We watched Jurassic Park over the past two nights (it’s not overly long, we just have to start it late after my daughter’s in bed and the sun sets). Steven Spielberg’s movie holds up after all this time in only a few areas. Some of the actor’s performances (I’ll tell you who sucked: John Scottish-old-man, his grand daughter, the little kid at the opening dinosaur dig site that Sam Neill threatens to gut, and the hatchling velociraptor—so wooden, like an animatronic puppet covered in strawberry jelly popping out of an egg) were standard Spielberg over-emoticons, the writing is a little forced in the science-y parts as described by Jeff Goldblum (if you liked Michael Crichton’s take on cloned dinosaurs you’ll love what he has to say on the "myth" of global warming), the effects are great when the monsters are puppets and not CGI, in those scenes the filmstock gets all grainy and soft. What I really couldn’t believe was the sound of those dinosaurs.
I was really impressed with movie’s DTS soundtrack. I can’t remember listening to a movie with such wide dynamic range. The action leaps out at you from all channels when the action begins, breaking out of a conversational tone to the deafening roar and stomps and huffs of the T-Rex. Its lion-elephant combo roar is truly horrifying and it really draws you into the danger world of those poor kids sinking into the mud in their upturned SUV. The thunder effects were also very convincing: we had a very violent thunderstorm during the first viewing session, and we could not tell the difference between lightning strike sounds in our home theater and those deafening the sky outside. This soundtrack makes me want to invite over friends and strangers to convince them that home theater is important, this is why I die a little inside whenever someone buys a home theater in a box.
An odd side effect of listening to this movie again was numerous flashbacks to working in Golden Age Collectibles, a comic book store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, in the spring of 1993. We had a Jurassic Park promotional clip reel VHS tape we would play over the store’s AV system (crappy ceiling speakers and a 19" TV behind the register). So, eight hours a day we would see and hear the T-Rex’s impact tremors, Tim identify the herd of Gallimimus, and the hunter say, "They should all be destroyed," at the raptor cage. These scenes jumped out at me out of context with the rest of the movie, very distracting, it only reminded me of strolling the store’s floor, yelling, "Can I answer any questions? And they don’t have to be about fish." (That line is ripped from the fish mongers upstairs who show up in any montage featuring the city of Seattle.)
If you want to be impressed by your home theater (I’m assuming it’s possible with the equipment you own) go rent or buy Jurassic Park DTS Edition. It will give your subwoofer and surround speakers a real workout. I’m amazed we didn’t wake up our daughter with all the roars and screeching (the theater is right under her room).
Are there any other lost blockbusters out there that can impress like this one (that I won’t have to turn off because they are so bad)?