Allison Miller Joins 'Terra Nova'

Allison_Miller_BostonLegalAllison Miller (KINGS, BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE) has been added to the cast of Steven Spielbeg’s Fox Network prehistoric time-travel adventure series TERRA NOVA.
Miller is only the second actor to be announced for the show. She joins Jason O’Mara, who has the lead role of Jim Shannon, a father who moves with his family from 2149 to 85 Million years in the past, refugees from a dismal future Earth.
Allison Miller has been cast as Skye, a Terra Nova colonist who will take newcomer Shannon’s son under her wing in the dinosaur-populated land.
The series has been delayed to Fall 2011, from an intial mid-seasom premeire.  However, the pilot — to be directed by Alex Graves (FRINGE), is set to air in May of 2011.
Part of the reason that the series debut has been delayed is due to the need to have more time to work on the special effects.
See Variety for the full article.

Terra Nova Delayed to Fall 2011

 terranova_LogoThe Fox Network has announced it’s delaying the premiere of Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur series TERRA NOVA until the fall of 2011, rather than staring mid-season 2010-11. They plan to run the pilot/TV movie in May of 2011.
As previously reported, Emmy Award winner Alex Graves (FRINGE) will direct the pilot, and the press release announces that Emmy Award-winning executive producer and director Jon Cassar (24) has joined the series as an executive producer and “series director”.
jason_omaraThe release also confirms that Jason O’Mara (RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION) has been cast in the leading role of Jim Shannon, the father of the Shannon family

“TERRA NOVA, an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making, follows an ordinary family embarking on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a massive experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race…possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past.
The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to TERRA NOVA, the first colony of humans in this second chance for civilization. JIM SHANNON (O’Mara), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family – wife ELISABETH and children JOSH and MADDY – through this new land of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. In addition to blue skies, rolling rivers and lush vegetation, TERRA NOVA offers new opportunities and fresh beginnings to its recent arrivals, but the Shannons have brought with them a familial secret that may threaten their citizenship in this utopia. These adventurers soon discover that this healthy, vibrant world is not as idyllic as it initially appears. The areas surrounding TERRA NOVA are filled with dangerous dinosaurs and other prehistoric threats, as well as external forces that may be intent on destroying this new world before it begins.
TERRA NOVA is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, DreamWorks Television, Kapital Entertainment and Chernin Entertainment. Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Brannon Braga, David Fury, Jon Cassar, Aaron Kaplan, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel serve as executive producers.

Is it just me, or does the idea of mucking around in the far past sound like an insanely dangerous and irresponsible way to deal with a current problem?

'Real Steel' Photo And Info

realsteel_jackman_WebUSA Today features pictures and press info on the in-production SF film REAL STEEL. (click on photo for larger view)
Directed by Shawn Levy (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM), takes place in the near-future setting of 2020, by which robot boxers have replaced humans in the ring.
Hugh Jackman plays one of these replaced fighters, now out of work and trying to bond with the son (Dakota Goyo) he barely knows.
If the story seems somewhat familiar, it’s because it’s based on Richard Matheson’s short story Steel, which was adapted into a harrowing episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, starring Lee Marvin as the desperate former pugilist.
The script has gone through many hands, beginning as a 2005 screenplay by Dan Gilroy (FREEJACK), Jeremy Leven (CREATOR), and current screenplay by Leslie Bohem (TAKEN) and John Gatins.
Says Jackman on the plot:

“The heart of the story is this father and son relationship and in comes this junkyard robot called Atom that the kid’s in love with… I abandoned the kid pretty much at birth. But we come together because the boy’s mother has died. We have a lot of distance to make up. It’s through this mutual interest in robot boxing that they find a way to come together and form a bond.”

Not too surprisingly, REAL STEEL is a DreamWorks SKG film for Disney’s Touchstone Pictures.
However, one minor surprise is that the filmmakers went with the expense of building 19 full size, 8-foot tall animatronic robots, for the performers to interact with — at the advice of executive producer Steven Speilberg.
The actual fighting scenes will be realized with digital visual effects and motion capture supervised by boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
Director Shawn Levy is quoted as saying: “There are some things only visual effects can pull off. But when you give an actor a real thing, in this case a real 8-foot-tall machine, to interact with and do dialogue opposite, you get a more grounded reality to the performance.”
REAL STEEL is due in theaters November 18th, 2011.
See the link Above for more details.

