Arts movie review

A welcome update to an iconic film

Dinosaurs are unleashed once again with Universal’s new 3D release of Jurassic Park

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A masterful 3D rendition of Spielberg’s classic film Jurassic Park.
Courtesy of Universal Studios


Jurassic Park 3D

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum

Rated PG-13

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In 1993, Steven Spielberg accomplished the impossible, bringing what seemed like living, breathing dinosaurs to the big screen in the world-renowned movie Jurassic Park. Now, two decades later, Universal Studios is back to take another bite out of the movie industry as it releases Jurassic Park 3D, quite literally adding an entirely new dimension to this classic film.

Re-releasing any movie, especially in 3D, is a precarious decision, and is all about striking up some sort of balance between the old and the new. Too conservative with new renderings and effects, and audiences will leave theaters feeling like all they saw was a 20-year-old movie. Enhance the film unnecessarily, and the studio is sure to be criticized for not preserving the integrity of the original. The fact that a movie can be redone is no indication of whether or not it should be.

That being said, Jurassic Park was a movie waiting to be thrust into the third dimension, and Universal Studios has done a magnificent job of accomplishing the task. The picture is sharper, the frames clearer, and the dinosaurs more realistic than ever before. The beautiful views of the prehistoric paradise are even more breathtaking than you remember. Of course, the best parts are still those moments when the T-rex, velociraptor, or other beast of the past comes sprinting towards the camera. One can easily imagine how this would be marketable with 3D effects — any dinosaur that jumps from the bushes is now jumping into the theater, straight at each and every member of the audience.

Happily, Universal Studios chose not to tamper with the film’s plotline, displaying the exact same scenes as the original 1993 release. Thus, the story is exactly as viewers will remember it: a rich businessman John Hammond sets up a combination zoo and amusement park on a remote island. He and his team manage to harvest DNA from fossils to resurrect dinosaurs with which to fill the park. However, when paleontologists Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler, along with other guests, come to preview the park, matters go horribly wrong, allowing the dinosaurs to roam freely across the island.

It is important to note that while some of the dinosaurs’ features have been slightly enhanced with rest of the film, they are at heart the same robots, puppets, and computer models that Spielberg and Co. created decades ago. The fact that these twenty-year-old models are still on par with much of the CGI used today is a testament to the astounding achievements of the entire production team.

Originally, Spielberg planned to use animatronic robots to capture the dinosaurs on-screen, building life-size models of the dinosaurs to be filmed. Later on in production, much of this plan was replaced by the use of computer modeling, as the special effects team, led by the late Stan Winston, practically re-invented computer-generated imagery for use in the film. Designed to look every bit like real dinosaurs and engineered to move like them, it was these animatronics and computer models that placed Jurassic Park above any other movie of its time. Watching the movie, one certainly is able to appreciate why Jurassic Park won the 1993 “Best Visual Effects” award, and a PG-13 rating for “Intense Science Fiction Terror” to boot.

While the content of Jurassic Park 3D may not present anything new script-wise, the outstanding visual effects will be sure to draw audiences to theatres, just as they did two decades ago. Jurassic Park deserved to be given the best 3D treatment possible. The folks at Universal Studios have done this masterfully, adding new clarity and depth while still keeping the same beautiful effects that made the movie so stunning in 1993. As Ray Arnold, played by Samuel L. Jackson, says so accurately in the film, “Hold onto your butts” — this thrill-ride of a movie is every bit as enthralling as the original, and then some.