I'll never forget the first time I watched "Jurassic Park." It's an intense, harrowing experience — and one that continues to make me jump, no matter how many times I've watched it since then. From the moment the characters first land on the ill-fated island where dinosaurs have been brought back to life, to the end where the survivors barely manage to escape with their lives, director Steven Spielberg doesn't give viewers much of a chance to stop and catch their breath. If the T. rex isn't terrorizing the characters and trying to rip apart their SUV, then the vicious velociraptors are on the prowl, and by the time you realize you're being tracked, it's already too late.
Based on a novel by the late Michael Crichton, a master of the scientific thriller, the "Jurassic Park" movie was the ultimate big-budget blockbuster. Although it was released 20 years ago, it made such an impression on audiences that it has become a permanent part of pop culture (and probably made more than a few visitors at natural history museums peer nervously at the T. rex statue in the dinosaur exhibit).
With the recent trend in Hollywood of re-releasing popular films in 3D, it was only a matter of time before "Jurassic Park" received its own upgrade. While I'm still not sure if I'm a fan of the big push towards 3D in general, "Jurassic Park" is well worth watching again on the big screen.
"Jurassic Park" examines what might happen if people were able to find dinosaur DNA and use it to bring the prehistoric creatures back to life. Although the premise is an exciting one — reviving a now extinct species — there are plenty of dangers inherent in that plan, which some of the characters fail to see.
In the film, Sam Neill and Laura Dern play paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler, who are called in as consultants for an amusement park run by entrepreneur John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Hammond's scientists have found a way to recreate dinosaurs such as the T. rex by extracting DNA from dinosaur blood inside ancient mosquitoes encased in amber. Although Hammond is excited about the possibilities of a theme park filled with dinosaurs, Grant and Sattler have their misgivings, as does eccentric chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (a perfectly-cast Jeff Goldblum).
When a tropical storm hits Jurassic Park and the power fails, Grant and Sattler's worst fears are brought to life. The dinosaurs escape their pens, and Grant is trapped — unprotected — with Hammond's two young grandchildren out in the park. To say the situation descends into a nightmare is certainly an understatement.
Although it has been two decades since the film was first released, and the special effects industry has evolved dramatically since then, "Jurassic Park" has aged very well. The film's signature dinosaurs are a mix of animatronic models and CGI creations, and still come across as lifelike. Steven Spielberg has a talent for creating films that are both crowd pleasers and critically well-received, and this is one of his best. Also worth noting is John Williams' soaring score, which is the perfect compliment to Spielberg's film.
As I mentioned before, I'm not convinced of the need for 3D upgrades. To me, 3D has always seemed a bit superfluous — after about five or 10 minutes, I usually forget I'm even watching the movie in 3D, unless something obviously jumps out from the screen. However, I thought the 3D upgrade was well done here. Many times, 3D has one of two problems: it either appears too gimmicky, with too many objects flying out from the screen, or it doesn't stand out enough and just gives the illusion of a little extra depth. Yet with this upgrade, the 3D has been carefully rendered and makes audiences feel almost as though they are a part of the film, like you really could get up from your chair and step onto the island. I was aware of the 3D throughout the film, but it wasn't distracting.
Even if you aren't a fan of 3D, the real fun is simply watching "Jurassic Park" on the big screen, especially if you didn't see it in theaters originally. After watching it previously on my TV at home, it was exhilarating to see the movie in IMAX. It's truly an immersive experience and is absolutely worth the price of a ticket, whether you're wanting to relive a memory or experience the film for the first time on the big screen.