'Indy 5' Back to Basics?


File It Under Rumors—For Now

According to there’s definitely a fifth INDIANA JONES movie coming, and this one will be heading “back to its roots”, following the critical drubbing of THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.
However, this information comes from an un-named source, so reader beware.
Both Harrison Ford and Shia LeBouf are said to be onboard for a new adventure to begin shooting next year, and that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have agreed on a storyline “centred around the Bermuda Triangle”.
The New Zealand-based site also quotes this source as saying ” …This will be a blockbuster made in the old fashioned way, rather than the CGI efforts of the last movie.”
Sounds good,  if true. 
Personally, I enjoyed the flawed CRYSTAL SKULL well enough, as much as an exercise in nostalgia as anything else. Like many fans, I found the “nuking the `fridge” scene more than a little over the top, and might have frowned briefly at some of the less well executed CGI—but was otherwise fairly content with my popcorn.
UPDATE 6/10/2010: Not too surprisingly, it seems that the un-named source was unreliable.
According to OhNoTheyDidn’t producer Frank Marshall debunked the story via Twitter:
“The rumor about INDY 5 is completely false. Nothing has changed, we are not shooting next year and [are] still in the research phase…”

Speilberg's 'Terra Nova' for Fox Mid-season

terranova_LogoThe Hollywood Reporter reveals that Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur show TERRA NOVA won’t be on FOX’s Fall schedule, but will instead have a mid-season premiere.
Rather than being set on another planet, as one might expect from the title, TERRA NOVA will be about “a family from 100 years in the future that travels 150 million years back in time to prehistoric Earth.”

Writer-producers from ’24’, including Brannon Braga (various Next Gen TREKS) and David Fury (LOST) were specifically asked for by Spielburg, accoring to Fox Network executives.
“Terra Nova” will have an “enormous production commitment,” promised Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly is quoted as saying the series will consist mainly of “stand-alone stories”, rather than a serial arc.
No casting was announced, though previous news items claimed that Kyle Chandler (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) and film star Kevin Bacon (THE HOLLOW MAN) passed on playing the lead.
Sounds a bit like “LOST IN SPACE meets JURRASIC PARK”. Time will tell.

Abrams’ Super 8 Teaser and Info

J.J. Abrams (STAR TREK, CLOVERFIELD) and Steven Spielberg (E.T., JURASSIC PARK) have been working together on a rather hush-hush project called SUPER 8 over the last year, and the first teaser trailer has begun showing before screenings of IRON MAN 2. You can watch the teaser on the left, and we also have new information regarding the film, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, below.
So what is SUPER 8 all about? Contrary to earlier rumours it’s not connected with CLOVERFIELD in the slightest. It will, however, share a tonal similarity with the sci-fi monster hit as it revolves around ordinary people encountering something most extraordinary. Abrams has written the script and will directing the film himself while Steven Spielberg will serve as producer. The film, which is rumoured to be about a group of teenagers stumbling upon alien lifeforms whilst shooting an amateur film on super 8,  will not be shot using ‘shakey-cam’ and is being given a budget of between $45-50 million.
If you don’t want anything spoilt for yourself, read no further and instead visit the official site here as it’ll soon be hosting the teaser in much better quality than the bootleg available on YouTube. Said trailer is simply brilliant as it continues Abrams’ gift for creating a mystique around his films and in turn, generating hype. We don’t see much, but what he do see is more than enough to have me thoroughly excited for the film.
Abrams and Spielberg are currently working hard on SUPER 8 in time to release it next year.

Spielberg will direct Harvey remake

Steven Spielberg has agreed to direct a remake of HARVEY,  based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Mary Chase. The previous film adaptation, released in 1950, is considered a classic, starring James Stewart as an eccentric man who believes he has a friendship with a 6-foot tall invisible rabbit named Harvey.  The new screenplay is by novelist Jonathan Tropper.

