Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
5 Stars
High-Def Extras
3 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection

Street Date:
October 14th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 17th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
1971
Studio:
Universal
Length:
960 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Duel (1971)

Steven Spielberg began his career directing episodes for several TV shows, amassing a body of work that impressed Universal Studios enough to sign him for a couple picture deals. Although initially made and planned as a "movie-of-the-week," 'Duel' is considered by fans and historians as the legendary filmmaker's feature-length debut, in part because it is a shockingly good film but also because it was later released to theaters on a limited run. But, such particular details are quickly overlooked when an incredibly simple story about road rage, from a script by Richard Matheson, is turned into a nightmarish scenario of a man feeling defenseless against a 1955 Peterbilt tanker truck. Dennis Weaver plays the terrified family man on a business trip in his Plymouth sedan, a vehicle that could easily be crushed. Making it all the more unnerving is the mystery behind the mostly-unseen driver's bloodthirsty pursuit.

The only crime or insult Weaver's character ever committed, as far as we're aware of, is that he passed the slow-moving truck on a two-lane California highway. And as if that, along with the scary cat and mouse chase, weren't enough to be frightening, Spielberg employs a variety of stylish camerawork, demonstrating a great deal of skill and talent as visual storyteller, a gift and aptitude for churning out an effective thriller with limited resources. Most apparent are a variety of simple dolly shots, such as when a panic-stricken Weaver sits in the diner and the camera fluidly moves into a close-up, generating a nervous, unsteady feel. Arguably, the most memorable scene is the truck's introduction, a lovely shot that starts with the bright red Plymouth and smoothly glides screen left to show the size and grimy, creepy ugliness of the truck. It wouldn't be a for another four years that the director finally made his mark, but Spielberg's 'Duel' foreshadowed the future of a hugely influential master filmmaker. (Movie Rating: 4.5/5)

The Sugarland Express (1974)

This absolutely fantastic gem is seen as Spielberg's official directorial debut in the more traditional sense because it was made with a theatrical release in mind. An awesome blend of comedy and drama with various neo-noir touches typical of the New Hollywood style emerging at the time, the film doesn't really demonstrate the director's unique voice, but it has an energy and elegance that's evidence of a talented filmmaker. Loosely inspired by the kidnapping of a Texas trooper in 1969, Spielberg wrote the story with Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins, turning an hours-long event into a touchingly funny melodrama about two convicts running to save their only child from foster care. At the height of her popularity and stardom, Goldie Hawn stars as the naïve mother carried away by her own fantasies while William Atherton plays the husband desperate to please her every whim, and Michael Sacks tries to remain cool and collected as the patrolman.

Spielberg makes it known audiences are in for one of the wildest, zaniest road movies they've ever watched the moment Atherton's Clovis breaks out of jail and rides away without fuss in the car belonging to fellow inmate's parents. What sets off a crazy, all-state pursuit is another hilarious scene with that elderly couple driving far below the speed limit, forcing Sacks' trooper to pull them over. The brilliance in the storytelling is the several effectively poignant moments from the main characters, including Ben Johnson's kindly but troubled Captain Tanner. One such moving sequence has our two ironic heroes making eye-contact with the captain from a distance, setting into motion the challenge of him making a difficult decision. A later scene in an RV has the two acting like children, and as they watch a Roadrunner cartoon, Clovis realizes the severity of his situation by relating to the coyote's futile attempts. Altogether, the film is a highly impressive debut from a young and gifted storyteller. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

Jaws

'Jaws' marks a major and significantly momentous point in the history of cinema and filmmaking, whether as a general movie-going experience or as an interest for academic study. Definitely the most obvious aspect of its legacy is that it introduced Spielberg to the world and made him, who at the time was still only 28-years-old, into a household name. The film doesn't exactly illustrate a particular style that's uniquely his — that's to come years later with 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,' which evolved into a distinctively refined aesthetic in 'Schindler's List' and 'Munich' — but it's one hell of a prelude of things to come from such a young filmmaker. The 1975 horror thriller shows skill, polish, and efficiency, delivering the sort of terrifying, visceral punch we expect from movies but rarely attain. And to this day, just shy of its 40th anniversary, it remains one of the greatest, most effective suspense films ever made.

