This isn’t exactly the best week if you’re looking to demonstrate that originality is not dead in Hollywood. We’ve got a remake and a 3D re-release and that’s it. The saving grace is that the remake is following in the footsteps of a fairly beloved horror franchise, and the re-release is only Steven Spielberg’s second-highest grossing film of all time. There are worse things to revisit.
Confession time: the only Sam Raimi Evil Dead movie I’ve seen is Army of Darkness. I’m certainly aware of the first two films, and have seen bits and pieces of them, but for whatever reason, I’ve never gotten around to watching them. So I can’t work up too much feeling one way or another for the remake, at least in regards to its inspiration. The trailers I’ve seen have been remarkably effective though, with Jane Levy being a particular surprise. I’ve enjoyed her on Suburgatory, but her role in Evil Dead is completely different and she seems totally convincing. Still, I’ve just never been much of a horror buff, as my initial confession undoubtedly underscores, so I’m having a hard time mustering up a lot of enthusiasm for this one. But it’s a horror film with a brand name pedigree opening during spring break, so it hardly needs my help.
Speaking of not needing my help, Jurassic Park already has some $900 million in worldwide grosses, and after the screening I attended last night, I fully expect it to add a hefty amount to that total. Aside from Titanic, Jurassic Park was the last film whose release came close to that Star Wars feeling from 1977, where a film just wasn’t making tons of money, but was seeping into the cultural subconscious. I was working at Universal Studios Florida in 1993, and was lucky enough to be at the first screening of the film in Orlando, and the moment that brachiosaur strides into view remains one of the most visceral reactions I’ve ever seen and felt to a film. There were gasps of astonishment, cries of delight, scattered applause, awed silence. And the film got the exact same reaction at the screening last night. Yes, I still gripe a little about the film more just stopping than actually ending, but it was hard to feel too strongly about it as the audience was applauding the T-Rex’s curtain call. It’s also remarkable how well the effects hold up. They’re easily better than anything I saw from Jack the Giant Slayer, and they’re twenty years old. As for the 3D, it does amp up some of the more memorable moments, and was probably one of the clearer conversions I’ve seen. But even if this was a flat 2D re-release, I’d recommend you see this just for the thrill of seeing it on a big screen with great sound and an audience. It really is one of the last great blockbusters.