After twenty years, Jurassic Park is back – this time with a year-long 3D post-conversion. The groundbreaking film originally debuted back in 1993, on a $63 million production budget, and set the bar for big screen CG visual effects. Drawing from Michael Crichton’s rich source material novel, director Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park adaptation wasn’t just a box office hit with fun characters and giant dinosaurs; for many film fans, the experience redefined the meaning of the phrase “movie magic” – and served as a catalyst for a whole new generation of cinema lovers.
In preparation for the film’s twentieth anniversary, Spielberg and Universal Pictures worked closely with post-conversion house StereoD to bring Jurassic Park back to the big screen – cleaner, sharper, and in 3D. However, with availability on DVD (and even a recent Blu-ray release), does a 3D post-conversion offer enough payoff to make it worth another trip to Jurassic Park?
NOTE: As with previous 3D rerelease reviews, the purpose of our Jurassic Park 3D review is to help our readers make an informed decision about the 3D rerelease, not spend time revisiting any overarching shortcomings that might have been evident in the original movie – especially since readers are likely well acquainted with the quality and overwhelmingly positive critical reception of the 1993 version. In a time when movie studios are quick to shove unnecessary post-conversion rereleases into theaters, moviegoers need to know which films have enjoyed a rigorous as well as artistic 3D treatment and which ones are simply revisited for the purpose of studio double-dipping – made even more enticing by 3D upcharges and eventual 3D Blu-ray sales.
Fortunately, with Jurassic Park, StereoD and Spielberg have delivered one of the sharpest and most satisfying 3D “legacy” titles to hit theaters. Unlike post-conversions on more recent movies (which are typically shot digitally), StereoD spent over a year converting Jurassic Park into 3D from the original 2D film stock – regularly meeting with Spielberg to show him work-in-progress and receive feedback. As mentioned, due to a high number of subpar releases, a lot of filmgoers assume that post-conversion 3D results in an inferior (and uncomfortable) viewing experience. However, quality post-conversion is a painstaking process (more on that in our 5 Biggest Misconceptions About 3D feature) and, thankfully, StereoD took their time with Jurassic Park 3D.
Spielberg has always shot his films with a mindful eye for depth and, as a result, Jurassic Park strikes a satisfying balance of heightening immersion without distracting 3D pop-out. It’s a comfortable, and subtle, post-conversion aided by the vast tropical island backdrop of Isla Nublar, imaginative sets (like the iconic Visitor’s Center), and giant CG dinosaurs, of course. Building anticipation was a strength of the 2D film – as the director focused on intimate character reactions before unveiling a dinosaur, or some other hazard, to his audience. This approach is now enhanced by added depth of field – breathing fresh excitement and immersion into scenes that many moviegoers already know by heart: the Brachiosaurus reveal, T-Rex paddock escape, Jeep chase, Gallimimus herd, and kitchen scene, among others.
In fact, the 3D makes certain minute details more vibrant, such as the pattern and texture on the Dilophosaurus fan. Similarly, that added dimension actually causes the CG creations to look more realistic and even masks a few muddled shots from the original release – shots where a disconnect between digital effects and practical assets (sets and actors) might have otherwise been noticeable. Not every film will benefit from a post-conversion treatment but, even in the 1990s, Jurassic Park delivered unparalleled spectacle – and while visual effects and 3D technology have evolved significantly, the JP film experience hasn’t been dated by time.
That said, the 3D in Jurassic Park will, without a doubt, come under criticism from moviegoers who expect eye-popping 3D moments in order to feel like a premium ticket cost is justified. Spielberg and StereoD definitely favored the subtle method of post-conversion – instead of distorting the original film for overt third-dimension gimmicks. Still, given the larger-than-life dinosaur stars and sprawling environments, Jurassic Park includes plenty of scenes where, even if the 3D is subtle, audiences will be able to appreciate the effect.
Even without the 3D, seeing Jurassic Park on the big screen again is worth the cost of admission on its own. Some IMAX special engagements add little value to the overall film – aside from a bigger screen and louder sound. However, Spielberg was intentional about his use of sound and scale to heighten anticipation and spectacle. The film will look great on a standard 3D screen but, for those willing to spring for a premium ticket, Jurassic Park: An IMAX 3D Experience adds an extra layer to scenes like the T-Rex paddock escape – where the dinosaur is teased by booming impact tremors and, after breaking out, looms high from ground-level camera shots.
3D rereleases have been a mixed bag at the box office but Jurassic Park 3D is easy to recommend - especially to longtime fans and younger viewers (who were to young to catch the movie on a big screen). StereoD has taken a subtle post-conversion approach to Spielberg’s film – which should come as a relief to worried Jurassic Park enthusiasts but may underwhelm casual viewers looking for a heavy-handed 3D experience. It’s a tasteful and respectful conversion that injects new wonder and excitement into one of the most captivating adventure movies ever made. Viewers may not be able to see or touch the attractions in real life but, with Jurassic Park 3D, Spielberg will once again make audiences believe (if only for a second) that dinosaurs can still rule the Earth – or at least the box office.
If you’re still on the fence about Jurassic Park 3D, check out the trailer below:
Jurassic Park 3D runs 127 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror. Now playing in 3D and IMAX 3D theaters and set for 3D Blu-ray release on April 23rd 2013.
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