About six months ago, Canada’s Cineplex Entertainment held their Digital Film Festival featuring a variety of different classics restored and shown through new digital projectors.
Steven Spielberg’s hit Jurassic Park was included in this special selection and being that I had some how missed watching the prehistoric epic in my early years, I decided this would be a more than appropriate choice for my first viewing.
Jurassic Park is an excellent monster movie. The idea of resurrecting dinosaurs through fossilized DNA and filling in the cracks with frog genetics sounds farfetched, but as the technology and this new world is being materialized for audiences, you can’t help but be swept up in the excitement.
What’s surprising is how creepy Jurassic Park is. Not only does Spielberg manage to make these creations look real with the help of early CGI and old fashioned mechanics, but he also makes them chilling. Even though these dinosaurs are rarities and should be easy to spot on a secluded island, these monsters are still able to sneak around and linger making that extra rustling you hear in the trees intense.
Jurassic Park is also one of Spielberg’s films where family unity and bonding isn’t in the forefront. As Dr. Grant (played by Sam Neill) assists two children (Lex and Tim played by Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) while trying to escape from these aggressive creatures, his negative attitude towards parenthood is slowly unraveled without him knowing, which adds a special element of innocence to this tough leading male.
The cast is rounded out by great performances by the park’s curator John Hammond (played by Richard Attenborough), Grant’s romantic partner in crime (played by Laura Dern) and an oddly charismatic slickster who can’t stop talking about chaos theory (played by Jeff Goldblum). The touched-up digital restoration looked crisp as well, offering a clean view of the suspense.
So, here we are. Six months later and Hollywood is giving moviegoers worldwide a chance to experience Spielberg’s classic in 3D. The lucky ones living near an IMAX theatre can check it out in that format as well with the 3D.
The film still holds up, giving audiences lots of thrills and laughs we remember as well as new ones based on how dated some of the elements are in the 1993 action. The mention of a CD-ROM built into a car and the image of Goldblum being pushed as the movie’s sex symbol garnered the most laughs.
Revisiting the film, I can definitely pick up on Spielberg’s love for Ray Harryhausen and his ability to bring creatures – like dinosaurs – to life while making them look very realistic. A great example of this is during the scene where the two children hide from velociraptors in an empty, clang filled kitchen.
For a 3D conversion being applied to a movie that’s decades old, it makes the grade. It’s just “there” and the 3D provides moments of double-vision through the glasses but the outcome never gets to an irritating point where it’s worth writing home about and you regret seeing it now under these circumstances.
Also, it always helps when there’s a proper reason behind the 3D conversion. With the Disney/Pixar flicks, it’s to show more detail in the picture and to add immersiveness to the animated worlds. The conversion in Jurassic Park 3D helps blend those CGI effects into a live-action setting, but that’s about it. Nothing really pops out at us other than the odd dinosaur, but even then it’s far and few between.
But, to shoo people away from this re-release based on “just OK” 3D feels as if I’d be doing readers a disservice. The chances you’ll get to see this awesome and groundbreaking movie in a theatrical setting again are fairly slim – even if a fourth sequel is planned for 2014.
I caught Jurassic Park 3D in IMAX and am very glad I did so. The digital transfer of the film looks incredible on the humongous screen and the sound design is super. It truly is the best way to see this film.
So, eat the 3D bullet and bask with the dinosaurs while you listen to John Williams’ classic score and lose yourself in this fleshed-out fantasy. Unless a digital film festival is coming to a theatre near you, this is a once in a lifetime experience.