Jurassic Park sequels: a tale of two reviews

We already knew that Universal was prepping a 3D re-release of the original Jurassic Park (1993) for this coming April — two months before the film’s 20th anniversary. And we already knew that Universal had hired Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the writers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), to come up with a brand new Jurassic Park sequel.

But it wasn’t until today that Universal committed to an actual release date for the new film — and it isn’t that far away: June 13, 2014, or less than a year and a half from now. That’s somewhat ambitious, for an effects-driven film that currently has no director or cast attached.

As it happens, I’ve been in this business long enough to have reviewed all three of the existing films during their initial theatrical runs. I can’t find my review of the original film right now, which is probably just as well, since I was still finding my footing as a critic at the time; but I did find my reviews of the two sequels, which were written for very different audiences, and I’ve re-posted them at this blog.

First, there is my review of The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), which I wrote for a Christian newspaper, with an eye towards teasing out the theological sensibility of the films and how it differs from that of the original novels. (See also this article, which is mostly about Con Air but also looks at how The Lost World and other movies released that summer harped on the theme of “family”.)

Then, there is my review of Jurassic Park III (2001), which I wrote for a secular community newspaper, with an eye towards assessing the film’s entertainment value.

I would almost certainly write both reviews differently today, but, to my eyes at least, they offer an interesting window into what it was like to be reviewing movies for both Christian and secular publications at that point in my life.

Incidentally, I have written a few blog posts about the Jurassic Park movies over the years, too, and my favorite by far is this one on how The Lost World stood out from all the other disaster/action flicks released in the mid-’90s by actually killing the damn dog. You’ll know what I mean when you read it.

On a more tangential note, see also this post on my 1999 interview with Sir Richard Attenborough, the actor-turned-Oscar-winning-director who returned to acting after a 14-year hiatus to play John Hammond, the entrepreneur who creates the original Jurassic Park and brings the dinosaurs back to life in the first place.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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