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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Jurassic Park

By
Gerri Pare
Source: Catholic News Service


A scene from the 1993 movie "Jurassic Park," now rereleased with 3-D effects.
Moviegoers are in for some extreme excitement if they venture within the terrifying boundaries of "Jurassic Park" (Universal), now rereleased with 3-D effects.

Steven Spielberg directs the mother of all monster movies from Michael Crichton's best-selling novel, detailing what happens after genetically re-created dinosaurs break loose in a theme park and see two young children and assorted adults as tasty treats.

The first hour is almost humdrum, simply an atmospheric buildup to what everyone knows will happen: the dinos running amuck and puny humans running for their lives.

This is a movie where action speaks much louder than words and, as such, dialogue and characterizations are weak. It's the special effects that are mighty.

And spectacular they are. The six species of dinosaurs look incredibly realistic and the ravenous shrieks they emit will raise goose bumps on your goose bumps.

Spielberg handles the death scenes gingerly (undoubtedly to avoid an R rating and win a more profitable PG-13) and victims are usually done in behind bushes, fogged-up windows or off-screen.

The menace to the two kids (Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards), however, is really scary in scene after scene and would definitely give children nightmares. In fact, the movie becomes such a terrifying horror film, it may be too intense even for a few teens and adults although most should be able to handle the high-velocity thrills.

With such a premium placed on the rampaging monsters, it is actually the group shots of peaceful dinos that are enchanting. Cinematography is top-draw, with the Hawaiian island of Kauai lushly standing in for the Costa Rican island setting of the bizarre Jurassic Park.

Humor is well-used as much-needed comic relief with some wry remarks coming from maudlin mathematician Jeff Goldblum. Theme park developer Richard Attenborough and romantically involved scientists Laura Dern and Sam Neill round out the cast, but they are mostly props in the plot.

The underlying moral question -- whether science has the right to tinker with the natural laws without regard to consequences -- is paid lip service in phony-sounding dialogue, although the answer seems clear in serene closing shots of birds soaring over the ocean.

But for most of the movie it is the dino that soars and roars in this larger-than-life thriller.

Due to much intense menace to children and several stylized scenes of violent death, the Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America Rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Pare is retired director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting.



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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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