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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2011

ARTICLE INDEX

"Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Stephen Hornbrook

movie-october-2011-jurassicpark

"Jurassic Park"

Synopsis

Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, “Jurassic Park” is the wondrous tale of dinosaurs brought back to life.  Brilliant visionary and mega-millionaire, John Hammond opens a new kind of theme park: one where dinosaurs are free to roam, having been recreated through advanced DNA technology. A group of individuals invited by Hammond to have a special sneak preview of his park are faced with a fight for their survival after the security systems holding in the dinosaurs are purposefully disabled.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1993, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD-Master Audio
  • Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

The original Jurassic Park is clearly the main reason to purchase this Ultimate Trilogy set.  The two followup movies are in a whole different league.  I remember reading the book by the late and great Michael Crichton in the months leading up to the release of Jurassic Park.  It was about as excited as I get for a movie and with Spielberg at the helm, I wasn’t the least bit worried.  Jurassic Park is now a classic in my mind, as it brought dinosaurs to the screen like we had never before seen and all in an exciting, action packed ride. The special effects were ground breaking and they knew just when to use animatronics and computer generated effects.  In fact, I wish animatronics had not been completely taken over by the cheaper and easier computer generated approach of today’s movies.  Computer graphics have not quite reach the level of tangibility as something like a robotic T-Rex head can produce. Our brains are so good at identifying the flaws in CGI. But we are getting closer and it is thanks to movies like Jurassic Park for pushing the technology further.  If you have never seen this movie, and I can’t imagine there are many in this category, then by all means, see it!  As for this long awaited release on Blu-ray, it’s a no-brainer: a must buy.

Technical

Those of you expecting a magical 8K remaster and the film to look as good as a movie produced in 2011 will be disappointed.  The image quality is very good, especially since this movie is almost 20 years old.  There is a tad bit of edge enhancement here and there, but it isn’t too aggressive.  Since this is replacing my old DVD version, it is a welcome upgrade and the Blu-ray looks way better than the DVD. 

The DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is breathtaking.  John Williams amazing score will fill your home theater with all its orchestral glory and the roar of the T-Rex will probably damage your house.

Extras

Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era, Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory, Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution, The Making of 'Jurassic Park', Original Featurette on the Making of the Film, Steven Spielberg Directs 'Jurassic Park', Hurricane in Kauai Featurette, Early Pre-Production Meetings, Location Scouting, Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the Kitchen, Animatics: T-Rex Attack, ILM and 'Jurassic Park': Before and After Visual Effects, Foley Artists, Storyboards, Production Archives, Theatrical Trailer

“The Lost World: Jurassic Park”

Synopsis

“The Lost World” takes place four years after the events in Jurassic Park and John Hammond is up to no good again after he reveals to chaos theorist Ian Malcolm that he has been secretly breeding more dinosaurs.  Malcolm is joined by his girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding, a paleontologist, and a wildlife videographer so they may document the dinosaur’s natural behavior.  The expedition quickly turns in to a rescue mission to save everyone from the murderous dinos.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1997, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 9 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD-Master Audio
  • Starring Julianne Moore, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Pete Postlethwaite
  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

After the success of the first movie, writer Michael Crichton and director Steven Spielberg were dying to make a sequel.  Crichton quickly tossed together some ideas into a book and the movie was soon after filmed.  I remember enjoying The Lost World when it initially came out in theaters, but now I realize that I think my judgment was a bit clouded by the hype.  The Lost World has many issues including the entire final act where the dinos arrive on the mainland.  Regardless, it is still a fun and entertaining movie.

Technical

The picture quality on The Lost World is a bit sub-par as well as again, it looks dated.  It’s still way better than my DVD copy. 
The audio track is what really shines here.  Spielberg has always hired some of the best sound engineers in the business and this proves it.  Seriously, these discs are worth it for the audio alone.

Extras

Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World, Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived, The Making of 'The Lost World', Original Featurette on the Making of the Film, The 'Jurassic Park' Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton, The Compie Dance Number: Thank You Steven Spielberg from ILM, ILM and "The Lost World': Before and After Visual Effects, Storyboards, Production Archives, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

“Jurassic Park III”

Synopsis

Desperate for funding for his research, Dr. Alan Grant agrees to guide Paul and Amanda Kirby on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, the dinosaur home from “The Lost World”.  The group becomes stranded on the island where new, more deadly, species of dinosaurs hunt them down. It is revealed that the divorced Kirby couple is actually in search of their son Eric and Amanda’s fiance Ben that recently disappeared on the island.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2001, Color, Rated PG-13, 1 Hr 33 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English 7.1 DTS-HD-Master Audio
  • Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni
  • Directed by Joe Johnston
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Jurassic Park III is the ugly step-child in the JP family.  It has a different pace and feel than the other two movies and overall, the quality is subpar.  Tea Leoni is annoying throughout the whole movie and you really just want her to get eaten alive. This movie is also quite short, a half an hour shorter than the other two films, but that turns out to be a good thing. It’s part of the Ultimate Trilogy so if you want Jurassic Park on Blu-ray you are going to get its sequels as well.  I honestly don’t mind as I find them to still be fun and entertaining even though they aren’t the greatest movies ever made.

Technical

Given that JPIII is the newest film of the bunch, one would it expect it too look the best, and well it does.  JPIII clearly has the best video transfer of the bunch, although it isn’t quite reference quality. 

Once again, the audio is reference quality on this disc as well.  Although the movie is lacking an original score by John Williams, the music by Don Davis will still create a wide soundstage in your home theater.

Extras

Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure, The Making of 'Jurassic Park III', The Dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park III', The Special Effects of 'Jurassic Park III', The Industrial Light and Magic Press Reel, The Sounds of 'Jurassic Park III', The Art of 'Jurassic Park III', Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs, Tour of Stan Winston Studio, Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane, Raptors Attack Udesky, The Lake, A Visit to ILM, Dinosaur Turntables, Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison, Production Photographs, Theatrical Trailer, Feature Commentary with the Special Effects Team