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Posts Tagged ‘100 Most Thrilling Movies’

The Fugitive (1993)


“All right, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.”

The Fugitive is a thriller film directed by Andrew Davis and based on the television series of the same name, one of the few such television-to-film adaptations to be nominated for an Academy Award. It stars Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Joe Pantoliano, and Sela Ward.

When Dr. Richard Kimble is a respected, successful surgeon, happily married, and living the high life. He is well-respected by his colleagues, and he appears to be well on his way to a long and lucrative career. So when he is convicted of viciously murdering his wife and sentenced to death, everyone is shocked – least of all Dr. Kimble, who maintains that the attack was carried out by a one-armed man. When the transport bus he’s on crashes, he takes the opportunity to escape in the hopes of uncovering the identity of the true murderer and bringing him to justice. Hot on his tail is U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, a no-nonsense deputy who is not about to let any prisoners remain unaccounted-for – including Kimble. As Kimble uses his wits and truckloads of chutzpah to evade the Marshals and find out which one-armed man out of hundreds in Chicago could have killed his wife and why, he uncovers a dark conspiracy behind her murder and and his own framing that could put him in even more danger than he already is.

Quick note up-front: I have never seen the television series this movie is based on. Therefore, I will review this movie based on its own merits as a movie. The basic set-up is simple, as outlined above, but after that Kimble’s hunt for his wife-killer and Gerard’s hunt for his escaped fugitive turn into a multilayered game of cat-and-mouse that had me on the edge of my seat the whole way between narrow-escapes, near-misses, and displays of cool-headedness under pressure that would have made Frank Abagnale proud. While some of Kimble’s antics might seem a bit far-fetched at times (like the leap off the aqueduct), he gets a pass through sheer desperation: by the end of it, there are at least four ways he could meet a bad end – therefore, he has nothing to lose in his prusuit of his wife’s murderer. As for Deputy Gerard, at no time does he come off as a real villain, because he has a job to do, which as he sees it is to catch a known murderer. I was rooting for both of them, even though they were essentially two protagonists working at cross-purposes.

I enjoyed the casting choices. Harrison Ford has long established himself as a serious dramatic actor since his days as Indiana Jones and Han Solo, and he fares well as the wrongfully accused Dr. Kimble, demonstrating a surgeon’s talent for thinking on his feet and reacting quickly but calmly to new adverse circumstances. Tommy Lee Jones also does well as his foil, Deputy Sam Gerard, setting himself up as the Reasonable Authority Figure he would play in half a dozen other films later, including Agent K in Men in Black. He is friendly and likeable even as he goes after Our Intrepid Hero with the tenacity of a bulldog. On a minor note, I’ve seen Sela Ward (the late Mrs. Kimble) in a couple other role since this movie – an emergency room doctor in The Day After Tomorrow and ex-Mrs. House in House, and it appears that tangentially medical roles suit her well, even when she plays a character that serves only as a plot point.

Whether you’re a fan of the original TV series of this is the first you’ve heard of it, give The Fugitive a shot. It’s a tense, straightforward chase movie that will have you rooting for both sides as they head for a common goal: justice.

Jaws (1975)

04/05/2011 1 comment

Sharks are pretty badass. On their own, many species of shark are the closest thing nature has come to a living chainsaw/garbage disposal combination. They are perfectly suited to hunting in the water, and they’re shaped a lot like torpedoes with teeth. Of course, of all the species of shark that stalk the seas, the one with the most bloodthirsty reputation has got to be the great white, thanks to a little book by Peter Benchley and a little-known director named Steven Spielberg, who combined forces like the Wonder Twins (only less lame) to produce a horror movie that made audiences of 1975 mortally afraid of cellos at the beach.

Oh, yeah, and they were afraid of being eaten by sharks, too.

Jaws is a horror film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, and a frequently-malfunctioning animatronic shark named Bruce.

When a swimmer off the shore of Amity Island is killed, torn apart by an unseen force, the new police chief, Martin Brody, finds himself confronted by the possibility that there is a shark hunting the waters off the beach. However, the mayor is reluctant to close the beaches, as rumors of a shark attack will ruin the summer tourist season. The medical examiner reverses his initial ruling of death by shark attack and records it as a boating accident, and Brody reluctantly goes along with it, hoping it was just a freak incident. However, when a boy is attacked by a shark on the beach not long after, the evidence can no longer be ignored; the beaches are closed and a bounty is placed on the killer shark’s head. Brody ultimately finds himself teaming up with an oceanographer and a mercenary shark hunter to try to hunt down a killer great white that’s determined to snack on the denizens of a small island…

As with many horror movie series that started off good and then spiralled off into stupidity, the original Jaws is excellent. The accepted progenitor of the summer blockmuster, Jaws broke box office records of the day and put the fear of Bruce into moviegoers, with the result that beach attendance dropped sharply in 1975. Not bad at all, consider that you don’t even see the shark for the first half of the film. This decision (which legend holds is due to the animatronic shark repeatedly acting up on set) wound of the tension beautifully, to the point that you just about shit yourself when you see the thing for the first time. While nowadays the animatronic shark might seem a bit goofy and fake, nothing quite compares to that initial “OH GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?” moment.

The core cast was also excellent. Roy Scheider as reasonable authority figure Chief Brody was well-casted, and we share his frustration as he is forced to weigh OMG SHARK against the tourist season (which just proves that mayoral types in 95% of these types of movies just need a kick in the head). Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper makes his role as Captain Exposition fit in well, explaining the ways of sharks to non-Islander Brody as well as the audience. He’s the expert – that’s what he was called in to do. Hooper’s foil is Robert Shaw’s Quint, who also knows what sharks can do (his story about the sinking of the Indianapolis is based on actual history) and thus absolutely hates them. This film is surprisingly character-driven for a monster movie, making the plot every bit as much about the human cast as it is about the killer shark. The logical result is that the shark menace is more convincing – you are actually concerned about the people of Amity Island rather than waiting for a bunch of obnoxious sterotypes to get eaten.

If you’re sick of cookie-cutter monster flicks and just want a tense, engaging thriller, step into the Wayback Machine and check out Jaws. It’s by far the best and the scariest of the series, and the progenitor of the summer blockbuster and the modern monster movie.

Poltergeist (1982)


For the longest time, haunted house movies took place in old, well-worn edifices – places with a long history of Bad Things happening, and generally places that looked haunted. You don’t expect your brand new house, built last summer, to have any sort of supernatural wonkiness going on. Then Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg got together and made a little movie and scared the crap out of people with a new brand of daylight terror.

They’re heeeere…

Poltergeist is a horror film directed by Tobe Hooper (the guy who made people afraid of chainsaws in 1974) and produced and written by Steven Spielberg (the guy who made people afraid of the beach in 1975). It stars Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Heather O’Rourke, and Zelda Rubenstein.

When the Freelings moved into their new home in the recently-built neighborhood of Cuesta Verde, they thought they’d found their dream home, the place where they would raise their family. When five-year-old Carol Anne begins conversing with the static on the TV after the end of the broadcast day, Steven and Diane think their daughter might just be sleepwalking, until one night an earthquake shakes the house during one such nocturnal conversation, prompting Carol Anne to spookily announce, “They’re here.” “They” start to manifest as strange phenomena, such as objects moving around in their own, or unattended items bending or breaking. The activity seems to be centering on little Carol Anne, and at first the Freelings think their spectral visitors or benign and sort of cute, until one night the spooky tree in the back yard attempts to eat middle child Robbie, and in the confusion Carol Anne disappears, sucked into another reality through her bedroom closet. Desperate to get her back, the Freelings enlist some unconventional help to unravel the terrifying secrets of their new home.

Drawing upon elements from real-world investigations, Poltergeist was one of the first haunted house movies to use paranormal investigative techniques as a significant plot point. A group of secondary characters brought in to help find Carol Anne use techniques still used today by ghost hunters, including the capturing of electronic interference on special devices, the videotaping of visual phenomena, and listening for supernatural communications through white noise. The investigators also make the distinction between a poltergeist and a haunting clear, such as the tendency for a poltergeist to focus on a single individual (in this case, Carol Anne). This, combined with the decision to use unknown actors, helped to root the film in “our” world, even when things start really going to hell.

