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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Steven Spielberg
Cast:
Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough , Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Samuel L. Jackson
Writing Credits:
Michael Crichton (and novel), David Koepp

Tagline:
An adventure 65 million years in the making.

Synopsis:
Director Steven Spielberg's Jurassic masterpiece is back in this Collector's Edition containing interviews and special behind-the-scenes footage.

One of the most successful films in worldwide box office history, Jurassic Park remains a most compelling and spectacular experience. This thrilling adventure features Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough.

Featuring incredible special effects and action-packed drama, Jurassic Park takes you to a remote island where an amazing theme park with living dinosaurs is about to turn deadly, as five people must battle to survive among the prehistoric predators. Rediscover the breathtaking adventure you'll want to experience again and again.

Box Office:
Budget
$63 million.
Opening Weekend
$50.159 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$350.523 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 10/10/2000

Bonus:
• “The Making of Jurassic Park” Documentary
• “Early Pre-Production Meetings”
• “Location Scouting”
• “Phil Tippett Animatics: ‘Raptors in the Kitchen’”
• Storyboards
• “Foley Artists” Featurette
• Production Archives: Photographs, Design Sketches and Conceptual Paintings
• Trailers
• Dinosaur Encyclopedia
• Cast and Filmmakers Biographies
• Production Notes


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Jurassic Park: Collector's Edition (1993)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 26, 2011)

No filmmaker ever experienced a year quite like the one Steven Spielberg had in 1993, as both commercially and critically, his work dominated that term.

In many ways, that's not especially exceptional. After all, a few other films that outgrossed their competition also took home many Oscars; the best examples are 1965's The Sound of Music and 1997's Titanic. Although Music only ranks 195th on the list of all-time box office, it rises all the way to third if we use adjusted grosses, while Titanic is second on the overall list and sixth when we correct for inflation.

Titanic was such a phenomenon that it not only outgrossed anything Spielberg did in 1993, but it also took home more Oscars than the material Steve released that year. However, I think Spielberg's achievement remains stunning because he did it with two separate films. Obviously what Titanic did was stunning, but to me, it seems even more amazing that one director could make two different movies in the same year that so dominated the world of film.

Schindler’s List was the big winner for Spielberg at the Oscars with seven, and it actually did surprisingly well at the box office too; although it was a three-hour plus black and white film about the Holocaust - no Leo and Kate romance here! - it still took in nearly $100 million in the US.

The other Spielberg movie from 1993 didn't take home as many Oscars – it only grabbed three, and in technical categories - but it made a mint with a US gross of more than $350 million. Until Titanic, it also was the worldwide box office champ with a take of nearly one billion dollars.

That film would be Jurassic Park, a movie that most may regard as being lower quality than Schindler's List but one that I find more satisfying, frankly, and that also had a much greater and more lasting impact on the industry. While well-made and effective, List offered no innovations, whereas Park pioneered the use of computer graphics in film.

No, Park wasn’t the first use of CG in a movie, as plenty of films had already done so; most notable were 1989’s The Abyss and 1991’s Terminator 2. However, Park really took things to a new level as it incorporated computer-made characters who were a) featured for very significant amounts of screentime and b) real, organic creatures, not science-fiction creations like liquid metal men or controlled water tentacles.

And Park did so with stunning believability, at least at the time. 18 years down the road, the computer effects show their age, particularly during the early daytime shots. However, even though we possess much greater visual sophistication today, the effects still hold up surprisingly well; the dinosaurs have stayed reasonably realistic and remain pretty convincing.

Many dismiss Park as being nothing more than an effects movie, but they're off base with those accusations. No, we don't find any terribly compelling or well-drawn characters in the film, and the plot is essentially limited to "run from dinosaurs and try to stay alive"; there's little in the way of development or intrigue beyond the adrenaline-pumping thrills of the action scenes.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine with me. Not every movie has to offer a deep, rich and intellectually involving experience, and films would actually get fairly dull if they all did. Sometimes you need to watch something moderately brainless and fun and just go with the proverbial flow.

Park fits that bill perfectly. By 1993, Spielberg had been in a slump for a few years. 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade offered his last satisfying action film. Prior to Park, Spielberg had largely abandoned the action genre on which he made his name in favor of more "serious" dramatic fare like The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun. 1991's Hook marked a lackluster return to the field; it disappointed both commercially and critically.

