Jurassic Park (1993): The Power and Wonder of Nature and Finding What Matters


       “Jurassic Park” deserves its place as a Classic. I think I was too harsh to it as a kid and enjoyed the fact that more people died in “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” In this the stakes are much higher and because it is slower we get more time to know the characters, and unlike “Jurassic World” the characters feel real and everyone is active all the time, though kids of course are still the weakest part which is true of most Spielberg films. I think what helped this film was the author also writing the Screenplay, which sadly doesn’t happen all that much in Hollywood and arguably to the detriment of the scripts. Suffice to say, this film was great.

    “Jurassic Park” was directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Michael Crichton and David Koepp, produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen and based off the book of the same name by Michael Crichton.

     The story involves John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) bringing two experts being Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) to Jurassic Park in order so that they will write it off and he can get funding but things soon go wrong when an unhappy employee Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) sabotages the Park’s security and attempts to sell the Dinsosaur embryos to a rival the same time a giant storm hits, putting Hammond’s grandchildren and the people at risk.

The Pros: The Premise – The Premise is really cool. A billionare obsessed with dinosaurs uses science to create them and is willing to do anything to make his dream a reality. It coming crashing down on him is expected too, and it’s fun to watch the setup and execution.

The Soundtrack – John Williams at one of his best. The soundtrack captures wonder and terror so well and I understand why this score is used in most John Williams salutes by orchestras.

Character Moments – There are some really good character moments in this…from Ellie and Hammond talking about the wonder and fear of Hammond’s creation, the nihilism of Ian and the idealism of Alan and any interaction Alan has with the kids.

The Characters – The main and supporting characters are compelling and interesting and there are more of them in this film than the others in the Franchise. In the end this is what makes the film succeed besides the brilliant theme and message.

Dennis Nedry – Wayne Knight is wonderful as this troll IT Guy who harasses Hammond relentlessly and actually had a point that he isn’t being paid that much or helped out at all. Hammond can’t see beyond himself (and neither can Nedry) and in the end Nedry ends up dead because of it when he tries delivering the Embryos to a rival company.

Ray Arnold – Samuel L. Jackson plays the chain smoking scientist who is pretty pessimistic but does his best in a very bad situation. In the end he comes through though and he isn’t anti-Hammond the way Nedry is.

John Hammond – Richard Attenborough is fantastic as the wizened old man who began as a creator of a flea circus and became a multi-billionaire. His dreams have driven him in all that he does and are really more important than people until he realizes that his dream has killed people and his selfishness created his fall. He learns from his mistakes though and I really enjoyed his character, he was my favorite.

Dr. Ellie Satler – Laura Dern is wonderful in this role as the character who is quick to take action and is always looking out for others. She also has the sense of wonder and idealism of Grant until all that comes crashing down when the storm hits. She is the one who reminds Hammond of what matters and brings him out of himself.

Dr. Ian Malcolm – Ian is the Chaos Theory Mathematician and is a really fun character. He hits on everyone and has had a few marriages and kids, he fully lives a life of entropy and predicts the park falling apart. He still holds a sense of wonder though and he cares about the Grandchildren even going so far as risking his life and almost ending up killed by the T. Rex. He does end up injured.

Dr. Alan Grant – Sam Neill is great as the idealistic scientist who isn’t good with children who comes to show he can be a really good friend and mentor. He is the most courageous besides Ellie as he doesn’t think twice about taking action to protect others and he knows the Dinosaurs the best as he studied them as a paleontologist.

The Power of Nature – Nature’s power is front and center and the illusion of humanity’s control over it is shown when the storm makes it so the park is unsafe and Nedry turns on the Park and releases the cages. The dinosaurs reek havoc and are never really beaten in the end, they just beat one another.

The Tyrannosaurs Rex – The T. Rex is the main threat throughout the film, eating the lawyer and countless others, injuring the members who are visiting the park and in the end killing the Raptors. The T. Rex is the storm and it cannot be stopped, only avoided. None of the other films do that as well as this one.

The Raptors – Minus the introduction the Raptors are great. They are like the Aliens from “Alien” and “Aliens” and a force of nature that wherever they show up, someone will die. They also adapt to every situation and are only beat by a larger predator that surprises them.

Wonder in Science – The scientific wonder is fantastic! Even though the science doesn’t work that isn’t the point, the point is the celebration of the process of creation and wonder in discovering new things, which are important parts of science and being a scientist.

People Versus Dreams – Dreams are not more important than people and it is Hammond’s are to come to this realization as he wants the park to work up until he fears his Grandchildren dying. It is at that point he realizes people mattered all along.

Okay: The Kids – Kids are once again okay, didn’t believe the girl was a hacker or the boy had read Alan’s book, but that’s an issue I have with the kids in all these movies.

The Cons: The Introduction – The intro is so cheesy and bad. From the hunter’s mouth being really close to the Raptors having long enough arms to pull a heavy man into the cage…the only good part was the mist and trouble seeing things.

   “Jurassic Park” is truly a classic for a reason. It captures wonder, terror and respect for nature as well as giving us mostly complex characters and the characters who aren’t complex are a lot of fun. I’d recommend it for sure, this Spielberg and Crichton doing what they love with one of the best John Williams Soundtracks to date.

Final Score: 9.5 /10


Hook (1991): The Joy of a Child, the Importance of Love and Honoring Robin Williams


“To live, to live would be an awfully big adventure.” -Peter Banning

“Hook” has been one of my favorite films for a very long time. It is also a film I have not watched for some time, but with Robin Williams’s suicide, watching one of my favorite Robin Williams films seemed in order.

