Not a Movie Snob - Jurassic Park: An IMAX 3D Experience

Posted on Tuesday, April 09, 2013 at 06:00 PM

"I'm fairly alarmed here"

Jurassic Park: An IMAX 3D Experience

A long time ago, I'm not exactly sure how long, but about five years and change, shortly after I had joined the movie site Flixster to keep track of my thoughts on movies I was seeing, I wrote just one sentence in the review box for Jurassic Park: "Man what I wouldn't give to see this on the big screen." That's it. For most of my life, Jurassic Park has been one of my favourite movies, residing in my hallowed (hallowed to me) top ten list. To me it is, and has always been, the ultimate big screen movie. Certainly the ultimate big screen movie of the batch that have come out in my lifetime. I didn't see it during its initial theatrical run, but have seen it twice on the big screen in the last couple years. The first time was at one of those screenings Cineplex has been doing where people vote on their site for a movie to see on the big screen and they screen it, for $5 or $6, once or twice. The second was yesterday, in IMAX 3D.

It's impossible to overestimate the impact of the film when it originally hit screens on June 11, 1993. Up to that point, people had literally seen nothing like it before. The dinosaurs looked real, they interacted with human characters and you had a hard time telling what was robotic and what was computer animated. Contrary to popular belief, the Tyrannosaurus in the movie is actually mostly the giant animatronic creation Stan Winston and his wizards whipped up for the film. Some interesting facts regarding this creation can be found on Wikipedia, which they took from a documentary on the film from 1993. So rather than repeating them in my own, probably inferior words, I'll just throw them down right here for you to enjoy:

"Winston's animatronic T. Rex stood 20 feet (6.1 m), weighed 13,000 pounds (5,900 kg), and was 40 feet (12 m) long. Jack Horner called it 'the closest I've ever been to a live dinosaur'. The dinosaur is depicted with a vision system based on movement. Its roar is a baby elephant mixed with a tiger and an alligator, and its breath is a whale's blow. A dog attacking a rope toy was used for the sounds of it tearing a Gallimimus apart."

Cool. Another branch of the effects team, much like Lucas' special effectors had done for Star Wars, had to actually invent some of the computer programs that rendered the CGI versions of the dino's to look as real as they did and be able to interact with some of the actors without looking like cardboard cut outs when they shared the screen together. And I have to say, the effects in Jurassic Park, even on the old DVD version I have, hold up incredibly well today. In fact, they're far less fake looking than the effects in Peter Jackson's bloated pretty penny costing Hobbit movie and even outperform some of the effects in the 'Berg's own Indiana Jones clunker, Crystal Skull, which came out fifteen years later.

Another aspect of Jurassic Park's success, as it was with Jaws in 1977, was that the film was, and is, pretty freakin' scary. In our dino-less age, Jurassic Park wasn't going to have the same effect in our everyday lives that Jaws did. I.e, avoiding oceans and beaches. But Jurassic Park is a genuinely intense experience. The first T. Rex attack on the kids in the car is literally one of the scariest scenes in movie history, despite the sheer implausibility of it, which in a weird way almost makes it more powerful. This excitement is, naturally, enhanced when seeing the movie on an IMAX screen with near deafening surround sound and annoying, but effective, 3D.

The full power of the film is realized with everything cranked up to ten and if your feeling is 'why would I pay a bunch of money to go see a movie once in the theatre when I can see it at home for free?' let you tell you this: If the only way you've seen this movie is on your little baby sweetheart screen at home in your living room, you only have an idea of the film, rather than a complete understanding. That might sound pretentious but it's true. Granted, you can't sit and watch the movie in your undies with a beer balanced on Mount Bellybutton, but it truly is like watching the movie for the first time in some ways, even if you've seen it a hundred.

The movie itself is great, nearly flawless. The performances are great, the writing is great and I don't care how scientifically plausible it is, the story is genius and entirely believable. Spielberg isn't a one hit wonder and he isn't a flash in the pan. He knows how to anchor the thrills in his thrillers with interesting characters and subplots. If you can't get the quiet scenes, the scenes that exist in between the big, exciting set pieces right, your film will be nothing but a big blob of sensory abuse. Your film will be Transformers, basically. Spielberg is known as a director who knows what audiences want, and what audiences want is characters to care about and a story they can sink their teeth into when the dinosaurs aren't sinking their teeth into the characters. Jurassic Park handles all these elements wonderfully and what you come away with is a memorable movie rather than a couple of memorable movie moments.

I wouldn't say Jurassic Park 3D is a movie you should take the whole family to. Despite it's PG rating, it is intense, it is scary in parts and there's a couple instances of violence you might not want the younger members of your household to see. I guess it depends on the kid though. I took my five year old to see it as I have sufficiently desensitized him to the point where Jurassic Park is just on the cusp of what he can handle in terms of scares.
He did quite well. Still, every time a dino was heard in the distance, or was attempting to attack some poor schmo, he would squeeze my hand, almost as hard as I would squeeze his.
Handshakes are gonna hurt for a while.

One of the great thrill ride movies of all time and still the ultimate big screen experience, Jurassic Park 3D, whether in IMAX or not, is must see for anyone who loves to be blown away in the dark.

Movie: *****
IMAX 3D: ****½ (the glasses are still annoying) 



NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to