Jurassic Park emerges onto Blu-ray in 3D with a new conversion by Stereo D that adds a lot of dimensionality to the movie, with varying levels of success. As with the 2011 Blu-ray release, the real appeal here will be to see the dinosaurs in all their glory. And now, they’ve been digitally adjusted to take as much advantage as possible of the conversion of a 2D movie. The new Blu-ray set includes the 3D Blu-ray, along with the 2011 Blu-ray and DVD editions of the movie. Recommending this title is a little tricky – I believe viewers will do just as well to stay with the original rendition of the movie. However, having watched through the 3D conversion, I can see plenty of moments that will satisfy 3D fans.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/VC-1, 480P/MPEG-2, Not Listed
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hrs. 7 Mins.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/23/2013
It’s interesting to jump back into Jurassic Park, less than 2 years after it made its debut on Blu-ray. But the advent of 3D conversions makes a fresh look possible. The movie continues to be extremely entertaining, and that the application of 3D provides a surprising amount of effective dimensionality, considering that this movie was neither lit nor photographed for the 3D process. Stereo D, the same company that did the 2D-3D conversion for Titanic, has done a fair amount of work here, adding digital foreground elements wherever possible, adding layers of dimension, and occasionally throwing in the pop-out moments that many 3D fans crave. It’s not always completely effective, but there are plenty of good moments throughout for 3D fans to savor.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Having written an extensive review of the entire trilogy in 2011, I’ll quote a little from that overall review just to give readers a basic summary of the movie:
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 movie still holds up as a great ride, even 20 years after its theatrical premiere.
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 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 idea that’s just on the far side of what is possible today. Crichton creates 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 malfunctioned and began attacking 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: Michael Crichton has presented this kind of scenario, to varying levels of effectiveness. Sphere, his last book before Jurassic Park, 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, 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: 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, as should 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. 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.
AND THERE ENDETH THE SPOILERS. You may read freely from here on…
The 3-D Blu-ray of Jurassic Park will be released to home theater viewers on April 23rd. For the new release, as noted above, Stereo D converted the movie to 3D, thus generating a new transfer that contains many digital foreground elements not present in earlier releases of the movie. Further, the DTS-HD MA 7.1 sound mix from the 2011 release has been given a bit more work by Gary Rydstrom. The packaging includes the 2011 Blu-ray and SD DVD editions of this movie, both pulled from the trilogy packs released that year. The 2011 Blu-ray in the package has all the special features noted in that release, including 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.
Jurassic Park 3D is presented in a 1080p MVC transfer (avg 25mbps on the left, 10mbps on the right – with the right channel rising in bitrate as more dimensionality is presented). For the most part, this is a successful and effective 3D conversion, with many sequences getting great enhancements from the 3D process. The early scene with the lawyer and the archaeologist in the cave gets a great feeling of dimension, particularly as the camera pushes in to the tiny insect in the amber. Multiple scenes as the group arrives at the island are augmented with little digital foreground elements that give the movie a strong feeling of dimensionality. The big Tyrannosaur attack sequence makes notable use of the background and foreground rain to create a feeling of atmosphere in 3D, and uses the windows and frames of the vehicles to help separate the cast inside from the T-rex outside. In some cases, the dimensionality is not as natural. Some scenes show the cast members being forced farther out toward the viewer than the background, thus giving them a kind of flat appearance. One sequence, where Grant and the kids watch the T-rex attack a herd of gallimimuses, really feels like the foreground cast element has been pushed so far toward the viewer that it nearly causes eyestrain. There is some haloing present, most obviously in a shot over John Hammond’s white shirt to his guests at their lunch in a dark room after the first part of the tour. Overall, there is more successful work than not. I don’t know that I can recommend a purchase, but this is certainly worth a rental for curious 3D aficionados and people who have already seen the movie in 2D. I don’t know that I’d recommend this edition as the way to watch the movie for the first time.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: 3.5/5
Jurassic Park 3D is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, along with English and French DTS 5.1 mixes and an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. This is a new revision of the 7.1 mix created for the 2011 Blu-ray. As before, the mix is an absolute pleasure to hear, but it’s LOUD. 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.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Jurassic Park 3D comes with one new featurette on the 3D disc, while the included 2011 Blu-ray has all the special features discussed for that edition, including the HD featurettes and a lot of materials carried over from the earlier DVD incarnations. The Blu-ray also carries the usual BD-Live and pocket BLU functionality, as well as D-Box functionality. The SD DVD edition from 2011 is also included. Instructions for obtaining a digital or ultraviolet copy of the movie are included in the packaging.
Special Features Rating: 4/5
On the 3D Blu-ray:
The World of Jurassic Park 3D (NEW FOR 3D BLU-RAY) (8:27, 1080p MVC) – For the 3D Blu-ray, a new featurette has been prepared by Laurent Bouzereau in 3D. The featurette takes time to discuss the 2D-3D conversion work done by Stereo D, including interview snippets with Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and the guys at Stereo D. Spielberg acknowledges that the genesis of this project came from Stereo D’s conversion of Titanic. Having seen their work on the 1997 movie, Spielberg wanted to see what they could do with this one. Multiple examples are shown of Stereo D’s digital work in mapping the locations of the characters on a 2D image and then expanding out the dimensionality from there. Gary Rydstrom also pipes in at one point, noting that he’s done more work on the 7.1 mix as well.
On the included 2011 Blu-ray:
Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era (2011 BLU-RAY FEATURETTE) (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 (2011 BLU-RAY FEATURETTE) (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 – (2011 BLU-RAY FEATURETTE) (15:03, 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 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.
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) (2011 BLU-RAY FEATURETTE) – This featurette covers the then-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 dinosaur class I attended while in school some years ago. I refuse to admit that he has aged at all.
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.
Digital and Ultraviolet Copies – Instructions for obtaining digital and Ultraviolet copies of the 2D edition of the movie are available on an insert in the packaging.
Jurassic Park 3D is a more successful conversion than I had thought possible, taking the 2D movie and adding a lot of dimensionality to many sequences. It doesn’t always work, but where it does, it’s quite compelling. 3D fans will likely want to check it out to see the work, as will committed fans of the movie. I wouldn’t recommend that a viewer’s first experience of the movie be the 3D version, but people who’ve already taken the ride at least once will enjoy the new rendition.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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