Thursday, April 4, 2013

Movie Review: Jurassic Park 3D

The first reaction of watching Jurassic Park on the big screen after so many years is sheer awe, for the fact that even after twenty years, the special effects in the film look better than ninety percent of effects-heavy films made today. It is a testament to Spielberg’s incredible vision and Stan Winston's creative genius that revisiting the dino park after two decades still gives you goosebumps.

Like last year’s Titanic, Hollywood throws in another landmark film in the 3D factory for a re-release. Is Jurassic Park 3D a selfish cash grab by the movie industry? Absolutely. Is it worth the trip to the theater? Only if the theater has an IMAX screen. The average young moviegoer would probably enjoy the cheap thrill of T-Rex's teeth snapping at him through the glasses. But the hard truth is that there aren’t any scenes in Jurassic Park that truly benefit from the 3D - depth of field is the most important factor for creating a good 3D scene and this film has very little of it. Back in 1993 Spielberg chose to revolutionize the special effects industry by making stunningly lifelike dinosaurs run around, but his shot compositions consisted of flat images, so turning them into 3D doesn’t really add anything great to the experience.

Those who saw the film two decades ago went home carrying dozens and dozens of great memories of the film, it is literally one the greatest visual spectacles anyone has ever set their eyes upon. Sadly you’ll be hard pressed to find even one extraordinary moment that is improved by the 3D conversion. Again, this isn’t because the animatronics and CGI look dated – the effects are still utterly fantastic. There are a couple of mildly fun scenes, like the T-Rex’s entry by causing ripples in the glass of water, and the stunning vistas of the fictional Isla Nublar island. The one scene that comes closest to actually being better in 3D is the one where the Tyrannosaurus chases the jeep, as seen through a rear view mirror that says ‘objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear’. The bad news is that the lush, colorful imagery of Jurassic Park is turned dim, dull grey due to the 3D. This was inevitable, because remastering the film for 3D meant readjustment of the contrast and saturation, the 1993 color grading would not bode well with today’s digital screens. Overall your enjoyment of the visual thrills would depend on how much you dig to see a shirtless Jeff Goldblum in 3D.

If you discount the 3D, re-watching Jurassic Park on a giant screen is highly recommended. No amount of Blu Ray content on massive high def home TVs can come even close to what the real stuff offers. Watch it, give yourself a chance to realize the film’s greatest strength isn’t the VFX, but the superbly crafted characters who talk hokum science and argue the merits of defying god and nature by creating dinosaurs without sounding the least bit corny.

(First published in MiD Day)

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