Of all the movies not yet released on 4K with Atmos, “Twister” (1996) is perhaps the most shameful oversight. It’s wall-to-wall action and tension and delightfully drawn storm chasers, and the special effects totally hold up two decades later. Co-produced by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Michael Crichton, “Twister” is from the era when the word “blockbuster” had some cachet, when people would keep such movies on their radar throughout the summer, enjoying them on a packed opening weekend or in the dollar theater months later.
It’s a sign of a prolific author when even death doesn’t stop them from putting out novels, and such was the case with Michael Crichton (1942-2008), whose posthumous output includes “Pirate Latitudes” (2009), “Micro” (2011) and “Dragon Teeth” (2017). For some reason, I didn’t read “Pirate Latitudes” when it came out, perhaps thinking that Crichton didn’t intend for it to be released, since it was “discovered” on his computer rather than submitted by the author to his publisher.
In 2017, HarperCollins published a Michael Crichton novel with a dinosaur skull on the cover. The bad news is it’s not the unearthing of the late author’s third “Jurassic Park” novel. The good news is “Dragon Teeth” is pretty good. It was written in 1974, and apparently Crichton – who died in 2008 – didn’t feel it was suitable for publication, but with all due respect, I disagree.
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.