The Andromeda Strain (1971) : An oldie but a goodie, an alien virus kills people in a town and scientists are brought in to investigate and try to contain it. This came out in the ‘70s, but you could already see Crichton’s clinical, scientific approach that would make Jurassic Park a hard-science fiction hit for the ‘90s. The acting in The Andromeda Strain is top notch, and the story is riveting, just like in the book. But the movie is kind of slow. As mentioned before, this would be a good example of hard science fiction in that the science is the star attraction here. It’s an accessible film, sure, but there’s a reason why The Andromeda Strain wasn’t the ‘70s version of Jurassic Park. It’s just not as interesting a concept as cloning dinosaurs.
The Terminal Man (1974): Based on Crichton’s 1972 novel by the same title, The Terminal Man is a thriller about mind control. The main character, Henry Benson, is scheduled for an operation to have electrodes and a mini-computer implanted in his brain to control his seizures. But what does that really mean for Henry? He ends up having even worse blackouts after the surgery where he gets really violent, and even likes it. It’s fun for the whole family!
The First Great Train Robbery (1979) : Crichton directed The First Great Train Robbery and wrote the screenplay, which was based on his 1975 book with the same title. The First Great Train Robbery is about the Great Gold Robbery of 1855 and takes place in London. Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland star in this really fun caper where two thieves rob a train full of gold. The whole film is basically them figuring out how to do it, and then they do it.
Jurassic Park (1993) : Based on Crichton’s 1990 novel with the same title, Jurassic Park is a science fiction thriller about dinosaurs who are recreated through DNA to populate an amusement park. Unfortunately, some of the safety measures fail, and people find themselves in danger. Jurassic Park is part thriller, part horror, part animatronic magic. It’s one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest movies, and it’s a crowd-pleaser, through and through. Jurassic Park is pretty much what made Michael Crichton a household name, and this is one movie that I think is far better than its source material.
Rising Sun (1993) : In this crime thriller starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, a Japanese prostitute is killed and two detectives (Snipes and Connery) have to solve the case. A disc is in play that may or may not contain the murder on it, and tangled thrills ensue. Rising Sun is another book that is much better than the movie. The story, which concerns Japanese businessmen, is a lot more racially charged in the novel, and the movie is a bit racist, too, in some regards. But the culture clash is intertwined much better in the book, and the movie kind of starts to run in circles, making it a little clumsy as it stumbles to its conclusion. Still, as a story that doesn’t rely on any of the Crichton tropes of technology run amok, it’s still fully engaging, even though Wesley Snipes feels way underused.
Disclosure (1994) : Based on a novel Crichton published the same year, Disclosure is about Tom Sanders, who works in a high-tech company just before the beginning of the dot-com economic boom and is wrongly accused of sexual harassment.
Congo (1995) : Based on Crichton’s 1980 novel, Congo is about a diamond expedition in the rain forest of Congo that is attacked by killer gorillas. Starring Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Tim Curry (with a ridiculous accent), Ernie Hudson, and BRUCE FREAKING CAMPBELL (ok, he’s in the movie but he’s not “starring” in it), and even a “talking” gorilla, Congo is about a team that goes into the heart of the jungle to locate a missing team of diamond hunters.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) : The Lost World is the sequel to Jurassic Park. It takes place six years after the original story and involves the search for “Site B,” the place where the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park were hatched. The movie is based on Crichton’s 1995 book with the same title. You’ve likely seen The Lost World, and if you have, then you know it’s not as good as the original. As a follow-up, it’s actually really enjoyable.
Sphere (1998) : Sphere, which was based on Crichton’s 1987 novel with the same title, is the story of a psychologist who is called by U.S. Navy to join a team of scientists to examine an enormous spacecraft discovered on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Dustin Hoffman, and Sharon Stone, Sphere is about a team finding an alien ship underwater. Or so they think. Mysteries abound, and the conclusion is that the book is way better than the movie, despite it’s star power.
The 13th Warrior (1999) : Based on Crichton’s 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead, The 13th Warrior is about a Muslim in the 10th century who travels with a group of Vikings to their settlement. It is largely a retelling of Beowulf. Antonio Banderas stars as the Muslim who ends up with the Vikings who are at war with Grendel (yes, Beowulf’s, Grendel). That said, it turns out that the bad guys are really just cannibals who like to live with bears. It’s…interesting.
Timeline (2003) : Based on Crichton’s 1999 novel, Timeline is about a team of historians that travels to the Middle Ages to retrieve a fellow historian who is trapped there. Paul Walker, Gerard Butler, and Francis O’ Connor star in this time traveling adventure film about some archaeological students who go back to medieval times to save their professor. The action and adventure is all there, but people didn’t turn out to see it, as it was a box office bomb.
———->Bonus : A tv mini-series<———-
The Andromeda Strain (2008) : The 2008 TV mini-series of The Andromeda Strain is a remake of the 1971 movie with the same title. Both are based on Crichton’s novel about a team of scientists who are investigating a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that rapidly and fatally clots human blood.