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Blu-ray Review: Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy

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When it came out in 1993 Jurassic Park set a new standard for special effects science fiction blockbusters. Its success spawned two sequels, and now Universal Home Studios has released the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy on Blu-ray. If any film trilogy demands Blu-ray treatment for home viewing, certainly this effects spectacle does. The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy also includes, a digital download version playable on multiple devices.

Based on Michael Crichton’s eponymous novel, Stephen Spielberg’s Jurassic Park film took viewers into a new and promising theme park on a remote island. Just shortly before it is to open to the public, visionary inventor John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) brings paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and chaos theoretician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) into the park for a look around—and a stamp of approval. Joining the visiting scientists are Hammond’s two young grandchildren, promised the ride of their lives.

What sets out as a Disneyworld-esque adventure, with the dinos safely behind electrified fences, becomes a true ride of terror when employee Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) tampers with the elaborate security system, allowing dinosaurs, including some very smart velociraptors, to roam free on the island. The effects are terrifyingly real and the movie is a roller coaster of an experience. But Jurassic Park is also a cautionary tale, signified by Malcolm’s warning about tampering with Mother Nature.

Two sequels followed, each with bigger and more spectacular effects, but nowhere as critically well received as the original. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) takes place four years after the island is abandoned, when it’s revealed that Hammond had also been breeding dinosaurs at another, nearby, island location. Of course all hell breaks loose and once again it becomes a fight for survival against impossible odds.

Jurassic Park III, released in 2001, brings back Alan Grant, persuaded to accompany divorced couple Amanda and Paul Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, where dinosaurs now roam freely. Soon trapped on the island, they all fight for survival while searching for the couple’s missing son. Neither of the sequels quite measure up to the storytelling impact of the original, but are fun and scary popcorn movies with incredible effects and breathless thrills along the way.

For this Blu-ray release, all three films have been digitally restored and remastered. The three-movie set features many hours of special features, including an all-new, six-part “Return to Jurassic Park,” documentary featuring recent interviews with cast members, filmmakers, and Steven Spielberg.

Of course the film looks incredible in Blu-ray, the effects have a near-3D feel, and you can practically feel the Tyrannosaurus’ breath on your skin. The special effects dinosaurs look, sound and move with incredible realism, and the Blu-ray only enhances the realistic effect. Because the movies themselves are so immersive, Blu-ray is the natural medium for seeing them on your home theater screen. The only quibble I have is in the original Jurassic Park movie. The color saturation is so intense that blacks tend to have a lot of noise. This is especially noticeable in darker scenes where the dark shades, and particularly blacks glitter. This problem was not evident on either of the later installments. Where the visually stunning transfer was perfect.

John William’s gorgeous score and the crucial sound effects track were fantastic in lush 7.1 surround sound. From the snap and crackle of grass and tree branches to the frightening roar of a T-Rex just inches away from your ear, or the velociraptor coming from behind, the sound could not have been better, coming from everywhere in the room. In addition to the usual Universal release BD-Live and Pocket-Blu, the Blu-ray release includes an interactive video timeline, accessible from at any point during the film.

In addition, the release includes numerous other bonus features, including “Making Of” featurettes for all three films, “Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park,” several featurettes on the trilogy’s sound and special effects, storyboards, deleted scenes, and theatrical trailers.

This is an exhaustive compilation and the perfect holiday gift for the Jurassic Park fan on your list, but is an amazing collection for any fan or student of special effects or science fiction films.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.