Nov 042011
 

The Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy is far from perfect but with one great film, one entertaining film and another with squandered potential, this is still a worthwhile set to add to anyone’s collection. The features have all been ported over and even include a well-made six-part documentary (which totals 130 minutes in length). The video is a bit disappointing but the audio is excellent.

 

 


Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy (1993-2001)


REVIEW NAVIGATION

The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

 

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Universal | PG13 – 352 min. – $79.98 | October 25, 2011

MOVIE INFO (Jurassic Park):
Directed by:
Steven Spielberg
Writer(s):
Michael Crichton (novel); Michael Crichton and David Koepp (screenplay)
Cast:
Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson, Wayne Knight

Theatrical Release Date: June 11, 1993

MOVIE INFO (The Lost World: Jurassic Park):
Directed by:
Steven Spielberg
Writer(s):
Michael Crichton (novel); David Koepp (screenplay)
Cast:
Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite

Theatrical Release Date: May 23, 1997

MOVIE INFO (Jurassic Park III):
Directed by:
Joe Johnston
Writer(s):
Michael Crichton (characters); Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (written by)
Cast:
Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola

Theatrical Release Date: July 18, 2001

DISC INFO:
Features:
Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Trailers, BD-Live, Digital Copies
Number of Discs:
3

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish
Video:
1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec:
VC-1
Region(s):
A

THE MOVIE – 3.5/5

Jurassic Park (1993) — 4.5/5
A multimillionaire (RICHARD ATTENBOUROUGH) unveils a new theme park where visitors can observe dinosaurs cloned using advanced DNA technology. Two archeologists (SAM NEILL and LAURA DERN) and a quirky scientist (JEFF GOLDBLUM) are invited to partake in a tour of the facilities, but when an employee tampers with the security system, the dinosaurs escape, and forces visitors to fight for their survival.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) — 3.0/5
Four years after Jurassic Park’s genetically bred dinosaurs ran amok, multimillionaire John Hammond (ATTENBOUROUGH) shocks chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (GOLDBLUM) by revealing that Hammond has been breeding more dinosaurs at a secret location. Malcolm, his paleontologist ladylove (JULIANNE MOORE) and a wildlife videographer (VINCE VAUGN) join an expedition to document the lethal lizards’ natural behavior. However, they are confronted by men (including PETE POSTLETTHWAITE) hired by Hammond’s greedy son who want to exploit the dinosaurs for their own financial gain.

Jurassic Park III (2001) — 3.25/5
In need of funds for research, Dr. Alan Grant (NEILL) accepts a large sum of money to accompany Paul and Amanda Kirby (WILLIAM H. MACY and TEA LEONI) on an aerial tour of the infamous Isla Sorna. It isn’t long before all hell breaks loose and the stranded wayfarers must fight for survival as a host of new – and even more deadly – dinosaurs try to make snacks of them.

When the first Jurassic Park made its debut to theaters back in 1993, there was wonderment seeing long extinct creatures stomping around and causing mass chaos amongst the humans. Audiences love a good disaster plot and combined with a T-Rex chasing down a jeep and Steven Spielberg knew he had a goldmine. The film would go on to make $900 million+ worldwide on a $63 million budget, an amazing achievement as they used both animatronics and visual effects to bring the creatures to life. Jurassic Park then was rewarded with 3 Academy Awards for Sound Effects Editing, Sound and, of course, Visual Effects and with high audience enthusiasm, a franchise was born.

Now, for me, I remember seeing JP in theaters and it was great then and holds up so well 18 years later. While the visual effects look great, it’s not quite as crisp compared with today’s standards, ditto for the animatronics, the story still holds up really well and the combination of sly humor and action adventure makes this one hell of a ride.

Sadly, I cannot say the same for its sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. If memory serves, Michael Crighton’s novel was written as a direct response to the first film’s massive success and the sequel was born. The film made at the time the largest May opening weekend ever – $72.1 million ($90 million for Memorial Day Weekend) – and until this past April’s Fast Five, it was Universal’s largest opening as well. Although the flick brought in the masses, audiences left more than slightly disappointed and its $620 million worldwide box office showed.

I actually saw The Lost World with the majority of Americans that Memorial Day Weekend and at the time thought it wasn’t bad, though over the years, and my latest viewing for this Blu-ray review, I have to say the film suffers from a variety of problems. First, as much as I love Jeff Goldblum, turning his Malcolm character into some kind of action hero didn’t seem right. Second, as great as the film looks with a much grander scale, there wasn’t near the awe factor with this as there was with the original. Third, the story wasn’t nearly as engaging and this time around, it was overwrought and seemed to go forever. And just when we thought we got to the end, the third act begins for what seemed like a different film.

