The 20th anniversary of "Jurassic Park" is a milestone that I agree needs to be celebrated. The movie marks the first really successful use of CGI that looked realistic. Even by today's standards, the dinosaurs still appear lifelike. With the theatrical release of the 1993 blockbuster in 3D and IMAX, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take my six-year-old so to see it the way it was meant to be - on the big screen.
I hadn't seen "Jurassic Park" in a theater since its release in 1993. My son had never seen it in its entirety. I was mildly curious as to how it would look in 3D, while he was ecstatic to see dinosaurs pop out at him. Honestly, I was underwhelmed with the experience. It appeared to me that the same process used to convert "Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was utilized. Instead of objects coming out of the screen at you, it just added depth.
"Jurassic Park" is a good movie. There's no denying that. It has a classic pace which sets up the story and characters and doesn't just throw a bunch of senseless action at the audience. Some new viewers might feel the pace is uneven, with long periods of dialogue sandwiched in between scenes of dinosaur carnage. Audiences today aren't used to gaps in the action and slow-boiling films. They're used to what we got in 2003 with "Jurassic Park III." That entry had 15 minutes of plot set-up and 75 minutes of non-stop action.
I walked out of "Jurassic Park 3D" depressed. I found myself reflecting on how similar movies used to be special. They were a spectacle to behold. The last film that used CGI effects as heavily as "Jurassic Park" was released two years before it. The movie was James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which was released in summer of 1991. Two or three movies like "Jurassic Park" come out a week now. There's nothing special about them anymore and that's disheartening.
I know technology can't stop. Filmmakers aren't going to quit using CGI. It's less time consuming and cheaper than making models or working with animatronics. However, I can still mourn the loss of excitement I used to feel seeing a movie like "Jurassic Park" or "Oblivion" in a movie theater and wondering, "Wow! How did they do that?"
I know how they do it now. Twenty or thirty artists sitting behind computers mess with the sequences until either the studio stops paying them or it looks the way producers and the director want it to. I'm not saying that it doesn't take any skill to be a CGI artist. I want to clarify that very loudly! I just miss seeing practical effects sometimes.
To end on a positive note, if you or your children have never seen "Jurassic Park" in the theater, it's an experience you don't want to miss. If it's not playing around you in theaters, do yourself a favor and pick it up on Blu-ray. It's a must-have for every home entertainment library.
"Jurassic Park 3D" is available now in a 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet edition.