Jurassic Park 3D is probably one of the most hyped about films this season, and it’s easy to see why. Audiences have been raving that the film is just as thrilling as it was twenty years ago, that it absolutely begged to be converted into 3D, and that it’s an eternal testament to Steven Spielberg’s incredible cinematic prowess. And it really is.
The film opens with male paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and female specialist in paleobotany Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) traveling to Jurassic Park to see investor and billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), along with mathematician Ian Malcom (a saucy Jeff Goldblum), and a few characters that you don’t really remember because they die early.
Goldblum plays the sexy Jew Prophet who warns them of the dangers of messing with Mother Nature, but Santa shrugs off his foreshadowing and continues cradling his precious dinosaur eggs with Christmas glee. Laura Dern is the only one pulling off high-rise cargo shorts, while Goldblum struts around wearing all-black leather and a gold chain like he’s just stepped out of “Saturday Night Fever.” And we’re reminded that in ‘90s action movies, everyone should always listen to whatever Samuel L. Jackson has to say, especially when he’s perpetually smoking the same cigarette and dolling out gruff, ominous one-liners.
Following some gripping encounters with all sorts of CGI beasties, everyone is saved by the geeky computer girl, and the T-Rex roars in the epic scene in which he reminds everyone that this is his hood, and that’s he’s climbing in yo’ windows and snatching yo’ people up, so you better hide ya’ kids, hide ya’ husband, and hide ya’ velociraptors, ‘cuz he’s eatin’ everybody out here.
Aided by Williams’ iconic score, Jurassic Park 3D is just as terrifying as it was when you first watched it in your cousin’s basement twenty years ago, but now it’s even better because it’s also hysterical. Goldblum’s cheesy one-liners are enough to make you chuckle even through the scariest of scenes, and there was outright uproarious laughter when he hurt his sweaty thigh, and the shot cut to him on a table, silk shirt unbuttoned, lying with his leg propped up and his eyes glowering seductively in a Bathsheba goddess pose.
Seeing it as an adult also makes you realize all of the deeper themes that you missed in all of your excitement as a child: The triumph of natural selection, the perils of man’s hubris, some coy feminist agendas, and of course, the importance of good parenting, for “Jurassic Park” is really a growing up story of a cold-blooded, Grinchy paleontologist coming to understand the many joys of being a dad.
The 3D effects don’t do much to enhance the natural terror of all of the scenes, especially if you expected the effects to be so awesome that you could practically smell the goat-filled breath of the T-Rex when he screams. If anything, all it really did was allow Sam Neill to hover directly above your nose in his many, many intense close-ups. But several critics (and Steven Spielberg himself) would disagree, lauding the way it maximizes both little details, like Wayne Knight’s Barbasol can, and gorgeous wide-span shots, like when we get our first glimpse of the visually astounding Parasaurolophus herd wading swan-like out of its man-made lake.
The real allure of seeing Jurassic Park 3D, of course, is that it is absolutely coated in nostalgia, so that even watching the T-Rex try to chomp down on precocious kiddies Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex (Ariana Richards) might bring a sentimental tear to your eye as you remember the first time you shit your pants from fear. And, then of course, there are the touching reminders of how far we’ve come in modern technology, between the enormous grey boxes that we called computers in those days, to the boundless wonder exhibited by Tim when he discovered a CD-ROM drive in the car, to the sad, nagging feeling that this kind of movie is no longer possible in the iPhone era.
So, go, put on your 3D glasses, and enjoy being transported to the air-conditioned movie theater of your childhood summer, to the kind 90s cinematic universe where friendship and love triumphs over all, where you are blown away by even the lamest of special effects, where your dad closes your eyes and comforts you during all of the scary parts, and where you still look up at the screen in complete and utterly inconceivable awe.