That skill and polish is significant because the simple story, based on the Peter Benchley novel of the same name, of hunting a man-eating great white shark terrorizing a small beach-town resort is exactly that: very simple. The idea, which in effect ushered in the era of bankable "high-concept" premises, is typical of the sort of material commonly seen in low-budget B-movies, a creature-feature of the Exploitation variety which major studios would normally pass on to smaller independent production companies. The filmmakers took a schlock-quality concept and brought it to the level of mainstream acceptability, a brilliant masterpiece and spectacle of fear. Basically, Spielberg's first box-office smash also left a permanent mark in the world of Exploitation Cinema by making B-grade material accessible to a wider audience, opening doors for movies like George Lucas' 'Star Wars' and Ridley Scott's 'Alien.'

On a cinematic scale, Spielberg's film is a defining moment in the history of motion pictures, unexpectedly inaugurating the summer blockbuster approach to filmmaking which obviously still continues today, making 'Jaws' a genuine masterpiece of suspense and terror. (Movie Rating: 5/5)

1941

Although a success at the box office during its theatrical run, Spielberg's slapstick ensemble comedy is largely considered one of the director's weaker efforts and a financial disappointment compared to his two previous blockbusters: 'Jaws' and 'Close Encounters.' This, by no means, makes it's a bad film, but in light of his entire body of work — of course, this is at the advantage of being able to now reflect on the whole canon — '1941' is not the laugh-riot it so desperately strives to be. Don't get me wrong, I still find the movie satisfyingly entertains, providing several hearty laughs throughout. The plot about Los Angeles residents slipping into a panic soon after the attack at Pearl Harbor has a great deal of promise and potential. But from a critical standpoint, the story by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale and John Milius is unfocused and all over the place, trying to give every character and performance equal screen time.

Essentially, the movie labors and toils for greatness, but never quite achieves what the filmmakers so clearly intended — thanks in large part to studio meddling. However, especially for Spielberg fans, what has kept this mostly misunderstood comedy afloat and gained it a very strong following is that it can be seen and enjoyed as an auteur passion project. What I mean by this is that it demonstrates Spielberg's creative style and another step towards his unique directorial voice, and this is particularly true of the half-hour extended version that was made available on home video years later. The pacing is slow and methodical, one which not only introduces a host of characters and backstories but also slowly builds the tension to side-splitting pandemonium and zaniness. Then there is his later-to-be signature sense of the grandiose and child-like fantasy. The end result may not be his strongest, but '1941' can still entertain fans. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Thirty years since its initial theatrical run, the story of the friendship between a boy and an extra-terrestrial still manages to bring me to tears. The bizarre alien creature that awkwardly wobbles from a tool shed towards a terrified Elliot (Henry Thomas) with Reese's Pieces candy in hand looks just as ugly and strange as the first time audiences saw it, but in the capable, brilliant hands of Steven Spielberg, the weird puppet, animatronic or little person inside a costume becomes an extraordinary and surprisingly believable being we soon grow to care for and even wish to be a part of our own lives. The fact that the film can still work its magic and be just as effective as ever is a testament to the work done by the filmmakers and of Spielberg's mastery of the craft.

Following one box-office success after another, Spielberg inserted that same level of awe-inspiring excitement and child-like wonder he achieved in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' Only, here, he further explored what could be accomplished with the camera and ultimately perfected his unique approach, one which came to define the 80s style of moviemaking. From lens flares and the beautiful, colorful cinematography of Allen Daviau, the film is an endless array of shots which actually facilitate an emotional response from viewers as well as enhance a particular scene. The most memorable is Elliot's first actual meeting of E.T. in the backyard, where Spielberg alternates between a variety of shots, clearly expressing the boy's fear and panic, and we're right there with him, experiencing the moment. And look no further for the most imaginative use of the camera than in his treatment of Peter Coyote's mysterious government agent, known only by the key rings hanging from his belt and the chiming sounds they make. On a more thoughtful and skilled level, that cool camera device and recurring motif is actually part of a grander scheme, an allusion to one of the plot's more insightful themes.

