21 years since I first saw Steven Speilberg’s action-adventure classic, Jurassic Park, in this theatre, and well over a decade since I last saw any film here, I headed back into the newly revamped Beau Sejour cinema – or ‘Beau Cinema’ as its now been rebranded – with some high expectations, both for the film and the cinema experience being offered.
While the seats remain the same, so legroom is lacking for anyone over about 5’8” and the seats are very low, the new screen itself was an impressive thing to see as I headed into the almost full theatre and there was certainly a generally positive murmur to be heard from the surprisingly widely aged audience.
As the lights dimmed to half way and the trailers began though, things seemed to be getting off to a slightly inauspicious start. The first trailer, for an upcoming screening of Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille, stalled in the manner infamous of digital film screenings, so it was quickly canned – the other trailers though ran smoothly and, other than an obvious crease down the centre of the screen, the 2D projection looked good, even if the sound was a bit wobbly.
Then though, as the lights dimmed fully, it was time for the main event.
Jurassic Park is an undeniable classic of the Hollywood blockbuster canon – with a mix of action, adventure, romance and comedy it genuinely has something for everyone, topped off with the coup-de-grace of seeing dinosaurs interact directly with humans on-screen.
21 years ago this was a marvel, and even though in the time since we’ve become used to computer generated effects on an even grander scale, there remains something about the first shots of the Brachiosaurus and then the wider shots of herds of herbivores that still astounds and hits the spot like only a genuinely genius director can (Michael Bay, please watch Jurassic Park and realise you will never reach this level).
Spielberg is sometimes criticized as being an emotionally manipulative director, and, while I can see what people mean by this, in Jurassic Park he treads the line of this excellently. This makes the threat of the T Rex, and especially the velociraptors, all the more real and the scene with Tim and Lex trying to evade raptors in the kitchen is a masterpiece of tension and suspense.
Across its two-hour running time the film rarely lets up but rather than becoming exhausting it remains exhilarating right up to the final helicopter shots of pelicans, which are surprisingly majestic in their own right.
Unlike my earlier experiences of the movie (which are numerous and span media from cinema to DVD) this was in 3D and, while I’m still of the school that thinks 3D is not an essential element for most films, it is well done here, particularly for a retroactively 3D graded film and brings fresh life to a film I’ve seen many times.
The 3D presentation in the cinema was the best I’ve experienced yet; maybe its to do with the larger screen size, maybe the choice of projector, maybe I’m just more used to 3D now, I don’t know, but certainly it felt clearer than past 3D screenings.
On top of this the new surround sound system really came into its own at points when we knew raptors were just out of shot and could hear them moving off-screen giving the best sound effect I’ve ever heard in a Guernsey cinema.
While the Jurassic Park is rated PG, I was surprised at quite how young some of the audience were and I think a few may have found the more threatening sequences a bit much, but most seemed to enjoy it and, thankfully, were relatively well-behaved.
The same goes for most of the audience, once the popcorn bag rustle had died down (another note to Beau Cinema, bagged popcorn doesn’t make for a good cinema experience because of the noise of the bags), though there were a few moments where a reminder of the Wittertainment cinema going code of conduct would have been handy.
So, despite a few too many comings and goings during the screening and lack of leg room, I think its safe to say that the re-opening of ‘Beau Cinema’ was a success, and, while it may not have the newest films, it will give us a chance to see a different selection on a big screen with a genuinely impressive projection and sound system for our island, and giving us a third option for watching films, (along with CineGuernsey and unfairly maligned Mallard) in which we are rather spoiled.