Monday Morning Critic – Jurassic Park And The Legacy & Legitimacy of CGI 20 Years Later – Jim Belushi, Rob Lowe And Demi Moore In About Last Night…

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A film I’ve excited to see this weekend in theatres has been around nearly 20 years, was based off a best-selling novel and has been shown on television numerous times and is one I originally saw in theatres oh so many years ago. Jurassic Park is the latest film to be getting the 3D treatment in re-release, ostensibly because box office competition isn’t hot and heavy this time of year, and it’s also one of the more depressing films of the last 20 years in retrospect as a film fan. It’s like Titanic and any number of other films that came out between 1993 and 1998 or so in one aspect. It was looked at as a godsend when it took over and now has become something we complain about: CGI.

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It’s why this weekend is kind of bittersweet for me in a way. Seeing Jurassic Park in theatres again is a reminder of just what happened when Hollywood figured out that instead of having to create visuals naturally, organically, they could rely on a team with a computer to do so for them. The technology had been around for a while but never quite like this. Once CGI became much more accepted and now you can make a film with nothing but green screens and a handful of props. Now you notice when it isn’t CGI and most massive blockbusters are riddled with them. While it’s made some movie concepts possible, of course, it’s a genie that you can’t put back in the bottle and that’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s just a tool that’s become a crutch and it’s why I can admire Jurassic Park because it used it gracefully.

It’s a touch up, not the full course, and was only used because it could take what they did and make it better.

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The ‘90s are an underrated era of film because of this. You had so many films that used CGI but only to enhance a film for the most part; it didn’t become a crutch until the turn of the century or so. It’s one of the more fascinating aspects of special box set DVDs from this era: you can see how the scene was set up and then later enhanced with CGI. JP used animatronics that were touched up, among other things, and it looks clean in comparison to some CGI oriented films now.

You can tell how much a blockbuster has relied on the tool because it doesn’t feel right. It can look seamless with a shot but there’s an inner sense inside that it doesn’t look right. It’s why I’ll have my ticket in hand for Jurassic Park this weekend, too. In an era where film’s CGI budgets are more than some actors can make I can appreciate it when a tool was just that.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This Week’s DVD – About Last Night …

One of the things I miss about films from the ‘80s is that when they wanted to showcase a city a film was supposed to take place in they’d do more than just show a couple of landmarks and then film it somewhere cheaper. They’d take the time to actually make a film in Chicago that was set in Chicago and find places that are more than just what tourists would visit. It’s one of the reasons why About Last Night… works: it’s a Chicago film that feels like Chicago, not just Vancouver passing for the Windy City.

Based off the play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” by David Mamet, and directed by Edward Zwick, this is a film that you looked at in the mid 80s that was going to be one of the ones people referred to when Rob Lowe eventually people recognized him as a star. One sex tape with a teenager later and Lowe wound up never able to really become the star he should’ve been. But he did manage to combine with Jim Belushi, Demi Moore and Elizabeth Perkins for a strong romantic comedy that’s getting remade for a more urban audience in 2014.

Danny (Lowe) and Debbie (Moore) wind up having a one night stand that turns into something substantive. Meanwhile their respective best friends (Belushi and Perkins, respectively) have to deal with the various relationship shenanigans that go on.

The thing I can appreciate about the film, as a Chicago guy and whatnot, is how there’s little things about the city that are incorporated into the film. It’s also a good film about the nature of relationships and how it affects those around you, too, but sometimes it’s nice to see a film about Chicago that actually feels like it.

Considering the film was originally based out of the city, and Mamet’s a Chicago guy, it’s not all that surprising but nearly three decades later it’s refreshing. And it’s held up fairly strongly over the years, too. This isn’t a great ‘80s film … it’s a great film that happened to have been made in the ‘80s. It’s why I’m curious about the remake and won’t immediately dismiss it.

Strongly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Evil Dead (2013) – A bunch of teenagers go to a cabin and something murders them.

Skip it – The original isn’t all that good, despite Bruce Campbell being excellent. The only film in the original trilogy that’s any good is Army of Darkness and I doubt this’ll be anything decent.

Jurassic Park (3D) – A dude creates dinosaurs in an amusement park. Shenanigans happen.

See it – The original is absolutely brilliant and I’m curious to see how it looks in 3D.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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