30 Day Film Challenge – Day 27

Posted: July 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

Day 27. I’m assuming I’ll make it at this point, but maybe I’ll just quit tomorrow, just because. I remember quitting nursery school when I was five. Why change now?

This is a funny one because, at this point in cinema history, all films should be visually striking on some level. Even indie directors who have almost no money can film a movie on their phone and edit it on their Macbook. Even in big budget movies, you still see bad CGI and weird shots that make you wonder who messed up, but I always laugh when I tell someone that a multi-million dollar movie was bad, and they respond with, “Well, the special effects were cool.” Of course they were cool. This wasn’t a few guys sitting on a boat off Martha’s Vineyard, trying to get a broken mechanical shark to somehow look menacing. Hundreds of people sat in front of really powerful computers 16 hours a day for months on end, pouring over every frame. And for the money we spend just to watch it, every movie should be visually stunning.

So, I wanted to pick something that stands out, something that still wows me at this stage of my life after all the visually striking, special effects blockbusters I’ve seen.  But what movie does that? To quote Tom Hanks’ Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan (Go back a couple days and check out my Private Ryan post), “It’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.”

But speaking of Spielberg movies. there is one that continues to stand out to me as visually striking, nearly 30 years after it was made:

Jurassic Park

I have seen this movie many many times, on big screens and small. Again, go back to Day 24 if you want to read about how I used to go into the theater I worked in every night to watch the big T-Rex scene, even though I was supposed to be working (To be honest, there wasn’t a lot to do while the movies were going on. We only had two screens.) If I am channel- surfing and I see it on TV, I always stop and watch at least some of it. I have seen every re-release or special anniversary screening that was available to me. I’ve maybe seen at least parts of this movie a thousand times, and never once did I watch it and think, “That dinosaurs didn’t look real.”

Before the movie was released in June of 1993, we had seen James Cameron’s aliens and George Lucas’ Rancor, and some Godzilla movies featuring guys in rubber suits acting as giant lizards smashing model cities. This was something new; animatronic dinosaurs combined with this revolutionary technology called CGI to make some really bad-ass-looking creatures. It’s so brilliant that our excitement mirrored the characters on the screen when they marveled at John Hammond’s technical wizardry. Thankfully, none of us had to worry about the philosophical consequences of Spielberg’s actions. 

Of course, we had seen CGI as far back as Tron in the early 80’s, but nothing had been done on this scale, and combining the CGI with the animatronic dinosaurs made by the best effects team in Hollywood, made for spectacular visuals. Spielberg wanted to make a monster movie, like the Godzilla movies he grew up with, but he didn’t want his dinosaurs to be monsters. He wanted them to appear real. No guys in rubber suits smashing models. He wanted Jaws on land.

It worked, to the tune of $1.029 billion gross, including the re-releases and 3-D version released in 2013, and people weren’t paying all that to see Jeff Goldblum, despite his amazing performance.. It was at one point the highest grossing movie of all-time. Many films have surpassed that number since, but none are as awe-inspiring to me as this one.

Also inspired my favorite meme

Just a couple more days. Check out the linktree now before it’s too late!

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