In celebrating the 20th anniversary of Jurassic Park, is there really anything more one can say about the film itself? You could go on and on about the nostalgia level (I saw it when I was 12 years old), but one thing is certain, Jurassic Park stands the test of time on every level. Lots of films hold up nostalgically, but sometimes you go back and you realize how bad the acting, special effects, story, whatever, really are. When it comes to Jurassic Park, everything holds up.
Last year saw the release of the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy on Blu-ray. If any film demanded to be released on the format, this was it. From its roaring T-Rex to the spitting Dilophosaurus, is there any movie that demands to have the best picture and sound available? Imagine to everyone’s surprise when the announcement came that Jurassic Park was to be re-released in 3D and on IMAX? Talk about giddy moviegoers, am I right? Well, aside from seeing the film back on the big screen, with the immersion level at an all-time high, now we’re seeing the Blu-ray 3D release and it chews that up like a T-Rex to a lawyer.
The reviews have been wavering since its April 23 release, but I can say without a doubt, this is the best the film has ever looked on home video. Universal’s 1.85:1 1080p 3D MPEG-4 encode spares no expense, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to consider their review equipment. A buddy of mine joined me to take in Jurassic Park 3D as we both love the film so much that he also joined me for the press screening and have each owned a copy of JP on every format besides LaserDisc. From widescreen/letterboxed VHS copies to DVD and Blu-ray, if anyone was up for nitpicking the picture quality, it’s us.
If you still have any qualms about how good JP3D looks, all you really have to do is simply pop in the 2D disc afterward. What I once thought looked to be pretty good, the 3D disc proves how bad it actually is. In 3D, there’s no noise, banding, crush, aliasing, nada. Every scene is crisp and fluid with the original color timing finally back to its original intent. The 2D disc makes every scene appear way too bright, highlighting the artificial sharpening. There is obviously some kind of DNR used in the new 4K scan because now there’s absolutely no film grain. But detail still shines through from every grain of sand at the Badlands dig site to every pore on the casts’ face.
My friend and I remember thinking that the IMAX presentation seemed a little blurry ruining some of the 3D effect, but now, prepare to hang onto your butts. From the opening jungle shot we immediately see the sense of depth added with branches moving freely around each other as if we were standing in the middle of Kauai. When the camera follows Dr. Grant (Sam Neill), Tim (poor Joseph Mazello), and Lex (Ariana Richards) as they come over the top of the perimeter fence, you truly feel as if you’re standing on the ground watching it live. And the film’s one true moment where something finally leaps out of the screen in the final chase through the air ducts when a raptor jumps up at Lex’s dangling legs and its snarling teeth gnash at your face. If any film deserved the 3D treatment, it’s Jurassic Park.
According to the only new special feature (“Inside the World of Jurassic Park 3D”), re-recording mixer/sound designer Gary Rydstrom talks about how with the new release he wanted to create a new soundscape, that since the film is now in 3D, so should the sound. Whether he’s talking about the 3D disc’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio itself isn’t clear. The original Blu-ray release came with a blaring 7.1 mix and playing the same scenes back to back, the differences are negligible. JP was always my go to disc for sound even back when I was using a Dolby Digital 5.1 receiver and it sounds even bigger and louder now. For the first time, you feel fully immersed in the amber mine listening to Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) converse with Juanito (Miguel Sandoval); feel as if you’re sitting alongside Dr. Grant, Gennaro, Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern), Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) inside the helicopter as they fly to the island; hear the T-Rex’s bellow engulf you as it moves from the center speaker to your rears; be disgusted to the crunching of the Raptor’s feeding frenzy; and feel like the T-Rex is catching up to you during the Jeep chase. Directionality, balance, and LFE is the name of the game here and it takes no prisoners. No matter how anyone feels about the video quality, there’s no denying the power of the audio.
As I mentioned before, the only new special feature is the “The World of Jurassic Park 3D” where we go inside StereoD’s facilities (in 3D no less) treated to interviews with everyone from Steven Spielberg himself to Dennis Muren (visual effects supervisor), Rydstrom, and the crew of StereoD including William Sherak (president of StereoD), Aaron Parry (StereoD chief creative officer), and Graham Clark (StereoD head of stereography). Spielberg talks about having chosen StereoD after seeing their work on Titanic and they’ve certainly pulled no punches here either. Only a few things were added to enhance the 3D, such as extra breaking branches and splinters in the T-Rex Jeep chase and an extra layer of rain to the T-Rex attack when Spielberg noticed that the rain was confined within the original image. Now you feel completely engulfed to the danger and the film truly comes alive. All additional special features are on the 2D disc which is covered in Barbara Bennett’s review of the trilogy pack. It also comes with a DVD copy, Digital Copy, and UltraViolet.
So, is the Jurassic Park 3D Blu-ray worth the price of an upgrade? If you have the capability, the answer is a resounding yes. Once the credits rolled, my friend said to me, “Okay, looks like I have to buy a new TV.” If that doesn’t sound like high enough praise to pick up the 3D disc then I don’t know what is.
Cover art and photos courtesy Universal Pictures