In June 1993, Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios brought dinosaurs back to life in the most groundbreaking cinema experience of its time. Jurassic Park was an instant hit, bringing home over $900 million worldwide. For the 20th anniversary of this picture, Spielberg went back and decided to convert the film to 3D and IMAX, making 2 of my wishes come true. But, is it worth the extra $3 or even $7 for the IMAX Experience?
Jurassic Park is a film about the dangers of playing God, man’s greed for power and money. It is also a film about wanting to leave a mark on the world, giving people something that they can “see and touch.” It is one of my favorite movies, and one that I can sit through and watch over and over and never get bored. The script by Michael Crichton and David Koepp is full of science fact and science fiction, also including powerful lines of debate over whether man should respect nature or “wield it like a kid who found his daddy’s gun.” Spielberg’s directorial choices give the film a lot of its charm. Jurassic Park also features a great cast with Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as eccentric Chaotician, Dr. Ian Malcolm and Richard Attenborough as billionaire John Hammond.
The 3D is absolutely fantastic for a conversion on a film that’s 20 years old. I was surprised at how much Spielberg let come out of the screen, what I like to call “pop-out” effects. Sure, a lot of people hate “pop-out” and say it’s gimmicky. My thing is, 3D is meant for things to come flying out and poking out of the screen. Too much of these effects will get gimmicky, but if you throw in a handful, it wouldn’t hurt. There was just the right amount of pop-out here, and when appropriate.
Since I saw this in the converted IMAX Experience, I was expecting letterbox (black bars on the top and bottom of the picture), but it was full screen. However, there were noticeable issues with certain shots, particularly close ups, and scenes shot from a low angle. If you’ve ever played around with picture settings on DVD’s or your TV and messed with zoom in, some of these shots looked like that. There were also framing issues in a lot of scenes. I don’t know if this was an issue with the projector or if sacrifices had to made during conversion, but I thought IMAX was supposed to give you 20% more picture, not take 20% away. The iconic shot of the Brachiosaurus up on its hind-legs to get to the top of the tree was cut off. All I saw was a long neck, without a head. There were several more scenes where this was an issue.
Overall, I had a great time. The IMAX screen and sound system made the movie much more vivid, as if you are actually there on the island, experiencing the wonder and horror of Jurassic Park with the characters (you can literally feel the massive footsteps of the Tyrannosaur!). I took my 7-year old sister with me as she had never seen the movie and she loves 3D. I warned her that there were going to be some scary scenes and that if she did get scared, to close her eyes and grab my hand. Little did I know, that I was the one who would be in for a scare or two. I had expected her to be in tears by the end, but she thoroughly enjoyed herself as well. There were a few moments where she huddled close to me, but I think this should be fine for young kids to see. I actually left the theater shaking, probably due to flashbacks from riding Dinosaur! at Disney World, but that’s another story.