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JURASSIC PARK, 1993. ©Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

Happy 30th Anniversary, “Jurassic Park!”

Thirty years ago today, Steven Spielberg and Universal Pictures unleashed the spectacle of all spectacles with Jurassic Park, a blockbuster action thriller (with a moral!) that includes some of the most groundbreaking and believable visual effects of all time.

Based on American author Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel, the movie stars John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), palaeontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and pableobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). And cynical chaotician – though, really, could a chaotician really be anything else? – Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Hammond has found a way to clone dinosaurs from DNA in fossilised mosquitoes, and then had the savvy to create a theme park for these creations. Initial wonder gives way to widespread terror when the film’s antagonist, the Tyrannosaurus rex, escapes its paddock. On its debut weekend, the film made more money than any other in history. Over its initial run, it raked in over $900 million.

The computer-generated imagery in the movie is essentially credited with marking the end of stop-motion animation as the go-to effects option for films such as these, notably used in everything that came before. The appeal of is also largely due to the film’s suspenseful and pared-down pacing, which of course can be linked to Spielberg, who learned a thing or two about keeping his cards close to his chest with “Jaws” – the great white mother of all creature features that famously showed startlingly little of the big fish before the climax.

Another “Jaws” connection is prolific film composer John Williams, the Spielberg collaborator who created a majestic score for “Jurassic Park” that is still synonymous with an air of discovery, one that can easily be hummed when looking upon any great view or upon entering a new and uncharted space.

And then there’s the casting, an element that sometimes takes a number of years to truly appreciate. Aside from the always-dependable Goldblum, there’s Laura Dern, who carved out her own Sigourney Weaver-shaped notch in the movie thanks to that one terrifying sequence in the control shed. Plus, her reaction shot to that first dinosaur reveal – along with that of Sam Neill – could be viewed as a textbook for green-screen acting, which has become the standard ever since, in Marvel movies and beyond. Add to that the amazing and meme-worthy smaller performances from Samuel L. Jackson (“Hold onto your butts!”), Wayne Knight (“Ah ah ah! You didn’t say the magic word!”) and Bob Peck (“Clever girl”), and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser that is equal parts adventure, comedy and chomp-chomp thriller.