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Blu-ray Reviews

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray Review - Recommended



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#1 of 81 Kevin EK

Kevin EK

    Screenwriter

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  • Join Date: May 09 2003

Posted October 27 2011 - 06:38 PM

The Jurassic Park trilogy roars onto Blu-ray with solid high definition picture and sound, a new Laurent Bouzereau interview collection, and a generous collection of archival materials culled from prior DVD releases and elsewhere.  The movies themselves are a varied bag.   The first film is by far the most interesting on its own terms and its best moments are good translations from Michael Crichton’s book.  The other two films hold less appeal, but at least the second film has a few good bits of invention along the way.  The real appeal here will be to see and hear the dinosaurs in all their glory, whether it be Stan Winston’s on-set creations or ILM’s CGI wonders.  As you might expect, almost all of the bonus material concerns that work.   This is an easy Blu-ray set to recommend for purchase, particularly given the continuing popularity of the first movie. 


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/JURASSIC PARK

ULTIMATE TRILOGY

Studio: Universal/Amblin Entertainment

Release Years:  1993, 1997, 2001

Length:  2 hrs 7 mins (Jurassic Park), 2 hrs 9 mins (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), 1 hr 33 mins (Jurassic Park III)

Genre:  Science Fiction/Horror/Adventure/Dinosaur Dining Etiquette


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, VC-1 (@ an average 21 mbps for human shots and 27 mbps for CGI shots in Jurassic Park, an average 25-30 mbps for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and an average 30 mbps for Jurassic Park III)

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (@ an average 4.7 mbps, up to 7.3 mbps on Jurassic Park, an average 5.7 up to 7.2 mbps on The Lost World: Jurassic Park III, and varying averages of 4.0 and 6.0 mbps on Jurassic Park III), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1

                                                                  Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French


Film Rating: PG-13 (Intense Sci-Fi Terror and Violence, Inappropriate Behavior by Tyrannosaurs and Velociraptors)


Release Date: October 25, 2011


Starring:  Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough and Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park);  Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite and both halves of Richard Schiff (The Lost World: Jurassic Park);   Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola and a head-turning cameo by Michael Jeter (Jurassic Park III)


Written by:  David Koepp and Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), David Koepp (The Lost World: Jurassic Park),  Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (Jurassic Park III)

Based on the books Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Directed by:  Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III)


Film Rating:    3 ½/5  (Jurassic Park),  2 ½/5 (The Lost World:  Jurassic Park), 2/5 (Jurassic Park III)


Before anything else, I’ll first clarify some information about the picture and sound of this Blu-ray release.  So I’m going to state for the record that, per Universal Studios Home Entertainment, new high definition transfers and sound mixes were done in 2011, and that Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment were involved at every step of the process, as one would reasonably expect.  In another thread, I incorrectly implied that the scans might not be new ones, and I want to set that record straight.   That business out of the way, let’s get on with the show:


The Blu-ray release of Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is an easy one to recommend for purchase.  On the strength of the first film alone, I could make that recommendation, given the picture and sound, and given the generous assortment of special features.  Of course, the second two films in the trilogy don’t really measure up, but each still has interesting touches that can merit a viewing, depending on the viewer’s tolerance for sequels.   Jurassic Park, without spoiling the details, introduces the audience and a cast including Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum to a dinosaur amusement park on the island of Isla Nublar, somewhere near Costa Rica.  The Lost World: Jurassic Park brings back Jeff Goldblum and focuses on a “factory floor” dinosaur island called Isla Sorna, also known as Site B.  Jurassic Park III brings back Sam Neill with a new cast and sends them to Site B to encounter new and different dinosaurs.  There’s a law of diminishing returns at work here, but the first film still holds up as a great ride and the second film at least has flashes of brilliance before things get too silly.  Some people prefer the third film, and there are some good ideas about flying dinosaurs, but for me the bloom is definitely off the rose by the time you get there.


That’s the short version of this review.  I’ll go more into depth in the next paragraphs here.  If you would prefer to just skip to the picture and sound quality, etc., I recommend jumping down to the next section of the review.


SPOILERS FOR THE NEXT FEW PARAGRAPHS:  To properly understand Jurassic Park, it’s helpful to go through the prior work of Michael Crichton.  His long career as a novelist and a movie director holds some common themes and plot devices that are presented in possibly their best form here.   Several Crichton novels (The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, Sphere) and movies (Westworld, Looker, Runaway) present a science fiction scenario that’s just on the far side of what is possible today.   Crichton presents a “What if?” scenario, showing a potential advance in technology and then showing the horrible downside when things inevitably go wrong.  In the case of The Terminal Man, we meet a man whose brain chemistry is causing him to erupt in seizures and blind rages.  Doctors, against better judgment, implant a device that counteracts that chemistry, which you would think should be a high-tech cure.  Except that the body begins trying to counter the cure, generating enough of a problem that eventually the brain “tips over” and the man becomes not just an anger problem but a homicidal berserker.   In a case much closer to this Blu-ray set, we can look at Westworld.  In that film,  Crichton asks what if there was an amusement park where the entertainers on hand weren’t people in big-headed costumes but instead robots that would perform on cue.   For example, there could be a “Western World” where visitors could play in the saloon and face off  in a pistol duel against Yul Brynner, and win every time.  And having established that world, Crichton then asks what would happen if the robots broke down and began coming after the guests.  (As Ian Malcolm notes in the first Jurassic Park movie, “When the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists…”)   I have to admit that when reading Crichton’s books, it is quite easy to start out at a decent hour in the evening and then find oneself still awake and frantically reading at 3am…


