"Scary Monster Movie"

Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.

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JURASSIC PARK (3D), the much touted science fiction thriller about genetically cloned dinosaurs directed by Steven Spielberg and promoted as a family film, is a violent movie bound to scare children. Park designer John Hammond invites two scientists, his two young grandchildren and a cocky mathematician to take a park tour to certify the safety of his new dinosaur theme park. However, a violent storm and a greedy computer operator shut down the computers and electric power. This places the people at the mercies of the dinosaurs.

Although it’s definitely not for younger children, JURASSIC PARK enjoyed a bonanza in 1993 with T-shirts, memorabilia and McDonald’s meals. Steven Spielberg’s directing is exceptional for its realistic dinosaur creatures and the technical wizardry that is still magnificent to see even today, especially in 3D. However, the plot and human characters leave something to be desired. Perhaps like John Hammond, Spielberg has gotten too caught up in the marketing of this creation and forgotten his responsibility to those who see it. It’s instructive that Spielberg said he wouldn’t take his children to see JURASSIC PARK.


(B, H, Ev, E, LL, VV, A, D, MM) Light moral worldview against playing God, with some humanist evolutionary, environmentalist elements about dinosaurs and the environment, with a comment about Creation; 11 obscenities, two strong profanities, and five light profanities; very scary, intense violence (but no gore) with dinosaurs on a rampage while stalking and devouring people and one dinosaur spits into man’s face to blind him, plus children in peril of man-eating dinosaurs and boy gets stunned by electrical fence, which causes him to limp; no sex; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, greed, deceit, villains endanger people, cocky mathematician talks mumbojumbo about “chaos theory,” chance, and entropy, and paleontologist waxes eloquently about how God created dinosaurs, then killed them off, created man who then killed God off (or so the solipsistic humans believe in their humanist myopia) and now man has recreated the dinosaurs.

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JURASSIC PARK, the wildly popular 1993 Steven Spielberg movie about dinosaurs, comes back to the theaters this year in 3D, to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

JURASSIC PARK, the much-touted-science fiction thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and avidly promoted as a children’s movie, still turns out to be a violent and scary movie that’s bound to scare young children out of their wits and cause nightmares to boot. Nevertheless, the movie’s amazing animatronic dinosaurs, designed by special-effects whiz Stan Winston (of TERMINATOR 2 fame) and combined seamlessly with Industrial Light & Magic’s Dennis Muren’s computer animation, will no doubt hold many viewers spellbound and riveted to their seats – if they can keep their eyes on the screen instead of tightly closing them from intense fear.

As the movie opens on the secluded, lush, mountainous Isla Nubar, 120 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, a large cage is being positioned next to an immense holding pen. As the door to the cage is opened, the ferocious creature roars, tears at the cage and grabs hold of one of the cage handlers, dragging him inside the cage in spite of a barrage of stun-guns being emptied into the creature in rapid fire, and the efforts of several men to pull the handler to safety.

Soon thereafter, an attorney shows up seeking reassurance about his company’s investment in a unique “Dinosaur” theme park, called Jurassic Park, from the modern P.T. Barnum park designer and Director John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough). After some arm-twisting, Hammond agrees to bring three experts to the park to certify its safety.

Meanwhile, in the Badlands of South Dakota in the United States, a paleontologist and a paleobotanist unearth the bones of a pre-historic creature. Ominous foreshadowing occurs as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) illustrates to a rotund youngster, via a huge hook-like “claw,” how one of the dinosaurs not only defended himself from predators, but also aggressively attacked his prey with the help of the others in his pack. As Dr. Grant and his girlfriend, paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), discuss other dinosaurian peculiarities, Hammond arrives by helicopter. He convinces the two, with an offer of complete funding for their research, to travel with him for a weekend tour of his Jurassic Park.

Before long, Drs. Grant and Sattler are riding in a jeep toward the park center. Dr. Grant is awe-struck by the sight of a gigantic, long-necked brachiosaur, as is Dr. Sattler when Grant turns her head toward the dinosaur.

