Home Video Picks & Passes 05.31.15

Jurassic Park (1993) – PICK
The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 (1997) – PASS
Jurassic Park III (2001) – PASS


With Jurassic World coming to theaters, the earlier Jurassic Park movies are all available in new Blu-ray editions, both jointly and severally.

Of these, by far the best remains Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 Jurassic Park, a sort of lightweight heir to the two earlier Spielberg films that became franchises, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Sam Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant, a brainy action hero in a broad-brimmed fedora, bears a more than passing resemblance to Indiana Jones, and Isla Nublar, an island full of ancient, toothy predators, is like a cliffhanger-movie counterpart to shark-haunted Amity Island.

Of course Jurassic Park doesn’t compare to Jaws or Raiders. Among other things, Dr. Grant isn’t as interesting a protagonist as Chief Brody or even Indy. Jeff Goldblum is very entertaining as mathematician Ian Malcolm, though his account of chaos theory is too cartoony.

The film doesn’t quite work as a cautionary tale about scientific hubris — though it can be seen as a critique of irresponsible commercialism (see Goldblum’s lunchbox speech).

What sticks with us, of course, are the vivid details, from the rippling water in the plastic cup at the T-rex’s approach to the steam of the raptors’ breath on the kitchen-door window as they figure out the latch. It’s a shallow popcorn movie, but a brilliantly made one.

Both sequels have their pleasures, but I can’t quite recommend either one. The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which brings back Goldblum but not Neill, is notable as the only non-Indy sequel to a Spielberg film directed by Spielberg himself. Spielberg’s gift for staging set pieces is in evidence, but the screenplay is weak.

I gave up on the film around the point where Julianne Moore’s character, a smart scientist, notices baby T-rex blood on her jacket. And she — although she knows there’s a mama T-rex hunting for her baby and has specifically commented on the T-rex’s great sense of smell — not only doesn’t throw away the jacket, but goes to sleep in a tent with the jacket hanging overhead, wafting in the breeze!

However, the T-rex rampaging in downtown San Diego is worth watching.

Jurassic Park III, directed by Spielberg associate Joe Johnston, brings back Neill (but not Goldblum).

It is mostly worth seeing for the new dinosaur species, including pterodons and a stegosaurus.


Caveat Spectator: Much intense menace and stylized dinosaur-related violence, including a number of deaths; a few crude terms. Teens and up.