Sense of Wonder: Yahoo's 100 Movies to See before You Die

Yahoo has posted their list of the 100 Movies to See Before You Die. Although the horror genre is, typically, under-represented, fans of science fiction and fantasy films will be pleased to see numerous favorites on the list. In fact, if one is liberal in their definition of what constitutes cinefantastique (as indeed we have always been, since the debut issue of Cinefantastique magazine included reviews of CATCH 22, EUGENIE – THE STOR OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION, FELLINI SATYRICON, SECRETS OF SEX, SKULLDUGGERY, and TARZAN’S DEADLY SILENCE), then there are over thirty titles among the the top 100 – not too bad a showing.
Unfortunately, the list suffers from a tendency that mars many such undertakings. The criteria are vague (“historical importance and cultural impact” vie with whether films are the “most thrilling, most dramatic, scariest…”). Despite the promise that “you may not have heard of” some of the films, the results are heavily weighted toward popular blockbusters and traditionally acknowledged classics.
This might be acceptable if the list were presented merely as a popularity contest, but the Yahoo Movies Editorial Staff insists that these films are “essential” viewing (“each one is a timeless classic that you absolutely have to see”). Needless to say, in several cases, the “essential” dramas that made the list would have been better omitted to make room for more remarkable and imaginative (but less reputable) genre work.
Leaving that aside for now, let’s take a look at the science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies that made the list (along with several borderline titles of interest to Cinefantastique Online’s readers).
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY(1968). No argument here. Cinefantastique founder, the late Frederick S. Clarke, considered this the high-water mark in science fiction cinema, remarking in a 1979 issue that his head was still buzzing from having seen the film over 10 years previously.
8 1/2 (1963). Federico Fellini’s film about a director (Marcello Mastrionni) making a sci-fi film is mostly a drama about creative lethargy, but several surreal scenes interrupt the so-called “reality” of the story. Not a fantasy per se, 8 1/2shows how an imaginative filmmaker can stretch the medium to make his point, incorporating imagnative asides and dreamlike visual episodes instead of relying on spoken dialogue.
ALIEN (1979). Another no-brainer. This science fiction monster movie is one of the best of its kind, featuring great production design, an intense story, wonderful performances, fantastic special effects, and one of cinema’s great monsters (designed by H. R. Giger). Director Ridley Scott puts all the elements together in a way that makes you absolutely believe everything that happens – quite an achievement for a film set in outer space.
APOCALYPSE NOW (1979). I’ve been found of listing this as a genre title ever since Steven King wrote a Rolling Stone magazine article in 1979, including this title among his list of the best horror films that year (which also included ALIEN and DAWN OF THE DEAD). Technically, the genre is War Movie, but director Francis Ford Coppola takes viewers on a harrowing journey into the Heart of Darkness, filled with more than enough surreal imagery, questions of madness and evil, and horrifying violence to qualify as horror.
BLADE RUNNER (1982). It flopped when it came out, but it became a classic in retrospect. Adapted by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples from Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,and directed by Ridley Scott, this film features one of the most memorable realizations ever of a future city – it’s a monumental vision that demands to be seen.
BLUE VELVET (1986). Dark and demented, David Lynch’s mystery-thriller is another film that takes its viewers on journey into the depths. I personally don’t think it’s Lynch’s best work (I find it more camp than horrifying), but for some reason this is the one that caught on and earned a favorable reputation. I would have put LOST HIGHWAY (1997) in its place.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000). Never underestimate the value of earning over $100-million at the box office. Director Ang Lee’s martial arts fantasy is a good film, but it is modeled after numerous less well known Hong Kong Fant-Asia titles more worthy of consideration, such as A CHINESE GHOST STORY and THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR.
DR, STRANGELOVE, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964). Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy is one of the highlights of cinema, obviously deserving of a spot on the list. The inclusion of a Doomsday Device in the scenario qualifies it as science fiction.
E.T. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982). Easily one of the most over-rated films ever made, this one has not stood the test of time so well. A revamped re-release a few years back (with some substantial digital alterations) failed to ignite much interest at the box office (unlike the re-release of the STAR WARS trilogy in 1997). Yet for some reason critics cling to the illusion that this is a masterpiece.
THE EXORCIST (1973). This was something of a disreputable blockbuster in its day – a film that made money while critics bemoaned audience bad taste. The passing of years has secured its reputation as a horror classic, one whose intensity and seriousness of approach have never been matched.