At the park center, the good doctors are joined by a brilliant, yet quirky mathematician, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), who keeps mumbling about the perils of tampering with nature and Chaos theory. Hammond takes them on a Disney-type tour whereon a Mr. DNA explains how to create living, breathing and eating full-sized dinosaurs. The basis for his hi-tech, scientifically based discovery lies in the notion that full-sized dinosaurs can be biologically cloned using the DNA obtained from the fossilized mosquitoes trapped in amber, which is nothing more than fossilized tree sap.

After watching some dinosaur eggs hatch, the three experts and the lawyer are sent off on a tour of the park in two land rovers on rails with Hammond’s two grandchildren, early teenager, Lex (Ariana Richards), and nine-year-old Tim (Joseph Mazzello). On the tour, Ian waxes eloquent about how God created dinosaurs, then killed them off, created man who then killed God off (or so the solipsistic humans believe in their myopia), and now man has recreated the dinosaurs.

At the first turn, the automated voice tells about dangerous dinosaurs that spew their victims with venom before chomping them for lunch. Regrettably, they see nothing until well into their Park tour, when Dr. Grant gets out and discovers a sick triceritops. Dr. Sattler stays behind with the dinosaur and a park ranger.

Suddenly, an unexpected storm and the premeditated greed of pudgy computer operator Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), who plans to sell dinosaur eggs to another park, strands the two carloads of Hammond’s guests in the middle of the park at night. A Tyrannosaurus Rex realizes that the electric fences are dysfunctional and that the tourists would make a good meal. (The viewer has already been informed that the dinosaurs are kept in check by 10,000 volt electric fences, and that they possess enough intelligence to test the fences regularly for weaknesses.) The viewer has also been an eyewitness earlier to the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s “dinner” (a live lamb being lowered into the large T Rex pen rex via a harness contraption – only to have the harness reemerge a short time later tattered and minus the lamb).

Events from here on frighteningly verify the mathematician’s view of an unpredictable universe. With the park’s central computer and power systems shut down, the dinosaurs are free to run amok.

Dr. Grant and the children are forced to make their way back across the park to the compound. Their frightening adventures are heightened by the most beautiful and awe-inspiring scene in the movie in which a herd of speedy small dinosaurs sweep toward the characters across a plain and away from a hungry T-Rex, who ultimately enjoys a meal. Intense scenes like this one, and numerous others like it, keep the viewer on the edge of his seat wondering where the dinosaurs will strike next (it’s as though THEY have a diabolical, master plan to get the humans before the humans “get them”).

JURASSIC PARK enjoyed a bonanza in the 1993 release between T-shirts, other memorabilia and McDonald’s all-out thrust in the form of JURASSIC PARK meals complete with matching motif on everything. However, Spielberg’s directing must be commended in the movie’s realistic monsters and in the technical wizardry that is still magnificent to see even today, especially in 3D. Although the plot is flat and the human characters are not nearly as well developed as their dinosaurian competitors. In this sense of the monster outperforming the actors, the movie is reminiscent of KING KONG, as it also is in some of the dialogue and park design.

Ultimately, as Hammond admits, he tries to play God with his recreation of the dinosaurs (he creates only the female species, believing that the herds will not increase). However, Satan, too, tried to elevate himself above God and failed, according to Isaiah 14: 13-15: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high.” Although Satan was brought “down to hell” because of pride and malice, John Hammond is a more benevolent, grandfatherly type, but he, too, learns a lesson from his unorthodox experiment, and at the movie’s end, promises a return to earlier, simpler endeavors like the “Petticoat Flea Circuses.”

In the final analysis, JURASSIC PARK is problematic only because it is being marketed to children who are too young to see this scary monster movie. Even Spielberg is reported to have kept his child from seeing the movie because of the violence. One little 11-year-old, Gelani Gilman, was quoted in the June 11, 1993, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, saying, “I didn’t watch half of it. It was too scary.” Thus, perhaps like John Hammond, Steven Spielberg has gotten too caught up in the marketing of this creation and forgotten his responsibility to those who see it.

The 3D enhances the movies excitement and drama in wonderful ways, especially if one sees it in IMAX 3D. The 2D to 3D transformation is fantastic! It avoids many of the problems that plague 3D converted movies: problems like blurry images that cause headaches and nausea. Everything about the experience of the movie increases fourfold, but the problematic worldview and violence still warrant caution.

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