The Jurassic Park Franchise is a pillar of the millennial community. It spawned countless grade school “dinosaur phases” that had kids everywhere saying they wanted to be archaeologists when they grew up. Twenty years later, Steven Spielberg and the folks at Universal Studios have decided that it's time to be extremely meta and resurrect the movie about bringing dinosaurs back to life. Remastered in full 3D, it premieres next week on April 5. The move seems like a pretty blatant cash-grab, but that's not the only reason I'm frowning on the revival. Even if Jurassic Park 3D were a purely noble attempt to get kids excited about dinosaurs again, the 3D aspect is cause for serious concern.
First off, 3D movies are just not ready. There are innumerable problems with the glasses and the projectors, which are often disruptive enough to completely ruin the movie-going experience. Including the much heralded and supremely disappointing Avatar, I can only think of ONE time when I didn't lament a film being in 3D: The Amazing Spider-Man. Other than that lone exception, the presence of 3D has been innocuous at best. The idea sounds great for creating a more engrossing cinematic experience, but the technology just isn't ready to do that yet. The pure spectacle aspect of 3D film (where stuff flies out of the screen at you) has been done to death by far too many below average movies, and I can only hope that Jurassic Park 3D will somehow avoid the pitfalls of these cheesier efforts because it wasn't originally made with those effects in mind.
But even if technical difficulties and hackneyed FX weren't an issue, converting this classic film to 3D disrupts the nostalgia value at its core. The beauty of Jurassic Park (if I can be cliché for a moment) was that it captured the imagination. We don't need to see a movie in 3D in order to be completely sucked into its world. We barely even need to see anything. The first dinosaur in the film is represented by growling noises from a lurching box. What could 3D possibly add to the terror of that moment? Remastering Jurassic Park in 3D is like painting Michelangelo's David to make it more lifelike. The animatronic and CGI masterpieces of 20 years ago don't need to be updated to have the same effect they did when they were the top of the line.
I can personally vouch for the fact that not only do they not need to be in 3D, they don't even need to be experienced in a large theater. Some popcorn and a sufficiently dark basement made watching the lowly VHS as memorable a movie night as any other. I'm not saying we should all perform archaeological digs for our VCRs and try to live in the early 90s, but surely the Blu-Ray (or dare I say a streamed version) would suffice. At least it will for another 10 years or so until they iron more of the kinks out of the 3D experience.
Whatever the eventual success of Jurassic Park 3D may be this April, I just hope that the original version survives for posterity. Maybe there is room in this world for a 3D version too, but honestly, Jurassic Park is about struggling for survival against living, breathing dinosaurs; how much cooler does it need to be?