In the same year he released the far more serious Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg also delivered this action adventure – now getting a remastered re-release – packed with phenomenal dinosaur special effects that paved the way for later spectaculars such as 2005’s King Kong. Based on Michael Crichton’s science-gone-wrong bestseller, this was such a hit it has even been credited with increasing the number of students around the world who study palaeontology.
It seems billionaire John Hammond (Attenborough, in his first acting role in over a decade) has created a new kind of theme park on a remote island – using the DNA sucked by an ancient mosquito found fossilised in amber, his scientists have managed to recreate dinosaurs that now roam ‘Jurassic Park’, ready for the first visitors to see them.
Before the park opens, Hammond offers a sneak preview to palaeontologists Alan Grant (Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), sarcastic scientist Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) and Hammond’s own grandchildren, Tim and Lex (Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards). Unfortunately, since his scientists have created such nasty dinosaurs as velociraptors and a great, drooling and toothy tyrannosaurus rex, bad things are bound to happen. And they do.
And, despite only getting a ‘PG’ rating, it is truly scary stuff, partly because the dinosaurs (a mix of computer animation and animatronics) are so jaw-droppingly realistic. Spielberg racks up the tension, clearly delights in putting the kids in peril (one scene, when they are hunted by raptors in the kitchen, is trouser-wettingly tense the first time you see it) and keeps the story going when other directors would have simply been blinded by the impressive dino-effects. It’s gripping, funny, edge-of-the-seat stuff, and essential viewing for anyone over ten who has a cushion nearby to hide behind.
Is Jurassic Park suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Lots! This will scare the under 11s. And the over 11s!
The main scary scenes are (SPOILERS AHEAD):
When the T-Rex first appears (signalled by the water moving in the plastic cup) and chases the jeep.
When the kids are hiding from the raptors in the kitchen.
When the kids are attacked in the car.
When the little dilophasaurus attacks by spraying venom in a man’s eyes and then when he is disabled, more start to attack.
The final T-rex attack in the main hall.