With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on just about everything, we are slowly getting back to the way things used to be. We have been limited on what we can do, where we can go, and what is available to us. After months of waiting, we now are getting a chance to go back to theaters to enjoy movies on the big screen.
Of course, there will be precautions and safety measures in place (please check with your local theater for the requirements), but we can go back to the movies!
The summer season is a little behind (it usually starts with a major blockbuster over Memorial Day weekend), and the new releases slowly will hit theaters over the next several months. The McHenry Outdoor Theater has been giving us double-features of some old favorites, and starting June 26, Classic Cinemas in Woodstock plans a week of former hits to ease us into returning to a wonderful summer tradition.
Again, keep tabs on what your local movie theater is showing … but if you are looking for a “must see,” head to Woodstock next week and take in the granddaddy of the “techno thrillers,” Steven Spielberg’s 1993 masterpiece, "Jurassic Park."
Yes, the storyline is pretty standard for any action/adventure movie. On the fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, entrepreneur John Hammond sets up a biological preserve of genetically engineered dinosaurs. After a brief incident to open the film, Hammond needs experts to sign off on the park to get back on schedule. Upon bringing in doctors Grant, Sattler and Malcolm to check out what it is all about, Spielberg expertly leads viewers through a series of memorable moments, culminating in an epic closeout.
Obviously, the acting is superb with A-listers Sam Neill (Grant), Laura Dern (Sattler) and Jeff Goldblum (Malcolm), as well as Sir Richard Attenborough (Hammond) and Samuel Jackson, Wayne Knight, Martin Ferrero and BD Wong.
Where this film excels (and why you will want to see it on the big screen) is its presentation of the dinosaurs. Using just about every trick in the book, Spielberg and his team use CGI, stop-motion and animatronics to create the visuals. Viewers are teased with images of fossils that reference these giants before getting a full-fledged Brachiosaurus roughly 20 minutes into the film. Yet, taking a trick from "Jaws," the more menacing creatures are held in the collective imagination before making a grand entrance at the apex of the story.
From that point on, the movie shifts into a full out adrenaline rush, as a series of chases pit the characters against adversaries they have never encountered. A couple of tender moments allow the audience to catch their breath, but just long enough to recreate the tension leading to an anxiety-inducing scene at the end of the movie.
If you saw the film 27 years ago in theaters, watching it again certainly will stir up thoughts of nostalgia (if not nerves). If you did not, it is a rare opportunity to view the film the way Spielberg intended. The Oscar-winning visual effects still hold up today, and sitting in a theater with a professional sound system will immerse you into the award-winning sound design.
So now, people can order up a big bucket of popcorn, sit at an acceptable social distance, and enjoy a classic, if they're of the mind that going back to the movies is as easy as a walk in the park.