The release of the new Jurassic World (2016) (sequel to the classic Jurassic Park) sparked a whole new topic of conversation. After viewing this movie when people realised that the special effects that were used in the original film were better. If I’m being honest, I agree with them. When Jurassic Park first came out, the world was astounded at the revolutionary use of special effects. When Jurassic World hit the theatre, while being a thrill-riding, nostalgic film, it did not give off that same powerful realistic effect and my question is why? Shouldn’t special effects have improved in the past 24 years? It’s quite counter intuitive isn’t it?
Well let’s first work out what made the original film so effective. First of all, CGI was used as a last resort: for example, the times where a dinosaur’s full body had to be shown, or would be moving around. This was originally supposed to be a stop motion effect, until they realised CGI had the ability to create much smoother looking creatures.
Fourteen minutes of dinosaurs were included in the film, only four of those minutes were CGI, the rest were puppets and animatronics. Steven Spielberg was determined to bridge the gap between what looked CGI and what looked animatronic, and you know what? It worked.
Twenty-four years later, Jurassic World hit the theatres with mind blowing modern CGI. The CGI itself was very impressive, using the latest technological advances in the effect. With this the makers were able to do things with the dinosaurs they weren’t originally able to do, such as a lot more screen time for the dinosaurs. While in the original film so much time was taken to make the shots for the animatronics and actually create the CGI. Now it’s a whole lot easier to do so. All that having been said, the minimal screen time for the dinosaurs made it a whole lot more special when they were. But that still begs the question why the original films effects succeeded that of the sequel.
Well here I have found two answers to this question. One is just how used to CGI we are nowadays. Seeing Jurassic Park with its real characters on real sets interact with a real animatronic dinosaur, was what made it work so well. Compare that to movies these days with virtual green screen backgrounds, with virtual action and virtual creatures. Doesn’t work too well does it? We are now, used to going to the cinema to experience a film chock a block full of CGI saturated situations. So it doesn’t give us that feeling of awe that the original effects gave us.
The second reason is simply realism. The original film was able to relate to us a lot more. Because they did not have CGI there to create situations that were simply unreliable. These days CGI is used to defy the laws of physics. Our minds have trouble processing these things, we’re unable to relate. Camera follows an unnatural path and characters move in gravity defying ways. Almost as if you’re watching a cartoon, where impossible scenes and movements fill up almost every scene. Special effects don’t seem so special any more.