Both the acting and directing in this film are exemplary. As with many effects-heavy films, the primary difficulty comes when live actors are reacting to special effects that will be added later – particularly when one of your principal actors is only five years old. Everyone did very well here, portraying both the initial excitement at their new “invisible friends” (even when they do alarming but harmless things like stacking chairs just off camera) as well as the growing terror as they learn about the evil presence Tangina identifies as the Beast, and the parental desperation and determination Steve and Diane find within themselves as the Beast goes after Carol Anne and tries to snatch her away from them again and again. While Spielberg was nominally the producer, he happily got his hands dirty in the filmmaking process, comforting Heather O’Rourke after she was frightened by an effects sequence and jumping into the half-completed pool surrounded by film equipment to demonstrate to JoBeth Williams that if it was not safe, then he was willing to take that risk. In the end, the mutual genius of Hooper and Spielberg combined to make a very tight, enjoyable little haunted house movie.

If you’re looking for a good, scary horror movie that doesn’t rely on people getting horribly murdered for its scares, absolutely watch Poltergeist. While it doesn’t feature scenes littered with slashed-up victims, it will take you just far enough outside your “safe” zones to have you checking your closets before you go to bed.

Die Hard (1988)


New York City Police Detective John McLane wants to have a Merry Christmas. He’s travelled to Los Angeles to reconcile with his wife and generally enjoy a lovely office Christmas party there. Unfortunately, a group of international terrorists have other plans, but they’re about to learn a hard lesson: don’t mess with a New York cop’s Christmas.

Yippie-ki-yay.

Die Hard is an action film directed by John McTiernan, based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever. It stars Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Paul Gleason.

When John McLane arrives in Los Angeles, all he wants to do is relax and make things right with his wife Holly. However, while he’s in her office in Nakatomi Plaza, freshening up for her office Christmas party, a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber take over the building, taking the other guests hostage, including Holly. McLane’s Spidey senses start tingling almost immediately, and he eludes Gruber’s henchmen as they search for any stragglers. Gruber presents his little band of merry men as working towards various extremist goals, but it is soon revealed that their goal is more local in origin. However, McLane isn’t going to stand for their shenanigans. He might be technically off-duty, but being a cop is in his blood, as Gruber & Co. learn as they find themselves matching wits with this unknown variable.

When this movie was first released, it was innovative for a number of reasons. First, John McLane was more or less an average guy. Yeah, he was a cop, and yeah, he took a lot of punishment, but he got injured. He got tired. Second, up till this point, Bruce Willis had been known as a comedic actor, and the switch to action raised a lot of eyebrows. Fortunately, he took well to the role, offering wisecracks as half the people in the building were trying to hunt him down, in sharp contrast to Rickman’s wily Hans Gruber, who is all business and comes to hate this particular monkey wrench with the burning intensity of a thousand desert suns. McLane is resourceful and crafty in addition to being a trained bruiser; the ability to solve problems with his brains rather than shooting everything to pieces is a skill that not many modern action heroes possess. The other terrorists appeared to only be there to add more menace to McLane’s plight, but Holly Gennaro-McLane had a number of scenes that indicated that either she and her husband were made for each other, or someof his attitude had rubbed off on her.

The plot was well-crafted as well. While Die Hard established a template since used by a number of action movies throughout the 80s and 90s, here it is chock full of twists and turns that keep even seasoned action fans on the edge of their seats, as McLane makes his way through friendly territory turned enemy territory, trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys who would just as happily kill him as kill any of the hostages, if it would remove more more obstacle from their plan. It’s a simple plot, yes, but a delightfully twisty one.

If you want to see the movie that kicked off Bruce Willis’ long, well-earned journey into badasshood, pick up Die Hard. It’s the movie that kicked off a hundred “Die Hard on Whatever” plots, and it remains the best out of all of them.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


With every successful movie, there is a good chance that the studios will want to repeat their success. Occasionally, this may result in an unrelated film being repurposed as a sequel, but more often the same people will simply make a sequel. As sequels go, there are three basic types:

  1. Sucky sequel: This sequel falls short (often far short) of its predecessor’s level of quality, and comes off as an obvious, half-assed money grab.
  2. Equivalent sequel: The sequel does not fall short of its predecessor’s level of quality, but neither does it improve on things.
  3. Improved sequel: A rarity, the improved sequel not only meets but also exceeds the quality of its predecessor, taking the concept in new directions that still fit with the established storyline.