During its original theatrical run, this modern fairytale of contemporary life became an instant box-office smash and quickly grew into a cultural phenomenon and icon of the decade. It endures as a magical and memorable masterpiece of cinema because the story comes with a timeless, universal message which future generations of moviegoers can continue to cherish and admire. (Movie Rating: 5/5)

Always

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman, 'Always' is another feature often considered one of Spielberg's weaker efforts, an obvious departure from his usual fare that curiously lacks his signature style. Still, the romantic drama is a director's film, showing a good deal of creativity and ingenuity for a somewhat clichéd and ultimately mediocre melodrama. The camerawork is impressive and inspiring enough to save it from falling into obscurity and make it a surprisingly wondrous oddity in the filmmaker's repertoire. That may sound like a strange oxymoron, but essentially, and similarly to his work in '1941,' the film strains to fly higher than its generic plot will actually allow. Based on Victor Fleming's 1943 war drama 'A Guy Named Joe,' the story follows daredevil aerial firefighter and recently deceased Pete who is tasked with serving as the voice of inspiration to aspiring pilot Ted (Brad Johnson), but reluctantly guides him to fall in love with the woman he loved when alive.

The ingredients for something truly special and inspiring are there, including terrific performances from the cast and a memorable final cameo appearance from Audrey Hepburn. Even the conceit itself is wonderfully intriguing: in death, a man struggles with releasing his former love from the pain of his memory. But sadly, Spielberg can't quite manage the takeoff and fails to stick the landing, leaving audiences feeling a bit empty and unsatisfied during an otherwise well-orchestrated and staged climax. Nevertheless, it's the director talented eye for detail and visual storytelling that keeps the narrative in the air, making it just engaging enough to still be entertaining. A strikingly notable moment is a two-shot when Dreyfuss' Pete whispers to Hunter's Dorinda, a framing which he later revisits towards the end when he inspires her rather than saddens. There are several other shots like that which make 'Always' an intriguing watch but not particularly good or up to Spielberg's usual greatness. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

Jurassic Park

Along with 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day,' Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park' marks the beginning of the groundbreaking years in computer-generated imagery. Not since the stained-glass knight of 'Young Sherlock Holmes,' had audiences seen digital visual effects used so effectively in a live-action film. By today's standards, the visuals of this fantastically entertaining sci-fi adventure do, admittedly, seem a bit quaint, but twenty years later, it's surprising to see they have actually held up rather splendidly, still delivering that same sense of wonder. Spielberg is also at his best in building suspense and anticipation, making audiences wait until just the right moment to reveal the colossal, prehistoric creatures.

The story itself is actually rather ordinary, even the inclusion of the two children seems intended to attract younger viewers. But it must be said, the film intentionally places more emphasis on a sense of adventure and excitement than on the science or the possibilities. Spielberg and company utilized the best available CG technology of the time and smartly balanced that with the amazing, lifelike animatronics of Stan Winston and his team. The plot is just engaging enough to maintain our attention while being overwhelmed by the visionary and spectacular visuals. 'Jurassic Park' continues to capture our imagination and serves as proof of what Hollywood magic can truly deliver. Some twenty-odd years later, Spielberg's epic fantasy adventure remains the grand spectacle of childhood wonder and endless imagination. (Movie Rating: 5/5)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Unfortunately, the first sequel is proof that lightning rarely strikes twice, even for the likes of someone as highly-regarded as Steven Spielberg. 'The Lost World' (which shares only a title with the novel by the late Michael Crichton) doesn't necessarily try to repeat the success of its predecessor, but it clearly wants to relive the same sense of wonder and exhilaration. It's doesn't quite succeed at capturing our imagination or sparking that same awe-inspiring level as the first movie, but that isn't to say it doesn't come close at times. Then again, there's really only one scene which comes to mind, involving a pair of T-Rexes, their newborn dino, a large, extended RV trailer and lots of loud crashing roars amid a rainstorm.

