Jurassic Park (1993)
Steven Spielberg invented the blockbuster in 1975 when he brought "Jaws" to the big screen. A novel that never should have worked on the silver screen was brought to life with a cantankerous animatronic shark and an even surlier crew.
18 years later, he perfected the formula with "Jurassic Park," a film that holds up today from a technological standpoint I doubt even the geniuses at ILM saw coming. It's not the spectacular animatronics of Stan Winston that make "Jurassic Park" one of the masterpieces of science fiction (though it helps), nor is it the breakthrough in CGI (yep, that helps too): it's the breathtaking humanity of the film that makes this one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
There's a great argument to be made that 1993 broke Spielberg. Between "Jurassic Park" and "Schindler's List," it's hard to think of a more impressive year from any director before or since. It's certainly hard to think of a year more ambitious. What "Jurassic Park" stands for, and this comes straight from Michael Crichton's novel, is humanity's ambition vs. humanity's conscience.
You've seen the film before; hell, you've been alive before: you already know who wins. Yet Spielberg's love for the human spirit provides the perfect foil to Crichton's cynicism. That's what makes "Park" work so beautifully. The film doesn't shy away from the crassness of the human psyche, but it embraces all that is good about the human spirit.
Alan Grant is an archaeologist who loves dinosaur bones more than people. He doesn't trust computers, babies nor lawyers. But a weekend at an amusement park creates a bond between him and two snot-nosed kids; and the damndest thing is that it works because that's how good Spielberg is.
"What if they come back," Lex asks.
"I'll stay up," answers Alan.
"All night," Lex asks.
"All night," he replies.
The man gets filmmaking to a degree so few do. Every shot in the film is done with a purpose. No scene in "Jurassic Park" is wasted, from the iconic ones (flares have never been so in vogue) to the minor ones ("oh thank god Mr. Arnold").
Spielberg keeps the two hour film rolling with solid action and good humor that holds up even 25 years later. The sound, look and feel of the film all fall under his auspices because you know he had his hands on everything.
Call it narcissism if you want (I won't fault you for it) but the result can't be argued with: "Jurassic Park" is a masterpiece. From the performances he gets from relative no names (Jeff Goldblum owes Spielberg his career) to the special effects that shaped the business, this film changed the world. I think for the better.
In the same way "Star Wars" shaped a generation of filmmakers and moviegoers, "Jurassic Park" changed the way we go to the movies. With films like "Godzilla," "Rogue One" and "King Kong: Skull Island" hitting theaters I can't help but think of the film that first got me into movies to begin with. Without "Jurassic Park," this website doesn't exist to begin with.
I'm sorry. Send your letters to Steven.