SPOILERS CONTINUE:  In multiple settings and stories, Michael Crichton has presented this kind of scenario, to varying levels of effectiveness.   His last book before Jurassic Park, Sphere, is an example of the idea not quite working out.  In that book, he presents a futuristic underwater adventure that is also a journey through inner space, and it’s quite dizzying for about 2/3 of the book, until the reader figures out that there doesn’t seem to be any way to end the story.  The final conclusion of that one, which I won’t spoil here, is a real head-slapper, and the movie adaptation of that book unfortunately doesn’t fix that problem.  With Jurassic Park, Crichton takes things back to basics, essentially replaying the core structure of Westworld, this time using an element that fascinates adults and children alike:  dinosaurs.   Crossing over high tech ideas of DNA mapping and splicing, Crichton presents a new kind of amusement park – one in which living, genetically recreated dinosaurs are presented like animals in a kind of zoo on an island near Costa Rica.  There are plenty of fail safes built in so that nothing can go wrong and nobody can get hurt.  And of course, Crichton delights in showing just how quickly all that planning goes out the window.   The basic structure of the novel is built from an understanding of chaos theory – the idea being that random factors will overwhelm any attempt to keep the dinosaurs or the park under control.   The book ends on a bleak note (not due to anything with the main characters), but a more satisfying one than I recall seeing in Crichton’s books or movies for some time before 1990, perhaps since The Terminal Man.


MORE SPOILERS:  So how do the movies do in dealing with this material?  The first one, Jurassic Park, is a streamlined adaptation of much of the title book.  One of its best sequences, a Tyrannosaurus Rex attack, comes right off the pages without much change.   There’s a smaller number of characters in the movie than the book, but that’s to be expected.   But the movie plays quite well in simplified form, as directed by Steven Spielberg.   It’s clear that Spielberg has been able to translate the basic adventure thrust of the book – first awing the characters with the idea of living dinosaurs and then scaring the heck out them (and us).  To that end, then-groundbreaking CGI is utilized in more than 60 shots to provide full-size, believable dinosaurs appearing to interact with real environments and real people.  In many more shots, full-size mechanical dinosaurs built by Stan Winston’s studio complete the illusion.  Spielberg creates multiple set pieces that either spotlight a dinosaur to maximum effect or use each of his tools to jolt the viewers – whether that be with a Tyrannosaur’s roar or the insidious tapping of a Velociraptor’s foot claw on a kitchen floor.   There are some changes to the story for the movie that are recognizable as normal for Spielberg films.   While the book centers on the people brought to island trying to make their way back to shelter after things go wrong, the movie centers even that thought on Alan Grant (Sam Neill) acting as a surrogate father to a boy and girl along the way.   The responsible lawyer in the book is combined with a craven publicist character and turned into the typical “bloodsucking lawyer” as played by Martin Ferrero. The creator of the amusement park, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) is presented in a much kindlier fashion than the reptilian industrialist of the book.  In the movie, he’s more of a daffy grandfather who rhapsodizes about the flea circus he once ran.  Two major characters that are killed in the book survive in the movie.  It’s understandable why these changes were made – without them, you’d just have a series of theoretical discussions about chaos theory in between dinosaur attacks.  With them, you have a more complete movie.  Things are further helped by a supporting performance by Jeff Goldblum as chaotician Ian Malcolm, where it’s clear that Goldblum is having a great time with almost all of the best dialogue.  Seen today, Jurassic Park still really works as a fun movie.  It’s a great amusement park ride, with an appealing cast and visual effects and sound that are somehow still jaw dropping nearly 20 years after its original release.


STILL MORE SPOILERS:  Given the overwhelming success of Jurassic Park at the box office, a sequel was inevitable.  To his credit, Steven Spielberg went back to Michael Crichton and asked for his input as to what direction they should take.  For the first time in his career, Crichton wrote a sequel book, The Lost World.  This book is fairly similar to his first dinosaur book, in that you have a group of people, including a couple of kids, making their way across an island full of dinosaurs.  But this time, I have to give Crichton points for focusing not on chaos theory but extinction theories, so that the two books are thematically quite different.  (Of course, given the popularity of a primary character (SPOILER WITHIN SPOILER – Ian Malcolm) he had killed in the first book, Crichton is forced into the position of having to somehow resurrect that person in a manner that feels just a little bit cheesy…)  With this as a blueprint, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp then put together a plan for the sequel that would take some elements from the new book, add in some unused elements from the first book, and tie it together with a plot where two groups arrive at the island – one composed of hunters led by John Hammond’s evil nephew (Arliss Howard), and the other composed of gatherers led by Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, returning in a lead role this time).  There’s also a very strong thread of parenthood running through The Lost World: Jurassic Park, where the dinosaurs, even Tyrannosaurs, are presented as trying to protect their children rather than simply as wild animals.   I have to admit that the movie starts on a fairly strong note, pulling in a dinosaur not used in the first film, the scavenger dinosaur known as the compsognathus.  In a delightfully nasty scene, we meet the compies as they surround a little girl who is foolish enough to share a little bit of a roast beef sandwich with them and you can imagine what happens next.  From this opening, and the setup of the expeditions going to the island, you would think this would be a movie just as good as the first one.  And there are great moments  early on – a family of Stegosaurs crossing a river is a very nice touch, as is a dinosaur roundup that has to be seen to be believed.  But all too soon, the film starts to tip downhill.  A telling moment comes in a sequence (partly lifted from the second book) where a pair of high tech trailers are dangled off a cliff by a pair of Tyrannosaurs in the rain.  It’s not just that we can see that the filmmakers are trying to double the T-Rex attack from the first film.  It’s not just the outrageous conceit of having both trailers held from falling by a single Mercedes SUV running in reverse in the mud.  It’s not even the way a character is shamefully treated by both T-Rexes.   (Talk about going from a hero to a zero, or maybe half of a zero…)  It’s really that the whole setup just feels a bit stale.  We’ve been there and done this before.  From this point, the movie devolves into a series of chase and attack scenes, where characters run from various dinosaurs before either fighting back or being digested, or both.  There are still some inspired bits – particularly an overhead torpedo shot of a line of people running through high grass, as we see several other somethings running in straight lines toward them. There’s another nasty attack scene with the compies that effectively translates an unfilmed scene from the first book.  And Pete Postlethwaite’s performance as a Great White Hunter is actually quite good in the movie.  But the overall feel of the movie is that it’s both not that interesting and trying too hard at the same time.  Things wrap up with an inexplicable trip to San Diego that feels like a modern day Godzilla movie, played mostly for laughs.   (There’s a strange cameo by writer David Koepp at a video store that is so odd it could have been filmed for a gag reel or a parody movie…)  At the same time, there’s a final scene with Arliss Howard that stands as a good translation of a similar scene in the second book.   So I come away from The Lost World: Jurassic Park with the feeling that it’s a very well-made movie with some good moments, but without much of a story, or at least much of a fresh one.