What distracts from enjoying a second trip through prehistoric fantasy is a very apparent lack of characterization. The make-believe CGI creatures and animatronics often display more personality and charisma than their live-action costars. It's strange seeing characters so underdeveloped and two-dimensional in a movie that really requires the human aspect to sustain believability. Audiences are continuously reminded that corporate greed is bad and sometimes just as selfishly ravenous as the Velociraptor depicted on screen, but rarely are they allowed to connect emotionally with a particular character, which greatly diminishes the film's attempts at suspense. Nevertheless, the sequel has its moments of fun action with a silly, purely for the visual whimsy conclusion in San Diego. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings 'Steven Spielberg: Director's Collection' to Blu-ray in a handsome and sturdy eight-disc box set. Inside the box in another package that opens like a book with each page showing colors pictures and artwork related to each film. Those same pages also serve as sleeves for each disc which slide out by placing some slight pressure to the top and bottom, widening the mouth only a little. The inside is smooth and glossy to prevent the discs from scratching.

All eight films are contained on separate Region Free, BD50 discs and found inside one of the pages, respective of their order of theatrical release. The '1941' disc comes with both the 118-min theatrical version and the 146-min director's cut, a nearly half hour difference showing a few bits of dialogue and minor action sequences. The package also includes a 58-page book with color pictures, an in-depth history on Steven Spielberg and notes and trivia on each film. At startup, each disc goes straight to either a static picture or a screen with full-motion clips while music plays in the background and offering the usual menu options. 

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Duel (1971)

Spielberg's directorial debut steers its road rage onto Blu-ray with a fantastic, highly-detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) that consistently surprises throughout. Coming from a brand-new master and restoration, making it a noticeable improvement over previous editions, the picture shows superbly sharp details in clothing and the surrounding foliage. Every imperfection, rust spot and greasy stain on the truck is exposed while facial complexions are incredibly revealing with lifelike textures. Colors are bright and richly-saturated, especially the vivid primaries. Contrast is spot-on while blacks are true and accurate. Except for a couple moments of low resolution related to the condition of the source, the film looks absolutely terrific! (Video Rating: 4.5/5)

The Sugarland Express (1974)

Spielberg's theatrical debut makes a leisured getaway with a first-rate AVC-encoded transfer that evidences the source to be in outstanding condition, except for a couple poorly-resolved moments due to age. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the picture, likely coming from a brand-new HD master, shows excellent detailing and sharp fine lines throughout. Individual hairs are clean and distinct; threading and stitching in the clothing are discrete; and facial complexions reveal every wrinkle, blemish and smudge with striking clarity. Primaries are boldly rendered while secondary hues provide warmth and energy. Contrast is well-balanced with crisp whites, and blacks are rich, providing a cinematic appeal. (Video Rating: 4/5)

Jaws

The classic summer blockbuster takes a massive bite out of Blu-ray with a spectacular high-def presentation. Presented in its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode shows spot-on contrast and stunning clarity into the far distance. Black levels are true and often sumptuous in several areas with excellent delineation of the various gradations and small background objects hiding in the shadows. The color palette receives a generous boost without feeling artificial, especially in the bold primaries. The video displays sharp, distinct definition in the hair and clothing of the cast, revealing wrinkles and pores in the faces of actors. Although the picture comes with a few age-related issues, like soft edges, on the whole, this is a splendid presentation of a great classic. (Video Rating: 5/5)

1941

The cult comedy favorite invades high-def shores with an outstanding AVC encode that's faithful to Spielberg and cinematographer William A. Fraker's artistic intentions. Several scenes were deliberately shot in a soft focus, giving specific moments a dreamy, classic Hollywood look, while others were done in a sharp deep focus that reveal fine lines and exposed detailed, lifelike facial complexions. The extended cut comes with a few scenes of very mild poor resolution, which is mentioned at the start in white text. Colors are bold and accurate with great flesh tones, and contrast is comfortably bright. Black levels are rich and true, providing the 2.35:1 image with strong shadows and an appreciably cinematic appeal. (Video Rating: 4/5)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Restored and remastered, 'E.T.' lands on Blu-ray with a terrific AVC MPEG-4 encode that wonderfully preserves the cinematography of Allen Daviau. Despite the amount of heavy shadows and limited light, details come through without issue, revealing many of the small trinkets and pieces of furniture scattered throughout the family house. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the transfer displays a fine, visible layer of grain that's consistent and stable with a crisp and well-balanced contrast. True to the film's deliberate look, interiors are quite dim and dark with an interesting haze and lots of shadows. This has a slight effect on the color palette, but primaries are accurate from beginning to end with warm secondary hues. Black levels are also somewhat effected, but not to any damaging extent, appearing quite rich and deep for a majority of the movie's runtime. (Video Rating: 4.5/5)

