King of the dinosaur movies returns
As films continually grow more processed and seem like vehicles for “stars” we’ll have to deal with for a couple of years – who are famous just to be famous – it’s no wonder that filmmakers are taking up the gambit of three-dimensional presentation to bring back morsels of nostalgia like 1993’s “Jurassic Park.”
And a gambit is certainly what it is. There is nothing in this film, really, that has anything to offer us in terms of a lesson for the world we live in, nor does it offer some refreshing perspective desperately needed to be seen again. That risk pays off, though, because Jurassic Park is simply pure popcorn brilliance – just as it was 20 years ago, but given a makeover to recapture our imaginations all over again.
I’ll admit that I never saw the movie in theaters when it was first released, but my childhood saw the VHS tape lose ever-greater quality through continuous re-watchings of this movie. I’ll also admit that the prospect of finally seeing the film on the big screen – as movies this size should be seen – excited me in no small way.
According to Box Office Mojo, a company that tracks film box office revenue, Jurassic Park earned over $378 million during its initial domestic run in theaters in 1993, which would be about $612 million in today’s dollars. In just its opening weekend, with plenty of time left to rack up the money, the re-release earned nearly $19 million more for the same movie – which goes to show that I wasn’t the only one excited.
But what is there to say about a film that isn’t new?
Nothing has aged a day.
Scientists Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), a paleontologist; Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), a paleobotanist; and mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are invited to a breathtaking private island near Costa Rica complete with lush rainforests and waterfalls. The island also just happens to be populated by dinosaurs. As esteemed experts in their respective fields, the purpose of their visit is to sign off on the project.
Of course, they don’t know that their vacation will be filled with said dinosaurs. In the case of
Grant and Sattler, they’re just going because Dr. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), who owns the island, is also the CEO of the in-Gen Corporation, and funds their dig sites. Hammond offered to fund for an additional three years if they just come along.
You see, in one of the most memorable opening scenes of all time, an employee of Jurassic Park is eaten alive by a velociraptor while unloading it into its cage. The park’s investors don’t much care for the multi-million dollar lawsuit leveled against the park and they’d like experts to say that everything there is OK.
Upon the island, the dinosaurs are truly amazing. A technological breakthrough in 1993, the close-up shots of dinosaurs are actually robots and look amazing (even if current scientific theory on dinosaurs suggest that they were feathered like birds and looked less like reptiles). The farther-away shots, though, were early incarnations of CGI. While still impressive in some ways, the age of the graphics has become all the more clear with the changes in depth-of-focus and the crystal-clarity afforded by the modern 3D technology.
That being said, the 3D technology is as underwhelming as it always is. You pay an extra $3 for a pair of plastic Buddy Holly glasses and never once feel like the projection is actually a part of your world.
Maybe it does, though, because the raptors and the Tyrannosaurus rex are as terrifying as they always were – specially in the famous scenes like the T. rex chasing Dr. Malcolm, Dr. Sattler and the park game warden Robert Muldoon as they try to get away in their gas powered jeep.
If you enjoyed the film the first time around, you’re destined to do so again. The new release has cleaned the film immensely to a nearly-perfect sheen. The film and the realism of the dinosaurs may be too intense for small children, but if you introduce them to this film now it’s almost guaranteed to become a childhood favorite of theirs – as it was mine.
(Flint McColgan is a staff writer for The Minot Daily News. His movie reviews appear in Thursday’s Arts &?Entertainment section.)