Even though it came with some flaws, I was delighted to see Park because it marked a moderate return to form from Action Spielberg. No, it doesn't match up with better action films like Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it provides some intense thrills throughout its running time. I can still remember how stunned I was by the knockout action of the first T-rex attack scene; this was masterful filmmaking that delivered everything we might want.

The rest of the film could drag at times, especially during the sickly-sweet scenes in which paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) bonds with youngsters Lex (Ariana Richards) and Tim (Joseph Mazello). However, they don't harm the story’s progress terribly and the respites they offer probably make the action segments all the more effective.

As with many films of this nature, Park certainly includes its fair share of plot problems and stretches of reality and sensibility. For example, in one scene Grant and the kids need to climb a very tall electric fence. However, as we watch them clamber up it, I found it abundantly clear that the children - especially tiny Tim - could easily slip through the holes in the wire; they had no need to take the risks involved with going all the way to the top. As I watch movies, I usually let issues like this slide, and I did so here because I knew the exact reason why Tim had to climb the entire fence: it made the scene more exciting.

And more excitement is a good thing, at least in the case of a killer action flick like Jurassic Park. Not only does it stand as a landmark achievement in special effects technology but it also remains a darned fun little film that has kept me entertained over multiple viewings. Jurassic Park has some flaws but they're largely excusable when the overall result is this delightful.


The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Jurassic Park appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. When I first watched this DVD in 2000, I thought it looked really good. 11 years later? Not so much.

Sharpness appeared inconsistent. Sometimes the movie managed pretty nice delineation – usually via close-ups – but many shots came across as soft and ill-defined. Prominent edge haloes affected clarity, and the film could take on a rough, blocky look. Jagged edges and shimmering occasionally appeared, and digital artifacts lent a somewhat gritty look to the image at times. Print flaws weren’t major, but I saw some instances of specks and marks.

The movie went with a natural palette to fit the tropical island setting, and colors became one of the picture’s stronger elements, though they still weren’t great. The presentation’s general messiness meant that hues came across as less vibrant than I’d expect; the tones could be fairly good, but they lacked much pop and vivacity. Blacks seemed reasonably dark, and shadows were perfectly acceptable; indeed, low-light shots tended to work the best because they hid the various flaws. While this wasn’t a terrible transfer, it suffered from too many snags to earn a grade above a “C-“.

At least the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack worked better. The soundstage favored the forward channels and used them in an engaging and effective manner. Imagery spread cleanly and accurately across the front spectrum and the audio blended together nicely.

The surrounds kicked in a substantial amount of information, of course, especially during the larger action sequences. Actually, I thought the track seemed a little too subdued during the quieter segments; these could have benefited from a little extra activity. However, the loud scenes make up for this flaw as they provided involving audio that added to the experience.

Sound quality seemed positive as well. Dialogue suffered slightly from the often-dubbed nature of much of it and some edginess at times, speech usually sounded natural and distinct, with no problems related to intelligibility. John Williams' score came across as bold and bright and displayed positive dynamic range.

Effects were the highlight of the show, however, as they dominated the film's prominent audio moments. These parts of the mix sounded clear and crisp and didn't display prominent distortion. The track featured some nice low-end as well, especially during those T-rex moments; the bass seemed pretty well-defined. The audio lacked the “stun factor” to get to “A”-level, but it still worked well for the movie.

Jurassic Park first appeared on video in October 1994, and this was my fourth disc-based version of the film. I bought the initial CLV laserdisc then got the Dolby Digital LD when I picked up a DD receiver in early 1998. Last year I found a copy of the much-acclaimed DTS laserdisc as well. The DVD made version number four, and it's the first one that actually bothered to offer supplements; every prior edition presented only the movie.

Actually, the first supplement I'll address did appear on LD, but not combined with the movie itself. The Making of Jurassic Park was available as a separate LD but never came out as any sort of special edition of the film, so this was the first time the two were included together.