In a pleasant surprise, this film finds itself in the third category. And it kicks all kinds of ass.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, and is the first sequel to The Terminator. It stars Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, and some really cool CGI effects.

It has been eleven years since Sarah Connor was last menaced by the (nearly) unstoppable Terminator. John Connor, the future savior of humanity, is now a troubled youth of ten, living with foster parents in Los Angeles after his mother was arrested for trying to bomb a computer factory and sent to a hospital for the criminally insane. Even though he spent his entire childhood being prepared for the impending apocalypse, John isn’t sure what to believe now. Little does he know that in the future, Skynet is going to make another temporally-assisted attempt on his life, this time with the T-1000, a newer and more dangerous model of Terminator composed of liquid metal, with the ability to mimic anything it touches, including people. Fortunately, the human resistance is able to send back yet another guardian, this time a familiar face – a T-800 identical to the one who previously tried to kill Sarah, but reprogrammed to defend John. The two converge on John in a desperate race, and their mutual target is about to learn that his mother’s crazy rantings are anything but delusional…

When I first saw this movie, I hadn’t seen the original in years, but I heard all the hype about the groundbreaking computer generated effects – only two years since The Abyss, in which Cameron also used groundbreaking CG effects, except the hard way. It was amazing to see the advances in CG since then, even though in the fifteen minutes or so of transformation time the T-1000 had, only a relative handful used CGI. And it looked amazing. As the first movie which had a major character be partially (and in a couple scenes completely) created in CGI, the results were impressive and eye-popping. Even though morphing effects had been in use since Willow, and CG-created characters were as old as Young Sherlock Holmes, this time through it looked amazing. Arnie, of course, gets enhanced with old-school makeup effects and animatronics, and the two types of effects mesh well.

The acting was also superb. Linda Hamilton, having previously played Sarah as a meek little mouse of a woman being menaced by things that technically hadn’t happened yet, buffed up to play Sarah Connors, Mother of the Human Resistance, and I could easily believe that she was a little unhinged, albeit with a very good reason – she’d been beaten over the head with a really bad future, she was having nightmares about the impending nuclear apocalypse, and she’d been told that her son was the only thing standing between humanity and its own annihilation. The movie does make it clear that even though John loves his mom, her behavior does not make her a good mother. If anything, it makes her borderline psychotic, to the point that she nearly tips over the edge into the same territory as the focused, emotionless killers whose creation she was trying to prevent. The opens the door for a surprisingly philosophical discussion about humanity, as the inhuman T-800 turns out to be a more dedicated parental figure to John than even Sarah was. Robert Patrick makes an effective rival Terminator as well, sleeker and faster than the T-800, in effect a leopard compared to Arnold’s grizzly bear. Also, sharp-eyed fans of the first will recognize Earl Boen reprising his role as Dr. Silberman, the police psychiatrist in the original, now responsible for Sarah’s care in this one (and about as effective), though of course he gets belted across the face with the truth in a very satisfying sequence at the psychiatric hospital.

It is very rare to find a sequel that improves so drastically upon the first, but it is not surprising to find that James Cameron managed to pull it off. If you enjoyed the first but felt it needed something more, watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and then just sit back and enjoy the action.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


In 1968, Stanley Kubrick directed a little sci fi film that remains one of, if not the hardest science fiction film ever. Based largely on “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke (whose day job was in astrophysics), 2001: A Space Odyssey deals with topics such as the evolution of man, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, though a lot of theatergoers of the day generally just snuck into theaters to drop acid during the last act. Today, critics consider 2001 to be one of the greatest films ever made, even though they can’t agree on what the hell it all means.

