Even on the small screen, to witness Jurassic Park again is to be reminded of two things: one, that it helped change the face of CG special effects work as we know it, and two, it's a prime example of Spielberg's unparalleled genius as a virtuoso action director. No one can deny that the dinosaurs are the stars of the show - a glorious mix of computer-generated images, animatronics, and sound design. But without Spielberg's sly signature wit Jurassic Park might have turned out to be just another mindless monster movie.
The movie is also positively overflowing with continuity errors and dangling plot threads - none of which, by the way, do a thing to sour Jurassic Park's two-decade reputation as a nonstop visceral thrill ride. It's these nagging continuity errors I wish to discuss today - and how, because of Spielberg's sheer command of the medium, they tend to have zero effect on the movie itself.
A "continuity error," for those not in the know, is any noticeable jump between shots in a given film. A character will suddenly shift positions from one angle to the next, say, or the amount of liquid in a glass will change levels throughout a selected scene. This is often caused by gaps in the filmmaking process, including complex camera changes or shooting entire scenes out of sequence. (David Bordwell speaks more astutely about continuity errors here.) Some of these are minor, as in these subsequent shots from 37:22 and 37:23 of the Jurassic Park DVD (2000 edition). Note the position of John Hammond's hands from shot to shot:
Or consider this scene inside the Jurassic Park hatchery/nursery, where the characters are granted a front-row seat to a live dinosaur birth. At 30:07, a large robotic arm is clearly seen holding the velociraptor egg in its place. Then, when the camera switches to a different POV at 30:08, the robot is nowhere to be found!
You could argue, I suppose, that the rex simply nudges the jeep down a different part of the fence. Yet have a look at this shot (of Malcolm on the run), and you'll see that only one section is missing the electrical wire:
Spielberg prefaces the scene with a couple of ingenious shots. First, one of Lex holding a spoon of quivering Jell-O, her eyes wide with fear:
Now you don't: