As a longtime movie fan, I’ll agree with this. That first view of the brachiosaurus wsas meant not only to wow the audience, I’m convinced it was meant to wow fans of special effects.
In all the teasers at the time, they’d show only the tail. They wanted it to be seen for the first time in the theaters, I’m certain.
i grew up on the effects of Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, Jim Danforth, David Allen, and others. Heck, I’d animated my own dinosaurs. I knew the tricks they used to convey a sense of reality – highly detailed skin textures, anointed with special liquids to bring it out for the camera; using bladders inside the figure to give a subtle illusion of breathing. Making “muscles” under the skin so that the skin would move like that of a real creature, not a stuffed toy.
The brachiosaur blew all that away in a single shot. Its skin not only moved as if it had muscles – it was wrinkled and baggy like an elephant’s hide, and all those wrinkles stretched and jostled like a relatively rigid animation model never could. The mottled skin coloring was far more detailed than the finest air-brushed model, and it moved in so many parts in so many different directions at different speeds that it would have driven an animator insane to keep track of it all. It was so far beyond previous methods that it was awesome. Quantum Leaps light years in size, to mix physics metaphors.
I didn’t see any “jerkiness”. In fact, this is one area where the CGI is notably superior to traditional animation – you can move and blur things so that the “strobing” one often sees with rapid movement in traditional animation isn’t there (George Lucas had used computer programs to provide such blurring, in fact, on the ttraditionally-animated effects in The Empire Strikes Back, and i believe they were used in Dragonslayer, too. In addition, the sometoime clumsy matte lines and edges on bluescreen-type effects could be done much more cleanly with digital composition.
the main defect I did see was a failure to correctly match lighting direction and light levels – sometimes the dinosaurs seemed to “glow” a bit, as with the velociraptors in the kitchen sequence. But that’s peretty minor. I didn’t notice it at the time – I think I’m jaded now by overexposure.