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Raptors In The Kitchen

April 29, 2013

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I took advantage of the recent opportunity to see Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D, and I’m so glad I did. Jurassic Park (1993) is the classic Spielbergian tale of man vs. nature, genetically-engineered dinosaurs, chaos theory and even lawyers. Although I never saw it in its’ original theatrical run, JP has always been one of my favorite movies. It was also a major part of my whopping dinosaur obsession as a tot, and do I ever have the dusty, sagging bookshelf in my basement to prove it.

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Richard Attenborough plays John Hammond, the eccentric biotech mogul behind the park. To proceed with opening the park, and to settle a pending legal deadlock, Hammond brings in three specialists; Alan Grant (Sam Neill); Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern);  Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), to endorse his work. Once the board is set and power in the park fails, the story becomes a breakneck tale of survival until the credits roll.

Neill and Goldlum are particularly good in JP. Neill plays the rugged paleontologist, Alan Grant, who has fallen out of touch with his inner child and must manage to survive his stay at the perilous park with Hammond’s two grandchildren in tow. Goldblum gesticulates wildly, as only he can, playing Ian Malcolm, the manic mathematician, author and chaos theorist. These are two inspired performances and the characters tend to steal every scene.

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The movie is as entertaining as they come with many memorable scenes including the Gallimimus stampede, the Raptors in the kitchen, and even the subtle bits such as the trembling glass of water. JP even has small roles for Wayne Knight, of Seinfeld fame and a pre-Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson.

Though loosely based on the spectacular Michael Chrichton novel of the same name, Jurassic Park pares down the story to be a special effects vehicle. While this may not sound like high praise, JP’s effects changed the world of cinema and still hold up even to today’s standards.  For my money, there hasn’t been a better computer-assisted effects shot in the twenty years since Jurassic Park’s release than the one of the T-Rex stepping through the downed electrical fence.

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Jurassic Park is one of Spielberg’s most enduring films. It will always be counted among the most important to his legacy as a director, even if it isn’t exactly high-drama like Schindler’s List (1993) or Saving Private Ryan (1998). While I’m on the subject, how impressive is it that JP and Schindler’s List manage to be released the same year? Talk about Spielberg being on top of his game.

While seeing classic movies return to the big screen is always cause for celebration, adding IMAX to the equation makes an event like Jurassic Park’s re-release a must-see. As for the 3D, some effects really popped, and others didn’t look as good. As is the case with most non-native 3D pics, the biggest addition is the greater sense of depth, especially in shots featuring foreground objects close to the camera.

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The 3D experience is hit-or-miss but, as a film, Jurassic Park always entertains to the max. Yet another majestic John Williams score, memorable performances by Neill and Goldblum, and all the photo-realistic dinosaur mayhem you can ask for make Jurassic Park one of the all-time great blockbusters.

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