In the summer of 1993, Steven Spielberg sent Jurassic Park stomping into theaters, and audiences weren’t prepared for its exciting mix of action, thrills, adventure, and horror. The king of blockbusters like E.T. and Jaws had managed to make a film that had heart as well as bite, and the movie based on Michael Crichton's best-selling novel about dino mutation became a mega hit.
But much like comparing a T-Rex to the Indominus Rex of Jurassic World, there are aspects of the first entry in the Jurassic Park franchise that seem a little antiquated and a little archaic when juxtaposed against their newer counterparts. Kids today, raised on blockbusters with non-stop action, excessive CGI, and mile-a-minute thrills may be confused by elements of this masterpiece for no other reason than it’s from a different time period in cinema history. Here are 10 things from Jurassic Park that kids these days won’t understand.
10 WHAT A COLOSSAL HIT IT WAS
Steven Spielberg, king of blockbusters had another hit on his hands when he welcomed visitors to Jurassic Park. He ushered in an era of colossal action movies that, unlike the bullet drenched versions of the 80s had heart and complex storytelling. Only James Cameron would match his similar stance on combining action with humanity.
In an era like today, where kids go to see every new Marvel movie that comes out, expecting to be blown away by movies that blow past the 1 billion dollar mark, the significance of a movie like Jurassic Park is lost. It was the first of its kinds, inspiring many duplicates, each never quite as good as the original.
9 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF EARLY CGI
Prior to Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg had mostly dealt with practical effects and animatronics in his monster features. Jaws was not a CGI shark, he was an actual giant animatronic puppet. James Cameron had made some headway with Judgement Day, but CGI effects were still in their infancy.
But Spielberg wanted to try something new - him and his crew of practical effects wizards devoted themselves to learning the latest advancements in computer graphics, rendering some of the best early examples of CGI that still hold up to this day. It’s what lead to the majority of dinosaurs being entirely CGI in Jurassic World.
8 EMOTIONAL IMPACT VS VISUAL PAYOUT
The reason that Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time is for many of the techniques he used in Jurassic Park. He shot from the POV of the terrified visitors to the park, highlighting the epic scale of the dinosaurs. It also grounded the emotions of the reactions of the actors, even if all they were looking at was CGI.
Contrast this with Jurassic World or Jurassic: Kingdom which, when given the option to either focus on the impact of dinosaurs on humans or the dinosaurs themselves, always went for the “cool” shot of dinosaurs, utilizing drone cameras to show the epic sprawl of a dino battle while completely eliminating any of the emotional repercussions. It’s certainly awesome, but the audience isn’t scared.
7 THE OUTDATED COMPUTER INTERFACES
Jurassic Park is controlled entirely by computers, which isn’t surprising to any kid today. They’re familiar with smart technology, and devices synced together to be controlled by a remote one. What they won’t be as familiar with is the outdated computer interfaces throughout the film.
Characters operate big clunky Macintosh computers, with black screens and green lettering. The imaging is very primitive, with significant lag time as the images load. Kids won’t even be able to identify the technological goals of the characters simply because they aren’t using technology they recognize to accomplish them. When Lex uses her “hacking” skills to access the park’s central mainframe, kids today may be wondering if she’s playing a video game.
6 THE LACK OF DINO MUTATIONS
If kids today have grown up on a steady diet of Jurassic World and Jurassic Kingdom, chances are they’ve come to expect a little more from their dinosaurs. They’re expecting not just a simple T-Rex, but a T-Rex mixed with something else. As Bryce Dallas Howard so cavalierly says in Jurassic World, “No one’s impressed by dinosaurs anymore.”
It’s at this point that kids these days won’t find the velociraptors or the T-Rex terrifying because it isn’t an Indominus Rex, a dangerous cross between the two, and infused with other reptile DNA, not just frogs. This means it can turn itself invisible, which makes it a much scarier threat to them.
5 THE PHONE LINES BEING CUT
At a critical juncture in the film all systems go offline, courtesy of Dennis Nedry who needs the systems down so he can steal several dinosaur embryos to sell them for a big profit. Unfortunately, this cuts the power to the park and to the dinosaur paddocks, allowing the creatures to roam free unhindered.
The phones lines are nonoperational, which may make little sense to kids today who haven’t ever used a landline like the ones in the film. They’ve also probably never operated the payphone that Nedry uses to connect with his contact, or the significance of not being able to reach the satellite phones in the car (which incidentally don’t run on Bluetooth).
4 THE ABSENCE OF CELL PHONES
Like so many horror films where the heroes having cell phones might have prevented them from being slaughter, Jurassic Park doesn’t bank on your smartphone saving the day. But it isn’t just a narrative imperative to ensure the stakes of the victims are raised; it’s because cellphones weren’t nearly as common place back then, even for billionaires like John Hammond.
Versions of them existed, but they’re literally referred to as “dinosaurs” now, and were obnoxiously bulky and hard to use. Today, children might very well wonder the significance of phone lines being down in a movie when the presence of cell phones would make the anxiety levels dissipate considerably.
3 HOW BIG OF A DEAL THE T-REX REALLY WAS
The scene involving the two park cars and the T-Rex escaped from its paddock makes for some of the most tense filmmaking ever witnessed. Part of this is due to the film direction and the actors, and part of it’s due to the largest animatronic that had ever been made for cinema. Although not quite as large as a real T-Rex, the one made for the film was nearly as tall as a house.
What made the T-Rex so impressive wasn’t simply its size and detail, but the fact that it had eyes that actually dilated when light was pointed at them, such as the scene when Lex directs the beam of her flashlight at it.
2 THE VELOCIRAPTORS IN THE KITCHEN
One of the most iconic scenes in the film involves Tim and Lex, a kitchen, and two velociraptors. The children try to remain as quiet as possible without alerting the raptors to their presence, but the scene somehow makes you feel as though their every breath could seal their fate. Part of this is because some of the raptors are real animatronics and some of them are CGI.
The animatronic raptors are part machine, part puppet, and controlled by men with armatures in suits. They are involved for close up shots and anything that doesn’t involve fast movement. They’re perfectly blended with the CGI raptors, to the point where you can’t tell them apart, which was incredibly advanced for its time.
1 THE FACT THAT PEOPLE LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
Kids these days watch any movie similar to Jurassic Park and take for granted the fact that every person in the film is coiffed and manicured to perfection. In Jurassic World, for instance, Bryce Dallas Howard is made up throughout the film (and remains in heels for the length of it), while Chris Pratt is chiseled from a piece of fossilized amber.
In Jurassic Park, people looked like people. Dr. Alan Grant was not a hunk. Dr. Sattler wasn't a dewy damsel. And the kids spend a lot more time looking completely frazzled than they do adorable or otherwise. Everyone wore functional clothing, and didn't mug for the camera (with the exception of Dr. Ian Malcolm, but they gave him a whole other movie to do that).