The film is divided into four sections, each labelled with a title card. “The Dawn of Man” centers around a troupe of ape-men who, after being defeated and driven away from a prized watering hole by a rival troupe, encounter a mysterious black monolith that kick-starts their evolution, allowing them to discover tools and weapons, allowing them to drive off their recent conquerors and become hunters. This segues into “TMA-1”, set on a space station where Dr Haywood Floyd arrives for a layover on his trip to Clavius Base on the Moon. Rumors abound of “odd events” on Clavius, leading to speculation about an epidemic, but Floyd declines to answer any questions. At Clavius, Floyd heads a meeting of base personnel, stressing the importance of the secrecy surrounding the real mission: investigationg a recently discovered artifact that appeared to have been deliberately buried four million years ago – another black monolith. The visitors investigate the monolith and attempt to take a picture of it, only to discover that it doesn’t appreciate flash photography. Eighteen months later, we get to the “Jupiter Mission” segment, probably the section that most people know about. Aboard the American spaceship Discover One we meet two astronauts and scientists, Drs. Frank Poole and David Bowman, along with three other scientists in cryogenic hibernation (to be thawed out upon arrival at Jupiter), and the ship’s computer, HAL 9000. In a televised interview, HAL makes it clear that the 9000 series is foolproof, completely incapable of error. However, when HAL reports a malfunction in a device that turns out to be just fine, Bowman and Poole grow concerned, especially when HAL insists that he could not possibly in error. The two humans adjourn to a pod to discuss possible remedies if HAL has indeed slipped a disk where HAL can’t hear them, but HAL reads their lips and decides to take matters into his own hands, killing Poole when he goes out to replace the “faulty” unit. Bowman goes out to rescue him, only for HAL to terminate the life functions of the remaining three crew while he’s out, and refusing to let him back in with Poole’s body, stating that the decision to deactivate him is jeopardizing this mission. Bowman deactivates him anyway, in one of the spookiest segments in the whole movie, and only then discovers a prerecorded message informing him of the real purpose of the mission: the Moon monolith was completely inert, save for a signal being beamed at Jupiter. Yay. The fourth section, “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite”, is the stoner bait I mentioned earlier. Bowman travels into yet another monolith found in orbit around Jupiter, and after that I don’t know what the hell is going on, though everybody has a theory.

This movie will probably turn off most sci fi fans. It’s slow, with minimal dialogue, and not a whole lot is explained to the audience, particularly in the fourth segment, which is symbolic to the point of surrealism. The film and novel were written in collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke, and if you want backstory and explanation, I highly recommend checking out the novel. The third section is the strongest, plotwise, and easily stands alone as a decently tense short thriller, with the infinitely calm voice of Douglas Raines as HAL setting the standards for psychotic AIs thereafter. The rest, though, seem more like thematically related vignettes rather than parts of an overarching storyline (especially since part one starts a couple million years before the others), but it works together, art-wise, progressing to what is less a climax and more an art major’s orgasm.

The acting is subtle and understated. This movie is more about philosophy than action, about concepts than action sequences. In particular, Bowman’s outward calmness in the face of the discovery that the AI that controls the entire ship might be going berserk is easily matched in real-life astronauts (“Houston, we’ve had a problem,” anyone?). Because astronauts are badass, that’s why. Additionally, the effects are very well-done for 1968. With only one minor flub (the crew of a lunar shuttle pours coffee from a pitcher into an open mug – something that would have disastrous consequences in zero-G), the antigravity and artificial gravity effects are well-done and realistic by even modern science, and the models and sets possess an impressive level of detail (including a funny moment where an astronaut who apparently has to pee is stopped in his tracks by the novel-length instructions for using a space toilet), because Kubrick has historically been a bit of a nut about that.

In conclusion, if you want an action-packed sci-fi-film, definitely walk away. If you want a movie where everything is explained to you, look elsewhere. But if you want a beautifully detailed, subtle narrative about human evolution’s past and potential future, try out this classic, and just sit back and relax.

Jurassic Park (1993)


“You did it. You crazy son of a bitch, you did it.”

When Steven Spielberg announced that he was going to make a movie called Jurassic Park, about a theme park populated by dinosaurs, every nerd in the world perked up their collective ears. Spielberg had already established himself as an influential director that doesn’t make a habit of settling for half-measures, and every human being is hard-wired to get excited about dinosaurs. Put the two together, and it sounded like a match made in heaven.

Guess what? It was.

Jurassic Park is a science fiction thriller based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, and lots of really awesone-looking dinosaurs.

It sounds like a great idea: use revolutionary genetic analysis techniques to clone dinosaurs from blood samples gained from mosquitoes preserved in amber. Billionaire eccentric John Hammond thinks so, anyway, and he has decided to build a dinosaur theme park of Isla Nublar, a small island 87 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, populating the exhibits with his cloned dinos. However, after one of the dino handlers gets shredded to hell by a velociraptor a minor incident with one of the dinosaurs, Hammond’s investors get spooked and send in their lawyer, Gennaro, to check things out. Hammond agrees to send two experts on a tour of the park. He invites paleontologist Alan Grant and his wife/fiancee, paleobotanist Ellie Sattler, for the privilege, offering to fund their research for the next three years in exchange; they agree and join the tour group, along with chaotician Ian Malcolm, Gennaro, and two of Hammond’s grandchildren, dino enthusiast Timmy and computer nerd hacker Lexi. Hammond hopes to prove to Gennaro once and for all that the park is absolutely safe. After all, he spared no expense.

Little does he know that his head computer programmer, Dennis Nedry, is an under-the-radar employee of BioSyn, a corporate rival of Hammond’s company InGen that has paid Nedry a king’s ransom to acquire some of Hammond’s dinosaur embryos. As the tour starts, Nedry sets his plan in motion, using a program he wrote to disable the entire park’s security systems – after all, he designed them. By the time anyone realizes what Nedry has done, the automated Range Rovers carrying the happy tourists through the park have been halted in their tracks, leaving their passengers stranded near the T-Rex paddock. What was going to be a nice outing in a theme park full of cloned dinosaurs is rapidly turning into a terrifying fight to survive in a theme park full of cloned dinosaurs, as Our Intrepid Heroes try to get to safety and get the security systems back online…

I saw this movie in the theater the summer it came out, and I was left with the impression that Steven Spielberg + Stan Winston = GOOD THINGS. The dinosaurs were a seamless combination of animatronics and CGI, and even the CG dinosaurs seemed to have real weight to them, especially the skyscraper-sized Brachiosaur that served as the viewer’s first look at OMG DINOSAURS. The velociraptors showed a chilling level of cunning, particularly as they chased Timmy and Lex through the visitors’ center, that matched up well with game warden Muldoon’s apparently genuine admiration and fear of them. And the T-rex, the first major predatory dino the visitors encounter, looks like he really wanted to chase you down and eat you. There were difficulties, of course: scenes with the animatronic rex in the simulated rain had to be stopped again and again, as water soaking into the rex’s rubber skin gave it the shakes. And a few liberties had to be taken with some of the “star” dinos for the sake of pure awesome (and because this was what we knew of them at the time): the velociraptors were built on a scale closer to that of the much larger Deinonychus to make them more scary, but that was made okay with the discovery of Utahraptor. The dilophosaur probably didn’t have a frill, but Nedry really needed to have that final OH CRAP moment. Dozens of animal sounds were mixed together to creature unique calls for all the dinosaurs, and all the elements mixed together extremely well, helping the audience believe that the dinosaurs were real.

The human cast also did very well, here, both in discussing the potential problems of the dinosaur park (only Malcolm descended into the filibustering that would become Crichtons unfortunate trademark in later books) and in acting and reacting against the dinosaur effects. Neill and Dern as Grant and Sattler convinced me that they knew their respective fields well, while Jeff Goldblum, as always, plays the deadpan twitchy genius Ian Malcom. Richard Attenborough plays Hammond as more of a child-friendly Walt Disney expy than the greedy bastard he was in the book, only wanting a nice diversion for the kiddies (and therefore he is spared the book’s death-by-zerg-rush). Bob Peck as Muldoon was pretty much the great white hunter, knowing full well how dangerous the raptors were, while Wayne Knight is every character he has ever played, making me want to give him a swift kick in the face regardless of his intended corporate espionage. The actors really made the dinosaurs work, though, and without them and the tight plot this movie would have just been a crapton of flashy effects without any real substance to them.

In conclusion, while the special effects are easy to take for granted nowadays and certain dinosaur portrayals are now out-of-date, Jurassic Park remains a fun, eye-popping roller-coaster ride through the dreams of a wealthy entrepreneur, forced to watch his vision turn into a nightmare. This movie will be one of my favorites for a long time.