Jurassic Park 3D
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
Look, you already know this movie is terrific. The 3D is passable but totally unnecessary, only becoming worthwhile during a few camera moves in which it highlights the height of the camera as it peers down on its subjects (the tree rescue, the electric fence, the park gate, when the raptor jumps at Lex in the vent). That said, I'd still recommend seeing this in a real IMAX theater if you can, because the movie has never been seen on a screen of that size before and it's worth it to get immersed in this world again. Some of the effects are starting to look a little dated twenty years down the line, but the animatronics still look incredible and that T-Rex still looks as horrifyingly real as it did all those years ago.
[Since I was far too young to review it when the film was originally released, this was the first time I watched Jurassic Park with a critical eye, and I made a ton of observations about it seeing it from a fresh perspective. I'll try to present them as cohesive as possible, but forgive me if I bounce around a little bit. This won't be a "review" in the same sense that I'd write about the latest new release, so stick with me on this one as I work through some of these observations and I'll be back to writing about other movies soon.]
One of the themes Spielberg returns to most often as a filmmaker is fatherhood, and the director often deals with his own personal "daddy issues" through characters in his own movies. (Including Hook, the movie Spielberg worked on right before JP.) But unlike many of his previous efforts, Jurassic Park isn't about an absentee father: it's about a man discovering his potential to become one. As the film progresses, we discover that the underlying story is about Grant proving his fatherly capabilities to Sattler. From the moment she puts Lex in the same Jeep as Grant at the beginning of their park tour, Sattler uses this trip and Hammond's grandchildren as part of an elaborate test to see if Grant is the kind of man with whom she could one day have a family.
The concept of reproduction is addressed multiple times, from an early conversation between Sattler and Grant about Grant's reluctance to have children, to discussions of how Hammond's scientists breed dinosaurs on the island, highlighted by Malcolm's iconic and semi-spooky declaration that "life finds a way." Spielberg even explores this theme visually in a brief sequence on the helicopter as the scientists descend to the island for the first time. Grant attempts to put his seat belt on, but comes up with two "female" ends; pressed for time, he comes up with a quick fix, tying the two ends together to secure himself through turbulence. This mirrors the Jurassic Park scientists' methods of using frog DNA as their own quick fix to complete the strand, as well as Dennis Nedry's ultimately fatal mistake of planning to sell dino samples to the highest bidder as a fast-track solution to escaping his financial troubles. The movie is clear on this point: quick fixes do not work, and those that employ them will be punished.
Twenty years ago, Jurassic Park became a cinematic touchstone for its pioneering use of special effects technology. Since that time, it seems as if most of the conversation around the film has remained centered on that focal point, but seeing it on the big screen again proved that there is much more to this movie worth discussing than the realism of CGI dinosaurs. This is a timeless story of human arrogance, nature's wrath, and the fallout between the two, and even among Spielberg's insanely good filmography, Jurassic Park is one of his most interesting accomplishments. Until next time...