‘Jurassic Park 3D’ Review
You can buy replicas of Richard Attenborough's amber-tipped cane or you can listen to ten minute loops of Jeff Goldblum's oddball laugh but there's something you haven't been able to do in twenty years: hear the roar of a T. rex fighting two Velociraptors from thunderous, surround sound of big cinema speakers. Something you've never been able to do is see it in 3D or in IMAX. Until now. And you don't want to miss it.
In June of 1993, after my first year of film school, I was an unbelievable snob. If it wasn't shot on 16mm by Serbian dissidents I wasn't interested. I'm not saying I didn't go see 'Jurassic Park.' Everybody saw 'Jurassic Park.' I'm just saying I went with a self-imposed mandate to, somehow, be above it all.
It didn't entirely work. The best I could do was say "It's no 'Jaws.'" I had a blast, but I didn't grow obsessed with it and only saw it once. To that end, you might think I'm the precise target audience for this 3D IMAX upgrade. However, on my way out of the theater, whilst beaming ear to ear, I overheard a fellow theatergoer say, "Man, I've seen this movie a hundred times and I still got scared."
Perhaps, then, this is a cinematic experience that truly is for everyone.
The pleasures in this presentation are many. Other than a mullet here and there the movie feels fresh; truly, it's still got it. The jokes work, the scares work, the emotional crap works (Sam Neill's brush with nearly becoming dino dung makes him want to have kids!) and even if you think you know the movie backwards and forwards there are joys in seeing it with a group of people. You'll chuckle when you see young B.D. Wong (he's in this?) and Samuel L. Jackson (oh, forgot about that) and Newman from 'Seinfeld.' It's a spectacular time at the movies.
It's fascinating just how well the high notes in this film still resonate. There are moments where you know what's about to happen and, despite it all, you will jump a bit in your seat. The big screen, even if the original film stock looks a tad grainy to modern eyes at times, really does a number on you. I saw it in LieMAX but it was still grand enough to do the trick. The 3D, unfortunately, didn't add much. In fact the big "welcome to Jurassic Park" moment was a little undercut by the problem of objects in the background looking like flat planes – a Potemkin village of dinosaurs.
To the too-cool-for-school Hoffman who saw 'Jurassic Park' in '93 with a puss on his face, I throw this down: no, it isn't as good as 'Jaws' (the characters are nowhere as rich) but certain sequences, like the initial T. rex attack, is as good as anything Steven Spielberg has ever shot and some of the best suspense/adventure moments in all of cinema. When the kids are pushing back the windshield against that ugly beast (now there is a moment when the 3D is workin') it is SCARY. And fun. My wife squeezed my hand the whole time and, I swear, it takes an awful lot to get that woman to touch me these days.
Lastly, for anyone who frets that 'Jurassic Park' might be dated, sure, there are floppy discs and CD-ROMs, but during Jeff Goldblum's rant about Chaos Theory he mumbles something about Phase Space. That's only one bit of evidence that the movie is still way ahead of its time.
'Jurassic Park 3D' opens in theaters on April 5.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, Badass Digest and StarTrek.com.