Hosted by James Earl Jones, this 50-minute and five-second program mainly relates details about the technical aspects of creating Park and it does so in a compelling and entertaining manner. We find a nice blend of mid-1990s interviews with Spielberg and key effects personnel like Stan Winston, Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren, Gary Rydstrom and others plus lots of great footage from the set and demonstration material. As such, when they discuss the evolution of the computer characters, we see just exactly how this occurred. The program also provides cool shots such as the puppet T-rex with the "shakes" when it got waterlogged, computer animators miming the actions of dinosaurs so they could create more realistic movement, and Spielberg's method to make a velociraptor scene more convincing for his actors.

If I had to pick any flaws with this show - other than its too-brief length - it'd be the lack of involvement from non-technical participants; there are a few bits from author Michael Crichton, and we get a nice overview of dinosaurs in the movies, but nothing else from creative personnel. I would have enjoyed hearing some discussion of the process from actors’ point of view. Despite that omission, "The Making of Park" remains a fun and intriguing program.

(By the way, I have a sneaking suspicion the transfer for "Making of” came straight from the one created for the LD. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they'd simply duplicated the LD itself – it kind of looked like someone plopped the LD in a player and copied it straight over for the DVD.)

Early Pre-production Meetings presents some technically crude but absolutely fascinating information. Videotaped by a locked-off camera that never pans or moves, the focus is on Spielberg but we also see Stan Winston, Phil Tippett and others as they discuss ideas for the development of the dinosaurs as characters. This piece lasts six minutes, 20 seconds but I would have enjoyed hours more. I absolutely love programs of this sort, as they genuinely let us see how the process works. These snippets are brief but fascinating.

Also very interesting is Location Scouting, in which we see Spielberg as he inspects potential sights for the exterior production. Actually, we barely see Steve, since he's the cameraman for this one-minute and 57-second piece; I noted a glimpse of him in a mirror as he videotaped the excursion. Anyway, it's a pretty fun little show that allows us further insight into Spielberg's creative mindset.

During Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors in the Kitchen, we see the "go-motion" rendering of this action scene. The three-minute program combines fairly well-rendered velociraptors with crude dolls for the other elements and provides the basis from which the computer animators operated. It's a cool look at this part of the process, especially since it's fun to see how closely the final product emulated this "dry run".

Storyboards provides blueprints for five different scenes. Three of these made the final cut of the film ("T-rex Attack", "Raptors in the Kitchen", and "Jeep Chase"), but two did not. Although all of the boards are interesting, the two altered/omitted segments ("Baby Trike" and "The Original Ending") are clearly the most compelling of the bunch because they didn't appear. "Baby Trike" is a trifle that doesn't offer much, but the "Original Ending" is intriguing; I'm not sure it wouldn't have worked better than the included finale. One point of note: the boards seemed to follow parts of the book more closely than the movie, as we see that Tim was originally planned to be older than Lex, just like in Crichton's novel.

Foley Artists offers a brief overview of the work the sound effects personnel complete. We watch Dennie Thorpe as she brings audio to the raptor egg-hatching scene in this one-minute and 23-second piece. Nothing here will be news to anyone who has gone through similar explanations, but it's still a fun look at one of the more interesting and happily low-tech sides of filmmaking.

Inside Production Archives: Photographs, Design Sketches and Conceptual Paintings we find exactly what the title states. There are about 70 stillframes here that show snapshots from the set plus creature drawings and lush artwork created to influence the production design. The section is a little small - there has to be a lot more material than just 70 shots – but it's worth a look.

In the Trailers area, we find the theatrical ads for both Jurassic Park and The Lost World. There's also a promo for Jurassic Park III, but don't expect much from it, as it’s just a fairly generic teaser.

The Dinosaur Encyclopedia provides a nice general history of a few different breeds. We learn about the dilophosaur, the velociraptor, the triceratops, the gallimimus, the T-rex, and the brachiosaur in entertaining little snippets.

Additional text appears in two other sections. The Production Notes offer a short but solid history of the making of the film; they pack in a lot of good information. Cast and Filmmakers is less extensive. Although these listings cover 11 actors, we only learn about Spielberg and producers Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen on the production side, and the entries lack much detail.

Jurassic Park remains very exciting and fun. I've watched it multiple times but it continues to entertain and excite me. The DVD provides erratic visuals but delivers good audio and some satisfying supplements. The problems with the picture quality mean the DVD doesn’t soar, but it’s a passable release for a classic action film.

To rate this film visit the [Blu-Ray] Edition review of JURASSIC PARK

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main