I was 17 when Jurassic Park came out in 1993. Even then, I knew it wasn’t a great film, artistically speaking. It was too silly to be taken seriously. But I didn’t care. Don’t care now. It was great fun. Terrifically entertaining and exciting. It's hard to remember now - when seemingly every effect, special or not is rendered in CGI - but Jurassic Park was revolutionary in its use of computer-generated effects mixed with real puppets and effects by Stan Winston.
It was a technological marvel. The culmination of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster powers. It's fascinating to think that while the effects teams were finishing up Jurassic Park, Spielberg was simultaneously shooting Schindler’s List, perhaps his most dramatic and artistic film to date.
I saw the first sequel The Lost World in theaters and enjoyed it as well, but while it contained a great deal of excitement, some of the magic had started to wane. So much so that I never bothered with the third film. When they announced Jurassic World, I didn’t give it much thought, other than to be happy that Chris Pratt was leading another big budget summer blockbuster. I’ve loved his work as the lovable and goofy Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation and am thrilled to see that he’s become a leading man and a real star.
But the movie? I mean what can they really do with another installment of dinosaurs on an island? Apparently a lot. The story takes place some time after the events of the last one. This time they’ve managed to actually open the park they originally planned to in the first movie and the guests come in like mad. Then, of course, everything goes wrong.
The film broke box office records and did fairly well amongst critics. None of this was enough to get me to the actual theatre, but I’m actually kind of excited to catch it on the small screen (even if it will lose a great deal of effectiveness there). I’m planning to overlook the silly-sounding genetically created dinosaur and root for Christ Pratt with enthusiasm.
It comes in something like 12,325 different versions and formats so you’ll have to dig around to see which one suits you. My favorite is the big gift set featuring multiple formats (including Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital) plus loads of extras and a cool-looking dinosaur desktop toy thingie.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Back to the Future 30th Anniversary: Great Scott! I can’t believe it's been 30 years since the original Back to the Future came out. This anniversary set features the original trilogy, an extra disk of extras plus the complete animated adventures, and comes with a big book and a cool flux-capacitor box. On Wednesday (no idea why it's not coming out Tuesday) you can also pick up Back in Time, a documentary on the films.
Peaky Blinders: The Complete First Season: I’ve only seen the first episode of this BBC series (that’s also streaming on Netflix) about a real life gang in Birmingham, England just after the first war. It stars Cillian Murphy and that one episode was really good.
Chasing Shadows: A standard-sounding detective series finds me interested in it because it stars Alex Kingston and Noel Clarke.
The Lifeguard: Kristen Bell stars as a successful woman who leaves everything to return to her childhood home and find happiness. Or something. I like Kristen Bell, which is the only reason I’m mentioning it.
Kwaidan (Criterion Collection): I actually own a copy of this film that collects Japanese ghost stories, but I’ve not actually sat down and watched it (thanks, Criterion flash sales!) This release gives it a Blu-ray upgrade.
The Wolfpack: Story of a group of boys who are locked away in a Manhattan apartment for their entire childhood where they live on movies and stage intricate reenactments of them. Sounds fun until one of them escapes.
The Oblong Box: Vincent Price and Christopher Lee star in this story about a disfigured man (from a voodoo curse!) who runs aways, finds a red-hooded doctor who is willing to rob graves and kill in order to restore the man’s looks. Sounds amazing.
Nurse Jackie: Season Seven: I guess Edie Falco’s nurse is still up to no good. I’ve never managed to make it through the first season, but I suppose there are fans out there somewhere.
Mike Tyson Mysteries: Season One: What a life Mike Tyson has had. He went from the street to world heavyweight champion, then to jail for raping, converted to Islam, tattooed his face, and now he’s starring in a goofy cartoon where he solves mysteries.