Friday, 19 October 2007

Why I Love Jurassic Park

One of my favourite films of all time is Jurassic Park. It's there on my list, at number four. There are many reasons why I love Jurassic Park, but first we need to set the scene.

The first time I ever saw JP, I was about 6 or 7 years old. I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. Well, when you think about it, this a film where creatures we can't begin to imagine go on the rampage, running riot and chomping on the occasional human [be they on the toilet or not] on a beautiful island where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Hell, the opening scene is a velociraptor in a box killing an innocent man! How could I not be terrified? However, it stuck with me. It's such a magical film, that whenever it's on TV, I always, without fail, sit down to watch it, and every time it's still as tense, exhilirating and incredible as it was that first day, many years ago as I sat on the sofa, cushion clamped to my chest.

Jurassic Park is incredibly iconic. It was the first real 100% success with CGI, beating even modern films in its realism. It's also got so many memorable scenes. Theres the bit when they're talking about the raptors in the desert, the bit where they fly over the island [to one of the best soundtracks ever written], the bit when they see the egg hatch, the bit where they look at the Triceratops poo, the bit where the T-Rex comes, the bit where the T-Rex is by the window, the bit where the T-Rex eats the man on the loo, the bit where the car is in the trees, the bit where there's the stampede, the bit in the kitchen with the raptors, the bit where the raptors face off against the T-Rex... Chances are if you've seen this film, even only once, you'll remember one of those parts. And those are only the ones that immediately spring to mind.

One reason why Spielberg got it so right is that dinosaurs are cool. Inexplicably, awesomely cool. As a kid, I'd never seen anything like it. The creatures on the screen are so powerful, it's impossible not to be in awe of them. I'll always remember the scene when Jeff Goldblum and his wife see the Brachiosaur, their first dino experience, in a large herd. The grass is green, the sun is shining - it's a magical moment for cinema, one that'll stay with me for the rest of my life. The T-Rex is incredible, a thundering, towering beast, hungry for anything crossing it's path. The Velociraptors are incredibly smart, providing possibly the most tense scene in the film as they sneak around the kitchen looking for two cowering children...

The score is incredible, an absolute joy. The soaring strings playing as the team fly to the island is breathtaking, fully encompassing the majesty and horror of the secrets lying within the trees... It's my favourite musical score of all time, and unless you haven't heard it, you'll probably know why.

Whilst partly being a comment upon society today, talking about chaos theory, and man's battle with science causing more harm than good, it's also an unashamed blockbuster. There's mountains of excitement - all the T-Rex scenes, the stampede and the raptors in the kitchen currently spring to mind. The film's exhilirating in a way that running amongst a tide of great CGI lizards would be in real life would be. The scientific reasoning behind the dinosaurs is not so far-fetched, thus maing the plot a lot more believable than it could've been. Even the slightly declining standards of the [actually reasonably good] sequels can't dampen the spirit or legacy of this mammoth movie.

The characters in the movie are brilliant - the development is such that, straight away, you have an idea of their role in the film, but not in a way that makes it too predictable. You know that Richard Attenbrough's going to be lovable, despite his flaws. You know that Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neil will stick around 'til the end. You know Wayne Knight will meet a sticky end... But this only makes it more satisfying when it does eventually happen.

So, to conclude, this is an amazing film. Not only a technological marvel, but incredible entertainment on a massive scale that will capture the imagination of many generations to come. Those who haven't seen it will start watching their glasses of water for tremors, while those who have will be able to escape in the best way - via a huge adrenaline rush and MASSIVE DINOSAURS.

Friday, 12 October 2007

The Skeleton Key Review

So, after a long absence, I now begin a new feature, reviewing films which are reasonably new, but not not in cinemas or just out on DVD. Today's review is of 2005 hoodoo-horror-thriller movie The Skeleton Key.

The Skeleton Key begins, quite aptly, with a man apparently being bored to death. This is a most likely unintenional but retrospectively clever touch by the director/writing team, as the first hour or so of the film is incredibly dull. In fact, if it weren't for that chilling, disturbing ending, the film would most likely have been long forgotten to the realm of lost, crap horror films by now - and I only finished watching it ten minutes ago. The conventions are all here - creepy house, flickering lights, scary door, mysterious objects - making what could be a very different, stand-out movie sink into depths of mundanity and banality. It's a miracle my eyes stayed open long enough to get to the surprisingly satisfying climax. I simply let the hoodoo/black magic/haunted house plot wash over me, occasionally absorbing details I thought might be important.

In terms of scares, its all random jolts, creaky doors, and red herrings. How terrifying. It doesn't really warrant many brain-cells or a large attention span, so those willing to stick with the movie are those most likely to be impressed by a slightly more intelligent and satisfying climax than usual.

But as I said earlier, the reveal is much more satisfying than usual, and is genuinely spine tingling. It leaves the audience feeling uneasy, which is why I'm currently watching Eurotrip before going to bed. The thought of what actually happens to the characters is quite sickening, and the overcoming of expectations leave you feeling shocked. Don't let anyone ruin it for you. It's one of those films where it exists purely for that horrifying twist [like Saw]. Without it, it's a 1.5/5.

With it, it's a comfortable 3/5.

Genre Value: 3.5/5
Entertainment Value: 2/5
Style: 2/5
Overall Rating: 3/5