[Oscar Madness] Jurassic Park (1993)

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Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Wayne Knight, Samuel L. Jackson

Screenplay: Michael Crichton, David Koepp

127 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Visual Effects

 

I’m going to tell you a story now. When I was a young child, I was positively blown away by Jurassic Park. I just always wanted to watch it. Unfortunately for me, I was absolutely terrified of the film. I never got past the famous T-Rex sequence without running out of the room as fast as possible. Finally, when my next-door neighbor volunteered to babysit me one night, he made me a promise: We were getting through Jurassic Park tonight. And we did. And it remains one of the most thrilling examples of perfect filmmaking even now, 22 years later.

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, TV’s Peaky Blinders, The Hunt for Red October) and his colleague Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, The Fault in Our Stars, Wild) have just been hired by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough, The Great Escape, Elizabeth) to look into his newest project, an amusement park on the island of Isla Nublar. They are joined by Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, Independence Day, Mortdecai), an observer of the Chaos Theory, as the three discover that Jurassic Park is filled with genetically cloned dinosaurs. When the island’s security defenses go down, the dinosaurs are unleashed, and the scientists must find a way off the island before chaos takes them out.

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First of all, I want to discuss the screenplay from Michael Crichton and David Koepp. I love the original novel and this adaptation is pretty damn close in the overall scope and the tone conveyed. There are a few changes and a few scenes omitted in the name of time, but the script is pretty great for both an adaptation and a film in general.

The list of performers, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough are so perfectly cast that it amazes me. Add in veteran character actors Bob Peck (The Black Velvet Gown, Slipstream), Martin Ferrero (Heat, Air Bud 3), and Wayne Knight (TV’s The Exes, Space Jam), and you have some genuinely perfectly cast players.

Director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) had so much invested in this project, and so much faith in it at the same time. It is refreshing to find a director that cares so much about a project. His care for pushing the visual effects envelope while maintaining his style and flair for the suspense and the fantastic.

The look and sound of the dinosaurs literally created the modern view of dinosaurs in film. The incredible sound work (the noises of the velociraptor hatching were created by cracking an ice cream cone and the squishing of a cantaloupe and pineapple) is what earns this film the realism that Spielberg so desperately wanted.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the famous scene in which the T-Rex’s movement causes a water ripple in a glass. The sound originally came to Steven Spielberg while listening to Earth, Wind & Fire. His production team eventually, after many, many failures, created the effect with a guitar string placed underneath the fake dashboard.

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Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park stands as one of the most groundbreaking and equally effective films of its or any generation. The film still looks gorgeous and has stood the test of time. The special effects haven’t even aged all that much. My hope is that Jurassic World is even partially as good as this one.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Earth to Echo (2014)

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Director: Dave Green

Cast: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt

Screenplay: Henry Gayden

91 mins. Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language.

 

Earth to Echo kind of just appeared in the middle of the year and I didn’t know what to think of it. It appeared on the surface to be E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial all over again. It was.

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Earth to Echo is all about three friends: Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Astro, TV’s Red Band Society, A Walk Among the Tombstones), and Munch (Reese Hartwig, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) in their last week together before their suburb is wiped out to make room for a highway extension. When their phones start acting wonky, they decide to follow the pattern being created which leads them to a mysterious alien creature they call Echo. Now with the help of cute fellow student Emma (Ella Wahlestedt), they must help Echo avoid the government agents trying to get Echo and help the alien get the pieces of his ship together to get him home.

The film is presented in found-footage as a youtube documentary from Tuck. The idea is interestingly presented and for the most part looks the part, though there are several moments when Tuck’s camera is just a bit too perfectly centered on the action.

As far as the pacing goes, this film kind of drags on. Not a whole lot happens and when it does, I found myself saying, “Spielberg did it.” He did. He did do it.

The special effects are neither awful nor great and do little to drive my interest, and the lead child actors are passable enough for some, I imagine, but did not invest me.

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Earth to Echo is a fairly okay film with a fairly okay presentation. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I more of less existed during its viewing. Then it was over. I doubt I’ll remember it past this year. Thank God for blogs right?

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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