Friday, August 28, 2009

Jurassic Park

your crazy uncle said to go to for the full list.

A frequent complaint about Jurassic Park upon its release in 1993 was that it lacked - snobby critic's complaint here - character development and that it was purely a special effects bonanza. Certainly nearly every single character came ready-made as a sort of assembly line product: the wealthy proprietor whose grandiose vision is matched only by his cluelessness, the eternally optimistic graduate student and her grizzled, cynical teacher and a pair of adorable, ever-irascible and eternally annoying kids who too often manage muck things up. To some extent the Spielberg-directed movie has never quite shaken that stigma. This is understandable as Jurassic Park is in many ways your typical big-budget Hollywood blockbuster: there are countless near-catastrophes and epic moments, individual acts of both selfishness and sacrifice, a soundtrack as epic as John Hammond's park, several awe-inspiring computer-generated effects that dazzle the eyes while the mind takes a siesta and, um, one poor guy facing death by dinosaur while on the crapper.

But dig a little deeper (get it?) and what becomes as striking as any visual is the film's foreboding tone. The characters' follies and flaws are instantly familiar to modern audiences: at least one character's hubris leads to the destruction of what he holds most dear, while Ian Malcom's protests against the "rape of the natural world" are predictably ignored. Far more than just a mesmerizing special effects how-to manual, Jurassic Park contains universal environmental themes that extend beyond the limits of a mainstream film: the devastating results when naive intentions and corporate greed collide, humanity's desire to connect with and understand the past and man's pursuit of technology and how best to use it

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