Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy - Blu-ray Disc Review

The Dinosaurs Are Back!

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray Disc Package - Photo of Front Cover
Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray Disc Package - Photo of Front Cover. Photo (c) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

10/27/11

In 1993, Director Steven Spielberg and an army of special effects artists unleashed the world of dinosaurs onto the movie going public that generated two sequels and successful releases on DVD. Now, almost four years after the introduction of Blu-ray, fans can now see the entire Jurassic Park Trilogy (Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park III) in full high definition on Blu-ray Disc with restored video, remastered audio, and a wealth of new and archive bonus features.

To find out if the Blu-ray release should be a part of your home theater experience, read my review.

Product Description

Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi

Principal Cast - Appearing in one, or more, of the films: Richard Attenborough, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Julianne Moore. Vanessa Lee Chester, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Mr and Mrs T Rex, The Velociraptor Clan, and Spinosaurus.

Director: Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park and Lost World) and Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III).

Dinosaur Effects: Stan Winston Studio - Live Action Dinosaurs, ILM - Digital Animated Dinosaurs

Discs: Three 50GB Blu-ray Discs. Each disc contains one complete film and all related supplementary materials for that film.

Video Specifications: Video codec used - VC-1, Video resolution - 1080p, Aspect ratio - 1.85:1 - Special features and supplements in various resolutions and aspect ratios.

Audio Specifications: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (English), DTS 5.1 (French and Spanish), D-Box Motion Code.

Subtitles: English SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing), French, Spanish.

Navigation and Access Functions: Advanced Remote Control, Video Timeline, Mobile-to-Go (allows access to online bonus content for both home and mobile devices), Browse Titles (access to free previews and special features that can be unlocked), Keyboard input feature (allows direct keyboard input if your device has keyboard connections).

Bonus Features and Supplements

Jurassic Park

- Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era
- Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory
- Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step
- Theatrical Trailer
- Jurassic Park: Making the Game
- Archived Making Of Featurettes (from previous DVD releases)
- Additional Behind the Scenes Features

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

- Deleted Scenes
- Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World
- Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived
- Archived Making Of Featurettes (from previous DVD releases)
- Behind the Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer

Jurassic Park III

- Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure
- Archived Making Of Featurettes (from previous DVD releases)
- Behind the Scenes
- Audio Commentary by the Special Effects Team
- Theatrical Trailer

The Story:

For those that may not be familiar with these three films, here is a quick plot outline of each film:

Jurassic Park: Millionaire adventurer, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), is ready to unveil his new ultimate theme park, located on an island near Costa Rica, but first needs the approval from the scientific, business, and legal communities before he can open his life-long dream "Jurassic Park" to the public. As a result, a select group of people, including noted paleontologist, Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) are invited to a "special preview" that doesn't go quite as planned....

The Lost World: Jurassic Park Four years after the events at Jurassic Park, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), reveals that a second dinosaur breeding site, also near Costa Rica, exists where dinosaurs roam free. However, there are evil corporate forces that want to capture the animals and bring them to a newly built Jurassic Park spin-off concept in San Diego, Ca. The race is now on to study the animals on the island and find a way to protect them from becoming victims of corporate greed...

Jurassic Park III: A mysterious potential benefactor (William H. Macy) arrives at one of Dr Alan Grant's (Sam Neill) dinosaur fossil digs in Montana to offer him a large financial sum to support his research, if he would just be his guide on an aerial tour of the dinosaur island featured in The Lost World, as a gift to his wife.

Dr Grant reluctantly agrees, thinking that an aerial tour would be safe, and he really needs the money, but things don't turn out as expected, when Dr Grant, the mysterious benefactor, his wife, and an airplane crew of dubious reputation, end up stranded on the island fighting for survival...

Blu-ray Disc Presentation: Video

The video portion of the Blu-ray Disc presentation was very good-to-excellent across all three films, with the quality increasing from oldest to the most recent.

For example, in the first film, Jurassic Park, I did notice some post-production edge enhancement that made cast member and some object outlines a little harsh in some cases, but fortunately, this is definitely not the worse case of edge enhancement use. As an indirect result though, the grain level is a little elevated and in once specific case, where the Jurassic Park jeeps are traveling along through a grass trail before the big Brachiosaurus sighting, the red color patterns on the jeep bleed into jeep's body base color somewhat.

The other main issue, although more of a problem with actual film more than the Blu-ray video transfer, was the softening of detail and texture between the full-size mechanical dinosaurs and their CGI counterparts. This is a case where high-definition Blu-ray can reveal more than you might notice on a DVD version. However, that difference decreases between the first and third films as the technology available to the filmmakers gets more sophisticated.

On the other hand, the location cinematography was not only perfectly done, capturing the forest and jungle atmosphere, but when the dinosaurs made their appearance in the scenes, the integration was seamless.

The high-definition Blu-ray transfer does not detract from that visual experience.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation: Audio

In terms of audio, there is very little to criticize here. The 7.1 channel DTS-Master Audio remix is fantastic with excellent balance between all channels, with just a few instances where the center channel dialog could have been mixed at a slightly higher level.

