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This weekend I came across the timeless Spielberg flick Jurassic Park and it got me to thinking about computer graphics and their place in today’s films. It was a little bit of heavy thinking for the weekend, but since it involved movies, I allowed my stream of consciousness to flow free. After some careful consideration and impromptu comparisons, I must say, those dinosaurs look just as good in today’s market as they did 15 years ago (that’s right, Jurassic Park came out 15 years ago!! I knew it was in the 90s, but seriously, that makes me feel old!) Anyway, I only watched about 20 terrifying minutes but I was reminded just how flippin’ scary those dinosaurs are! They are so realistic for graphics done a decade and a half ago. I mean, come on, you have to remember going home after seeing this film in the theaters and being convinced that a raptor was going to learn how to open your front door and sneak a surprise attack on you in the kitchen whilst you made dinner that very night! The headlines the next day would totally read: Girl anticipates fate by attending film; mauled by velocoraptor while making sandwich.

No? You didn’t fear this? Maybe it was just me then (I was 12 years old at the time).

Still, if you haven’t seen it lately, re-watch it for a good time. Spielberg’s dinosaurs really blow the mind when you consider things like King Kong, the Peter Jacksified version, which was produced 12 years after Jurassic Park, yet features a dinosaur fight/chase scene that was so obviously green screened it looks like the effects were done in the backyard of Peter Jackson’s childhood home (i.e. really bad). Now, one could argue that these two films have completely different styles and were attempting to achieve totally separate moods for the audience with their renditions of dinosaurs and blah, blah, blah–whatever. King Kong sucks. Jurassic Park rules. End of story. Spielberg made it seem like he had actually found an island of dinosaurs and decided to make a film there (hey, that’s the plot from King Kong), and if you watch it today, it still feels like there is some freaky island out there where dinosaurs roam free, just waiting to swim across the ocean to attack us in our homes. But there is no way any audience member ever got the feeling that Jackson’s dinosaurs or huge monkey were so real, he must have actually discovered them.

What I’m saying is (and if I was still in grad school would probably write a paper on) is that maybe we should consider the fact that CG effects have removed us from the “reality” of movies. Directors now over use these shots because nothing is out of reach with the use of computers. Well, maybe stuff should be out of reach. Think about Spider-man–most of the swinging through NYC shots look like a video game. Maybe Shia Labeouf doesn’t need to be swinging from the trees a la Tarzan in Indy 4 (Spielberg is obviously not immune), and maybe Yoda doesn’t need to stand up in the Star Wars pre-queals, and maybe . . . I could go on for a while. I’m just saying, if Spielberg could make dinosaurs look real and absolutly terrifying 15 years ago by mixing the magic of computers and some plastic props, what is wrong with directors today?