YET MORE SPOILERS:   Watching Jurassic Park III is a bit more work than I would have thought.  I remember watching it ten years ago and not thinking much of it.  For this review, I have paid much closer attention, but it’s very difficult to find much to recommend in it.  The story for the third film is a completely new idea, although situated on the same island as the second film.  This time, Sam Neill returns, his character having been recruited by an apparently wealthy couple (Tea Leoni and William H. Macy) to fly to Isla Sorna for a survey.  Except that the minute their plane lands on the island, the running and screaming starts – and this time there isn’t much logic to the approach.  New dinosaurs (and new varieties of established dinosaurs) are introduced without any thought as to whether their presence would make any sense.  To top the established T-Rex, the filmmakers now bring in a Spinosaur, which looks like a fearsome creature, but which would make no sense being included in an amusement park as shown in the prior films.   The script is loaded with serious story logic problems, and even a cast including Neill, Leoni and Macy can’t perform their way around them.  That said, there are some interesting visuals, particularly the first close-up view of a Pteranodon in the giant birdcage.  There’s at least one good travelling shot of a boat on a river with dinosaurs on the banks that feels like something out of Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride.  (And it’s another lift from the first book)  But even at 90 minutes, this movie feels too long.  It’s essentially a series of setups for dinosaur attacks without much thought as to the story pinning everything together.  It begs the question that if the filmmakers are contemplating a fourth movie, what story could they tell now that doesn’t just retread the same ground?  If they really intend to make another film, as Steven Spielberg announced this year, I’m curious to see what new direction they can take the idea.  AND THERE ENDETH THE SPOILERS.  You may read freely from here on…


The 3-disc Blu-ray release of Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy, released two days ago to stores, is actually the 4th DVD edition of the movies, if I’m counting correctly.  There was an edition of the first two films released in 2000 as part of the promotion for the third film.  There was then a collection of all three movies together at the end of 2001.  And there was an “Adventure Pack” of the trilogy in 2005, if the listings I’m seeing are correct.   Through all of these editions, each movie was presented with a “Making of” documentary and assorted featurettes.  The second film included some deleted scenes.  The third film came with a commentary from the effects team.  For the new release, as noted above, new high definition transfers were done and each film was given a DTS-HD MA 7.1 sound mix.  Further, the earlier special features have been augmented with new HD featurettes from Laurent Bouzereau, along with further archive materials to truly pack the discs.  Each movie comes on a single Blu-ray disc containing the extras pertinent to it.  All of the discs come with BD-Live and My Scenes functionality, as well as D-Box functionality.  Instructions for downloading a digital copy of each movie are included on an insert in the packaging.  I should note that the version I am reviewing is simply the collection of Blu-ray discs.  There is a Gift Set packaging version that also includes a dinosaur miniature and a certificate of authenticity, but I have not seen this for myself.


                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   4/5 (Jurassic Park),  4 ½/5 (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III)

All three films are presented in 1080p VC-1 transfers that are a pleasure to watch, retaining plenty of visible grain and showing a satisfying amount of detail.  I’m marking slightly lower on the first film due to some minor edge enhancement issues that have been pointed out.  The edge enhancement is so mild that you may need to really look for it – I couldn’t see it until it was pointed out, and that’s on a 65” screen.  I had the evaluation checked on a 100+” projection screen with the same result.  That said, there will be viewers who may find it distracting, and thus the slight count off there.  The new transfers are clear enough to make some of the earlier CGI shots easier to spot as such – the big brachiosaurus reveal shows that even with all the work ILM did to place the dino in the frame with the humans, it’s still an obviously separate element placed into the same shot.  On the other hand, the nighttime T-Rex attack looks great, as does the Raptor kitchen set piece.  A late shot of a Raptor looking upwards as DNA code is displayed across its head and body is another shot that works well in high definition.  The second two films look even better, with the second film showing a mostly darker palette with solid black levels, and the third film showing off a satisfying variety of flesh tones on humans and dinosaurs.


AUDIO QUALITY    5/5  (All Three Films)

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, along with Spanish and French DTS 5.1 mixes.  The new 7.1 mix for each film is an absolute pleasure to hear, but I must warn you, it’s LOUD.  The bitrates are higher than I’ve seen for any Blu-ray release other than Scarface, which was the only other one I’ve reviewed with a 7.1 mix.  The bitrate is not put to waste.  In the first film’s opening scene as the Raptor makes noises inside its box, you can hear full volume shrieks and noises coming from the rear surrounds.  (The obvious intention is to make you jump – and it will, believe me.)  The early bit with the brachiosaurus plucking from the tree and then slamming its forelegs into the grass will shake your home theater.  The impact tremors of the approaching T-Rex will also shake your home theater.  In the second film, the great dinosaur round up is a great showcase for sound – as motorcycles and other vehicles zip around under and between the creatures and the sound goes through all the speakers.  The closing San Diego set piece is another sound opportunity, particularly the mix of modern and animal sounds.  The mix for the third film is just as good – except that the sounds heard from the new dinosaurs just aren’t as interesting as those created for the first two films.   The signature sound of the T-Rex continues to be a movie-stealer, although it’s only heard briefly here.


SPECIAL FEATURES      4/5  (All Three Films)

The Blu-ray presentation of Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy comes with multiple special features, much of which is carried over from the earlier DVD incarnations.  There’s also a new series of HD featurettes, all prepared by Laurent Bouzereau for this release.  The Blu-ray also carries the usual BD-Live and pocket BLU functionality, as well as D-Box functionality.  Instructions for downloading digital copies of all three films are included in the packaging.


Disc 1   Jurassic Park:


Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era   (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) (25:25, 1080p) – Laurent Bouzereau’s new collection of interview featurettes begins here with this account of the design and development of the first movie, as adapted from Michael Crichton’s book.  Some vintage on-set footage is included, along with new interviews conducted for this release with Steven Spielberg and other team members.  The change from then-standard stop motion work to CGI is examined here, which is appropriate since this film, along with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, signaled both a quantum leap forward in CGI capability and a fundamental change in the way visual effects would be conceived and executed.


Return to Jurassic Park:  Making Prehistory   (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) (20:16, 1080p) – This new featurette covers the cast and production of the first film, including how the cast interacted with Stan Winston’s mechanical puppets, and how some locations were shot in daylight in Hawaii but then recreated onstage in Los Angeles for the night rain sequences in the same place.  (The Tyrannosaur attack is one major example of this.)  Almost the entire cast is interviewed here, with the kids of the film having aged in the most notable way.


Return to Jurassic Park:  The Next Step in Evolution – (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) (15:03 Total, 1080p)   This is the last new featurette for the first film, and it covers the post-production, including discussions about Gary Rydstrom’s sound design and John Williams’ score.  Steven Spielberg candidly admits here that he doesn’t remember a lot about this process, as he was filming Schindler’s List in Poland for much of this time.  Spielberg notes that this was the one time in his career that he was unable to attend one of John Williams’ scoring sessions, and says that he was flying in to Paris to check reels with Gary Rydstrom on the weekends during the Poland shoot.  He says in summary that this period of months is a blur in retrospect, which is understandable, given all the elements involved in both movies.



Archival Featurettes:


Archival Featurette: The Making of Jurassic Park – (49:39, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2000 DVD) This is actually a pretty comprehensive account on the making of the first film, compiled not by Laurent Bouzereau but by John Schultz and narrated onscreen by James Earl Jones.  The date on the credits at this featurette’s end is 1995, indicating this must have been used or intended for something earlier than the DVD where I can first locate it. (I have a feeling this was meant for a Signature Laserdisc that never happened…)  Some of the footage here is recycled in the more recent Bouzereau featurettes.  UPDATE:  As Greg Reed has pointed out in this thread, this documentary was actually released on its own as a laserdisc in the mid-90s.  I remember seeing the disc on sale at Dave's Lasers back in the day...


Archival Featurette:  Original Featurette on the Making of the Film – (4:50, 480p, Full Frame) – This brief featurette is more of an EPK fluff piece done to promote the film at the time of its release in 1993.


Archival Featurette:  Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park (9:07, 480p, Full Frame) – This is a brief look at Spielberg on the

set directing the first film.  I cannot tell if this was included on any of the prior DVD releases, but there really isn’t much new here.


Archival Featurette: Hurricane in Kauai (2:09, 480p, Full Frame) – This quick featurette covers the attack of Hurricane Iniki while the filming company was on the island, including videotape of the cast and crew huddled in the entrance of the hotel and then holed up in the main ballroom waiting for the storm to pass.




Behind The Scenes: 


Early Pre-Production Meetings (6:20, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2000 DVD) – This is a collection of videotaped moments in a planning meeting involving Steven Spielberg, Stan Winston, Dennis Muren and Michael Lantieri (among others) to discuss how the various dinosaurs should be able to look and move when being filmed.  Many of the signature moves of each creature are discussed here in specific by Spielberg as he tells the team what he wants to see.


Location Scouting (1:59, 480p, Full Frame) – (FROM THE 2000 DVD) – This is really a few moments of location scouts in Hawaii as shot and narrated by Steven Spielberg, where he talks about where he believes the characters might first see the brachiosaurus, or where other moments might happen.


Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the Kitchen (3:04, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) (FROM THE 2000 DVD) – This is the stop-motion animatic made by Phil Tippett of the Raptor kitchen scene, which includes the whole scene as done in stop-motion without any live action.   As it turns out, these animatics were the real contribution made to the film by Phil Tippett and his team when the CGI work kicked in.


Phil Tippett Animatics:  T-Rex Attack  (7:21, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) –  This animatic assembly includes a lot of storyboards to complete the sequence for the shots that do not involve direct views of the T-Rex at work.


ILM and Jurassic Park: Before and After the Visual Effects (6:32, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) – This is a compilation of various shots as seen before and after the addition of CGI dinosaurs.  Several of the shots are dissected piece by piece, particularly a striking early shot of brachiosauri and other dinosaurs at the bank of a lake with the characters in the foreground.


Foley Artists (1:25, 480p, Full Frame) – This quick featurette shows the post-production sound crew generating the noises associated with the nursery scene that happens fairly early in the movie.


