spoke to my partner, who had never seen the original movie. After watching it, here's what she had to say about it:
Question 1: For a film fan, Jurassic Park is best known for the way it revolutionised special effects - CGI finally saw its true potential fulfilled with the introduction of fully realised dinosaurs: something we’ll never see, brought to life so realistically. CGI has come a long way since then.
How do you think the effects stand out? What about the balance of animatronics and CGI, compared to the over-emphasis on CGI nowadays?
Answer: Even though I like CGI and it’s very developed nowadays, I appreciated the use of animatronics more. I was surprised about the believability of the animatronics after you remind yourself about the year it came out - released in the 90s, it’s amazing how the dinosaurs look so lifelike when you might expect them to look a bit silly, like the men in the rubber suits and puppets from older movies.
The animatronics are particularly impressive because the close-ups on the dinosaurs actually look realistic, unlike CGI, where it can look a little blurry or obviously generated. The scene where Dennis meets his end; when the park ranger is attacked by a velociraptor. The animatronics blended in subtly with the actors and setting.
"The animatronics are particularly impressive because the close-ups on the dinosaurs actually look realistic, unlike CGI, where it can look a little blurry or obviously generated."
Question 2: Some could criticise the absence of character development - aside from Sam Neill growing accustomed to kids, some would argue that the characters never really discover anything new about themselves other than they’re scared of dinosaurs now, and probably even theme parks in general.
However, Jurassic Park is still beloved for its pure entertainment value - the nostalgia people hold, like me, over its classic, dinosaur-led moments.
What do you think, from a fresh perspective? Would have you liked more character development, and if so, what would you want to see?
Answer: The film is a little messy with making it clear where certain characters stand. Ian’s position, for example, is made clear early on, on many occasions - “Life finds a way”, “You wield nature like a kid wields its Dad’s gun”. But Alan and Ellie aren’t so clearly defined - they’re fascinated with the dinosaurs, but disagree with their use. Yet, we still see them enjoying the sights, even after making these points to Hammond. Also, the fatherly element with Alan and the kids is a little obvious and weak.
I disagree with the point about Alan’s development though. I think Hammond undergoes the biggest change - realising that the park is simply too risky and goes against nature, that the dinosaurs should be left to exist alone, without humans getting in the way.
"Ian’s position, for example, is made clear early on, on many occasions... I think Hammond undergoes the biggest change - realising that the park is simply too risky and goes against nature..."
Question 3: On the characters, how do you feel about the kids? They’re often a point of contention but usually escape criticism as they star in two legendary scenes - the T-Rex attack and the Raptor/Kitchen sequence.
Do you feel that kids in these kinds of movies tend to irritate? Or do you think they’re portrayed accurately? As Hollywood can often cast their character as the obvious targets for whatever threat the film wishes to impose upon the action.
Answer: I found them irritating at first, particularly the girl, Lex because at least Tim is into the scenario - she obviously doesn’t want to be there, so it can feel a bit like wasted time with her.
It’s also clear that the kids are introduced to create tension because there’s no logical reason for them to be in such a park at that time. They’re introduced to create chaos within the action, which leads to the scariest parts of the dramatic scenes.
"It’s also blatant that the kids are introduced to create tension because there’s no logical reason for them to be in such a park at that time."
But, I do think their reactions to the dinosaurs were realistic. I’m an adult and I’m sure, unlike Alan and Ian, I’d scream to the heavens too at a dinosaur the size of a bus growling at me. Plus the kids do undergo development in this respect - Lex's fear lessens, like in the kitchen, where she smartly distracts the velociraptors around Tim.
Question 4: While it might not be the epitome of character development, Jurassic Park (both the novel and the film) asked big questions about the way humans tamper with nature and specifically, evolution.
Do you think these questions are still applicable and if so, is Jurassic Park’s handling of these notions feasible and effective?
Answer: It made a lot of sense in my mind, to be honest. We will always have a curiosity about that part of nature that we didn’t get to experience. There will also, always be someone trying to bring that knowledge of lost time to us. Sometimes it can be for the wrong reasons - to commercialise, in the park’s case.
But Jurassic Park goes further, on a bigger level. It looks at how mankind is incapable of sitting on the sidelines, of not being as powerful as nature in deciding what lives and what doesn’t: curiosity and understanding are okay but meddling is not. This is what makes Ian’s character the most endearing as he recognises this: consider when he says “Dinosaurs had their shot, but nature selected them for extinction”. This is the lesson that we should learn from Jurassic Park - we should only pursue the knowledge of science, so long as we do not directly interfere with it.
What do you guys think? Is Jurassic Park still a classic? Are its themes more relevant now than ever? And is it underappreciated as a "message movie"?
What other classics would you want to see reconsidered? Leave some feedback and let me know! If you liked the article, subscribe to the website! I'll keep you updated on all of the latest posts. And follow The Film Foyer on social media! All of the links can be found in the feedback form at the bottom of the page.