Sunday, April 14, 2013


Of course it looks good in 3D!
***1/2 out of **** 

Still in theaters, Jurassic Park can be seen in 3D. While I don’t take a big interest in post-conversion 3D – or even 3D for that matter - I cannot deny, it looks really good this way.

3D is an added element to many movies these days, but that extra dimension is nothing compared to the classic experience of a big picture and big sound of equally high quality. Quite often, a movie’s cinematography doesn’t seem very compatible with the 3D, especially with older films. You can also guarantee that a 3D image will be dimmer than 2D.

Thankfully, Jurassic Park is very compatible with the format. It was originally shot with a spherical lens keeping most of the screen’s content, foreground and background, in focus, and cinematographer Dean Cundey (The Back to the Future Trilogy) aimed for a dim ambient look rather than one of high contrast.

Obviously there are plenty of shots when dinosaurs sweep by the screen, but I was just as impressed with scenes involving humans, like the film’s best dialogue scene, set around a dinner table where slide projector beams of Jurassic Park ads pass between the characters.

The movie’s sound is maybe even more impressive. When it was first released, Jurassic Park pushed theaters all over the country to upgrade to digital surround sound. The new sound mix on the 3D edition, makes the one I remember hearing back then, sound pre-mature. As dinosaur roars echoed through the surround speakers, accompanied be John Williamsbreathtaking score, I got the nostalgic chills.  

I will never forget the satisfaction I felt as a twelve-year-old back in 1993, when I had spent most of the year anticipating a new movie from Steven Spielberg that promised to show dinosaurs in a way we had never seen them.

My Dad took me to Showcase Cinemas on Bardstown Road, where I was overwhelmed by a suspenseful high-tech movie being presented in a new high-tech process. My favorite part of the movie was (and still is) the well-paced scene when our heroes see the dinosaurs for the first time. To me, it’s this beautiful moment that happens in movies occasionally, when the characters onscreen are absolute surrogates for the audience. We were all there to see the dinosaurs and so were they. The look of awe on every character’s face was shared with excited audience members.

While I like the rest of the movie, the scene I’ve described is the peak of Jurassic Park for me. Even critics who agreed they were impressed by the film, noted that for a Spielberg film, it sure fell into the formula of a monster movie and shouldn’t have teased us with a few grand moments that appreciated the majesty of the extinct creatures that most people have found fascination with at some point in their lives.

Like all films written by David Koepp, Jurassic Park is full of exciting scenes and compelling ideas, but leaves us with a few unanswered questions and not much of an ending. I was accepting of this, and still consider the movie to be a fun ride but wish it had taken off as a franchise where the faults of the first entry could have been corrected with more interesting characters and a little expansion on the mysteries of the previous film.

I thought the second movie was an absolute disappointment for its aimless collection of good and bad action scenes while suggesting profound revelations would come -but never did. Spielberg, right after finishing Schindler’s List didn’t seem as invested in a dinosaur adventure the second time around, and I don’t blame him. Joe Johnston’s third movie was hardly a step in the right direction with a sad excuse for a plot, but felt comparatively redeeming for its B-movie spirit. Still, this is a movie series that should have grown and never did.

The first one is still a classic of a rare kind like Star Wars and the original King Kong. It ushered in a new method of special effects, but was so well mastered in its debut it took a long time for any imitators to catch up with its quality. Seriously, how often do you see computer-animated creatures that look so good, -even today?

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