Always

The romantic drama does a flyby and dumps its cargo with a sensational and often stunning 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. The picture is terrifically detailed, exposing every rivet and the tiniest rust spot on the various airplanes. Each blade of grass is distinct; fine lines in the leaves of trees are discrete; and facial complexions appear natural with lifelike textures. Contrast is spot-on with brilliant whites while black levels are true and accurate with strong shadow delineation. Primaries are richly saturated with bright, bold primaries throughout. However, there a couple questionable moments where whites run a tad hot, some slight posterization, and a few sequences seem artificially sharpened. All things considered, the movie looks fantastic on Blu-ray. (Video Rating: 4/5)

Jurassic Park

Arriving with a fresh 1080p/VC-1 encode (1.85:1), 'Jurassic Park' sparkles on Blu-ray. The elements used are in remarkably good shape with excellent detailing of clothing, foliage, and the animatronics. Facial complexions appear healthy, with splendid visible textures in close-ups. Colors are naturally rendered with primaries coming off the brightest. Generally, contrast is spot-on and crisp, but there are times when it falls flat, and thankfully, this mostly happens when CGI effects come into play. Black levels are accurate and deep with admirable shadow delineation. The transfer also comes with a thin layer of grain throughout, which tends to be more prominent in poorly-lit interiors, providing the movie with a splendid film-like appearance that fans should love. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

The sequel to the mega-blockbuster arrives on Blu-ray in pretty much the same condition as the first — in good shape, but showing its age. Because it features more CGI effects than its predecessor, the VC-1 encode (1.85:1) also brings with it more scenes of blurriness and poor resolution. Digital composites are probably the worst, since they come with plainly visible black crush and very soft outlines, especially at nighttime. Nevertheless, the transfer does offer plenty of nicely detailed sequences in daylight, with sharp, clean lines and great visibility of background info. Contrast and brightness is well-balanced, with crisp whites and deep, rich blacks throughout. Colors are bold and vibrant, while flesh tones seem quite natural. The picture is far from perfect, but it's still an upgrade from its DVD counterpart. (Video Rating: 3/5)

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Duel (1971)

The made-for-television film smashes it up with a pair of excellent DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks which terrifically deliver the suspense and thrills. The first is a 2.0 mono track that's faithful to the original design, and which I usually tend to favor, but surprisingly, the 5.1 upmix option is quite impressive with a great deal to admire. Dialogue reproduction is superb and well-prioritized within a very welcoming and splendidly broad soundstage, exhibiting a sharp, detailed mid-range with room-penetrating clarity. The latter track is a tad more pleasing due to a healthy, accurately responsive low-end that provides a menacing weight and presence to the truck. Rear activity is equally enjoyable with subtle atmospherics and strong panning effects, creating a satisfying soundfield. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

The Sugarland Express (1974)

Clovis and Lou Jean make their escape with an equally impressive DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack that delivers an engaging and highly-active soundstage. Although contained in the fronts, imaging is pleasantly broad with lots of discrete, off-screen effects in the background, displaying a great deal of warmth and outstanding fidelity. Dynamic range exhibits clean, detailed highs, allowing for great clarity in each gunshot and every action scene, while the mids are distinct and exact. Vocals are very well-prioritized and pristine in the center from beginning to end, and low bass is appropriate and competent for a film of this vintage. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

Jaws

A brilliant and wonderfully immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack comes with rears that come alive with discrete atmospherics of the beach, ocean and the chatter of tourists flooding Amity. The iconic music of John Williams bleeds fluidly into the surrounds, beautifully enveloping the listening area with excitement and thrills. Although back speakers are used a bit more than should be allowed, considering the original recording, this lossless mix doesn't lose focus and remains a front-heavy presentation. Conversations are precise and intelligible with superb emotive intonation. Dynamic range is sharply rendered and detailed, nicely separating the mids from the highs with extraordinary clarity, while the low-end is at time potent and thrillingly effective. (Audio Rating: 5/5)

