Going back to turn Steven Spielberg's 20-year-old dino thriller "Jurassic Park" into a 3-D spectacle (required to watch with, yes, 3-D spectacles) is almost as egregious an error, it turns out, as going back and bringing tyrannosaurs and triceratops to life again in the first place.

You're not going to lose a limb like poor chain-smoking computer nerd Samuel L. Jackson does in the movie, but you may lose your patience while you're sitting there in the dark. Remember the seamless way those gallimimuses (or is that gallimimi?) stampeded across the verdant Isla Nublar field, almost mowing down Sam Neill and those two kids? Remember when that same trio is perched in the high branches of some Cretaceous-era tree, gazing out on a horizon dotted with a herd of giant grazing brachiosaurs?

Visual effects technology was downright primitive back in 1993. But the CG artists, model artists, matte painters and digital renderers -- Spielberg's whole talented crew -- managed to create the illusion that Richard Attenborough's genetically engineered theme park off the coast of Costa Rica was real.

Ironically, "Jurassic Park's" 3-D conversion actually undermines that illusion, and compromises the experience. When Spielberg and his great cinematographer Dean Cundey shot the film in Hawaii in 1992, they weren't thinking 3-D, and so foreground and background, actors, props and animatronic beasties were framed and shot with a traditional 2-D viewing in mind. And, of course, with the dino visual effects in mind -- how to make those raptors and tyrannosaurs look as if they're really commingling with Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Wayne Knight and all.


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But the "depth mapping" and depth-image rendering required for a 3-D conversion (which typically runs $10 million to $15 million) exaggerates and re-emphasizes the way those scenes are composed. Now, when that giant T Rex bears down on the two Jurassic Park Jeeps and their scared-silly passengers, the 3-D retrofit makes the scene look phonier, cheesier, almost like 1950s sci-fi. The fakery becomes more apparent.

Yes, there are some close-up scenes -- the raptors in the Jurassic Park kitchen, stalking kiddie stars Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards, and that poor, sickly triceratops that Neil and Dern hug and poke -- that benefit from the 3-D-ization. But mostly, if you factor in the dimming effects of the 3-D glasses (everything less bright, less vivid) and the reformulated depth-of-field perspectives, "Jurassic Park 3D" does this fun, scary, innovative family film a disservice. Get the original from Netflix and save yourself some dollars -- and disappointment.

P.S.: When "Jurassic Park" was released in 1993, I gave it three stars out of four -- that rating still stands. It's the conversion that gets only two.

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Rating: PG-13 (for some really scary dinos)
Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Running time: 2 hours, 6 minutes.