When I was nine years old, I had my mind completely blown when I sat in the movie theater and watched Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park for the first time. The story, based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, was gripping, the special effects were breathtaking and the movie was one of few I’ve ever seen that could genuinely classify as a cinematic adventure. After 20 years, Jurassic Park still holds up and now, with the addition of 3D, it’s set to dazzle the minds of a whole new generation.
Special effects films rarely stand the test of time, but Jurassic Park looks just as magnificent today as it did in 1993. Like John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), the movie’s fictional billionaire, Spielberg and Co. spared no expense back in the day, utilizing cutting edge computer technology from ILM and practical effects by the late, great Stan Winston. The dinosaurs are just as majestic and menacing as they ever were and these people were using computers whose processing power probably wouldn’t even rival that of your basic model iPad today. It was a monumental accomplishment, made even more spectacular by the new addition of 3D. Remember the sequence with Dr. Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in the Jeep with Ellie (Laura Dern) and Muldoon (Bob Peck) being chased down by the T-Rex? “Must go faster!” Now imagine that T-Rex popping out of the screen with the magic of 3D. Picture Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) trying to keep the children calm as the mammoth dinosaur bears down on them. “Its vision is based on movement.” Think about the velociraptors stalking Muldoon before their coordinated attack outside the shed. “Clever girl.” Or Nedry (Wayne Knight) being blasted with venom from the dilophosaurus as he tries to escape the park with his precious smuggled specimens. “I’m gonna run you over when I come back down.” Now picture all that in 3D. Pretty sweet, right? The excitement of knowing how great these sequences were before 3D only made them even more rewarding with the enhancement.
The only time you even realize you’re watching something from the early 1990s is when you see the large monitors in the control room and Lex and Timmy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) go gaga over the sleek new interactive CD-ROM in the cars. Even then, it only serves to bring a fond smile to viewers’ faces. It’s a reminder that you’re watching something that old that remains that spectacular. If this movie were a person, it would almost be old enough to drink, yet it still looks fresh and exciting.
As I sat in the theater watching this classic film from my childhood, I felt a great sense of nostalgia, reciting every line in my head and anxiously awaiting the tell-tale tremors in the water glasses leading up to the magnificent T-Rex attack sequence. All around me, people who had seen the movie dozens if not hundreds of times cheered, gasped, laughed and applauded in all the right places like we were watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but with big, scary dinosaurs. The children in the crowd, some of whom were new to the film, were awed by the visuals, now enhanced by throwing in a third dimension. It was a truly great movie experience, something shared by all in the theater. Jurassic Park: bringing people together in the dark of the movie theater.
Enjoy some behind-the-scenes clips from Stan Winston School of Character Arts below: