Feels like yesterday’s blockbuster, hardly aged. Jurassic Park 3D (1993) is back in theaters with the same cool dinosaurs and the same ho-hum characterizations. Steven Spielberg’s theme-park ride as a movie is also above all visually sumptuous, thanks to the Kauai, Hawaii locations that fill in for Costa Rica. The best parts of the script – before it goes into automatic chase movie pilot – are the early sections involving a paleontological dig with Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern, pretty and brainy blonde). Onto John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) tropical island where he vows to open a dinosaur park, the irresistible scientific cloning process of how strands of fossilized DNA can bring about species resurrection, is explicated by a jaw-dropping theoretical lucidity. Impossible indeed, but listening to these conjectures is fascinating. I probably was more captivated by that then seeing the dinosaurs.
Jeff Goldblum as a science-mathematician with one-liner zingers, Martin Ferrero as a smarmy lawyer and two Hammond grandchildren played by Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards join the core cast for a demo ride through the park. The coincidence of stormy weather and a greedy computer tech employee (Wayne Knight) plotting DNA theft lead to dinosaurs on the loose. Stranded in the park, the cast musters its way back to park headquarters while dodging various T-rex, velociraptors, and the dilophosaurus with the protruding neck frills that signal aggression and assault.
Spielberg stages a number of humdinger thrills. But cynical me (or practical moviegoers everywhere) might be more irked than ever that Hammond’s grandchildren get infinite close calls and survive through the impossible (pinned under crushed car plexi-glass, inside a vehicle that’s thrown off a bridge into the trees, an electric fence discharge, generally missing the jaws of death by inches again and again). Hollywood can’t slay children in a mass-marketed blockbuster. So why couldn’t they have discarded the grandchildren from the screenplay and added more nerdy mathematicians and lawyers to bite the dust?
Children under the age of 15, and unaffected as well as unconcerned by formulas and Hollywood branding, won’t mind any of this. They will be on the edge of their seat.
How come though we’re so easily seduced by this movie ultimately, at all ages? The dinosaurs are given aggressive or gregarious personalities, and the balletic niftiness of how Spielberg choreographs them and the docile human beings in the same shot has us giggly. We’re all supposed to be shrieking with terror – the dinosaurs are after them! – but it’s really just all good can’t believe my eyes fun.
3D doesn’t get you to see anything more (turn your face marginally sideways in the theater and the 3D glasses emit glare and blurs), this gimmick is of course a marketing hook to rake in money on the film’s 20th anniversary. But it’s the IMAX 70mm screen presentation that I’m impressed with. IMAX is the best possible venue to see “Jurassic Park” for those Kauai locations. No one will quite see the same movie without it. That IMAX is a treat.
127 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
ACTION & ADVENTURE / FANTASY / WEEKEND FAMILY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “King Kong” (1933); “Jaws” (1975); “The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997); “Jurassic Park III” (2001).