Jurassic Park was a once-in-a-generation movie: a blockbuster that made tons of money, changed filmmaking itself, and remains beloved by fans to this day. It got to that level of success by being chock full of iconic, memorable moments—so we decided to rank our personal favorites in celebration of the 26th anniversary of the movie’s release. Hopefully, this list not only starts some debate but also serves as a reminder as to how freaking awesome Jurassic Park is.
If you want to talk about three perfect movie minutes, look no further. Not only does this scene culminate in John Hammond’s legendary line, but the surprise and awe conveyed by doctors Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm is unforgettable, John Williams’ music is magical, and that first grand reveal of the Brachiosaurus is eye-popping. This is everything great in a nutshell—not just about Jurassic Park, but movies themselves.
The vibrating water cup. The goggles. The goat. There’s so much anticipation, and then finally, most famously feared of all dinosaurs unleashes true chaos and terror upon our heroes. It’s exciting, scary, and impactful to the story—it’s everything. And it’s a scene that has stood the test of time as one of the best set pieces ever.
Grant, Sattler, Lex, and Tim are trapped and about to become velociraptor dinner. Then, at the last second, who comes to their rescue? The T-Rex. Williams’ music swells as the humans escape and the two main antagonists of the film go head to head, just as they must have millions of years ago. And when that banner comes down ever so perfectly, we all know who the most powerful beings are.
Great movies usually have a moment where you know what follows is about to be special. And, in Jurassic Park, it’s this one. The featured players have been assembled. They’re heading to their destination. And then, boom. Some of the most gorgeous music and visuals imaginable. This is pure beauty and wonder, ending in that bit of foreshadowing when Dr. Grant uses two female ends of seatbelts to improvise his safety harness. Very interesting indeed.
One of the great things Jurassic Park does is show all kind of dinosaurs. The killer carnivores, of course, but also the peaceful herbivores, like the ailing Triceratops. This is a scene that mixes sweet (Sattler’s concern for the dino) and funny (Malcolm’s comment on the droppings) with crazy impressive practical effects. It’s one of the most lovely parts of the movie.
You’re watching this big-budget Steven Spielberg dinosaur movie and, next thing you know, there’s a weird animated sequence happening on screen. It’s jarring for a second, but also awesome. It’s a fun, memorable way to give the audience, and characters, important exposition in a way that’s easy to understand. Especially for a complicated topic such as cloning.
When Lex and Tim get stuck in the very small, very reflective, very filled-with-objects-that-make-noise kitchen, it’s a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, they end up escaping—but not before some edge of your seat action that includes carefully outmaneuvering velociraptors who’ve learned to open doors.
If this wasn’t the second amazing T-Rex action scene in Jurassic Park, it would probably rank higher. And yet, it’s still incredible, thanks in part to Malcolm’s intense fear and Spielberg’s genius shot of the Jeep’s mirror letting everyone know that the T-Rex is very close to enjoying a buffet of humans.
Wayne Knight is amazing in Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm may get the headlines these days, but Knight’s giddy, boisterously evil performance as Dennis Nedry breathes a completely unique energy into the film. And nowhere is that seen better than this hilarious yet crucial scene where we’re introduced to one of the most recognizable movie props ever, and a few very quotable lines.
The majority of Jurassic Park is so intense, it needs to let us relax for a moment. Enter this delightful scene of Grant, Lex, and Tim in a tree, finally getting some rest. It includes some fantastic writing, beautiful dinosaur action, and, of course, Lex getting sneezed on by a friendly Brachiosaurus.
We could go on and on. There’s Sattler finding Arnold’s severed arm, Tim the human piece of toast, Nedry’s death, Ian Malcolm shirtless, Lex saving the day on the computer, etc. But, for our money, the 10 above are the best of the bunch. What do you think? [Editor’s Note: In before you can say, “Germain, you forgot CLEVER GIRL!!” I already chastised him for it. -Jill P.]
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