WJTV News Channel 12 - It’s almost like being 11 again

It’s almost like being 11 again

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There's a feeling of euphoria I associate with re-visiting the films I've loved since my childhood. From "E.T." to "The Truman Show," the films that helped shape my taste -- and my love for cinema -- only seem to get better with age.

I note this because my experience with "Jurassic Park" in 3D was definitely shaped by my love for the film I saw several times when it was released in 1993 and have enjoyed many times since. I was especially excited about the opportunity to experience it on the big screen again because, well, it's never been quite the same at home.

It was almost eerie to watch because, despite knowing that it's 20 years old, everything still felt fresh and exciting -- like I was watching it for the first time and just happened to magically know all the words. Granted, a lot more of the jokes make sense now and my viewing experience (generally) has been changed by years of viewing films critically, but I still felt like I was 11 again when the T-Rex took those first fateful steps out of her enclosure.

The kid in me was having a blast the entire film (except for the inability to fast forward through the exposition), but something funny started happening as well: the critic started noticing all kinds of new things.

For starters -- and this is about the only complaint you'll find here -- the film takes a touch too long to get going. I know there are a lot of intelligent ideas that must be examined regarding the ethical implications of cloning before the power goes out, but the ideas get over-discussed to the point they're about to start talking in circles. I believe the lunch scene could be completely removed and no one would much notice.

I never noticed just how important the work of cinematographer Dean Cundey was in regard to making "Jurassic Park" feel like a horror film. Cundey got his start with horror master John Carpenter, serving as the photographer on "Halloween" and "The Thing," and he uses a variety of similar techniques here. He tilts his camera ever so slightly, moves it slowly, uses single sources of light that only illuminate part of the frame and racks his focus regularly -- it all adds up to create a truly spooky atmosphere.

The special effects hold up surprisingly well, especially considering that cinema was at the dawn of the computer-generated age when "Jurassic Park" went into production. Spielberg initially planned to use stop-motion animation because he was not sure it was possible to create the images he wanted with computers.

The effects were so effective that the one-two punch from "Jurassic Park" and "Terminator 2" is now considered to be the major death blow to stop-motion animation (as a special effect).

The conversion to three-dimensions was quite successful, I thought. I find lots of 3D films too dark and didn't think that once during "Jurassic Park," but I was so interested in how the images would be divided into layers I might have simply not noticed. Another local critic, Daniel Johnson of Film Babble Blog, has assured me that the film looks much darker in 3D.

But what still stands out, above everything else, is the ridiculous amount of fun it was to watch "Jurassic Park" on the big screen again. This film simply deserves the size and volume that only a movie theater can offer, but it has never felt quite right to watch it at home (and won't until I get an unreasonably oversized television).

It's only been a few days since I saw "Jurassic Park" in 3D and my inner child is already excited about going again. I think that's about as big a compliment as I can give a film.

"Jurassic Park" is still rated PG-13 for intense science fiction terror.

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