With Jurassic Park 3D hitting theaters, let’s look back on all the Michael Crichton books that made their way to the big screen, shall we? It’s hard to believe that Crichton is mastermind behind so many films — films that cover a range of genres, no less: action-adventure, sci-fi, crime thriller and even medical dramas (if you consider E.R.). These are the 10 best.
10. The Carey Treatment
This ’70s flick based on A Case of Need was a dud. The film came out to mostly negative reviews and was bogged down by a nonsensical script. Though it’s better than at least two other disasters that didn’t make the list: Timeline and The 13th Warrior.
What happens when you put Dustin Hoffman, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Samuel L Jackson in a room 10,000 leagues under the sea? Well nothing in this case. The cast was shamefully underutilized in this sad interpretation of what was originally an interesting book. Though, the best part of the film is Queen Latifah’s death-by-jellyfish scene, helping the film earn its spot on the list.
The biggest disappointment in this film were the gray gorillas. While Jurassic Park dazzled with CGI dinosaurs, audiences were forced to suffer with cheesy looking animatronics. And you know Laura Linney was cursing her agent when she realized her costar was a boozehound, talking ape. Even though the film was the cliff notes version of the book it was surprisingly faithful to the source material.
7. The Terminal Man
Even though it was met with mediocre reviews, the film is often noted for Mike Hodges direction. Apparently Terrence Malick didn’t know what an image was until he saw this film. (Whatever that means.) The main issue with it is just how slow it is.
What is it about ‘90s Michael Douglas that makes women lust after him and then go crazy? It happened to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, then Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and finally Demi Moore in this flick. At the end of the day it’s just schmaltzy sex thriller but there’s no shame in enjoying that.
5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The sequel to Jurassic Park was amazing until the third act, which derailed into a King Kong territory. All the penalty points for making the T-Rex slurp water from the pool like a dog. He’s not a puppy, he’s a killer!
4. Rising Sun
One of Crichton’s best books gets a suspenseful interpretation on the big screen. The best part is Sean Connery teaching Wesley Snipes the zen of investigating sex crimes.
3. The Andromeda Strain
The book was one of Crichton’s first real successes. The film wisely remains faithful to the text adaptation with only one major change – making the lead a female instead of male. The cold, sometimes drawn out movie earned its keep in the world of sci-fi. Sure it’s no 2001: Space Odyssey but most films fail to top that. Just ignore the disastrous A&E miniseries.
2. The First Great Train Robbery
Crichton masterfully does everything here: write the book, adapt the screenplay and direct the film. It’s a fantastic crime caper that mixes suspense with the occasional gag. The only thing really holding it back is extended dialogue sequences. It’s safe to say the only director that can handle that is Quentin Tarantino. Everyone else really should stop trying.
1. Jurassic Park
Obviously Jurassic Park is the best visual interpretation of a Michael Crichton book. This was the first time dinosaurs were so wonderfully realized for the big screen and set the standard for how we visualize creatures today (Godzilla, Cloverfield, etc.). It should be penalized for straying so far from the text but much of that is Crichton’s fault. He drafted the original screenplay. But loyalty to text aside, the film is hallmark Spielberg and something that hasn’t been repeated on screen until J.J. Abram’s Super 8, which was produced by Spielberg. It’s a thrilling ride of fun and fear.