Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy
- Street Date:
- October 25th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- M. Enois Duarte
- Review Date: 1
- October 18th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- Universal Studios
- 348 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated PG-13
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of 'Jurassic Park - 3D.'
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
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 nearly twenty years later, it's surprising to see they've 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. Even as doctors Grant (Sam Neill), Sattler (Laura Dern) and Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) finally arrive at Hammond's (Richard Attenborough) island, the narrative takes its time, showing first the huge electrical fences that hint at something dangerous being caged. Later, we see the reactions of three characters, before we're finally allowed to see the once extinct animals for ourselves. The way in which the camera slowly pans to look up at the Brachiosaurus remains just as inspiring and jaw-dropping as ever. Then, we move to a long shot of dinosaurs by a lake which tops it all off.
The story itself is actually rather ordinary, even the inclusion of the two children (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) 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. (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.
As for the rest of the film, viewers are forced to waddle and stumble through a clumsy display of what is essentially an explanation for why Dr. Malcolm (Goldblum) returns but not the other two. And as before, one precocious youngster — this time via Malcolm's daughter (Vanessa Lee Chester) — joins an expedition team to another of Hammond's (Attenborough) dinosaur resorts, a top secret location where the extinct animals live freely. Until now, of course. Malcolm's group, which brings Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, and Richard Schiff together, is there merely to explore and observe. Hammond's nephew (Arliss Howard), however, has his own plans, and hires a separate team of big game hunters lead by the wonderful Pete Postlethwaite.
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)
Jurassic Park III
Going into the third and supposedly final installment, we take a turn towards the slightly worse as human characterization is once again overshadowed by CG spectacle. This time around a family of Velociraptors takes command of the screen as a small team of rescuers search for a missing boy and quickly find themselves running for their lives. In fact, the long-distance cousins of modern birds show better communication skills than the rest of the cast, which is a real shame. Of all the extinct creatures put on display throughout the series, the raptors are easily the best attraction of the trilogy, but it's ultimately all for naught when viewers care very little about the survival of the humans being chased.
Reprising his role as the fearfully cautious Dr. Grant, Sam Neill returns much in the same grumbling manner as the character he's meant to portray. Although he seems quite comfortable in the role that brought him mainstream attention, the New Zealand actor also appears to be running on cruise control, simply riding through the motions of always stating how being on the island is a bad idea yet wanting to observe the creatures as they hunt. He's brought back nonetheless because he's the best man to serve as guide for a divorced couple searching for their son (Trevor Morgan). It also serves as a clever plot device for a movie that doesn't quite pan out as excitingly as part two or nowhere near as well as the first.
While not directly taken from any specific piece of material by Crichton, the second sequel pieces together a few elements not used in the previous two books, namely the aviary filled with Pteranodons. It does make for some entertaining moments that fans of the books can delight in, though the story will still leave much to be desired. Grating throughout the whole show is the addition of Téa Leoni as the understandably worried mother trying to find her son in this lost world. Joining her quest is her ex-husband played by William H. Macy and Grant's protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola). And like Neill, everyone is made to step out of the way and allow the visual effects to work their magic. Sadly, by the time we come to this third outing, much of the spellbinding charm and enchantment of the illusion starts to wear a bit thin, and all we're left with is a quaint amusement and a desire to revisit the first movie instead. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings the 'Jurassic Park' trilogy in an ultimate box set that contains all three movies on separate Blu-ray discs. Each is a Region Free, BD50 disc with the usual annoying trailers at the start and housed inside a typical tri-fold box with three, clear-plastic panels. The cardboard slipcover is kept closed with a Velcro dot, and once opened, owners can read a breakdown on the supplemental material available. They are also excruciatingly slow to load because they're connecting to the BD-Live network, but once completed we are greeted by the standard menu selection with full-motion clips and the iconic score playing in the background.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Arriving with a fresh 1080p/VC-1 encode (1.85:1), 'Jurassic Park' sparkles on Blu-ray. It's a definite improvement over previous releases, showing a great deal more in terms of definition and resolution. Some of the softer portions of the image are clearly the result of age, and most occur during the several visual effects sequences.
