Ramblin' 'bout Amblin: Jurassic Park

I had the immense pleasure of being able to see this film in a theater very recently. Spielberg decided to honor the film's 20th anniversary by giving it the 3D treatment and letting people spend way too much money on the glasses that make the film viewable. I never saw Jurassic Park in theaters. When the film came out I was only four or five years old and my parents would never have deemed this film appropriate from my fragile mind. My love for this film is attributed entirely to the medium of VHS. Because of it, this film lived in every single one of my friends homes as well as my own. It was our go-to movie as kids (and it still is whenever I need a nice pick me up). And more often than not, the adults would end up stopping whatever they were doing to sit and watch with us. I wore out my copy. Then dvd's were invented and my love for the film was rekindled. I didn't think I could enjoy it any more than I had been. Then I saw it in theaters.

Now because I never saw experienced it thusly until now (and even if I had I can't imagine I'd be focusing on the same things I am now) so I have to assume that some work went into the sound mix. If not then wow because I have to tell you: If you haven't seen Jurassic Park with theater quality sound, you really haven't seen it. It changes the entire experience of the film. When the T-Rex first escapes it's paddock, it goes from thrilling and enjoyable to absolutely terrifying simply because of how intense the sound mix is. When that dinosaur roars you feel it in your blood. You feel it in your bones. And if you really focus you'll see that you're desperately in need of your mommy.
I talk about Jurassic Park a lot in my everyday life. It's a film everyone has seen and most people enjoy so it's a great conversation piece. But rather than relating my favorite scenes to people I usually only bring the film up to make one point. The CGI is out of this goddamn world. This film was released in 1993. The true digital pioneers that worked on this movie changed the way that films are made. Sure, at times Jurassic Park looks a tad dated but I fully believe that the scene that that spawned the above still is not one of them. And though Spielberg's approach to this style of filmmaking ended up coming from a place of desperation rather than intent, his methods have been emulated since in only the best heavy CGI films. The methods I'm referring to are creating a hybrid of practical and computer generated effects. For every instance of a computer generated dinosaur in Jurassic Park there are double the number of animatronic or claymation creatures helping actors have something to act off of or giving DP Dean Cundey a focal point and in so doing, giving the digital fx developers a sense of how light and color will play on the surfaces of these dinosaurs. Without this understanding and relation to environment, CGI effects fail. Perhaps not as much nowadays where the power of computer imagery is absolutely astounding (and whole films are made with them) but for the decade and a half after Jurassic Park, filmmakers and studios tried to cut corners and doomed their projects in the process.
Jurassic Park's other success as a film is that its got great characters. Sure it's a monster movie. Sure it's a disaster movie. Certain characters need to be played. But Jurassic Park manages to ride an extremely fine line in storytelling. We see and learn just enough about these people to know that they are in fact real people rather than positions that were filled. And yes there's definitely a few dud moments. The kids get a tad annoying but on the flip side, some of the film's best scenes wouldn't be what they are without them. And seeing the film in theaters twenty years on was awesome when it comes to the hacking and dated technology of the film. Everyone had a nice appreciative laugh. "It's an interactive CD-Rom" is my particular favorite of these.

Admittedly I'm extremely biased. I love this film. For what it's worth I find it to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable films ever made. But I think it's earned it. With a perfect mixture of well done special effects, fresh and simple storytelling, and a director who understands exactly how to mix all these things together, you've got the perfect adventure story.

And before I wrap up I need to figure out how on earth John Hammond saying "Dr. Grant, my dear Dr. Sadler. Welcome to Jurassic Park" makes me almost cry every single time I watch this film. It's a mystery to me. But a mystery I'm fully intent on analyzing for the rest of my days.

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