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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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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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