Saturday, April 6, 2013

A few thoughts on Jurassic Park 3D

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship of 3D re-releases. On the one hand, I'm more often unimpressed with 3D movies in general, and go out of my way to avoid them unless I've read that the extra dimension is actually an additive experience. On the other, no 3D conversion can turn a good movie bad, and the temptation of revisiting old favourites on the big screen is often all the convincing I need.

To wit, I give you Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, a sci-fi spectacle with which I fell in love growing up as it became commonplace on VHS and television, but had never gotten the opportunity to see in a theatre. At the tender age of five, I was far too young to go see it in the summer of '93. Naturally, I was eager to finally behold the film's Oscar-winning sound design and groundbreaking effects in their proper theatrical format. I was not disappointed. Jurassic Park 3D proved to be a perfect post-Oscars palette cleanser at the outset of a long awards off-season.

As I've often felt when watching it on a TV screen, the CGI is still remarkably credible, even two decades after its advent. A great deal of the effects' persuasiveness is really owed to Stan Winston's animatronics, whose tangible on-screen weight make it easier for audiences to stop looking for the seams in the primitive computer models.

The sound work is aces; the threatening dino vocalizations, ambient jungle noises, and foley all smoothly mixed with John Williams' timeless score to create an immersive and imposing soundscape.

As for the 3D, I'm firmly in the “m'eh” camp. Some of the shots really do pop, bringing the familiar visuals to life in exciting new ways. Some of the more obvious illusions are exposed for the pieces of prehistoric CG that they really are. But on the whole, it is a carefully considered post-conversion that adds more than it subtracts. Perhaps the biggest issue – for me, anyway – was the dimness of the picture, which is an imperfection I can usually overlook with new 3D releases whose colour palette I don't know as intuitively as I do Jurassic Park's. Perhaps some colour correction work should have been investigated.

***1/2 out of ****

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