The average lifespan of a Tyrannosaurus Rex was about 30 years. Brachiosaurs may have pushed 100 years. The lifespan of special effects, on the other hand, are often just a few years at the most. Something bigger and better always comes along and turns previous giants into dusty relics. So far, Jurassic Park is proving to be the exception to this rule; at fifteen years of age, its stellar blend of CGI, animatronics, and puppetry still outshines many movies that are made to today. (Check out this slideshow if you don’t believe me.)
I was fourteen years old when Jurassic Park came out, the perfect age to fully appreciate a movie chock-full of the most convincing dinosaurs ever seen on film. Of course, everyone who saw it became fourteen again as they sat in the darkness and waited—just as impatiently as the characters in their jeeps—for the dinosaurs to come out and introduce themselves.
In a way, the special effects were too good. The movie drew fire from fuddy-duddy grownups and critic-types for being a meager adaptation of Crichton’s visonary novel, needlessly scrapping the complexity of its characters in favor of big-budget thrills. These observations seemed downright ungrateful at the time, as Steven Spielberg and his cronies had spent almost a hundred million bucks and several years giving spectacular form and voice to our prehistoric fantasies.
But the grownup misgivings proved to be insightful, as first one Jurassic sequel and then the other devolved further into orgiastic banquets of dino-realism with displosable storylines. Instead of everyone becoming fourteen again, you pretty much had to literally be fourteen to fully appreciate Jurassic Park III. I’m no hater though. The original film set the standard which every dino film since has struggled to live up to, and it did so while CGI effects were still in their infancy. And yet Jurassic Park is no museum piece: it still has a heart that beats, giant legs that stomp, and a big yellow eye on what scares and fascinates fourteen year olds of every age.
See for yourself tonight, Saturday January 5 at 8 p.m. EST | 7C on AMC.Read More