Monday, April 15, 2013

The Making of Jurassic Park – Book Review

Author – Don Shay & Jody Duncan

A review of The Making of Jurassic Park

I’ve never wanted to know more about a movie than Jurassic Park but that’s because it’s my favorite film.  Yes, I’ve seen the movie countless times, read the novel it’s based on time after time but I never came around to reading this book.  I’ve owned it for years dating back to my teenage years which feel as ancient as CRT monitors.  True I scanned through the book several times, mostly fixing my eyes upon the pictures over that time, but now that I’ve actually read it I wonder what took me so long.  It has plenty of behind the scenes detail that shows how much was put into this movie.  It’s broken down into four parts so I’ll skim over those now.

In a stage like this we learn how the author of the novel, Michael Crichton, eventually grew tired of writing anything more to do with Jurassic Park.  It shifted hands to others a few times to get down a plausible screenplay idea.  It also introduces the magnificent Stan Winston and his astounding team as he builds the robotic dinosaurs step by step.  The process is long and some of his work goes to the wayside.  There is plenty to learn and if you’re a fan of Jurassic Park than you’ll enjoy it very much.  I’ll leave you with these few trickles of knowledge so you have no choice but to read the book for further information.

The cast enters now and I liked the point of view Sam Neill offered when he was quoted in the book.  I became a fan of his because of this movie so that’s a cool bonus for me.  It also has the likes of Richard Attenborough, who played John Hammond; discuss how he felt about being in the movie.  If you like hearing the actor’s thoughts then this section will satisfy in that regard.  The genius of Spielberg is shown in more depth as he cuts costs, shortens shootings and makes the movie saving decision to go CG with some of the best dinosaur scenes ever seen on the big screen to date.  Again if you like Spielberg this book showcases what makes him such an extraordinary director, he’s not perfect but the job he does is almost unbelievable.  I would have liked to get some insight from Bob Peck, he played Muldoon, but sadly there is none.  This section also covers photography and the rigorous efforts of making sets but instead of getting into that I’ll let you read for yourself.  It’s rather interesting how they went about some of those challenges and the results are yet again mind boggling.

This would be the area when CG gets put on the spot to finish up those memorable dinosaur scenes including the epic finale when the T-Rex saves the day.  This was groundbreaking territory and brand new to ILM, the company who did the CG.  It was the same company that worked on T2 making the liquid metal Robert Patrick.  Spielberg really took a big chance that ILM would come through since there was basically no history of this type of work to draw from.  It ended up being possibly one of the best decisions he’s ever made.  John Williams also came aboard to do the score which is again probably one of the best ever in a movie.  Every team from sound, concept artists, music, writing, cast, crew, creature effects and anything else I can’t name was pretty much the best Hollywood had to offer.  In the end it would have been a shame if this movie was anything less than what it turned out to be.  What excuse would they have to come up short?  Spielberg was aware of this and thus knew he couldn’t be lacking in anyway.  It’s an amazing experience where everyone involved might possibly have had their career year.  Anyway if you would like to know more about the unsung heroes in the movie industry you’ll find them all here in this section.

Describing pictures isn’t easy so I don’t have much to add here except it’s really neat to see the early ideas behind some of the scenes in the movie.  Some of the characters were removed or switched from scene to scene which I found interesting but other than gazing over the sketches there isn’t much here to see.  It’s neat to visualize what could have been but never was.

It’s an easy read with plenty of pictures to support the writing.  I recommend all Jurassic Park fans to spend an afternoon reading this as you won’t be disappointed.  It’s probably even fun for a movie fan in general to read it since it breaks down the creation of the film extremely well.

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