On the whole, I wouldn’t say The Lost World is a bad film, just disappointing and was in need of more script rewrites. Instead, that process was probably sped up in order to get the film into theaters within the timeframe and take advantage of the original’s audience and critical acclaim. There are parts that are actually good and some of the action sequences are fairly thrilling, otherwise the movie represents the typical sequel.

Four years later came the aptly simply titled Jurassic Park III. Spielberg took a step back and served as executive producer handing the reigns to Joe Johnston, an interesting choice having directed by The Rocketeer, Jumanji, October Sky and, later, Captain America. The second sequel opened considerably less ($50.8m OW, $368.8m WW) thanks to its predecessor and garnered ho-hum reviews.

And that’s how I would summarize Jurassic Park III: ho-hum. To be fair, it is far better than The Lost World and getting Sam Neill to return, along with Laura Dern in a more or less cameo role, was a step up but the story was a bit too simplistic. However, the action scenes were well done and the numerous chase scenes as the cast try to outrun a plethora of dino-creatures were, unlike the last movie, thrilling.

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5

Each film comes with a Digital Copy code and each disc had a BD-Live portal.

Jurassic Park — 4.25/5
Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era (25:25; HD)
– This retrospective featurette contains some nice on-set footage mixed in with new interview footage with Steven Spielberg, Actors Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards (Lex) and Joseph Mazzello (Tim), and those within the production department plus archive interviews with Michael Crichton, Stan Winston as well as others.

Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory (20:16; HD) – The second part to the six-part documentary (spread across the three films) covers more of shooting the film (on sound stages) and gives more insight into Spielberg’s process. It’s more of the same and has the same participants as listed above.

Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution (15:03; HD) – Part three delves into the post production (VFX, sound design, scoring), theatrical release and audience reaction to the film as well as the box office smash it became.

Under Archival Featurettes we get: The Making of Jurassic Park (49:39; SD), an expansive featurette, hosted by James Earl Jones, which actually covers quite a bit of ground; Original Featurette on the Making of the Film (4:50; SD) is your usual EPK featurette that was only made to advertise the movie; Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park (9:07; SD) is a fly-on-the-wall featurette focusing on the direction by Spielberg; and Hurricane in Kauai Featurette (2:09; SD) is a recount of the hurricane that hit the location they were shooting at.

In Behind the Scenes there’s Early Pre-Production Meetings (6:20; SD) containing some basic footage of Spielberg and others exchanging ideas for the different dinosaurs and their movements; Location Scouting (1:59; SD) finds the crew checking out different areas in Hawaii to shoot; Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the Kitchen (3:04; SD) is some test footage for the raptor is it enters the kitchen; Animatics: T-Rex Attack (7:21; SD) is more test footage (along with storyboards to fill in the gaps), this time for the attack scene; ILM and Jurassic Park: Before and After the Visual Effects (6:32; SD) is an interesting featurette where you get to see how it all started in the numerous stages and then the finished product; Foley Tests (1:25; SD) are test footage for the sound effects; lastly there are galleries for Storyboards and Productions Archives like photos, sketches and paintings.

We also get the Theatrical Trailer (1:18; SD) and Jurassic Park: Making the Game (4:43; SD).

——-

The Lost World: Jurassic Park — 4.0/5
Deleted Scenes (7:09; SD)
– Here are a set of scenes that don’t add a whole lot, just some miscellaneous stuff that is downright boring (unless you think a corporate board meeting is thrilling).

Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World (27:40; HD) is part four of the six-part documentary, this time covering the sequel. Again, we get more on-set footage intermixed with new interviews with Spielberg, Goldblum, Peter Stormare and others. The group talks about how to approach the story for the sequel (including using the shaving cream canister Dino DNA hidden) but ultimately going with Crichton’s book and distinguishing it from the original in terms of style.

Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived (16:30; HD) – This is the final part covering The Lost World and has some more behind-the-scenes footage, getting into the San Diego shoot, mechanical puppetry, sound design and visual effects.

Archival Featurettes includes: The Making of The Lost World (53:14; SD) which is a well made documentary that encompasses just about every aspect, from the story to visual effects, of filming the sequel; Original Featurette on the Making of the Film (13:17; SD) is very basic and uses some of the footage from the previous featurette and was probably used to promote the film; The Jurassic Park Phenomenon: A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton (15:27; SD) finds the creator chatting about how big the books, and how they came to be, and movies were; The Compie Dance Number (1:38; HD) is a thank you to Spielberg from ILM.

Behind the Scenes has: ILM & The Lost World: Before & After the Visual Effects (20:44; SD) featurette which is cool to watch; Production Archives containing production photos, concept drawings, models, posters, etc.; and a Storyboards gallery.

And last, the Theatrical Trailer (1:58; SD).

——-

Jurassic Park III — 3.75/5
Visual Effects Feature Commentary
– Stan Winston, John Rosengrant (effects supervisor), Dan Taylor (animation director), Michael Lantieri (visual effects supervisor), , sits down for an informative chat giving insights into taking on the sequel, the visual effects (of course), working in different locations. It’s not the most stimulating commentary, but for one that is strictly technical, it’s not bad.

Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure (25:20; HD) is the last chapter in the documentary taking on the third movie, not before we get to see the “Jurassic Park: The Ride”, with behind-the-scenes footage and new interview footage with Director Joe Johnston, Spielberg, Neill, Dern, William H. Macy, Trevor Morgan and more.

Archival Featurettes: The Making of Jurassic Park III (22:43; SD) is a good behind-the-scenes featurette but not nearly as in-depth as the other two, but as it stands it’s an OK primer; The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III (7:52; SD) shows off the variety of dinos used in the film; The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III (10:31; SD) takes a look at the VFX and practical effects for the film and has more on-set interviews with cast and crew; The Industrial Light & Magic Press Reel (10:14; SD) shows off the work ILM did on JP3; The Sounds of Jurassic Park III (13:35; SD) breaks down the sound design and what went into getting the dinosaurs roars and other audio effects; The Art of Jurassic Park III (7:55; SD) takes a look at the storyboards and production designs for the movie; and Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs (4:21; SD) is a short featurette on digging up the fossils and has interviews with experts in the field.

Behind the Scenes contains a Tour of Stan Winston Studio (3:14; SD) where we get to see them make the molds for the dinosaurs; Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane (1:48; SD), Raptors Attack Udesky (0:59; SD) and The Lake (1:38; SD) breaks down the scenes with further, but minor, detail; A Visit to ILM (TRT 14:28; SD) contains artwork galleries and mini-featurettes on concepts, models and more; Dinosaur Turntables (6:23; SD) shows off a 360 degree view of the CGI dinos used in different stages; Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison (6:08; SD) is always a cool feature to see just how much work goes from idea to completed film;  and last are some Production Photographs.

The Theatrical Trailer (1:16; SD) has also been included.


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Universal has given each film a new 1080p, VC-1 encoded high-def transfer. First, on the whole, I was a disappointed with these mainly because they’re not a particularly pretty looking picture. Jurassic Park (4.0/5) looks pretty good at times, in fact I would say great during the close-ups, and yet during other times looked overly sharp and lacked fine detail and film grain. I don’t know if DNR was used but at the same time, given it is now 18 years old, it gets a passing grade. I can’t quite say the same thing about The Lost World: Jurassic Park (3.5/5), however. I immediately noticed that this transfer was very dark (though that is how Spielberg directed it) and surprisingly soft with very little film grain or noise. I won’t say it’s a bad looking transfer, but it is the worst of the three films. Colors aren’t bad and don’t look oversaturated. With Jurassic Park III (4.25/5), it comes out the best of the trilogy with decent amount of detail level and more film grain than the other two. That said, it’s still not an amazing looking transfer, but on par with a fair number of catalogue titles.

AUDIO – 5.0/5

Where the video might have been ho-hum or not up to expectations, each of the film’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks sounded absolutely fantastic (each film I give a 5/5). The dialogue levels all sounded great, never drowned out by the surroundings while the action sequences cranks up the intensity with floor shaking bass levels and incredible audio coming from each channel. If the video disappoints or causes you to be hesitant to pick this set up, the audio should alleviate any doubt as it alone is worth the purchase price.



OVERALL – 4.0/5

Overall, the Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy is far from perfect but with one great film, one entertaining film and another with squandered potential, this is still a worthwhile set to add to anyone’s collection. The features have all been ported over and even include a well-made six-part documentary (which totals 130 minutes in length). The video is a bit disappointing but the audio is excellent.

 

Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Published:
11/04/2011

 

Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.

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