Storyboards   –  SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION:  Five storyboard assemblies are presented here:  “T-Rex Attack”, “Jeep Chase”, “Raptors in the Kitchen”, “Omitted Baby Trike Scene” and “The Original Ending” (which shows the version conceived before Spielberg added the T-Rex back in for the closing tableaux.


Production Archives  – What we have here is a collection in three categories:  “Photographs”, “Design Sketches” and “Conceptual Paintings”.


Theatrical Trailer (1:18, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) – The film’s original full-length trailer is presented here in standard definition.  If anything, the trailer is a good barometer for the work done on the Blu-ray.  My only regret here is that the original teaser trailer is not included – that one centered on the mining of amber and mosquitoes. (I remember seeing the teaser trailer in the movie theater, but not the full trailer…)


Jurassic Park: Making The Game – (4:43, 1080i) (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) – This is a new featurette covering the upcoming 2011 video game based on the first two movies.  Other than the obvious nods to various dinosaurs and movie moments, this featurette is notable to me for its inclusion of Dr. Kevin Padian, who taught a great dinosaur class I attended while in school some years ago.  I refuse to admit that he has aged at all.  UPDATE:  For the record, the dinosaur course was called "The Ecological Evolution of Dinosaurs", and Dr. Padian covered many of the ideas played out in the movie - that dinosaurs may have evolved into birds, that they may not have been cold-blooded, etc.  That course was the first exposure I had to the dino known as Deinonychus, one type of which was the Velociraptor.  Deinonychus translates to "terrible claw", which refers to that fun little claw on the foot that we see demonstrated by Alan Grant in theory in the first film and then put into action through all three films by the raptors...


BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment.




Disc 2    The Lost World: Jurassic Park:


Deleted Scenes   (FROM THE 2000 DVD) (7:09, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) – Two deleted scenes are included here from the initial DVD of The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  The first scene shows Ludlow (Arliss Howard) usurping control of Ingen from his uncle at a boardroom meeting. The second scene gives a proper introduction to Pete Postlethwaite’s character as he beats up a tourist out of both honor and boredom before agreeing to go on the film’s expedition.  These scenes cannot be accessed on their own, so to watch them, you’ll need to select the menu item and then fast-forward or rewind as needed.


Return to Jurassic Park:  Finding The Lost World   (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) (27:40, 1080p) – This new featurette from Laurent Bouzereau picks up where the first film’s materials left off.  Steven Spielberg, Jeff Goldblum and other key creative team members discuss the making of the sequel – which Spielberg sees as the first direct sequel he was involved in.  (He views the Indiana Jones movies as an adventure serial – a different animal altogether.)   Goldblum is the only actor other than Peter Stormare to participate here, but Goldblum makes up for it by telling some very funny stories about the film’s production.  On-set video footage is shown, and there is a discussion by several of the principals about how the San Diego coda came about.  Spielberg mentions having had a different idea about the genesis for a sequel (he wanted to see what happened to the shaving cream can lost in the first film) until he read Michael Crichton’s second book on this subject and went with that.  Spielberg admits that the “Something Has Survived” idea was really just a promo line that didn’t have anything to do with the actual story in the movie.  He also admits that the first film really had less than 65 CGI shots in the movie – something he quickly topped with the second film.  There’s some really fun stuff in this piece, particularly the admission that the big cliffside scene was filmed on a covered area of the Universal Studios parking structure!


Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived – (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) (16:30, 1080p) – This featurette covers the post-production, including the newer CGI effects and the darker score.  Spielberg admits at the end of the featurette that the second film wasn’t at the same level of the first film.



Archival Featurettes


Archival Featurette: The Making of The Lost World – (53:41, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2000 DVD) – This featurette is an earlier work by Laurent Bouzereau, and it’s just as thorough as his more recent pieces elsewhere on this disc.  (And some of the footage from here is recycled for those pieces.)  The interviews for this piece date back to the time of the production, and the featurette is date stamped 1997.


Archival Featurette:  Original Featurette on the Making of the Film – (13:17, 480p, Full Frame) – This shorter featurette is pretty much EPK filler, but it’s still interesting to see the cast at a younger age of nearly 15 years.


Archival Featurette:  The Jurassic Park Phenomenon:  A Discussion with Author Michael Crichton (15:27, 480p, Full Frame) – A good 1997 interview with Michael Crichton is included here, and it may be the most interesting extra on any of the discs.  Crichton talks about how he was once known as the author of The Andromeda Strain but that Jurassic Park thankfully changed that.  Crichton recounts a story of being shown around the Universal backlot by a then-young director named Steven Spielberg.  Crichton also discusses the differences between books and movies, even when the movie is an adaptation of a book.  He mentions having spent 10 years writing Jurassic Park, which only makes sense if you realize he was actually working three different movies and another book before putting his focus here.  The differences between characters in the books and these movies is also discussed, with the main focus being John Hammond, who Crichton describes as a dark Walt Disney.  There’s a brief coda to the piece – Shot in 2000, this bit shows Crichton enjoying that a new sub-type of dinosaur has been named after him (It’s known as Crichton’s Ankylosaur, or more scientifically as Crichtonsaurus bohlini.)  The interviews were conducted by Laurent Bouzereau, who mines a bunch of the first interview for use in his more recent featurettes.


Archival Featurette:  The Compie Dance Number: Thank You Steven Spielberg from ILM (1:38, 480p, Non-Anamorphic)  – This is a quick CGI dance number performed by a kick line of compies.  I can’t say that I think much of the music, but the compies look like they’re enjoying the steps…



Behind The Scenes


ILM & The Lost World: Before and After the Visual Effects  (20:44, 480p, Full Frame) –  This is another collection of before/after shots where CGI dinosaurs were added to live action.  This batch is presented in a different way than the first film.  Here we have a split screen, where the top frame has the live action and the bottom frame has the live action infused with CGI.


