Recent CGI special effects-dominated films like "The Mummy" and "Titanic" contain scenes that look far less realistic than the older and slightly more modestly budgeted "Jurassic Park". Ultimately the stars of the movie are the dinosaurs and they still impress today.
The plot is as small as the preserved insect from which a DNA strand is extracted to create a living, breathing dinosaur. It is bred on a secret island off the coast of Costa Rica where eventually a whole colony of prehistoric creatures thrive.
The development is the brainchild of the millionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who invites along a team of scientists to officially verify his experiment. Palaeontologists Sam Neill and Laura Dern along with the dry-witted mathematician Jeff Goldblum, kids Tim and Lex, and lawyer Martin Ferrero all saddle up for the inevitable terror ride. It's not long before they sight the first dinosaur and they're just as impressed as most of the audience watching the film. But their looks of wonder soon turn to horror as Spielberg cranks up the tension and lets the dinosaurs escape out of the compound.
As films like the wretched "Godzilla" remake (1998) later proved, it is just not enough to create an impressive beast and unleash it in a blaze of special effects and expect audiences to enjoy it. The excitement of "Jurassic Park" is in Spielberg's sense of timing, with the scene of the kids trapped in a jeep watching a cup of water tremble now a classic moment of cinema.
Other set pieces (like the raptors prowling the kitchen where those unfortunate kids are hiding) provide more fine moments. The periods in between these highlights do drag a little though and the actors don't get to do much apart from gasp or scream. But this is a fairground ride of a movie and as such it's one of the best.
Re-live those prehistoric shocks on the DVD.
Read a review of "The Lost World".
Read about the history of dinosaurs in movies and see pictures from "Jurassic Park III".
Find out more about dinosaurs.