Go see this movie, in IMAX if you can swing the 18 dollar tickets. The difference between IMAX and RealD is supposedly that IMAX 3D jumps closer to your head, out of the screen, whereas RealD is contained within the screen–although the benefit of RealD is apparently that you can move your head around more without losing the effect. If you can keep your head pretty still for two hours, the IMAX absolutely delivers.
(Spoilers ahead because you’ve already know what happens.)
There are only two scenes, both near the beginning, where the addition of the 3rd dimension looks artificial. The shot of Gennaro being towed on the raft toward the amber mine looks like he is a cardboard cutout on a plane being drawn toward other cardboard cutouts. And the first shots of the brachiosaur with Grant and Satler looks like the actors are standing in front of a greenscreen (which is nothing new, that scene has always been too bad because otherwise I’d say the timing and acting and the underlying soundtrack conveys better than any other Spielberg moment the wonder/awe which he often tries to acheive.) I wonder if those scenes were finished early in the conversion process, because the rest of the movie looks just frickin great and the 3D actually emerges from the realm of gimmick to contribute depth and realism to the movie.
(Another reason to see this in IMAX? Dinosaurs rendered ACTUAL SIZE)
The most common effect of the 3D, for those like me who have seen the movie approximately 65 million times, is to draw attention other parts of the scenes that we haven’t noticed seen before. The trailer at the dig site at the beginning is filled with in-jokes and clever details, as is Nedry’s workspace in the control room. This effect is perhaps mundane but enjoyable. The work of translating the non action scenes had to have been done with love, because there is no detail left un-rendered.
Going into the movie, though, I hoped the new rendering would result in action scenes where the 3D would make everyone in the theatre jump. These moments absolutely exist and on Saturday night they were all the more impressive considering probably 90% of the audience had also clearly seen the movie a million times before. (We were not the only ones quoting Ian Malcolm in real-time, I can tell you that.)
Jurassic Park still possesses the capacity to terrify, maybe even moreso in 3D–when the T-Rex is trying to sniff out Grant and Lex, for example, you might as well feel the monster’s breath on you. The suspense is unbearable even in 2 dimensions but in 3D the T-Rex pins you to your seat and dares you to breathe. A too-young child, of parents who were themselves probably not much older the first time around, began to cry in the theatre following that scene (which made everyone else giggle a bit uncomfortably), and at a couple of points later (mostly after the raptors escape) I noticed parents with slightly older children leaving the theater also. (The kitchen scene and the subsequent escape through the ceiling tiles just scream in 3D, the claustrophia and acrophobia even more intense than I remembered them.)
I was fairly certain the 3D effect wouldn’t contribute all that much to the movie but I was really excited to see it again in the theatre anyway. As it turns out, I find myself siding with the trailers for the re-release which claim 3D is the way the movie was always meant to be seen. There’s something to be said for the post-release conversion to 3D which “Turner Colorization” analogies fail to understand. With colorization, one is second-guessing the artistic efforts of the director and cinematographer. The best movies of the black and white era play with contrast and composition in a way which cannot be equaled in color. There’s a reason why many photographers and artists work in monochrome even today. But with an originally-2D movie like Jurassic Park, the third dimension is not only already implied, but physics and materiality are explicitly employed to heighten suspense and to carry the audience through the action. On a flat plane, no matter how good the cinematography, the depth is sometimes lost. The image tells the audience that there must be a long drop between one part of the screen and another, and the reactions of the characters tell the audience that they should be afraid of this change of height, but the audience must take it on faith that it is as presented. In 3D, however, the ground drops out not just from beneath those on the screen, but from beneath you as the viewer.
Unlike a movie that was created with explicit (versus implied) 3D in mind from the beginning, Jurassic Park avoids the pitfalls of 3D-native movies like Avatar or Pirranha 3D, in which the employment of the third dimension is wielded like a cudgel without concern for timing and control (Avatar’s too-long flying scenes, as pretty as they are, do little to move the plot), or for cheap thrill. The third dimension in Jurassic Park is never overdone, because it was not a tool available to the filmmakers the first time around. (Maybe it’s also just a testament to Spielberg’s skill as a director.) Unlike post-release colorization, post-release 3D takes nothing away. The 3D is purely an additive element, leaving you with everything that works so well about the original movie, but adding the immediacy of your own unimpeachable sense of perception. It draws you into Jurassic Park and lets you live through it anew, in spite of your many previous viewings, as the extraordinary experience that a park full of dinosaurs ought to be. Jurassic park is the quintessential movie about dinosaurs, and 3D is the best possible way to enjoy them.