bar: For those who remember seeing Jurassic Park on the big screen 20 years ago (!) the restored and 3D-enhanced Jurassic Park now playing on IMAX at the Pacific Science Center will certainly be more — and perhaps a little less — than you remember.
A quick plot refresher, should you need it: Jurassic Park is the story of a theme park populated by cloned dinosaurs. Billionaire industrialist John Hammond brings a team of paleontologists, a mathematician, a lawyer representing investors and his grandchildren to tour the park and give it their approval. At first everything is spectacular and wonderful but as Jeff Goldblum sums it up in Jurassic Park 2, "That's how all of this starts, but then later there's the running and screaming." Truer words were never spoken.
The IMAX format is ideal for a Spielbergian blockbuster like Jurassic Park. If you want to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex stomping on a truck accompanied by John Williams' sweeping score you want to see it on a screen that's 6 stories tall and 80 feet wide with an eardrum-melting sound system. The Pacific Science Center's IMAX 3D does not disappoint.
Even though I found myself unexpectedly noticing when the fully computer-animated Velociraptors were on screen I was equally impressed with their level of technical expertise. These dinosaurs were created two years before Pixar's Toy Story revolutionized and kicked off Hollywood's computer animation mania and they are amazing. The T. Rex is particularly impressive although the fact that it's seen mostly in a rainstorm at night no doubt contributes to its dramatic impact and impressive realism.
That said, I would argue that IMAX really shines when presenting real-life or contemporary movies created with the format in mind, not a remastered film from 1993 originally shot in old-timey 70mm. Even though I wasn't looking for it I couldn't help but occasionally notice an actor's makeup or a prop plant that probably looked perfectly real on a smaller screen. It conflicted with the original impression of the movie in my head and was, at times, a little distracting. However, for audiences discovering Jurassic Park for the first time this should still be a mind-blowing experience.
Take the kids?
At its core, Jurassic Park, is, of course, a monster movie. The protagonists are chased by monsters, they run and hide and fight back as best they can but along the way there are severed limbs and people screaming as they are dismembered. To Spielberg’s credit he knows you don't have to show lots of spurting blood and most of the deaths are artfully obscured. But there is one notable chomp and the aforementioned severed limbs, most notably Samuel L. Jackson's arm (20-year-old spoiler!).
The movie is rated PG-13, which is appropriate. There were some pretty small kids at the screening I went to and they didn't seem particularly traumatized but I know my 12-year-old son, who is admittedly sensitive to intense situations, would not do well with this movie. However, for parents of older kids who enjoy a thrill it's a good opportunity to share an exciting and scary popcorn movie from your past.
If you go ...
Jurassic Park 3-D is playing at Pacific Science Center IMAX in Seattle (buy tickets online, $9.50-$14.25), as well as many local theaters. Find other local showtimes and tickets on the Jurassic Park website.
About the author: John Kubalak is a writer, teacher, volunteer coordinator, raconteur, and scalawag. He does not publish science fiction under the pseudonym Jonathan Black but he does publish a monograph on fatherhood, The Eclectic Dad. He has a son, a daughter, a beautiful wife (and a little dog too!) who are adorable, maddening, zany, and brilliant all at the same time.