The second and third films elevated the complexity of sound mixing. The layer of sonic detail in the dinosaur roars and destruction sounds were where excellent, and the balance between ambiance and directional sounds gave the impression that all the sounds were natural and not just coming out of foley studio. Also, movement between channels as sound effects moved from speaker to speaker was very well executed, adding to the immersive quality of the soundtracks. Of course, I can't leave out the subwoofer. The approaching Tyrannosaurus Rex sounds in the first two films, and the Spinosaurus destruction in the last film will definitely give your subwoofer a workout.

As a final note on the soundtrack, I can't forget about rousing musical themes written by John Williams. The music part of the soundtrack perfectly blends with what is happening on the screen, providing both effective dramatic impact and a stable background tone to each film.

Home Theater Audio Tip: If you have a 5.1 channel audio system, rather than a 7.1 channel audio system, you home theater receiver can downmix the surround back channels into your surround channels.

Consult your home theater receivers speaker setup menu for more details.

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Bonus Features

There is definitely an abundance of bonus features included in the Ultimate Trilogy package, which includes a lot of "archival" features carried over from previous DVD releases. However, there are a series of new features that provide further insight into all three films.

The new bonus features consist mostly of a six-part documentary: Return to Jurassic Park. Three segments are on the Jurassic Park disc, two on The Lost World, and the last one on the Jurassic Park III disc.

The entire documentary takes a look back on all three films from today's perspective and includes some archival footage as well as present day interviews with the cast and the effects team. It was great to see the actors as they are now, looking back on their experience with a perspective they may not have had during the actual filming.

However, for me, probably the most insightful information presented was about challenges the effect team had to overcome in prepping the original Jurassic Park, specifically the "evolution' of the dinosaurs from stop-motion models a la Ray Harryhausen to a combination of full-size animatronic and CGI models.

The only bonus feature disappointment is the lack of a director's audio commentary on any of the films and only a special effects team audio commentary for Jurassic Park III. It would have been great to watch these films via the perspective of Steve Spielberg (for the first two films) and Joe Johnston (for the last film), as well as some key cast members.

However, fortunately, all the major production staff and actors are featured in much of the additional bonus features.

Pros

1. Excellent package presentation.

2. Very good video transfer quality, with minor exceptions noted in Cons section below.

3. Films presented in original aspect ratios.

4. Excellent 7.1 channel re-mastered audio soundtracks

5. Extensive and relevant bonus features.

Cons

1. Some post-processing edge-enhancement and grain visible (most notably on first Jurassic Park film)

2. A few cases of overly bright whites and oversaturated reds.

3. Softness in scenes that include CGI effects. Difference in detail noticeable when cutting between full-size animatronic and CGI versions of the same dinosaur.

4. Many bonus features taken from a previous DVD release.

5. Audio commentary only featured on Jurassic Park III.

Final Take

The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is a great example of how to package and present a film in the Blu-ray Disc format. First off, the packaging provides all the information you need to know about the contents of the discs. Also, it is important to note is that each film and all supplements related to that film are contained in a single disc, for just three discs total needed for the entire package.

In other words, none of the movie on one disc and supplements on another disc business - after you watch each film, just keep the disc in and go right to the bonus material. Another great part of the presentation is that Universal did not clog up the beginning of each disc with a lot of previews of other films and products.

I don't know if this was Steven Spielberg request or if the folks at Universal thought that there was too much on the discs already, but it is greatly appreciated by this reviewer at least.

Getting into the actual contents, video quality of each film was very good, with the Jurassic Park III being the best of the lot in that respect, although in terms of story and script, the first entry, Jurassic Park, definitely stands as providing the best combination of action, adventure, and emotional impact.

Getting into video and audio quality, the video transfer was very good, but there are a few issues I had with visible edge enhancement, particularly on the first film, but considering the overall package, the video complaints are relatively minor.

With regards to audio, the newly mastered 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix was great. The surround fields were used to great dramatic effect, without being overutilized when not needed. Also, your subwoofer will love this film - but your neighbors might not...

Lastly, the collection of supplementary material is just fantastic, and although a lot of it was featured on previous DVD releases, and only the last film features an audio commentary, it is great to have both and new stuff together in this package. Segments in both the old and new material really give you a great look at how a film is made from conception to finished product and all the technical and logistical challenges encountered in making all three films.

The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy on Blu-ray should definitely be considered for a spot in your Blu-ray Disc library.

NOTE: There is also a Blu-ray Disc Limited Edition Trilogy Gift Set version available that also includes a Tyrannosaurus Rex statue (the compare prices link below features both sets).

Components Used In This Review

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93

TV/Monitor: Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor.

Video Projector: Vivitek Qumi (On Review Loan)

Screens: SMX Cine-Weave 100² screen, Epson Accolade Duet ELPSC80 Portable Screen.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Audio/Video connections: 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High-Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona and NextGen.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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