Jurassic Park: Toronto Raptors Celebratory Review
In honour of the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title for the 2018-2019 season, we’re going to briefly look at the film that inspired the team’s name and aesthetic: Jurassic Park.
What hasn’t been said about Jurassic Park? The very first film is a major release to many casual movie goers, because it continued Steven Spielberg’s knack for creating blockbusters, while pushing the envelope for CGI and practical effects. You can tell that the computer generated images are just that, especially if we watch the film in 2019. However, I would definitely argue that the CGI holds up much better than films even released in the 2000’s. All of this matters, because we have never personally experienced dinosaurs. That sounds like such a stupid comment to make, but it is true. This is not the recreation of beings or objects we already know. This is not the conjuring of fictitious creatures (dragons) or architecture we read about in stories. This is the filling-in of the blanks of the world. What were these behemoth reptiles truly like? What would the world be like if they were around again?
We have had many B-movie bug films (Them! comes to mind) and other beast flicks (Spielberg’s own Jaws), but this was different. With the development of filmmaking technology, we finally got to attempt dinosaurs on a significant scale. The story actually mattered here, too. The memorable line about “whether or not we could fulfill something, doesn’t mean we should do something” (I’m paraphrasing) says it all. CGI and special effects made these dinos, but the universe in the story allows for the actual conception of them. Therefore, humanity’s hubris strikes again. In a way that alludes to the tales of old (people usually poking their nose in habitats they shouldn’t, ala King Kong, or the offshoots of humanity’s blunders creating species, ala Godzilla), Jurassic Park’s experiments have good intentions but (obviously) disastrous results.
The first film works well enough, because it valued the moral conflicts as much as it did the spectacles. To quickly skim through the sequels (I don’t want to spend a lot of time on them), you can see that this goal was forgotten. The Lost World tried to capture the same pressure by specializing on the dinosaur elements, and it falls flat. Jurassic Park III decided the best course of action was to get more grim, and it was even worse. We arrive at Jurassic World many years later, and we get a barely decent film that, once again, takes pride in the dinosaurs over the story. At least here, however, there is a slight attempt at fulfilling the same narrative complexities as the very first film, but it really doesn’t come close, because it still prioritizes the dinosaurs over everything. Let’s not talk about Fallen Kingdom. I think the name says enough.
So, what was the success of Jurassic Park’s narrative that the other films just could not get a hold of? The chasing of a dream without care for consequences. This means creating dangerous creatures and housing them, or even just having your family being put in harm’s way. The slow drive into the park and the revelation of the tall, majestic reptiles is the kind of scene that makes it all worthwhile. You understand why these people get caught up in the moment. We see an achievement that humans have accomplished. We also want to go further. We discover we can go too far, and that’s when it is all too late. Sure, the film gets caught up in a bit of silly antics (the computer message being an example), but we can also excuse all of this, because I don’t think anyone predicted that they were going to have the worst days of their lives with dinosaurs running amok.
I can’t say much about the rest of the series (so I didn’t), but Jurassic Park is a solid enough blockbuster. It was released June 11th, so many readers have been asking that I review it for On-This-Day Thursday, but I decided to toy with fate. I wanted to leave this for when the Toronto Raptors won a championship (if they did; luckily, this happened, folks), not just because of the significance the film has on the organization. Both this film and the NBA season breathe through their fans. The other films in the series aren’t good by any means, but many people support them. They do so, because of the one time that worked best. Like a great year in sports, Jurassic Park instills belief: in other Jurassic films, in other large scaled effects heavy block busters, and in cinematic thrills. It is very hard to stay mad when something of this magnitude has made your month. Jurassic Park 26 years later still has that effect on people, and it’s kind of hard to squash that in any way.
Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.