Under the Radar

Jurassic Park Trilogy Comes to Blu-ray

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If you've been waiting for Jurassic Park to arrive on Blu-ray, it's here if you're willing to buy the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (with bonus digital copies of all three movies) or cough up a few extra bucks for a gift set that adds a bonus toy dinosaur.

The box set is loaded with extras, including a comprehensive new six-part documentary about the making of all three movies plus all the old featurettes from earlier DVD releases are included. The new transfers are spectacular, especially the audio: the dinosaurs sound scarier in your living room than they did in the theater. The movies are a little more complicated.

Jurassic Park belongs aside Saving Private Ryan, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the short list of the very best Steven Spielberg movies. No matter how much the director and his crew want to claim otherwise in the extras, it's an old-fashioned monster movie that pulls all the right levers and remains as scary as it was the first time you saw it.

The effects hold up remarkably well and the special features make a great case for how the crew combined traditional animatronic monsters with digital CGI effects that were invented just for this movie. The transitions between the two techniques aren't exposed in a high-def transfer, something that makes the accomplishment even more impressive. Jurassic Park is definitely an A+ but, since you've paid $75 retail to get your copy, we've got to look at the other two movies.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a complicated problem, a movie you can't look at without considering what was going on when it got made. Steven Spielberg did a great job of setting up a sequel in the first movie: the lost Barbasol can full of dino DNA would've been a great starting point for a followup. Instead, Michael Crichton wrote another novel and Spielberg decided to base The Lost World on that book. The movie was the director's first film after taking a couple of years to launch the DreamWorks studio and the whole movie seems like a divorce present to Universal Pictures. The effects are still great, but the story seems like stuff they made up on the spot to connect dinosaur set pieces designed to showcase improving technology.

And the diminishing returns accelerate with Jurassic Park III. Spielberg had even less to do with this one and Joe Johnston (who directed this year's excellent Captain America: The First Avenger) didn't have much of a story to work with. The best thing about this one is that didn't kill the series: Spielberg's now talking about making a fourth movie and directing it himself.

Jurassic Park actually evokes Back to the Future, another Universal franchise that has anchored theme parks and made an untold fortune in merchandise sales. If you were 8-10 years old when you saw the first movie in a theater and it's been your favorite since then, you don't want anyone to tell you about the flaws in the two sequels.

If you're insulted by anything written here about the Jurassic Park sequels, then you probably want to order this right away. Everyone else might want to wait for the inevitable single disk release of the original.

 

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