Production Archives – This is a collection of archival material divided into multiple sections:  “Production Photographs”, “Illustrations & Conceptual Drawings”, “Models”, “The World of Jurassic Park”, “The Magic of ILM” and “Posters & Toys”. 


Storyboards – SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION:  Storyboard assemblies are presented for the following sequences: “Stego Attack”, “The Round Up”, “Eddie’s Death”, “Death in the Waterfall”, “Malcolm vs. Raptor”, “Sarah Harding vs. The Raptors”, “Getting the T-Rex Off The Island”, “The Cargo Ship Sequence”, “The T-Rex Visits San Diego”, “The Revenge of the T-Rex”, “Omitted Air Attack” (an abandoned Pteranodon sequence), and “The Original Ending” (another sequence that would have involved flying dinosaurs, abandoned in favor of bringing the T-Rex stateside for a quick bite…)



Theatrical Trailer (1:58, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) (FROM THE 2000 DVD) – Here we have a standard definition copy of the theatrical trailer, as presented on the earlier DVD edition.


BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment.





Disc 3    Jurassic Park III:


Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure   (NEW FOR BLU-RAY) – Laurent Bouzereau’s new interview featurette series concludes with this account of the making of Jurassic Park III.  Things start out with Steven Spielberg’s description of the Universal Studios’ theme park ride based on the first film, but quickly get into the nuts and bolts of the third film.  Joe Johnston, Sam Neill, William H. Macy and Trevor Morgan relate stories about the on-set work.  There is a bit of similarity in the accounts to what happened on all three films – in that there was always some material shot on location in the jungle, and then some material shot on matching sets built on a stage to accommodate the Stan Winston mechanical puppets.  A highlight for me was Macy’s recollection of a specific shot done with Tea Leoni on location, which actually got me to laugh out loud.


Commentary with Stan Winston, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor (ILM) and Michael Lantieri   (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – This scene-specific group commentary is carried over from the earlier DVD incarnations of the title.  The group here consists of the people making the dinosaurs work for the movie, and they go into some detail about how shots were done and what tricks were being used.



Archival Featurettes:


Archival Featurette: The Making of Jurassic Park III – (22:43, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – Laurent Bouzereau’s 2001 featurette includes on-set interviews with the cast and production team as the third film was being made.


Archival Featurette:  The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III – (7:52, 480p, Full Frame)  (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – Another Laurent Bouzereau featurette from 2001, this one focuses on the new dinosaurs featured in the third film, including the giant Spinosaur and the flying Pteranodons.


Archival Featurette: The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III (10:31, 480p, Full Frame) – This Laurent Bouzereau piece focuses on the special effects employed to bring the various dinosaurs to life on set.


Archival Featurette:  ILM Press Reel (10:14, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) – This is exactly what it sounds like – a press reel showing the work done by ILM for Jurassic Park III, including dissections of how the various shots were put together..


Archival Featurette:  The Sounds of Jurassic Park III (13:35, 480p, Full Frame) – This Laurent Bouzereau piece focuses on the work of Christopher Boyes, who took on the job of creating the various dinosaur sounds in the footsteps of Gary Rydstrom’s great work on the first two films.


Archival Featurette:  The Art of Jurassic Park III (7:55, 480p, Full Frame) – This Laurent Bouzereau piece focuses on the design work of Ed Verraux, who took over the art department for the third film.


Archival Featurette:  Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs (4:21, 480p, Full Frame) – This featurette is mostly an interview with paleontologist Jack Horner (the real-life basis for the character of Alan Grant in the movies).  Horner describes the work his team does as we see video footage of their then-current dig.  As Horner points out, the real work on understanding dinosaurs isn’t happening in a gene lab, but instead out in the field, where the fossils can be found.




Behind The Scenes:


Tour of Stan Winston Studio  (3:14, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) –  This is a very quick look at the work that goes on at the Stan Winston Studio, where the large mechanical dinosaur puppets were created for these movies.


Spinosaurus Attacks The Plane (1:48, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – This is a compilation of film footage and on-set video covering the early Spinosaur attack in the movie.


Raptors Attack Udesky (0:59, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – This is a compilation of film footage and on-set footage covering the fate of Michael Jeter’s character, including an interesting shot of the puppeteer literally walking in the feet of the velociraptor doing the main attack.


The Lake (1:38, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – This is a compilation of film footage and on-set video of an underwater attack by the Spinosaur on the hero boat.


A Visit to ILM – This is really a whole section in its own right.  It’s a comprehensive overview of the work ILM did to bring the dinosaurs to life.  This subsection is itself divided into the following parts:


            Concepts (480p, Full Frame) – Here we have concept materials for “The Spinosaurus”, “The Pteranodons”, and “The Raptors” (for the redesign work done for the third film).  An introduction begins this section.  These can be viewed individually or through a “Play All function.


            The Process (480p, Full Frame) – Again starting with an introduction, this shows various stages of the creation of various elements and shots.  “Models” includes an Interview with an ILM CGI worker who shows the various stages of a CGI dino model, including wireframe and muscled versions.  There is a second option, to simply view the model in close up as he describes the differences between versions.  “T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus” includes an interview about the creation of the scene, a production plate showing the live action without CGI, and a look at the final shot as seen in the movie.  “Pteranodon Air Attack” includes an interview about the scene, an animatic of the shot, and then the final shot of Allesandro Nivola meeting a Pteranodon the wrong way.  “Raptors: Returning the Egg” includes an interview, a production plate of the scene without CGI, and then the final shot adding CGI raptors to a shot that already had a puppet raptor to one side.  All of this can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.


