In our Throwback Thursday series, we’re looking back at movies, TV shows, books or comics that are more than a year old and don’t fit with our regular “flashback” features. Maybe we missed it when it was new, or we want to revisit an old favorite. Basically, we’re reviewing old stuff because we feel like it.
“Jurassic Park” might not seem like a candidate for lots of spinoff material – and indeed, the franchise has contented itself with blockbuster films as of late. (The latest, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” lands Friday, June 22.) But there have been enough comics released through the years to pad out a list of distinct “JP” yarns. Here’s a ranking of every “Jurassic Park” story, from the worst comic books to the best of Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton.
(Updated in December 2018 with “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”)
With the second season of HBO’s “Westworld” set to debut on Sunday, I thought it’d be fun to finally watch writer-director Michael Crichton’s 1973 film that launched the franchise. The movie is well-known among sci-fi geeks, one of those classic dystopian visions that were popular in the wake of ’Nam. Yet it seems to be under-viewed and was therefore ripe for the TV re-imagining. While the movie is visually dated – the theme park’s inner sanctum has a starkness similar to the adaptation of Crichton’s “The Andromeda Strain” from two years prior — it’s remarkable how little updating of the template the HBO series had to do.
When I got a few months of free HBO with my new Dish Network subscription, the first show I programmed into my DVR was “Westworld,” which launched with a 10-episode season in 2016 (and will return next year). Evan Rachel Wood (“Once and Again”) and the universally great reviews from critics and fans (9.0 on IMDB) drew me in, the entertainment value kept me there, and the non-cliched way it delves into the oldest sci-fi theme (“What defines humanity?”) has me still thinking about it.
Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp’s “The Lost World” (1997) abandons so much of the 1995 novel that it’s almost false advertising to say it’s “based on a novel by Michael Crichton.” Still, they retain the lost world idea, and that’s the film’s hook: Whereas “Jurassic Park” gave us hints of dinosaur behavior – such as the T-rex chasing the gallimimus flock – the sequel is all about seeing dinosaurs in their “natural” habitat; it’s a modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s concept. (Obviously, there’s nothing truly natural about a small island of cloned dinosaurs, but I’ll set that aside for now.)
In an interview on the “Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy” DVD set, Michael Crichton said “The Lost World” (1995) is “the only project I’ve ever worked on where I knew there would be a movie – there WOULD BE a movie.” But one could make a strong case that Crichton’s “Lost World” – despite Steven Spielberg’s 1997 movie bearing that title — still has not been adapted to the big screen.
Welcome to a flashback series 65 million years … OK, 25 years … in the making. It’s been a quarter century since Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” debuted. Its influence on popular thought about dinosaurs, chaos theory and genetic engineering is well documented, as is its influence – through the 1993 Steven Spielberg movie – on movie special effects.
“Jurassic Park,” released on June 11, 1993, was based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel, it revolutionized special effects, and it spawned two sequels filled with random people getting eating by dinosaurs as punishment for not respecting chaos theory. It’s back in theaters this weekend in 3D, and it’s still a great movie. The idea of an “event movie” has been watered down in the last two decades, in part because more event movies are being made, so maybe it’s pure sentimentalism to say this, but: They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
2009’s “Pirate Latitudes” was the last book fully written by Michael Crichton (who died in 2008), and judging by the reviews, it wasn’t a strong way to go out. But Richard Preston, who completed Crichton’s unfinished manuscript of “Micro” (2011, hardcover) has helped give the late author a more respectable career capper.