I'm no great fan of Steven Spielberg. He makes films that should interest me, but all too often ruins the experience by being overly sentimental. Take his WAR OF THE WORLDS remake as a case in point: it had the potential to be a fantastic movie, but thanks to the ridiculous plot twists I can't ever bring myself to watch it again. However, JURASSIC PARK, despite containing an overload of sentimentality, manages to be a simply great movie, a classic in fact, thanks to an overwhelming amount of elements that work.
Michael Crichton's story is fresh (if you overlook the fact that it's Westworld with dinosaurs) and inventive. Okay, I wish Spielberg had made this film for adults rather than kids – complete with the graphic bloodshed of the original novel – but then I guess I wouldn't have seen it in the cinema at the age of 12 and been hugely influenced by it. The cast is splendid, particularly Sam Neill, one of those rarely-seen character actors who really deserved the big time success he enjoyed with his role here. Goldblum is even better, although much underutilised in favour of the redundant Laura Dern character. Watch out for Wayne Knight and Sam Jackson in memorable bit parts and try to avoid the annoyingly precocious brats played by Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards. Bob Peck's big game hunter, straight out of the pages of a H. Rider Haggard novel, is a complete scene stealer.
Of course, this is one of those rare movies where the actors come second to the special effects, and the mixture of CGI and animatronic models is still breathtaking to this day. The scene where the T-Rex escapes is hands down one of the most suspenseful moments in cinema, ever. Okay, what follows is occasionally ridiculous (the car dropping down the tree scene) and involves kids running around too much, but it's still the kind of breathlessly exciting movie that there aren't all that many of.
I still remember feeling a little bit jealous of how this movie popularised dinosaurs in the mainstream. As a kid, I'd always loved the creatures and owned loads of books about them, but after JURASSIC PARK every kid in the world fell in love with them and it was never the same. I ended up a little jaded, as I'd wanted to stay in that little niche on my own. Anyway, I digress: this is an outrageously good family movie, one of those films with a little bit of everything in it for everyone, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend and enjoy over and over again.
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