Nonetheless, 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 fall flat. Again, 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)
Jurassic Park III
As luck would have it, the worst movie in the trilogy also happens to be the best looking disc of the bunch. The 1080p/VC-1 encode is incredibly revealing, especially in close-ups, filled with several scenes of sharp, terrifically defined lines in clothing, the surrounding plant life and on the dinosaur animatronics. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture is excellently detailed, but as with the previous two, digital effects and composites bring a noticeable drop in resolution quality. It's nothing terribly grating or too damaging, but the sudden shift is immediately perceptible. Contrast is strong and nicely balanced, allowing for great visibility and clarity in the distance, while black levels are deep and accurate, with better than expected shadow delineation. Primaries are richly-saturated, while the softer secondary hues are equally lively, making the entire transfer a pleasure to watch. (Video Rating: 4/5)
The Audio: Rating the Sound
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)
Jurassic Park III
As expected, the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack for the second sequel keeps things rocking with plenty of dino havoc. The front soundstage feels spacious, creating a wonderfully expansive image that's quite engaging. Movement across the screen is flawless, with convincing off-screen effects, while vocals are excellently prioritized in the center. The mid-range is terrifically extensive, allowing for plenty of rich clarity and loud, brash mayhem. The low-end adds a thunderous presence to the lossless mix, making the room come alive every time Spinosaurus chases after Grant and company. The rears are at a near constant, with a variety of discrete ambient effects and superb lifelike directionality. Action sequences fill the back speakers with endless commotion and stirring energy, generating a satisfyingly immersive soundfield and making this high-rez track a reference quality listen. (Audio Rating: 5/5)
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
The 'Jurassic Park' films have been released a few times on other available home video formats, and Universal has been kind enough to port over the same set of supplements. But this latest release, dubbed the "Ultimate Trilogy," offers some new surprises for fans, and they're shared with its DVD counterpart. Owners also get digital copies of each film, which can be downloaded via internet and special codes found inside the box.
- 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.
- 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) — The original theatrical previews ends the assortment.
- Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure (HD, 25 min) — The final installment to the six-part documentary features certain members of the cast and crew reminiscing about the production and working with director Joe Johnston. Viewers can enjoy lots of good BTS footage while everyone talks about practical effects, set design, shooting on location as well as in a soundstage and the choice of the Spinosaurus as the new villain. Really interesting stuff, especially if you're a fan of the movie.
- Audio Commentary — The conversation features the special F/X team Stan Winston, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Michael Lantieri, providing an enjoyably detailed technical look at the film. Granted, the men focus their attention primarily on the animatronics and digital effects, but it's also precisely what makes it such a fascinating listen. Understandably, their exchange is scene specific, but they fill in the gaps with recollections on the production and thoughts on where practical effects now stand in modern visuals. For fans, the commentary track is informative and very interesting.
- Archival Featurettes (SD, 78 min) — Once again, this section brings together various supplements from past home video releases, such as the original making-of piece with cast & crew interviews and lots of BTS footage on the visual effects. This is followed by a brief overview on the dinosaurs featured in the movie and another slightly longer look at the same creatures and the special effects used to bring them to life by touring Stan Winston's workshop. The remaining featurettes focus on the film's sound effects, a look at the storyboard artwork of Ed Verreaux and finally, we spend a few minutes digging up dinosaurs with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner.
- Behind the Scenes (SD, 29 min) — The next assortment of short featurettes has viewers tour Stan Winston's studios, followed by three segments of the animatronics at work on the set and compared to the finished product. The visit to ILM studios shows the process of creating CGI creatures with specific lifelike details and making it all work with the live action sequences. Another piece allows fans a 360-degree view of the dinosaurs featured in the film. Storyboard comparison and a still gallery complete this section.
- Trailer (SD) — Also included is the original theatrical preview of the movie.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
The only high-def exclusives are the usual collection of BD-Live Functionality, News Ticker, My Scenes, a pocketBLU app and each disc come D-Box Enabled.
The 'Jurassic Park Trilogy' is a fun and exciting thrill-ride that imagines an amusement park run amok when its prehistoric live attractions break free. They remain an imaginative series of films. Hitting Blu-ray for the first, the movies look great in high definition video. The audio is electrifying, as would be expected from movies that feature out of control dinosaurs. Most all of the supplemental material has been ported over, along with a couple of new extras, making the overall package a must-own for fans and a highly-recommended addition to any Blu-ray library.
- Three-Disc Blu-ray Set
- 3 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs
- Region Free
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
- French DTS 5.1
- Spanish DTS 5.1
- English SDH
- “Return to Jurassic Park” Six-Part Documentary
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Storyboard Comparisons
- Still Galleries
- Digital Copies
Exclusive HD Content
- My Scenes
- pocketBLU app
- BD-Live Functionality
- News Ticker
- D-BOX Motion Code
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