By Dan Geoffrey
Having spent the earlier half of my childhood in the 1990s, I had access to a lot of great movies and TV shows that the children of this generation will not. I was around for the Disney renaissance, the golden age of Nickelodeon, and so much more.
One of the films I did miss out on by a couple years, however, was Jurassic Park. My parents were big fans of it though, and so when I was old enough to understand some of what was going on, they showed it to me. That one movie kindled within little Danny an insatiable interest in paleontology that would last years. Within a few months I had accumulated a huge collection of dinosaur toys, books, and movies; within a few years I could identify all sorts of dinosaurs on-sight. Ask anybody who has known me since elementary school or earlier, I earned well my childhood nickname, ‘Dan Dan the Dino Man.’
Over the years my interests have changed, but Jurassic Park remains one of my favorite movies. When I heard that it would be coming out in 3D for a limited time in honor of its 20th anniversary, I was more excited than I’ve been about a movie since the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy this past summer. In spite of my excitement, I was a bit skeptical: Jurassic Park was already a great movie, how much more could showing it in 3D and re-mastering a few features really add to the experience? The answer – as I would soon find out – was a lot.
First of all, having missed the opportunity to see the movie on the big screen, getting the chance to do so now was a huge plus. There isn’t much in this world that can beat seeing a T-Rex in actual size, and that’s a very difficult feat to accomplish without a full-size movie screen. But, it’s certainly not fair to say that that’s what made this rerelease great, since it had certainly been done in precisely that way the first time around.
Jurassic Park and 3D went together incredibly well. The movie was made well before the advent of 3D film (that is to say, good 3D film), so there was none of the silly sort of grasping for good 3D shots that you see in a lot of modern films. Having seen Brendan Frasier once spit toothpaste in my face in a 3D screening of Journey to the Center of the Earth, it was hugely refreshing to see a movie that didn’t exist for ‘stunning 3D effects.’ Instead of sitting in the seats and having bits and pieces of the movie thrown at you from the screen, it was really more like the audience was a part of the scenery.
And then there were the raptors. Oh yes, everybody’s favorite scaly movie villains (Dr. Curt Connors of Spiderman lore notwithstanding). As a kid, I was never quite able to grasp the sort of psychological terror that the velociraptors brought to the Jurassic Park films. These aren’t just mindless movie monsters we’re dealing with here, running onto screen, eating a few things, and then wandering off to eat some more, but intelligent killing machines who are consistently able to outsmart the film’s human heroes. Combine all of that already-terrifying jumping and slashing and clawing action with in-your-face 3D, and you’ve got one heck of a thriller. I’m not one to jump at movies, but the raptor scenes really had me on the edge of my seat, and that’s coming from somebody who grew up with this film.
All in all, rereleasing this classic film in 3D was a truly inspired idea, and a perfect way to commemorate its 20th anniversary. Jurassic Park was groundbreaking in its own time, and it was amazing to see it return to the big screen in all of its former glory, and then some!