1941

The streets of Hollywood roar with excitement thanks to an awesomely fun and highly active DTS-HD soundtrack that fills the room with various ambient effects for a satisfyingly immersive experience. Although a mostly front-heavy presentation, very subtle atmospherics nicely enhance the soundfield with the sounds of local wildlife, busy streets and the music of John Williams. Action war scenes, of course, employ the rears with lots of bullets every corner and planes flying overhead. Excellent channel separation exhibits great balance and movement while dynamic range delivers sharp, detailed clarity. Low bass is adequate and decently weighty for a film of this vintage, and vocals are prestien in the center. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The sci-fi family classic also arrives with a spectacular and immersive DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The lossless mix breathes life to the sound system with rich detail and clarity in all seven channels. Every time the haunting, fairytale-like motif comes on, the front soundstage fills with warmth and fidelity, generating a wonderfully engaging image. Dynamics and acoustics are crisp with sharp, almost lifelike precision in the instrumentation. Vocals are clean and well-prioritized in the center with remarkable intonation, allowing for viewers to hear every tearful piece of dialogue. Low bass is appropriate for a movie of this vintage, mostly reserved for providing depth to the music. Subtle atmospherics in outdoors sequences broaden the listening area while the sounds of cars or space ships flying overhead move with fluid, flawless panning. (Audio Rating: 4.5/5)

Always

The Spielberg romance fights the Blu-ray fires with an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio track that offers a broad and wide-ranging soundstage. Imaging allows John Williams's score plenty of room to breathe with rich clarity and detail in the orchestration while also delivering convincing off-screen effects and terrifically well-balanced channel separation. The mid-range is surprisingly extensive with nicely defined highs that never distort or falter during the few action sequences. Dialogue is crisp and pristine in the center, and bass is hearty with adequate weight. Rear activity is equally exciting with discrete atmospherics and fluid panning, creating a satisfyingly immersive soundfield. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

Jurassic Park

As would be expected, the audio for 'Jurassic Park' offers a truly awesome aural experience that fans will not soon forget. The DTS-HD Master Audio conveys a consistent wall of sound that's highly engaging and movement across the soundstage that seems fluid and effortless. Conversations between characters are well-prioritized amongst the film's many action sequences, and dynamic range is wonderfully extensive, providing a rich, sharply-detailed image that listeners can savor. The low-end is authoritative and complex, delivering deep, omnidirectional frequencies that make walls rattle unexpectedly. Some of the best moments are, of course, when the T-Rex stomps its way onto the screen, but viewers can also feel the rumbling snarls of dinosaurs. Rear activity is also at a constant with a soundfield full of exotic wildlife, the roars of the T-Rex and John Williams's memorable score. The lossless mix for this modern classic is terrifically immersive, one that will give systems a great workout. (Audio Rating: 5/5)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Much like the first movie, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is sure to wake up the neighbors. Because the majority of the film takes place within a jungle setting, the back speakers are almost-always alive and kicking with various sounds of birds, creatures and movement amongst the trees. Directionality and pans are flawless, creating an enveloping soundfield that's highly engaging. The front soundstage is spacious, with excellently balanced channel separation. Vocals can, at times, feel a bit drowned out by the all the commotion, but it's rather clear for the most part. Dynamic range exhibits exceptional, room-penetrating clarity and strong differentiation of the upper frequencies. No surprise, low bass is deeply powerful, delivering an effective force to every gunshot, dino stomp, and roar. 'The Lost World' is lots of exhilarating fun in high-resolution audio. (Audio Rating: 5/5)

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Disc One

  • A Conversation with Steven Spielberg (SD, 36 min) — The legendary filmmaker sits down to share his memories about the production, the story, the cast & performance, and his filming process.
  • Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen (SD, 9 min) — The director returns to discuss the meager beginnings of his career.
  • Richard Matheson: The Writing of Duel (SD, 9 min) — The celebrated author talks about the genesis of the story, themes, adapting & developing the screenplay, and the changes made.
  • Still Gallery (HD)
  • Trailer (HD)

