Review: Jurassic Park in Concert

Jurassic Park in Concert certainly lived up to its name last night at the Hollywood Bowl, though not for what might seem the obvious reason. Despite the presence of an orchestra performing the symphonic score live, the event felt more like a rock concert, with avid fans roaring enthusiastically in recognition of their favorite "hits" - though in this case the cheers were more for the film itself than the musical accompaniment. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of conductor David Newman, brought John Williams' iconic score to rousing life, but mostly this was an opportunity to revisit a fan-favorite film with thousands of like-minded viewers.

Frankly, there are better ways to appreciated the visual glories of Jurassic Park. The Hollywood Bowl had five screens on which the film was displayed (the largest above the orchestra, then two more on each side), but unless you were seated up front, the image size was about the equivalent of watching a movie on your iPad. Jurassic Park in Concert worked more as an event- a communal celebration of a classic piece of science fiction cinema.

What was most interesting was that, despite critical carping about Jurassic Park's alleged reliance on computer-generated dinosaurs to distract from an allegedly weak script, the audience responded as favorably to the character scenes as to the special effects highlights, loudly cheering such memorable lines as:

  • "Life finds a way."
  • "Dinosaurs eat Man. Woman inherits the Earth."
  • “Yes, but if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
  • "I'm a...and you're a..." (when the overweight man John Hammond suggests he should venture into a dangerous situation rather than the physically fit woman Dr. Ellie Satler)
  • And (my personal favorite): "Clever girl!"

Probably the biggest applause of the night was for the shot of Jeff Goldblum (as Dr. Ian Malcolm) with his shirt open. Women in the audience approved wildly.

Slightly lost in all this was a chance to appreciate a live performance of the soundtrack. Years ago, we attended an evening of excerpts from John Williams's film music, conducted by the composer himself, who prefaced one cue by saying we would be hearing "Scherzo for Orchestra and Motorcycle" without the motorcycle - that is, we would hear the music without movie sound effects drowning it out. That was not the case last night. There were only a few moments (most obviously the opening titles and the closing credits) when the live performance shone through the filmic presentation. Otherwise, this was more a movie screening than a live concert.

Still, we prefer watching movies on the big screen with an appreciate audience, and Jurassic Park in Concert afforded an opportunity to do just that, with the biggest and most appreciative audience we have ever been part of.

Jurassic Park in Concert Ratings
  • Live Music Performance
  • Visual Presentation
  • Audience Participation
4

Bottom Line

Less a symphonic concert than a “rock concert” experience with avid fans cheering their favorite hits Jurassic Park in Concert is a novel way to revisit a classic film.

Jurassic Park in Concert reprises on Saturday, August 17 at 8pm in the Hollywood Bowl. The address is 2301 Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, 90068. Get more information here.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.