Jurassic Park breakdown

A paleobotanist, a paleontologist, and a couple of kids try to survive a night in a dinosaur park with the security out.

Many years ago, I did a commentary for this movie.

I’m breaking down movies by their three-act structure. What is three-act structure? I explain it here.

Note: I break the story down into five-minute blocks to make it easier to see the length of each section. Rough time codes follow.


Jurassic Park staff member is killed by a dinosaur (introducing the conflict: “we want to see dinosaurs but not be eaten by them” and NOT “we must escape dinosaurs”). 5

Act 1

As Dr Ellie Sattler looks on, Dr Alan Grant explains that dinosaurs were terrifying killers. (This actually introduces a secondary conflict in which Ellie wants children and Alan does not. This is played for laughs thruout and used to maintain tension.) 10

John Hammond invites Alan and Ellie to Jurassic Park. Dennis takes a payoff for stolen dinosaur embryos. (Introducing the villain.) 15

Alan, Ellie, and Ian Malcolm reach Jurassic Park and see live dinosaurs. 20

John Hammond explains Jurassic Park. 25

John gives them a tour of the lab. Ian warns that “life finds a way”. (This seems to reinforce the conflict, but the fact the dinosaurs are managing to breed is actually not relevant to escaping them; it only speaks the the fact that John Hammond is playing with forces he doesn’t understand. This way, John’s hubris is just as much at fault as Dennis’s greed.) 30

Act 2

The guests witness a feeding and hear Muldoon’s concerns about velociraptors (introducing the secondary villain). 35

The guests express their concerns. John’s grandchildren arrive. 40

The guests go on the automated motor tour but see nothing. 45

The guests leave the SUVs and wander thru the park. 50

The guests find a sick triceratops. The staff is evacuated for the oncoming storm. 55

Midpoint Crisis

Dennis steals the embryos. His program shuts down security and stops the tour. (This is the first actual danger the heroes are in!) 60

The t-rex breaches the fence next to the stopped SUVs . 65

The t-rex attacks the SUVs . Alan helps Lex escape, but the SUV ends up in a tree. 70

Dennis runs off the road and is killed by a dilophosaurus (killing the villain but not ending the conflict!). 75

Alan helps Tim escape the SUV in the tree. Ellie searches for them. 80

The t-rex chases Ellie, Ian, and Muldoon. 85

John waxes philosophical over ice cream. Ellie condemns his vision. (This is the emotional bottom, but it’s unusual because it does not really seem like all is lost. It works because we laid a lot of pipe about John’s hubris, making it a substitute villain for Dennis’s greed.) 90

Act 3

Alan and the kids flee a herd of gallimimus pursued by a t-rex. Ray goes to flip the breakers. (A false turn!) 95

Ray having gone missing, Ellie and Muldoon go to flip the breakers. (The real turn!) 100

Alan and the kids climb over the perimeter fence as Ellie turns it on. Tim is injured. 105

Alan revives Tim. He leaves Tim and Lex in the main building, but raptors stalk them. 110

The kids evade the raptors. Alan, Ellie, and the kids reboot the system so they can call for a helicopter. 115

Raptors break in. The guests escape but encounter the t-rex and slip away when it fights the raptors. (The end of an extended climax with the secondary villain, and John even gets a line rejecting his own park and therefore his earlier hubris.) They reach the helicopter (resolving the conflict). 120


They fly away. (Very brief and resolves the secondary conflict of Alan not liking children. Unfortunately, this is thrown away in sequels.)

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