Few films truly benefit from the high-definition clarity and enhanced audio that Blu-ray offers as much as the Jurassic Park trilogy, and that’s proven on Universal Studios’ stunning Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy, which gives all three films a new life with enhanced visual and audio remastering. While its not the most consistent trilogy ever, at least in terms of storytelling and narrative, there’s no denying the sheer visceral thrill of watching realistic dinosaurs terrorize hapless humans, brought to life by Industrial Light & Magic’s wizardry, and set to the unforgettable score by John Williams. And with hours of special features spread across three packed discs, a whole new generation of viewers can experience the dinosaur sized action and adventure that is Jurassic Park all over again.
It feels like yesterday when it was 1993 and Steven Spielberg brought Michael Crichton’s science-fiction classic Jurassic Park to the big screen. With a slow building, but unnerving plausible story about a paleontologist named Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) who is invited by an eccentric billionaire to a remote island that features an amusement park where dinosaurs have been cloned back to life. With its groundbreaking special-effects from Industrial Light and Magic, incredible score by John Williams, and great performances by all – especially by the CG/animatronics dinosaurs – it would become the highest-grossing film in history at the time, besting Spielberg’s own E.T. and set the bar for every action/adventure movie that would come after it.
Given the massive success of the original, it was only a matter of time before Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton were back at it again with a sequel. And in 1997 that’s what we got with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which took place four years after the events in the original. Most fans consider this to be the black sheep of the franchise, but I actually enjoyed seeing Jeff Goldblum reprise his character of Dr. Ian Malcom, who is once again trying to save the world from dinos that have been brought to the mainland. I found it to be a little more fast-paced than the original film, and the concept of seeing dinosaurs running wild in a city is always thrilling.
Joe Johnston, who just recently helmed Captain America: The First Avenger, originally wanted to direct The Lost World for himself, but Spielberg agreed to let him helm the next one. So in 2001 Johnston took the reins for Jurassic Park 3, which saw the return of Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant who’s called back into action when a rich couple with ulterior motives hires him to help find their lost child on another dino infested remote island. I really have mixed feelings about this one, as it definitely felt like it was trying too hard to combine the best elements of the previous two films, having just the right balance of story and action, but leaning more to the latter most times. Of course, throwing in some smart and crafty raptors that actually set traps for the main cast didn’t hurt things, however.
All three films look amazing on Blu-ray, thanks to Universal’s excellent transfer that brings the films’ original visuals roaring to life. While the first two films show their age with a bit of film grain, and with some of the special-effects, they still look better than ever here. Every detail from the skin and eyes of the dinos, to every leaf on the island plants comes in clear. And of course you can’t have great visuals like these without great sound, especially considering the Jurassic Park films legendary ability to really put your home set-up to the test (think the unforgettable T-Rex chase). Incredible 7.1 DTS-HD sounds does just that, meaning you’ll hear every dinosaur roar and thunderous bass from their footsteps as they give chase to the main characters.
And what would this ultimate set be without some ino-sized special features? Spanning three discs, there’s way too many to mention here, as each film contains a nice amount of extras that all totals up to about three hours, which should be more than enough to keep feature buffs happy. There’s all new HD featurettes that’ll take you behind the scenes and special effects of each movie, as well as older, standard-definition features from previous DVD releases. The main new feature here is called “Return to Jurassic Park”, which is a six-part documentary that runs a little over two hours, and takes a look back at the entire trilogy. I like how the last part gives tribute to both writer Michael Crichton and special-effects legend Stan Winston, who sadly both passed away in 2008.
FaFans will feel like they’re watching the films again for the first time, while newcomers will see what all the dino-sized hype is about with Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogystrong> s on Blu-ray. An extensive and loving remastering process means that all three films have never looked or sounded better than they have here, with spectacular high-definition picture and even more impressive 7.1 DTS sound that demands to be heard. And the extras are just as huge as the dinos themselves, with hours of special features spread across three jam-packed discs, including a six-part documentary and a touching tribute to the late Michael Crichton and Stan Winston. If you’re looking to give your fancy home theater a real workout, it doesn’t get much better than this.