Jurassic Park 3D: An IMAX Experience Review
Anyone who’s a movie buff has that one film they regret not seeing on the big screen. For me personally, I’m not talking about big-screen staples like Star Wars, Lawrence of Arabia or 2001: A Space Odyssey because I wasn’t born yet. Unfortunately, I don’t have a time machine to go back and experience those classics with an audience. I’m talking about movies in your lifetime that you had the ability to see in theaters but for one reason or another were unable to.
My movie theater regret was Jurassic Park. Released in 1993 when I was 9 years old, the film ended up becoming the second-highest grossing ever at the time (behind Spielberg’s other blockbuster E.T.) I know what you’re thinking. How did I, at the perfect and impressionable age of 9, fail to see a movie where dinosaurs come to life?
I couldn’t give you an answer, but I’ll always have vivid memories of going to school and hearing every other kid talk about how great the movie was. It wasn’t until what seemed like a year later that my mom bought a copy on VHS and we, along with my sister, sat down and watched it for the first time. It wasn’t until then, watching it on a 19-inch tube television, that I realized what I had missed out on.
But with the advancement in technology and the evolution (and improvement) of post-conversion 3D, filmmakers have had the opportunity to revisit their older films and allow a whole new generation of movie lovers to experience classic films like they were meant to be seen on the big screen.
One such filmmaker who realized this was Steven Spielberg. In an interview for the Jurassic Park 3D release, Spielberg talked about viewing Titanic in 3D for the first time and realizing that with Jurassic Park, there was an opportunity for fans to experience the film in a whole new way. Having seen the film numerous times in my living room over the years, my first experience with it on the big screen and in 3D could not have been more engrossing.
I’m not going to talk about the plot because as I mentioned earlier, everyone has seen it by now. Instead let’s talk about the 3D and IMAX features that add another element to an already exhilarating experience.
As Spielberg mentioned, Titanic was really the first older film to be released in 3D. Having seen that in IMAX when it came out, I remember loving the sound and how clear the picture looked. But I didn’t really feel like the 3D aspect of it was all that engaging. Jurassic Park is a whole different story.
If there’s one thing the 3D does to Jurassic Park, it makes you notice how destined the film was to eventually being seen in the third dimension. In many ways, the film emphasizes speed, perspective, and distance more directly than any other of Spielberg’s films.
Whether it’s a simple shot of two characters (one in the foreground, one in the background) looking in one direction or coming into frame, a flock of Gallimimus sprinting past characters and the camera, or a velociraptor chomping at the heels of a young girl as it leaps up at the camera, the entire film in Spielberg’s eyes was meant to be seen through a lens of awe, spectacle and wonderment not just for children, but for adults as well.
Another striking aspect to seeing the film in theaters is how well it has aged. The film was groundbreaking in its use of digital effects, but for me the film shines in this regard thanks to its seamless mix of computer-generated effects and animatronics (or auto-errotica according to a certain character in the film). The scene that perfectly encapsulates this is the T-Rex attack on the kid’s jeep. When it first breaks the suspension cables and walks out, that’s entirely CG. But when it’s twisting the car around with its snout, that’s a real, physical animatronic that adds a sense of realism to the scene.
The only scenes that appeared a bit dated are the scientists first glimpse at the brachiosaurus, the T-Rex when it first emerges from the trees to chase the jeep and the person wearing uncomfortably short jean shorts at the beginning of the film. Where was Blake Griffin in those Kia commercials to worn them?
Besides the visuals, the sound is also a great aspect to the film. This is a movie about dinosaurs after all and each creature is given their own distinct sound. Hearing the T-Rex’s roar, especially in an IMAX theater, is quite an experience. And then of course there’s the iconic score from John Williams. When it first kicks in as the helicopter approaches the island gave me goosebumps all over again.
As for whether to see it in IMAX or not, that decision comes down to how much you want to pay. If you’ve never seen a movie in the IMAX theater, it’s really something to behold. The sound is what’s most alarming, but the picture is also clearer than anything else you’ll experience and the size of the screen is noticeably bigger than your standard theater screen. But if you don’t want to pay the extra $5 that’s perfectly fine. The 3D element is really the most important added feature to the film and you can see it that way minus the IMAX price.
Whichever option you choose, I insist that you revisit or discover for the first time the spectacle that is Jurassic Park. If like me you failed to see it when it was originally released in theaters, find the time to see one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever conceived. I finally got my chance. It’s probably guaranteed to be better than most blockbusters released this year anyway.