Jurassic Park

 
(i)

 

Terrifyingly realistic dinos run amok in sci-fi landmark.
  • Review Date: September 29, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 127 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Just like Frankenstein, there's an underlying message about the dangers of playing God. But through teamwork, determination, and smarts, the main characters triumph. They also learn and change; Alan learns how to protect/care for the children, and the kids learn to survive in the wild.

Positive role models

The two children are intensely likable, smart, and brave; the adults protect them and each other at every turn. Other characters are flawed and/or have problematic motives, but they all seem to learn a lesson one way (learning from their mistakes) or another (becoming dino food).

Violence

Plenty of people and a few innocent animals are eaten by realistic dinos. There's little actual blood and gore, but the scare factor is high, and one gruesome scene involves a severed arm. Suspenseful scenes of the kids being hunted by dinosaurs are particularly intense. Chases, crashes, constant peril.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Infrequent swearing includes two "s--t"s, plus "hell," "crap," "damn," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "and oh my God."

Consumerism

A few brands are seen -- Barbasol, Ford, Apple. Also plenty of Jurassic Park merchandise available, and there are other movies in the franchise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A secondary character smokes regularly. Rare drinking by adults.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids who watch Jurassic Park will see lots of people -- and a few innocent animals -- being hunted and eaten by very realistic-looking dinosaurs, but there's little actual blood and gore (although one somewhat gruesome scene involves a severed arm). There's tons of suspense, many "jump" scenes, and some chases/crashes; basically, the characters -- including children -- are in near-constant peril. (All of this is made more intense in the 3-D version, though the effects aren't as overbearing as some newer 3-D releases.) Expect a bit of mild swearing (as well as one "s--t") and some smoking and drinking, too. In the less intense environment of home, kids as young as 9 may be able to handle the fright factor with an adult at hand, but sensitive children should skip this one.

What's the story?

Brought to a secluded island, three scientists discover a wondrous jungle paradise where dinosaurs again walk the Earth. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) warns the creator of the preserve that nature won't be corralled into a theme park, and things go terribly wrong when a tropical storm strikes and a corrupt computer programmer shuts down crucial security systems. During a night of terror, Dr. Grant (Sam Neil), Ellie (Laura Dern), and two children are pursued by an escaped Tyrannosaurus Rex and several other violent dinos (including the vicious velociraptors). After many devourings and frightening chases, a showdown ensues.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

JURASSIC PARK boasts Academy Award-winning special effects, lots of frightful moments, and some good laughs. Director Steven Spielberg and his effects team deliver some stunningly realistic dinosaurs. Gone are the days of stop-motion lizards and jerking beasts of vastly varying sizes, replaced by animatronics and digital effects. The movie also has a superb soundscape; hear it with a top-notch sound system to get all the thrills. Of course, actually seeing the monster isn't always the best thing. In Jaws, Spielberg's early masterpiece, the audience didn't get to see the shark until well into the movie -- and the suspense was excruciating. That kind of storytelling elegance is missing here. And for all its technical achievements, a lack of character development weakens this thriller. Spielberg occasionally sacrifices three-dimensional characters and real human drama to the thrill of the effects.

The movie's terrifying realism is something to take seriously. In theaters, both children and adults have turned away from the screen, particularly during the young-children-in-peril sections. Viewed at home/on a smaller screen, the movie's effects are somewhat less fearful. Still, sensitive younger kids may want to avoid this one, and parents may want to watch ahead of time and gauge their children's response. It's worth noting that amid all the thrills, the movie has some very funny touches. The animated film detailing the genetic engineering of the dinosaurs resembles an elementary school educational movie from the '70s. Even funnier: "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear" glimpsed in a side mirror as a huge T. Rex chases a fleeing vehicle.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how movies blur the line between science and science fiction, sometimes giving out misinformation in the process. Since it's not really possible to clone dinosaurs, why use cloning as a plot device?

  • Does using headline-grabbing scientific concerns make a story more believable -- and thus more thrilling? How can you find out which parts of a story are really based in science and which are made up?

  • What makes Jurassic Park scary? What's the difference between horror and suspense? Which has more impact on you, and why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 1993
DVD release date:April 23, 2013
Cast:Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill
Director:Steven Spielberg
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Dinosaurs
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense science fiction terror

This review of Jurassic Park was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6, 12, and 15 year old Written bycab87670 November 27, 2010
 
A great time for kids of all ages.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byskinner2 May 2, 2010
 
Very good.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old August 16, 2010
 
very violent movie is very good
What other families should know
Too much violence

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