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. 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.
Now in its twentieth year since it originally released, Spielberg's epic fantasy adventure remains the grand spectacle of childhood wonder and endless imagination. Even if I wasn't fortunate enough to enjoy this film as a little boy, the now-legendary director of such splendid classics as 'Jaws,' 'Close Encounters,' the 'Indiana Jones' adventures and 'E.T.' was truly at the height of his game because he made feel like a child again. Even more amazing is the fact that this sci-fi classic continues to work its magic not only on me but also younger generations. And somehow, I'm sure it will continue to do so for many future moviegoers as well. It's a terrific and splendid film with the now added enjoyment of 3D.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings 'Jurassic Park' to 3D Blu-ray in a three-disc combo pack with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. Sitting comfortably on a flipper panel, the first two discs are Region Free, BD50s with the second being an identical copy from the previous release and accompanied by a DVD-9 copy. All three are housed inside the standard blue keepcase with a glossy and lightly embossed slipcover. At startup, the 3D Blu-ray is a little slow to boot, but it goes straight to a 3D main menu screen with full-motion clips and music.
Setting aside the fact that this is simply another completely unnecessary conversion of an already great-looking film, I'm happy to report that 'Jurassic Park' arrives with a rather pleasing and surprisingly satisfying 1080p/MVC MPEG-4 encode. While I wouldn't suggest this an improvement over the previous Blu-ray release, the extra dimension does add another layer to the story's sense of adventure and provides a substantially immersive effect to its enjoyment. Some of the softer portions, which mostly occur during the visual effects sequences, do tend to flatten the picture slightly, but it's nothing too serious. The most obvious offender is the very mild but still quite visible crosstalk throughout, which will be more apparent on some screens. This can be a bit of a nuisance.
Overall, however, the 1.85:1 image offers a wealth of 3D goodness. The transfer was made by the same folks who worked on the 'Titanic – 3D' conversion, and the results are consistently great with several really fantastic moments which take advantage of Dean Cundey's original photography. Separation between foreground and background objects is distinct and crystal-clear, often generating some amazing visual delights that penetrate deep into the backdrop. Although a few segments create a quirky pop-up book effect, especially those within the deep of the forest, on the whole, depth is quite astounding with excellent visibility of mountaintops and small plants in the far distance. When dinosaurs stand directly in front of the camera, turning their heads from one side to the other, the snouts poke through the screen amusingly, and thankfully don't feel like some exaggerated gimmick.
The rest of the presentation remains identical to its 2D counterpart, showing great detailing in the 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.
The audio is identical to the previous release, so the following is ported over from that review.
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.
Same set of supplements are carried over from the previous release, and they are all found on the second disc.
'Jurassic Park' is a fun, exciting thrill-ride that imagines an amusement park run amok when its prehistoric live attractions break free. Twenty years later, the sci-fi/fantasy adventure remains an imaginative motion picture of childhood wonder and visceral thrills. Arriving in a new format, the 3D Blu-ray features great video, which adds to the experience by adding a wonderful sense of immersion, and a demo-worthy audio presentation. Supplements may be the same as before, but they're a great collection with one brand new bonus, making the overall package a highly recommended purchase for fans of the third dimension.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.