Robin Williams has been one of my favorite actors for a very long time, and throughout my childhood and teenage years…it was a lot his classic movies that I would always go back and watch again. He was one of those few actors who could do both drama and comedy so well and who usually always chose projects that had a point. Robin Williams was such a huge part of my life in his art for such a long time was an inspiration. He was timeless in his acting and characters, and we were lucky to have him for what time we had. There is more that I will say later on and in future blog posts.

I chose “Hook” because Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories. It’s one of the stories I always go back too because of how timeless the characters are, how powerful the messages within it still stand and the creativity of the world of Neverland. They’ve informed many of the stories I’ve done.

The story of “Hook” begins with Peter Banning (grown up Peter Pan played by Robin Williams) who works at a law firm in mergers in aquisitions. He has no connection with any of his family and is also about deals and business. He is pulled into his past when Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) takes children when he is doing an event for Grandma Wendy (Maggie Smith) (the woman who helped him find parents in America) after Wendy reveals who he is he has a mental breakdown and isolates himself more. Once Tinker Bell (Julie Roberts) arrives she takes him back to Neverland, where the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The cinematography – It is Spielberg and he knows how to paint a beautiful picture. Neverland especially looks like it is out of dream. He uses shadows really well too, which is a nice callback to Peter’s literal and figurative shadow throughout the film.

The writing – I actually really enjoyed the script. It had great lawyer jokes, a gynecologist joke and lots of situational humor surrounding Peter and Captain Hook.

Neverland – The Neverland is pretty cool. It has a world full of different seasons in one place, the Lost Boys, the Pirate Ship which is a city, the mermaids who save Peter when he is pushed off the plank. So we see a lot of the location.

Grandma Wendy – Grandma Wendy is an amazing character. Casting Maggie Smith as Wendy was a perfect choice. She is the one who is still empathetic and remembers the magic. We also see her current love as a parent and her past love for Peter as a lover in certain scenes…their history together is so rich and she pulls it off really well and well as pushing Peter to action to save his children and believe the story of his past.

Moira Banning – Peter’s wife is also a reminder of who once was…she is the one who cares and sees his disconnect from his family. She is also the only one Peter treats like a human being when he is all about work. The love between them is believable, though there first scene is creepy. Don’t kiss a sleeping girl you’ve never met Peter! Caroline Goodall does fantastic.

The Banning Children – The kids are pretty great too. You have the believer in Maggie and Jack who has taken the brunt of Peter’s disconnect and cruelty, so rightly finds a father in James Hook until he realizes how bad the pirates are. They have a good character arc.

Toodles – The lost boy who left is an interesting character. He pretty much functions as a joke and reminder, but it works…especially when we meet the lost boys and hear how much they miss him. He was the one who shouldn’t have left, since that world was his home. He never fully adapted to our world the way Peter did.

The Lost Boys – The Lost Boys are great. They have Pan as a title. Which I liked. The current Pan is Rufio (Dante Basco) and it is up to the Lost Boys to teach Peter how to be a child again. It is a great arc and all of them are fun in the games they play that are used to have imagination as creation…which plays into both meals and weapon creation. Bangarang!

Rufio – Dante Basco is an actor I really respect. Both for this and his work in “Avatar: The Last Airbender” as Prince Zuko. He has the tough anti-hero thing down really well and in this film I wish we’d gotten more backstory or he lived. He was a worthy Pan and nearly defeated Captain Hook as well. His death is all the more powerful because of it. He is the one who fought and best represented the crueler side the Lost Boys experience in Neverland, since many have been killed by Pirates.

Thud Butt – Is the last Pan and the one who leads the Lost Boys in the new Neverland where the pirates are defeated. He is the comedic one because he is so big, but also the one who helps keep Peter on course with training.

Tinker Bell – She is the final reminder of Peter’s past and the one who loves him. She is able to put the romantic love aside too when she knows he has no plan to stay in Neverland. She also is the reason he is alive as Hook planned to kill him once he saw that Peter was no longer Pan but Banning and could not fly. Julia Roberts is great.

Smee – Is comedic relief and is the one behind the capture of the children. He is the brains behind the outfit, where Captain Hook is the one with quick wit and action. Smee is also the nicest of the pirates. He is the heart and soul of the Pirate Ship.

Captain Hook – Dustin Hoffman is wonderful in this role. He is a character who is so cruel and selfish, but so human too. He defeats Rufio, captures Peter’s kids and manages to turn Jack against him and kills the Crocodile. There is a reason that the movie is named for him. His actions drive the plot and bring Peter’s arc full circle. He fights to the end and is only taken down when everyone is fighting him (Lost Boys with clocks, Peter, the Crocodile’s corpse). What will the world be like, without Captain Hook?

Peter Banning / Peter Pan – Robin Williams owns this role. He plays the serious drama as Banning and as Pan so well…from the disconnected father too lost in his work and unable to connect with his family or in Neverland Tinker Bell or the Lost Boys…and as Pan when he finally believes in himself and finds his happy thought in the birth of his children and love of his wife. He finds the joy of the child once more that he once had as Peter, but with the responsibility of age. Robin Williams is a master of drama and comedy and his serious moments and his jokes in this are unforgettable.

Cons: I have to do this alone trope –  “This is something I have to do alone.” When they really defeat Hook all together, was an unnecessary ego thing that happens way too often in movies.

“Hook” is most definitely still a favorite that I plan to watch many more times in the future. The story captures the importance of what we can learn from our childhood and of connection to others…and to live. Robin Williams, we will miss you. Your chemistry with everyone in this film is fantastic and you were the star in the film that is truly timeless for me. Thank you for all your work and being such an amazing inspiration.

 Final Score is 9.4 / 10