Disc Two

  • Trailer

Disc Three

  • The Making of Jaws (SD, 123 min) — The original documentary about the history of the production which was originally made for the Signature Collection laserdisc. Mostly a collection of interviews with the cast & crew and author Peter Benchley sharing experiences and anecdotes, the piece is rather exhaustive and amusingly informative. There is a great deal to learn from the doc about the pre, during and post-production challenges while enjoying never-before-seen videos of real-life sharks, hearing stories about working on the set and tons of BTS footage throughout.
  • From the Set (SD, 9 min) — Originally produced and aired in 1974, this is a British news featurette hosted by Iain Johnstone that functions pretty much like a promotional piece with an interview of Spielberg and BTS footage.
  • Jaws Archives (HD) — An amusing collection of storyboards, production photos and promotional art showing the lighthearted humor shared by all involved. Probably most interesting is the "Jaws Phenomenon," which is an assortment of photos and posters meant for marketing the film internationally.
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes (SD, 14 min) — Exactly as it sounds, a good collection of excised sequences worth checking for fans of the film.
  • Trailer (SD)

Disc Four

  • The Making of 1941 (SD, 101 min) — Broken into 19 shorter segments, this exhaustive retrospective covers a variety of topics, from story origins and inspirations to post-production and public reactions. Each piece comes with cast & crew interviews that share memories and impressions of their experience, along with a host of BTS footage and photos.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD)
  • Still Gallery (HD, 77 min)
  • Trailers (HD)

Disc Five

  • A Look Back (SD, 38 min) — A short making-of doc, formerly exclusive to the 3-disc DVD, features interviews with cast & crew talking about their experiencing on the production and sharing many wonderful memories. Tons of BTS footage plays in between the comments, making it a great watch for fans.
  • The Evolution & Creation of E.T. (SD, 50 min) — A bit more recent and longer doc than the previous, showing Spielberg talking about the story's origins, the film's themes and the personal influences the director injected into it. With more BTS footage interspersed throughout, several comments from other key players revolve around working with each other and the alien creature, the casting and of course, developing the right look for E.T. and the casts' emotional response. Best bits are towards the end with comparisons of the original 1982 cut to the digital alterations of the 2002 version, which actually look awful but Spielberg defends wholeheartedly.
  • The E.T. Reunion (SD, 18 min) — Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy reunite with the main cast to talk and reminisce on the production, working with one other and the film's impact on each person's life.
  • The Music of E.T. (SD, 10 min) — A brief but fairly interesting conversation with John Williams, where he talks about his impression of the film and about developing one of the most memorable cinematic scores.
  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere (SD, 18 min) — A look at the preparation, rehearsal and work that went into the 2002 theatrical premiere with a live performance of John Williams's score.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD) — The two, now-infamous scenes which were restored to the 2002 re-release of the film with digital alterations are collected here.
  • Designs, Photographs and Marketing (HD) — Broken into six categories, this is a still gallery of concept art and design by Ed Verreaux, Carlo Rambaldi and Ralph McQuarrie. There is also a large collection of production stills and marketing photos for fans to enjoy.
  • Trailers (SD) — Along with the original theatrical preview, there is also a vintage TV spot for the Special Olympics with E.T.

Disc Six

  • Trailer

Disc Seven

  • Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era (HD, 25 min) — The first in a six-part documentary series discusses not only the making of the movie but also gives viewers an inside look at the original direction filmmakers were going to take before realizing CGI was the way to go. Cast & crew interviews are mostly recollections on working with Stan Winston's special effects, surviving a real-life hurricane and working with Spielberg.
  • Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory (HD, 20 min) — The second part takes a much closer at the filming itself, particularly the special effects and acting with the animatronics. Viewers gain a better knowledge of the extensive work that went into creating the scenes which feature the movie's villains: the T-Rex and the Velociraptors. Of great interest is learning where the sounds of the dinosaurs originate, seeing some of the animatics, and how Winston's team made the dinosaurs come alive.
  • Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution (HD, 15 min) — As one would suspect by the title, the third segment of the exhaustive documentary gives fans a great discussion on the computer-generated images and the digital composites created by Industrial Light & Magic. Very interesting is listening to Spielberg share his thoughts on giving creators his input while in the middle of filming 'Schindler's List.' There are also some talks on the awesome sound effects and the soundtrack. It's a great watch for fans.
  • Archival Featurettes (SD, 66 min) — A few of the supplements from other releases are collected here, which starts with an aged EPK piece on the making of the film and filled with many of the same snippets found on the above segments. This is followed by another very brief promo segment and on-set footage from a handheld camera of Spielberg directing the movie. The last is probably the most interesting as it talks about the hurricane that delayed production for a few days.
  • Behind the Scene (SD, 27 min) — The rest of the bonuses are stored here, like storyboards and a gallery of stills & art concepts from ILM. Aside from seeing filmmakers scout locations, sit in pre-production meetings and see foley artists do their magic, the best segments are those showing the very early visual effects work and the comparisons.
  • Jurassic Park: Making the Game (1080i/60, 5 min) — A quick glance at the video game with interviews of the creators.
  • Trailer (SD) — The original preview brings the first disc to a close.