            Muscle Simulation (480p, Full Frame) – Beginning with an introduction, this section focuses on the addition of simulated muscles to the wireframes and models of dinosaurs, thus making their movements more lifelike.  The introduction is followed by a demonstration of the technique.  Each part of the section can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.


            Compositing (480p, Full Frame) – The final subsection here covers the work of combining a finished CGI element with live action to make it appear that the CGI creature is actually in the room with the characters.  A definition is provided, followed by a demonstration.  Each part of this section can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.


Dinosaur Turntables (6:23 Total, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – This is a collection of rotating views of the various dinosaurs seen in the movie:  “Corythosaurus”, “Parasaurolophus”, “Brachiosaurus”, “Velociraptor (Male)”, “Ankylosaurus” (not the Crichton variety…), “Stegosaurus”, “Triceratops”, “Pteranodon (Baby and Adult)”, “Compsognathus”, “Billy Brennan” (a model of Allesandro Nivola for his maiden flight shot…), and “Spinosaurus”.  These can each be viewed on their own or via a “Play All” function.


Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison (6:08 Total, 480p, Full Frame) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – Three storyboard assemblies are presented here, each time in combination with the actual film footage of that part of the relevant sequence.  The three pieces are “The Lab”, “The Aviary” and “The Boat Attack”.  Each can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function.


Production Photographs (2:50, 480p, Full Frame) – This is a series of photographs taken during the production of the film.




Theatrical Trailer (1:16, 480p, Non-Anamorphic) (FROM THE 2001 DVD) – The film’s original theatrical trailer is carried over from the earlier DVD.


BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


D-Box – D-Box functionality is available for those home theater enthusiasts who have the proper equipment.



The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.  When you first put the discs into the player, you’ll see a few BD-Live trailers for upcoming Blu-ray releases.  I actually caught trailers for the upcoming Tower Heist and next summer’s Battleship.


Digital Copies – Instructions for downloading digital copies of the movies are available on an insert in the packaging.  The copy may not be available after 12/31/2012.



IN THE END...

Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is an easy Blu-ray set to recommend, on the strength of the new high definition picture transfers and sound mixes, on the generous collection of extras, and on the quality of the first film.  Yes, the second two films aren’t up to the same level of quality, but I have to admit that each has some interesting visuals and solid technical work.  I’m not as much a fan of the third film, but I acknowledge there are many people for whom it’s actually more fun and interesting than the second one.  Beyond my opinions of the films themselves, the work done here for the Blu-ray set has been superlative. This is an attractive and handsome package, and I have no reservations about recommending it for purchase, particularly at this price point for three movies and a multitude of special features.  Fans of Steven Spielberg and this franchise will likely not have waited.  More casual viewers are in for a great time.


Kevin Koster

October 27, 2011.


Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:


Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer



#2 of 81 cineMANIAC

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Posted October 28 2011 - 01:14 AM

I grabbed Best Buy's much more attractive-looking exclusive steelbook edition of this set and I'm very happy with it. I have to wonder how much cheaper the set would be if Universal didn't include Digital Copies and a flyer.
 

 


#3 of 81 greed

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Posted October 28 2011 - 01:21 AM

Great Review. The "Making of Jurassic Park" archival feature was released on laserdisc as a stand-alone title. I've got it sitting in my closet!

#4 of 81 Jason Charlton

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Posted October 28 2011 - 02:09 AM

Thanks for the great review, Kevin!  I'm a huge fan of the first film (I even have the Jurassic Park pinball machine in the back of my home theater) and hearing your raves about the video and audio presentation make this a no-brainer to add to my Christmas wish list.


I'm also curious to watch the sequels again to see if my impression of them has changed over the years.  I recall not liking the first sequel at all, and feeling like the third film was an enjoyable ride - though that may have simply been due to lowered expectations.


I love that you also made some interesting comparisons to Crichton's other works (particularly Westworld).  I've read most of everything he wrote (such a shame that we lost him a couple years ago) and love his ability to stretch the limits of technology just enough to be believable and plausible without inducing too much eye-rolling.


Can't wait to see, hear, and feel these movies at home.  Thanks again!


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#5 of 81 Kevin EK

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Posted October 28 2011 - 02:40 AM

Thank you Greg for the info on the documentary.  I'll update the review to reflect that.  I think I remember that laserdisc as well.  The interesting thing there is that it's the one major documentary piece NOT put together by Laurent Bouzereau...



#6 of 81 Carlo Medina

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Posted October 28 2011 - 07:10 AM

Fell asleep to the first movie last night (long work day, didn't start the film until 11:30pm) but what I recall seeing and hearing was a solid A/V transfer. Given Spielberg's statements about not revising his films anymore (so don't expect a re-CGI of the dinos to up-to-date standards) it was a good effort.

#7 of 81 Kevin EK

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Posted October 28 2011 - 07:34 AM

I can confirm you'll be seeing the movies in their original incarnation.  No revisionist CGI here.



#8 of 81 Mike Frezon

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Posted October 28 2011 - 07:35 AM



Originally Posted by Carlo Medina 

Given Spielberg's statements about not revising his films anymore (so don't expect a re-CGI of the dinos to up-to-date standards) it was a good effort.


Phew!  I was half-expecting the dinosaurs to be carrying walkie-talkies in this new release!  Posted Image


Thanks for the review, Kevin!  Posted Image



There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#9 of 81 cafink

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Posted October 28 2011 - 07:45 AM

(so don't expect a re-CGI of the dinos to up-to-date standards)

Even if Speilberg were inclined to do this, I think he'd have a heck of a time creating better special effects than what's already in the movie. Jurassic Park's special effects hold up spectacularly well, in my opinion, not least of all because it used just the right combination of practical effects & CGI.
 