GOLDFINGER (1962). Although less sci-fi oriented than some of the series, this is generally considered the best Bond adventure, and we heartily agree.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946). An acknowledged classic, this one is a bit sappy and sentimental – which is okay, because the film works hard to earn audience good will. Still, this is the kind of film that, if you look at it closely, reveals some troubling undertones.
JAWS (1975). Another over-rated opus from director Steven Spielberg, this water-logged horror film is actually pretty good when dealing with the shark on the high seas, but the land-based drama is weak, and the pacing is slack. To this day, no one has ever explained how Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) got out of that shark cage without being eaten.
KING KONG (1933). Still the all-time champion of monster movies. One of those films whose inclusion will brook no argument.
LORD OF THE RINGS (2001-2003). The inclusion of this title is another testament to blockbuster box office returns. The trilogy began strong with FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, but declined through THE TWO TOWERS and RETURN OF THE KING. Filled with repetetive battles that do no advance the story, and running times that would try anyone’s patience, the latter films were impressive but hardly great. Ironically, RETURN OF THE KING took home a Best Picture Oscar. Hollywood sure loves success.
M (1931). A flawed classic, Fritz Lang’s early sound film has a real problem when it comes to sound (there is no ambient sound or music to fill in the blanks between dialogue; nevertheless, its reputation survives on the basis of its dark and troubling story, about organized crime tracking down a serial killer (because the killer’s predations have prompted a jump in police activity, which cuts into criminal profits). It’s more police procedural than horror, but the serial child killer (played by Peter Lorre) sets the standard for generations of human monsters who followed in his footsteps.
THE MATRIX (1999). This way-cool virtual reality film was both popular and critically praised. The two sequels have perhaps dimmed the lustre of the franchise, but the original still holds up.
MODERN TIMES (1936). Silent movie comedic genius Charlie Chaplin spoofs Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (which, ironically, is not on the list). The opening sequence features Chaplin’s little tramp working in a factory that uses all the latest technology, offering an opportunity for some excellent sight gags. Still, my favorite Chaplin film is MONSIEUR VERDOUX (even though it’s not a genre title).
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL  (1975). Okay, it’s a comedy, but it has more than enough blood and monsters (including a killer bunny rabbit) to qualify as horror. A great movie.
NOSFERATU (1922). This is strictly an obligatory entry. In only one sense can I consider it essential: you have to see it so that you can see for yourself how over-rated it is.
PRINCESS MONONOKE(1999). Excellent anime from Hayao Miyazaki, my personal favorite of his work. Of course, if we’re talking about essential anime, AKIRA deserves a slot, too.
PSYCHO (1960). Thanks to the Alfred Hitchcock brand name, this is one horror film that usually makes it onto lists like this. Fortunately, the film does deserve its reputation, so we will not argue.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1982). Reagen-era American fascism of the most self-congratulatory kind. We’re better than anyone else, so we should use our superior firepower to kill anyone who gets in our way. Hurray for our side!
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS(1991). This film you really should see is Hannibal Lecter’s first on-screen appearance, MANHUNTER, although SILENCE is good, too.
SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937). I would have preferred to see FANTASIA representing Disney’s animated oeuvre, but this seems to be the established favorite.
STAR WARS (1977). This film that made movie-going fun again. I think EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the better film, but this one is probably more historically important, because it was the first. However, only the original 1977 version deserves inclusion here, not the bastardized version from 1997 or the subsequent DVD releases.
SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950). Most people seem not to realize that this is a horror film, but it is. It is also one of the great movies of all time, and we are glad to agree with its listing among essential viewing.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991). The movie that proved overblown action could be cool, not ham-handed. Some people still prefer the original, but this sequel is one awesome spectacle that never looses its characters and story among the explosions.
VERTIGO (1958). A mystery-thriller-romance, we like to consider this a genre film because it hints at reincarnation and possibly even necrophilia, with James Stewart trying to remake a look-alike into the image of a dead woman he loves.
WINGS OF DESIRE (1988). Wim Wenders excellent black-and-white film about angels overseeing life on Earth. A moody masterpiece, interrupted with humor and romance.
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). I guess no one can argue with this one. It’s the kind of movie that delights you as a child and continues to entertain as you grow older. A lavish, beautifully done example of Hollywood craftsmanship and artistry.
If you are interested in comparing Yahoo’s list to others who have made similar attempts, here are a few:

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

It was easy to imagine a sequel to JURASSIC PARK: since the film adaptation omitted many memorable set pieces from Michael Crichton’s novel all that was needed was some plot device to get the characters back on the island and then stitch together the unused material. However, this method was rendered unnecessary when Crichton wrote his own sequel, THE LOST WORLD. Based upon this book, which does a fine job of creating a new story, the film had a good chance of standing on its own; unfortunately, director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp adopted the former method as much as the latter in making THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK. Although it borrows plot elements, scenes, and (sometimes composite) characters from its namesake novel, the film is essentially a grab bag of sequences tied together by a minimal storyline that allows several abandoned scenes from the first book to reach the screen.
Koepp’s clunky screenplay displays considerable difficulty over linking these scenes together and requires a surprising amount of leaden exposition just to jump-start the story. Crichton’s novel was structured as a mystery, which gradually revealed the connection between the Lost World and Jurassic Park; the film explains everything thing up front, which doesn’t leave much story to tell. As a director, Spielberg again proves his inconsistency. Four years after the double triumph of JURASSIC PARK and SCHINDLER’S LIST, he has turned in a derivative film that features some dynamic staging but also betrays his penchant for inappropriate cuteness. He knows how to generate adult-frightening thrills; but in a sop to family audiences, he cannot resist having an adolescent gymnast dispatch a velociraptor with a flying kick from impromptu parallel bars — a moment worthy of a Disney kiddie flick. At least the film has one grisly glimmer of black humor: a family sees their pet’s dog house dangling by a chain from the T-Rex’s mouth — the dog presumably being at the other end of the chain. (Now, if only the unfortunate pup had been named Rex – that would have been really funny!) This is not to say that the film has nothing to recommend it. The dinosaurs, as envisioned here, are such magnificent animals that it is impossible to be bored. As before, Dennis Muren and Stan Winston’s visual effects (augmented by marvelous sound work) achieve equal levels of awe, beauty, and terror. Human characterization is serviceable, but the cast work overtime to imbue some humanity into the underwritten roles. In particular, Jeff Goldblum brings an eccentricity to Dr. Ian Malcolm that goes a long way toward keeping the character alive, even though his function has been seriously diminished from the novel (in which he solved the riddle of the Lost World’s existence). His asides and comments even help gloss over some plot devices, as the character continually comments on the recklessness of what’s happening (which is of course contrived in order to get dino-bait to the island).
Although JURASSIC PARK gave only a Cliff Notes summary of Chaos Theory, that was better than what we get here. All Crichton’s theorizing about the cause of extinction has been dropped, rather than condensed. Instead, the film offers weakly developed notions of parental love and conservationism (the latter is somewhat hypocritical coming from Spielberg, whose DreamWorks company was planning to pave over a large area of wetlands in Playa Vista to build facilities for a studio).
The “Save the Dinos” attitude is disappointing, because the film actually seems to be onto something when hunters and scientists first confront each other (Pete Postlethwaite even manages to make something out of his character, the big game hunter with dreams of taking down the world’s most fearsome predator). But this conflict is short circuited by the dinosaurs, who eat the characters before their philosophical differences can reach any dramatic resolution. Likewise, having an adult T-Rex rescue its captured offspring from civilization is interesting — we’re supposed to admire the creature’s devotion even as we fear its attacks — but this San Diego sequence seems tacked on (it is — the scene is not in the book), rather than climactic.
But the script really isn’t the problem. What is lacking here is not so much plot as mythic undertones. What was needed was more visual imagination to make the impact of these scenes truly memorable. Even a scenario of fairy tale simplicity can stir up considerable artistic power through clever imagery: King Kong’s ascent up the Empire State Building is a good example; an even better one in this context is the climax of GORGO, in which icons of the patriarchal British Empire (London Bridge, Big Ben, etc) fall before a monster’s maternal rampage.
Unfortunately, San Diego hasn’t many memorable icons to destroy. In any case, Spielberg keeps the angry Rex confined to suburbia. The sight of this Saurian striding down the nighttime streets is worth the price of admission, but it’s not enough to elevate the film to classic status, and having him munch on anonymous extras reduces the movie to an “ain’it-it-cool” level – there’s no real horror or suspense, just a cheap thrill at the sight of some gratuitous carnage.
The sequence also betrays the weakness of computer-generated imagery, which cannot achieve the kind of full-scale destruction possible with miniatures. These new dinosaurs are far more interactive than the ones in JURASSIC PARK, and they do a nice job of smashing through windows and tearing up hapless humans, but you’re not going to see toppling buildings and massive explosions. You might be better off watching GORGO again. At least that entertaining 1960 effort expanded mother love to Godzilla-sized proportions for a truly stunning climactic confrontation.