Disc Eight

  • Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World (HD, 28 min) — In the fourth entry to the documentary series, the discussion obviously turns towards filmmakers returning for a sequel, which Spielberg explains was always the plan in the back of his mind. At first, the thought was something different than what was made, but with Crichton already releasing a follow-up book, filmmakers decided to go in that much darker direction. The piece pretty much goes through the usual motion of showing the filmmaking process, being on location and the special effects with lots of BTS and interviews.
  • Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived (HD, 17 min) — The fifth segment focuses on the more technical aspects of the production, particularly the film's conclusion and how it was essentially written into the story on a whim. The digital and practical effects are also talked about extensively, often closely looking at specific action sequences, while several interviews mention the great deal of fun everyone had. Like the previous pieces, viewers also learn quite a bit about the sound and foley effects, which is amusing.
  • Archival Featurettes (SD, 84 min) — As in the first disc, this section gathers together the bonus material from past DVD releases of the sequel. The making-of piece is the standard fare exploring every aspect of the production and followed by basically a shorter version of the same featurette. Then there's an amusing animated short from ILM as a thank you to Spielberg and an interesting conversation with author Michael Crichton on the Jurassic Park novels.
  • Behind the Scenes (SD, 21 min) — As before, the remaining bonus features are stored here, which mostly sees a large collection of storyboards and a few still galleries. Of most interest is, again, the comparison footage of before and after ILM worked their magic into those scenes.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD) — A couple dialogue sequences which didn't make it to the final cut, and they're not terribly interesting.
  • Trailer (SD)

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Disc Three

  • The Shark Is still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws (SD, 101 min) — Another fantastic documentary, which can be watched sequentially or individually in ten parts, from the point of view of the movie's impact on the filmmaking industry. The entertaining retrospect comes with a variety of interviews from those involved with the film and those greatly inspired by it, such as Kevin Smith and M. Night Shyamalan. From the script's story and special effects to the music and marketing, the doc is a great breakdown of the production and an in-depth look at the different areas that went into the movie's making, giving an impression of how it has influenced the industry in that respect. This is a worthwhile and recommended watch.
  • Jaws: The Restoration (HD, 8 min) — A brief but highly informative piece on the film's extensive restoration process.

Disc Five

  • Steven Spielberg & E.T. (HD, 13 min) — A recent interview with the legendary filmmaker about the story's origins, its themes and the final script. Several comments are reiterations from other featurettes, but it still makes for a good conversation about a few of the technical details of the filmmaking process.
  • The E.T. Journals (SD, 54 min) — Another great documentary made from BTS footage and interviews shot during the production and edited in order as they would appear in the film. Broken into two parts that can be watched sequentially or separately, fans can watch how each scene was accomplished, see Spielberg at work and enjoy several never-before-seen scenes from the set. While Williams's iconic score plays in the background, we get lots of wonderful footage of the daily activity of the kids, hear many amusing comments and get a good sense of the camaraderie of cast & crew.

Final Thoughts

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings together eight films from legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, dubbed "The Director's Collection." True to its moniker, each feature is a perfect demonstration of Spielberg's unique style and voice as a visual storyteller. Contained on separate discs, the films arrive with excellent picture quality and terrific audio presentations, along with a host of special features that will give fans hours of enjoyment, making the overall package highly recommended.

Technical Specs

  • Eight-Disc Box Set
  • 8 BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1
  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • English DTS Mono
  • French DTS 5.1
  • Spanish DTS 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • French
  • Spanish

Supplements

  • Documentaries
  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboards
  • Trailers

Exclusive HD Content

  • Featurettes
  • Booklet

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