The Top 5 Movies Based on Michael Crichton Novels

While the breadth of his work isn’t as vast as that of, say, Stephen King, the late (and great?) Michael Crichton has written quite a few novels that were subsequently adapted into major motion pictures.  Like those for King, many of the adaptations have turned out to be utter crap, while others have stood out as great films.  As an aside, I always thought some of Crichton’s best writing was when he was tackling real issues – like global warming – and not necessarily his ventures into science fiction and suspense.  But this isn’t a political site, so let’s get right into the Power Rankings.  After the jump, take a look at the top five movies based on Michael Crichton novels, presented – as always – in reverse order.  And by the way, I know that Westworld was written by Crichton, but it wasn’t a novel, hence its omission from these rankings.

5. Disclosure


I don’t think that Disclosure is anything special, but it does have a pretty good cast and compares very, very favorably to some other movies that couldn’t crack the top five, like Congo and Sphere.  Congo was atrocious (that talking ape was laughable) and Sphere was beyond disappointing (it is perhaps my favorite Crichton novel), so Disclosure manages to sneak into the rankings.  Directed by the competent Barry Levinson, Disclosure features a bogus claim of sexual harassment and a decent look at computer espionage.  If I remember, though, the “computer” effects are only slightly better than those in Lawnmower Man.

4. Rising Sun


Like Disclosure, Rising Sun features a pretty good cast, with actors like Sean Connery and a still-in-his-prime Wesley Snipes.  The story involves a woman found dead at a Japanese company’s party, and obviously foul play is suspected.  Web Smith and John Connor (no, not THE John Connor) investigate and soon realize that, of course, nothing is what it seems.  The movie itself is actually pretty suspenseful, and it avoids most of the cliches that appear in similar thrillers.  The focus on the manipulation of digital recordings is well done and quite intriguing, too, landing Rising Sun at number four on these rankings.

3. The 13th Warrior


Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead and directed by action genre stud John McTiernan, The 13th Warrior is essentially a repackaged telling of the story of Beowulf.  And it works.  Ahmed, played by Antonio Banderas, meets a group of bad ass Vikings and is recruited to aid them – as the 13th warrior -in a quest to destroy a supernatural power.  McTiernan is as good as anyone at combining action and suspense, and he delivers in this movie.  Two things really stand out about The 13th Warrior: 1. every metaphor used for a creature in Beowulf (for example, the fire worm), and 2. The character of Buliwyf’s unbelievable awesome and hardcore death.

2. The Andromeda Strain


I saw The Andromeda Strain when I was a little kid and it scared the crap out of me.  For whatever reason, I’ve always been more afraid of the idea of pathogens and viruses than monsters or killers.  At least with the latter, you can fight back.  In The Andromeda Strain, four scientists in a facility under the Nevada desert have to deal with an alien strain that the government may develop as a biological weapons.  The scientists, feeling trapped and increasingly claustrophobic, must also deal with one another as the tension builds.  Admittedly, I haven’t seen this movie in a long time, but I remember it being very scary, and it definitely left more of an impression on me than any of the films ranked below it.  Still, it’s not the best movie based on a Crichton novel.  That honor goes to the very obvious choice…

1. Jurassic Park


Sure, the ending was changed, but big deal.  When you combine Steven Spielberg and, to this day, the coolest-looking dinosaurs to ever grace the big screen, you’ve got a classic movie.  I’ll still never forget the shot of the T-Rex busting out of his (her?  weren’t all the dinosaurs female?) paddock and wreaking havoc on the park’s Jeeps.  Jurassic Park is leaps and bounds better than any other movie based on a Crichton novel, the best dinosaur-related movie ever made, and a landmark film in terms of special effects.  All that considered, it’s easily the number one in these Power Rankings.

Agree?  Disagree?  Want to give me a back massage?  It’s cool; I just got it waxed.

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  1. To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with Jurassic Park on the small screen. In the theater, it was cool, but I was also a teenager at the time and much easier to impress.

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