Few popular authors had the ability to put the science in science fiction like Michael Crichton did in crafting one bestseller after another. Crichton wove suspenseful tales of science run amok because he imbued his fantastic stories with a healthy dose of realistic scientific elements. That's one reason why several Crichton novels made it to the big screen. These six movies made from Michael Crichton novels offer up some interesting cautionary tales on scientific excess.
"Jurassic Park" (1993):
This is the film that put Crichton on the map for good. "Jurassic Park" was revolutionary in wide-scale use of computer generated imagery to bring dinosaurs to life on the movie screen. The story centered on a billionaire teaming with scientists to bring dinosaurs back to life through using DNA extracted from amber for the sole purpose of creating a futuristic amusement park. “Jurassic Park” redefined how special effects were used to create movies and spawned a new generation of CGI-laden films.
"The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997):
A loose adaptation to the sequel novel to “Jurassic Park” that tried to increase the wow factor by introducing tons more dinosaurs and having a Tyrannosaurus Rex attack San Diego. The only problem is it reduced the human characters to cardboard cutout equivalents of real people. Again, we see corporate greed eliminating common sense to capitalize on unwise scientific advances. It is a recurring theme in Crichton’s work.
"The Andromeda Strain" (1971):
In an era where disaster movies were all the rage, we get a look at an extraterrestrial caused disaster in “The Andromeda Strain” when a disease brought back from outer space by a crashed military satellite threatens life on Earth. The movie effectively explores the fear that space travel can open the door to bring back a host of dangers–including new diseases–to Earth.
"The Terminal Man" (1974):
A man who suffers from chronic seizures undergoes an experimental therapy which involves planting electrodes in his brain connected to a miniature computer in his chest to control the seizures. Problems ensue when the computer begins to take over the man’s mind and turn him psychotic. Crichton is ahead of his time in “The Terminal Man” by exploring a common theme in later sci-fi works–the idea that computer dominance can threaten humanity.
An investigative team is sent to the U.S. Navy to explore an American spaceship from the future on the ocean floor where they discover that it contains a mysterious sphere. The alien sphere begins to create physical manifestations of the team’s subconscious fears that put them in harm’s way. With “Sphere,” Crichton plays on the idea that humanity’s own fears offer the greatest danger rather than alien invaders.
A group of students travel back in time to a French castle in 1357 to recuse their archeology professor who has become trapped in the past and become involved in a pivotal battle in the Hundred Years War. “Timeline” explores the idea of altering history and changing the future using knowledge of future events–a common sci-fi theme. Once again, a private corporation is at the controls in facilitating time travel and works to cover its tracks when things go awry.