Michael Cricthon’s novel takes its title THE LOST WORLD from a 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes). Doyle’s book was an adventure story about a lost world on top of a jungle plateau, where dinosaurs and primitive men continued to live, cut off from evolution. In Cricthon’s book, the concept of a “Lost World” is used as a theoretical jumping-off point for a discussion on the subject of extinction. The late Ian Malcolm returns (he explains that he was only “slightly dead” at the end of JURASSIC PARK) to offer theories on how Chaos Theory may explain the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs (he considers the popular doomsday meteor theory an irrelevancy). A rival colleague suggests that the possible existence of “lost worlds” might afford an opportunity to actually study the process of extinction; he has even gathered evidence to suggest that some dinosaurs may have survived to present day in far off places. Malcom, of course, immediately recognizes that these dinosaurs are actually survivors not from the Mezazoic Era but from Jurassic Park.
After the long opening section, the bulk of the novel is set on Isla Sorna, where leftover dinosaurs that were engineered for use in Jurassic Park are still alive and running wild. The characters attempt to use the island as a sort of living laboratory, hoping it will provide evidence to help solve the riddle of why the dinosaurs became extinct. Complications arise in the form of the dinosaurs themselves, who inevitably get out of hand, and in the form of a rival group from a company that wants to capture one of the dinosaurs for reverse engineering purposes, hoping to pick up where John Hammond (the mastermind behind Jurassic Park) left off.
Besides the thrills inherent in facing dinosaurs on an isolated island, without recourse to the army or other high-tech firepower for protection, the novel has three elements in its favor that make it a worthwhile read: First, the discourse on the topic of extinction is fascinating. Second, the plot is an amusing parody of sequels, recreating familiar situations from the first book but then providing completely different resolutions. Cricthon tips off his strategy early, opening with an epigraph by Ian Malcolm: “Sequelae are inherently unpredictable.”
Finally, the author uses his sequel as a means of answering critics who picked apart the scientific explanation behind the genetic engineering in JURASSIC PARK. Inconsistencies in the methodology are acknowledged and used as clues indicating that the birthing process seen in the first novel was merely a show put on for the tourists, leading to the conclusion that Isla Sorna is the place where the dinosaurs were truly engineered.
As a result, Crichton’s novel works on a number of levels: a horror story about dangerous prehistoric beasts; a thoughtful piece of science fiction exploring the subject of extinction; and as a sly self-referential satire on the nature of sequels. It lives up to its predecessor and manages to stand on its own, in a way that the dismal film adaptation utterly fails to achieve.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). Directed by Steven Spielberg. Screenplay by David Koepp, based on the novel by Michael Cricthon. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite, Richard Attenborough, Vince Vaughn, Arliss Howard, Peter Stormare, Richard Schiff, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards.

Jurassic Park (1993)

This film deserves the highest of all praise: it actually lived up to its hype when it was released in the summer of 1993. This is the event for which dino-fans had been waiting; it is the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY of its genre – the best dinosaur movie ever – one whose special effects render previous efforts obsolete. (Admittedly, it’s not as good as the original KING KONG. But KING KONG is not a dinosaur movie; it’s an ape movie, with the dinosaurs as costars.)
A reasonably faithful approximation of its source material, the film streamlines the structure of Michael Crichton’s novel and even retains some of his ideas, while adding wickedly clever touches of black humor, courtesy of co-screenwriter David Koepp.
As with JAWS, director Spielberg juggles the fates of his characters (compared to what happened in the book) and opts for a more spectacular ending, a sort of dino ex machina; the latter change may violate conventional dramatic structure, but one can hardly fault its effectiveness.
Technical credits are excellent, although John Williams, as usual, emphasizes the obvious (lush music for lush settings, etc.). Industrial Light & Magic’s computer wizardry imbues the creatures with amazing life: full-motion shots feature some incredible interaction with actors, and intercutting with Stan Winston’s full-scale, live-action versions is virtually seamless.
As with the novel, the human cannot quite compete with their saurian co-stars, but that doesn’t stop the cast from giving good performances, especially Jeff Goldblum in a role obviously tailor-made for him. Amazing enough for Spielberg, the children are not overly sentimentalized; if anything, they are exploited for all the fear they can elicit thr4ough their terrorized reactions to the rampaging reptiles. The PG-13 excises most of Crichton’s gore, but Spielberg ratchets up the suspense to compensate.
This was the best science-fiction/horror film of 1993 and easily the best film of Spielberg’s often overrated career up to that point. (SCHINDLER’S LIST came out later that year). Genre films don’t get much better, at least on a visceral-visual level. Inevitably, such a popular attraction draws its share of nay-sayers, but we should not allow these cynics to prevent the rest of us from opening our eyes in childlike wonder, exhilarated and stunned by the technique and artistry that brought dinosaurs to life as never before. The final glimpse of the triumphant T-Rex, roaring while a “When Dinosaurs Ruled the earth” banner floats to the floor, is sheer visual poetry; in comparison, Bruce the Shark from JAWS resembles a toothless minnow.


In print, author Michael Crichton’s JURASSIC PARK often read like a dissertation on Chaos Theory, with the action serving as a dramatic illustration of the lesson being taught. There was plenty of suspense and gore, but in between the dramatic dinosaur attacks, Crichton offered up pages and pages of intellectual discourse, most of it through the mouth of Dr. Ian Malcolm, who acted as a sort of modern-day Cassandra, warning of the dangers to come.
Amazingly, the exercise was almost entirely successful, creating a book that was simultaneously a rousing adventure story and a fascinating piece of intelligent science-fiction. The film version, of course, could barely begin to scratch the surface of the novel’s text; instead, the screenplay gives a cliff notes condensed version of Chaos Theory. As a result, the movie tends to come across as a fairly simple, almost classic piece of alarmist sci-fi – a sort of high-tech version of Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.”
The book, although also open to this interpretation, was far more detailed and nuanced. The point was not simply that genetic engineering is potentially dangerous and science invites disaster by tampering with Nature’s domain. It was that, in a complex world with innumerable variables, it is often impossible to predict consequences with any reasonable degree of accuracy. Science, as a doctrine, is concerned with how to do accomplish something, not with whether that accomplishment is the right thing to do.
In the case of the story’s artificially recreated reptiles, the dinosaurs are not a new Frankenstein monster terrorizing their creator; they are simply wild animals – but animals whose behavior patterns are unknown. It is therefore impossible to predict their actions and/or completely control them, but the people involved in the project are too arrogant to admit that they do not have a 100% grasp of the situation. Inevitably, this leads to disaster.
The film version offers a thumbnail version of these events, presented with greater visceral impact because of the excellent computer-generated effects; however, the novel still stands on its own as an excellent piece of literary science-fiction, thanks to the far more detailed examination of the ramifications of the situation. Crichton clearly wanted to entertain his readers; fortunately, he did not shy away from trying to illuminate them as well.


When the film was released in 1993, the video and DVD market were in the process of cutting into the theatrical life of motion pictures, which were spending less time in theatres before heading to home video shelves. JURASSIC PARK (along with PULP FICTION one year later) bucked this trend: JURASSIC PARK played continuously in theatres for over one year after is initial release.
In the same issue of Cinefantastique (October 1993) that contained my original capsule review of JURASSIC PARK, a letter appeared from a disgruntled reader who asked, “Was I the only one who wondered what happened to all the park rangers and geneticists in JURASSIC PARK?” Whether Mr. Ron Murillo was the only one who pondered this question is unknown, but dialogue in the film makes it clear that the staff leaves by boat before disaster strikes (although this is not shown). This may be a cheap dramatic device to clear the decks and streamline the movie, but technically, it is not a continuity error.
Jurassic Park (1993). Directed by Steven Spielberg. Screenplay by Michael Cricthon and David Koepp, based on the novel by Crichton. Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight.