Blu Ray Film Reviews – Jurassic Park

Blu ray film reviews – Jurassic Park.

You can buy the Jurassic Park film trilogy by clicking the highlighted text - Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (Blu-ray + Digital Copy)

William Hurt was offered the role of Dr Grant but turned the role down without even reading the script, another actor to turn the role down was Harrison Ford.

The agents for the author of the book (Michael Crichton) circulated it to six major studio’s, Warner Bros wanted Tim Burton to direct while Columbia had plans for Richard Donner to direct, Twentieth Century Fox intended it as a project for Joe Dante while Universal wanted Steven Spielberg to direct.  Crichton did not want a bidding war and instructed his agents to set a price on the film rights and allow him to decide on the director, after he interviewed everyone he agreed to sell the rights to Universal for $2 million dollars (before it was even published) and Spielberg was his first choice as director.  This was Richard Attenborough’s first acting role in fifteen years.

The T-Rex attacks in Jurassic ParkThe glass of water sitting on the dashboard of the car just before the T-Rex appears was made to ripple using a guitar string that was attached to the underside of the dash beneath the glass.  Sean Connery was wanted for the part of John Hammond but he too turned it down.

Any shot of a full dinosaur in the film is usually CGI, any scene where you see a part of a dinosaur is usually an animatronic model.  There was originally a baby triceratops scene where the kids ride it, they worked on this scene for an entire year but Spielberg cut it from the film as he thought it ruined the pacing of the movie.

Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai during production and Fred Sorenson was one of the pilots who flew some of the crew away, he played the part of Jock in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, he flies Indiana Jones away from the natives at the start of the film.

Jurassic Park was the first film released to cinemas to use DTS digital sound.  A scene cut before filming began was to have featured Dr Grant and the children riding down a river and through a waterfall and having the T-Rex attack them.

Juliette Binoche and Robin Wright were both offered the role of Dr Ellie Sattler but both turned it down.  Other actresses offered the role of Ellie Sattler are Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ally Sheedy, Geena Davis, Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Grey, Kelly McGillis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julia Roberts, Linda Hamilton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Cusack, and Debra Winger.

Filming of Jurassic Park finished tweleve days ahead of schedule and on budget.  Velociraptors were much smaller than seen in the film, indeed they are considered to be more the size of a turkey but paleontologists have uncovered a 10 foot tall offshoot of the species called Utahraptors.


Film Plot

Scientists use the latest development in DNA technology to clone dinosaurs for a spectacular new theme park, but owner, John Hammond, needs Dr Alant Grant, Dr Ellie Sattler and Dr Ian Malcolm to sign off on the idea or his insurers will shut the park down, unbeknown to Hammond, one of his employees, seeking financial gain from a rival company, has tampered with the park’s security system and the dinosaurs escape forcing the visitors to fight for their lives.

Who will survive against the might of the T-Rex or the cunning intelligence of the Velociraptor, will anyone escape Jurassic Park alive!


Positives

Jurassic Park takes its story from a very good book, it alters things but always to good effect, the storyline builds up slowly and we get to know the characters and when the dinosaurs break loose we are able to identify with the protagonists as they attempt to keep from being the dinosaurs next meal, if we disliked the characters then the film would fail, now that doesn’t mean that everyone will like the children in the film, they do scream a lot, but i’m sure you will at least like one or two of the characters, if you don’t like them then maybe you will like the actors who play the characters, my point is that the film succeeds on a basic level because the script gives us normal people who we can root for, i have seen far too many films featuring obnoxious characters that are dispatched by some unknown “killer” and you end up not caring, think about how many horror films feature poorly written characters who listen to heavy metal and have a screw the world attitude, stereotypical they may be but too many films feature such people, thats why i enjoy films like this which feature likeable people who have strong personalities.

Dr Alan Grant keeps the children safe in a scene from Jurassic Park I think Jeff Goldblum is much better in this film than in the sequel, he plays the oddball better than the hero and is more likeable here with much better dialogue, his explanation of the chaos theory where he flirts with Miss Dern is fun, the speech where he talks about always being on the lookout for a future ex Mrs Malcolm is amusing when you consider he has been married twice and also dated ( after this film ) Laura Dern for two years, you can see the sly glint in his eye and he is relishing those lines of dialogue.

Sam Neill brings a lot to this film, from subtle mannerisms seen in his eyes and face to the way he voices his dialogue, i find he brings much to the role of Dr Grant, his chemistry with Laura Dern is good and Spielberg gets a great performance from him, he had made some big movies prior to this but starring in a huge summer blockbuster like Jurassic Park can only be good for your career, and bank balance.

John Williams composed an iconic piece of music for Jurassic Park, as soon as you hear it you recognize it, it is sorely missed from the sequel but returns for the third movie, it can be quite subtle at times, the closing moments when the helicopter leaves the island and we see the birds flying is an example of that, a beautiful scene to end a film and the music really enhances the mood and atmosphere of that scene.

John Hammond, as played by Richard Attenborough, says in the film that he is a perfectionist, his character is often likened to Spielberg, who is also a perfectionist, i think his direction on this film is flawless, you can see he wanted to bring something unique to the screen, stop motion dinosaurs were not good enough, he wanted realism that only CGI could provide, without that level of realism, Spielberg would have passed on the film, i can think of very few directors who can entertain and make great movies the way that Steven Spielberg can, he will go down in history as one of the greatest film directors of all time and i think he made Jurassic Park into a very good film, it would have been a poorer film in less capable hands.

There isn’t much CGI in this film but it blends well with the animatronic models, i think the CGI is more effective in this film than some of the movies made today, which, in my opinion, overuse it.


Negatives

Some people may find the children a little annoying as they tend to shriek and scream during some of the more frenetic dinosaur attack scenes, personally i thought they were ok and did a good job with the material given to them but its worth mentioning as not everyone will share my opinion.  The main theme may be a little overused, though i still enjoyed it.

I did not like the packaging for the Jurassic Park trilogy, i think it will damage easily, its already showing signs of wear and tear, and i would prefer individual cases for each movie.


Image Quality

Transfer quality of Jurassic Park can be considered good in some scenes but drops to very average in other moments, i saw mild halos in various scenes, these are visible around high contrast areas of the image, sometimes it’s subtle and at other times it stands out more, the most detailed moments of the film are scenes where film grain is prominent.  Universal have applied digital noise reduction to some scenes and fine detail drops during those moments, some of these scenes contain halo’s and i think this is due to edge sharpening being applied in order to compensate for grain reduction.

Long distance and medium camera setups exhibit some degree of edge sharpening to varying levels and show grain reduction also to varying levels, closeups seem much better although i still noticed the odd halo, there is also a little gate weave during the opening credits, thats not really an issue, the halos visible on some scenes are an issue.

I do wonder if the first dinosaur scene and some of the edge halos is due to how it was put together, actors were shot against a green screen, and the Brachiosaurus, trees and scenery were composited in separately, maybe this early CGI was soft and they felt they needed the scene to be sharpened up for its cinema release, well if that is the case then why does the next scene with Jeff Goldblum in the car contain an edge halo around his shoulder, that is not a scene containing CGI or green screen work, this all points to Universal applying edge sharpening to some parts of the transfer.  I have written to Universal asking for more information and enquired whether edge sharpening is standard practice for Universal releases.

As i say above, i felt the scenes which had the most film grain, were the scenes which also looked the most detailed, these scenes are also the moments which other sites have criticized as being “too grainy” and i should say that just because you see a little film grain does not mean its actually all there and intact, i felt that some scenes in the film had mild grain reduction applied and these moments also contain edge enhancement, it should be noted that its normal for scenes shot at night to contain more film grain than scenes which were shot during the day.

Steven Spielberg is seen discussing Jurassic Park in extra content which is new to this particular release, the latest information points to this being a new transfer from a brand new film scan, why then is there no mention of this on the box artwork and why would Mr Spielberg approve a transfer with edge halos, a few questions to ponder but so far no answers.

Below i include an image featuring edge halos where i thought grain reduction had taken place and where i considered the detail levels to be poor, i also include a further image with film grain where i thought detail levels were good, view the screencaps below and judge for yourself, bear in mind that film grain in motion looks far more natural than as seen in the picture below.

An example of edge enhancement on Jurassic Park - Example 5An example of film grain - Jurassic Park - Example 2

 

 

 

 

View some additional blu ray screencaps from Jurassic Park by clicking here.


Sound Quality

Jurassic Park was a reference soundtrack back in 1993, i have always considered it to be excellent, i don’t know if the mix was altered when they made it 7.1 but it is every bit as powerful and as richly dynamic as i remember it, I expected to feel the bass and i did, if you have a capable subwoofer and a calibrated audio system then this soundtrack will seriously rock your house and probably your neighbours too if you have any.

The velociraptors hunt their prey in a scene from Jurassic ParkI do like many elements of the sound mix, take a listen to the scene at the beginning of the film when the velociraptor is transported to the island, it grabs a guard and you hear some nice sound effects from your rear, front and center speakers and the subwoofer kicks in for some additional bass weight, during the Gallimimus stampede you hear individual sounds on your rear and front speakers and the bass is deep and powerful.

The Velociraptors feeding on the cow, is a frenzy of sound design, with all your speakers getting a good workout, the first appearance of the T-Rex is one to test your bass, if your subwoofer isn’t doesn’t go low enough then it will struggle with this scene, i also felt that the attack on the car that follows this scene sound very good, all the speakers got a good workout.

Jurassic Park sounds phenomenal on blu ray, the music score, richness of the soundtrack, and the dynamic range of that film sounds absolutely fantastic, i was very impressed by Jurassic Park, i feel the sound mix lived up to it’s full potential on blu ray, i enjoy 7.1 mixes which are as involving as this one.


Final Thoughts

It has been a long wait for Jurassic Park on blu ray, and i’m a little disappointed in the image quality because there is some digital noise reduction applied, and edge sharpening to compensate, luckily the sound mix makes up for that, it’s a reference mix with excellent dynamics and fabulous sound separation, just a shame they felt the need to use DNR and edge enhancement on this release. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) says he spared no expense while talking about his theme park, unfortunately, i think Universal all too often go cheap with their releases and think a small application of DNR or EE can make something look better, my opinion on this release is that i think its just average, although its better than most Universal back catalog releases, so that is something to cherish.  This is actually the first Steven Spielberg film on blu ray that has disappointed me, i hope its the last to disappoint me.

This blu ray of Jurassic Park is by no means a disaster, but in my opinion it’s less than it could be, if all you want is picture quality that is better than the DVD, then this release will satisfy you, if you crave a release that looks like film from beginning to end, then you will be disappointed.  Universal should not be adding edge enhancement or DNR on their blu ray films, their new releases look very good, this only happens with their back catalog titles, i wish it would stop, most people don’t notice edge enhancement, if they did spot it, it would drive them crazy.

Jurassic Park 4 is in the pipeline, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill may be reprising their roles, as Dr Ian Malcolm and Dr Alan Grant, its rumoured that Laura Dern may also come back as Dr Ellie Sattler, i’m not sure if i like that idea, maybe they should start afresh with a new script, have Lex or Tim Murphy, now all grown up, appearing in the new film, still, its early days and not much is known, other than the fact that Spielberg seems to think the script is very good, mind you, didn’t he tell the press that the script for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was great too, but his true feelings were shared by Shia Lebouf and Harrison Ford, and that is, they thought the script was crap, hopefully it really is a good script, and i look forward to seeing it sometime in 2015, maybe Universal will revisit these films in 2013, it will be the 20th anniversary and i expect the movies to get individual releases outside of a boxset.