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Review: Jurassic Park 3D (2013)

Jurassic Park 3D

Rating

Director
Steven Spielberg
Screenplay
Michael Crichton, David Koepp (Novel: Michael Crichton)
Length
127 min.
Starring
Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight
MPAA Rating
PG-13 for intense science fiction terror

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Review
In the Summer of 1993, I was preparing for my final year of High School and I went to see Jurassic Park like every other youngster of the period. I remember my first experience with the film like it was only yesterday and that magic upholds nicely in the 3D IMAX re-release of Steven Spielberg's seminal 1990's visual effects blockbuster.

Spielberg was no stranger to big box office having launched three essential 1970's and 1980's juggernauts, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. He had already established himself as one of the preeminent filmmakers of his generation and would continue to enhance that career with two significant achievements of 1993.

With Jurassic Park, years of evolving visual effects work culminated in one of the most rich, credible feats of visual effects magic in history. Spielberg's mesmerizing work brought millnnia-dead creatures back to life and the seemless quality of the work still sparkles today. Even amidst spectacular special effects work in release today, Jurassic Park is frequently superior. That effects work hasn't evolved too terribly much since Spielberg's groundbreaking achievement are a testament to just how important the work has been to the advancement and development of effects technology over the last two decades.

Personally overseeing the 3D conversion, Spielberg has mastered the visual splendor of his outstanding prior work and although the 3D isn't as in-your-face as many of the original creations in cinemas recently, the detail is still engaging. The scene that most effectively applies the technology is one where Lex (Ariana Richards), Tim (Joseph Mazzello), Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie (Laura Dern) are crawling through the drop ceiling towards an air shaft, attempting to flee a hungry velociraptor when the dino bursts through the tile with Lex atop and gets booted down by Dr. Grant. As Lex dangles precariously over the ledge, attempts being made to pull her to safety, the distant raptor gets up and prepares to leap at her feet. It's a supremely satisfying scene and although it's one of the type of 3D usage I typically despise in horror films, it works incredibly well.

The film itself holds up well even with its minor faults. The acting was never astounding, but Neill and Dern are strong leads while Jeff Goldblum as the egotistical Ian Malcolm is essential to the film's sometimes snarky nature. Mazzello and Richards are more effective in their juvenile performances than Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, but they lack the strength of Spielberg's later muses in terms of acting potential.

Adapting the story from his own novel, Michael Crichton and longtime script-fixer David Koepp eliminate some of the more interesting elements of the novel, but maintain much of the moralistic questions in the film. Just because we can do something, does it mean we should? While the idea of cloning dinosaurs remains in the realm of fantasy, scientists in the last two decades have made significant strides in cloning research. Science fiction has long had a fascination with such topics and it has often been posited whether the pursuit of knowledge outweighs the ethical quandaries of performing the research either way. Crichton's opinions on this matter differ greatly from mine, but there are still a few keen observations in the piece that can support both sides of the argument.

The visual effects are essential elements in the film's success, but master composer John Williams can take a lot of credit for embellishing that work. For a teenager watching Jurassic Park in 1993, the majesty of seeing these fascinating creatures alive in a modern environment was thrilling. Mix in the joyous score of John Williams and the initial revelation of the brontosaurus and the lake of peaceful prehistoric creatures can bring tears of happiness without seemingly little effort. Williams hasn't done a lot of great work since 1993, so it's disappointing that his last great work was then, but what a pair of high points to diminish from. Jurassic Park and Schindler's List remain two of his best and most provocative works.

There will certainly be those disinterested in seeing this behemoth on the big scren. Whether they were disappointed by the original film or are suspicious of the money-grubbing nature of 3D re-releases. Jurassic Park 3D is worth every penny. Unlike George Lucas' shameful frequent re-releases of the Star Wars properties, a twenty year absence seems the perfect period of dormancy for a film like Jurassic Park to seem as fresh as it did when it was originally released. I may have already found my interests as a critic by 1993, but my heart as a youngster was every bit as enraptured then as it is today.
Review Written
April 16, 2013

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