 


#10 of 81 Johnny Angell

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Posted October 28 2011 - 03:42 PM

Even if Speilberg were inclined to do this, I think he'd have a heck of a time creating better special effects than what's already in the movie. Jurassic Park's special effects hold up spectacularly well, in my opinion, not least of all because it used just the right combination of practical effects & CGI.

Ditto that from me. I've got an HD copy on my DVR and when I watch JP 1, 2, or 3, at no point do I think "those dinos could look more real." They look great. Now when it comes to a teen-aged gymnast knocking over a velociraptor, now we can discuss something not looking real.:) One of the big problems of earlier dino movies (even Harryhausen's) is when they switch from a long view of the stop-action dino to a closeup of a practical model. The change is always obvious and distracting. Not so with JP. The practical dino looks as good as the cgi and the cgi looks real. I'm hoping for JP 4. You can never have too many dinosaur movies.
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#11 of 81 FoxyMulder

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Posted October 29 2011 - 07:20 AM

I can't say i agree with a 4/5 for a film that contains edge enhancement, no matter how minor you believe it to be, i disagree and consider it a distraction in several scenes.


I also thought the re-mixed audio was slightly disappointing on Jurassic Park, i didn't feel it had the same slam or dynamic feel to it as the original 5.1 mix, i heard it straight away on many sequences where i felt the audio lacked the power of the original mix, thats how i felt, i know many will disagree with me, it was a good sound mix but i felt the original was great and somewhere along the line this 7.1 remix has neutered the originals powerful mix.


I also do not believe this was a new film scan created last year, it looks like they tried to fix an older master by using digital tools, if you have a direct quote from someone in the know then by all means share it and if it comes from someone other than a Universal employee then i might even believe it.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

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"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#12 of 81 Kevin EK

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Posted October 29 2011 - 07:44 AM

Malcolm, we have it directly from USHE that these were new 2011 scans and sound mixes, with full involvement from Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment.   You're entitled to your opinion about the scans and mixes, but I think the issue of whether the work was done is now moot.


If your point is that the studio would say a blatant falsehood about a high profile release, I'm not sure how to answer that.



#13 of 81 Robert Crawford

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Posted October 29 2011 - 08:02 AM




Originally Posted by Kevin EK 

Malcolm, we have it directly from USHE that these were new 2011 scans and sound mixes, with full involvement from Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment.   You're entitled to your opinion about the scans and mixes, but I think the issue of whether the work was done is now moot.


If your point is that the studio would say a blatant falsehood about a high profile release, I'm not sure how to answer that.



Thank you for the fine review as I just ordered this boxset after finding a price of under $45 for the boxset.  As far as edge enhancement and rating you gave the video presentation, there will be always disagreement there as edge enhancement bothers some more than most other people and you can only grade a presentation as to how it affects you while reviewing a disc.







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#14 of 81 FoxyMulder

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Posted October 29 2011 - 09:43 AM



Originally Posted by Kevin EK 

Malcolm, we have it directly from USHE that these were new 2011 scans and sound mixes, with full involvement from Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment.   You're entitled to your opinion about the scans and mixes, but I think the issue of whether the work was done is now moot.


If your point is that the studio would say a blatant falsehood about a high profile release, I'm not sure how to answer that.



I'm saying that a new film scan would be good enough to create a brand new master that does not have edge sharpening on it, if this is truly a new film scan and brand new master then Universal has applied some edge sharpening, now Spielberg wouldn't usually approve this, so did he approve of the new master and then Universal applied some sharpening just for the blu ray encode, thats not so far fetched as you might like to believe, Spielberg releases don't have edge halos, however mild you think the issue is, they just don't.


A new film scan would not exhibit gate weave during the opening titles, it didn't bother me but a new film scan wouldn't have this.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#15 of 81 Kevin EK

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Posted October 29 2011 - 01:22 PM

As you've said, it's not a problem that's bothering people.  And it is a new scan, so I'm not sure what to tell you there.  We also know that Spielberg and Amblin were involved.


This says to me that we have a good product here, with very mild issues that may be more troubling for some viewers than others.  I'm sure if a lot of readers here are having problems, we'll hear about it in short order.



#16 of 81 Scott Calvert

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Posted October 29 2011 - 01:51 PM

As you've said, it's not a problem that's bothering people.  And it is a new scan, so I'm not sure what to tell you there.  We also know that Spielberg and Amblin were involved. This says to me that we have a good product here, with very mild issues that may be more troubling for some viewers than others.  I'm sure if a lot of readers here are having problems, we'll hear about it in short order.

New scans don't have gateweave.

#17 of 81 ahollis

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Posted October 29 2011 - 03:12 PM

Kevin - Good review.  Thank you for you helped in my decision to go for the release.

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#18 of 81 FoxyMulder

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Posted October 29 2011 - 04:34 PM



Originally Posted by ahollis 

Kevin - Good review.  Thank you for you helped in my decision to go for the release.



I helped you cancel your pre-order and Kevin helped you buy the release, ooops, sorry about that, but seriously, its better than any other release and i think you will enjoy it, all i am asking is why does edge enhancement, no matter how minor some find it, exist on the transfer, i'll stick to the other thread though since my thoughts are already on it.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 


#19 of 81 Kevin EK

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Posted October 29 2011 - 07:44 PM

Allen, I'd be very happy to read your comments after you've had a chance to see these discs yourself.   Thanks for joining in.



#20 of 81 Harmy

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Posted October 30 2011 - 06:38 AM

If the gateweave is only visible on the credits, that proves nothing, since in 1993, it is quite likely that he credits were still done optically and every optical composite always has some amount of gate weave. And even if they were done digitally, in 1993, even a digital composite would likely have a certain amount of gate weve, since the digital credits would be perfectly still but the scanned footage would weave and so if you now scanned it and stabilized the footage perfectly, the credits would still move.





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