Review: Jurassic Park (3D!)

I wasn’t actually sure if I wanted to add this to my 2013 Movie Rankings, since really this isn’t a new movie for 2013. But in the end, it is a movie and I did see it, so it seems worthwhile to post about. 😄

For the most part, Jurassic Park1 has held up amazingly well over the intervening 202 years. Some of science is a bit dodgy–for example, we’re now pretty sure that dinosaurs would have had feathers3–but it’s still a nicely intense look at how dinosaurs and people just really wouldn’t / shouldn’t mix.

Two things that really did annoy me about the movie (now just as much as the first time I watched it) were Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Malcom and Wayne Knight’s Dennis Nedry. For the former, his constant obsession with chaos theory despite just sort of spewing words that only vaguely relate to the field he’s supposed to have a doctorate in. Logically, I know that it’s yet another instance of knowing more about a field that I’m personally very interested in than the film’s producer’s did4, but it still irks me. Chaos theory is fascinating. He just makes it sound annoying.

Speaking of which… Oh Dennis Nedry. I know that we’re supposed to dislike him, but eesh. Granted, it was a different world back in 1993. I was only barely getting into computers myself5. But if he really thought he was being treated so absolutely terribly, why didn’t he just leave? There was probably some sort of contract in place, given the nature of the park and all, but then why did he take the job in the first place?

As a side note though, I’ll actually speak against the crowd and say that I really liked the scene where Lex (the sister) ‘hacks’ into the Unix machine and turns on the door controls. People give that scene a lot of crap, saying that of course that’s not how computers really work. But it turns out that it actually was an experimental 3D file system viewer known as fsn or 'fusion'. Granted, it was never actually finished, but I really can imagine someone like Nedry installing it on the system, mostly just as a form of job security. People also say that even if the line “It’s a UNIX system! I know this!” is a bit over the top, it’s not that far off from how you would actually go about making use of an unfamiliar system in a time-critical environment: make your best guess based on domain knowledge and what the system is telling you and hope for the best.

On a positive note, the technology that made the movie famous–the dinosaurs–has held up really well. In parts, the dinosaurs do look a bit fake (mostly the eyes and when they don’t have quite a large enough field of motion), but I’m frankly amazed at how good a lot of the action scenes look even now. Say what you will about the differences between modern CGI and the effects of days gone by, but I really didn’t have a problem believing that they really were about to be eaten by dinosaurs.

Overall, it’s a solid movie. If you liked the original, go ahead and check it out in 3D. The conversion was well done (even if I don’t get the full effect due to an imbalance in my vision) and added a lot. It was nice to have 3D scenes that worked without a reliance on being in 3D6. Still, this year has been pretty good for movies. Based purely on my own enjoyment (which is, after all, what this rankings are based on), Jurassic Park fits right down the middle of the line.

  1. I still have problems spelling that correctly… ↩︎

  2. Holy crap ↩︎

  3. A fact that the upcoming Jurassic Park sequel is apparently going to happily ignore ↩︎

  4. Or, if you want to be generous, than they thought that the audience could handle ↩︎

  5. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader to work out just how young I was back then 😄 ↩︎

  6. Any scene ever that throws things at the audience, I’m looking at you! ↩︎