'Jurassic Park 3D' still a wonder after 20 years


Twenty years ago, director Steven Spielberg dazzled audiences with the herds of running and lumbering dinosaurs that filled his "Jurassic Park." Computer-generated images have become such a norm today that this kind of technology barely registers, but two decades ago it was spectacular. Check that: In the case of "Jurassic Park," it's still spectacular.

There's no reason to rush out to theaters to see the movie just because it's being re-released in 3-D. Rather, think of this as a chance to see the movie on a big screen.

In case you have been out of the loop for 20 years and don't know the plot, the film looks at what happens when scientists figure out a way to clone dinosaurs using DNA pulled from the blood stored in ancient mosquitoes. They bring back 15 species, including a very angry Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The dinosaurs populate what is supposed to become the world's greatest theme park. But concerns over safety call for one last inspection by a group of outside scientists. Things go bad.

The dinosaurs are fearsome creatures, just like the menace that made "Jaws" such a hit. But this time the director didn't have to worry about the inconsistency of using a mechanical shark. The computer work that brings the dinosaurs to life remains visually stunning.

Sam Neill and Laura Dern play two of the scientists brought in to evaluate the park. It's their wonderment that sells each moment of these close encounters of the prehistoric kind.

Spielberg's been inclined to use children in his stories, such as with "E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial," to provide both a youthful enthusiasm and a childlike perspective. He gets both from Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards (who are now 30 and 33 years old, respectfully). The youngsters in a Spielberg movie also represent the wide-eyed way the director looks at the world.

It's all capped off with the same kind of dry humor -- mostly provided by Jeff Goldblum -- that helped make his "Indiana Jones" movie so popular. Spielberg has found the right rhythm to use humor to accent the tension of dramatic moments.

Because Spielberg has included all of these elements with such skill, "Jurassic Park" remains one of his greatest cinematic accomplishments. It's an exciting ride, even on TV. Getting to see the movie on a massive screen reinforces just how masterful it is.

If releasing the film in 3-D is the only way to get it back in theaters, then the gimmick is an acceptable addition. The 3-D is good. But when a movie is this near-flawless, nothing is needed to make it better.

"Jurassic Park 3-D" is rated PG-13 for language, dinosaur violence.

JURASSIC PARK 3-D (PG-13). Directed by Steven Spielberg. A Universal Pictures release. At Beacon Cinema (Pittsfield), Berkshire Mall Cinema 10 (Lanesborough) and North Adams Movieplex 8. 2 hours 6 minutes

WITH: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards


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