“Welcome to Jurassic Park”. With those words begin an adventure that started with the legacy of Willis O’Brien’s “The Lost World”… which would lead to Steven Spielberg to acknowledge this connection with the title of Jurassic Park 2. Dinosaur films are nothing new; they have held our child-like fascination since the industry was born. Jurassic Park was, however, something very new when it thundered into our cineplexes and forever in our imaginations. The marriage of brand new CGI technology with Stan Winston’s superbly detailed animatronics models transport you back 65 million years in time. CGI technology has improved since then and has become somewhat commonplace but there is nothing common about Jurassic Park.
John Hammond has an idea for an amusement park that would spin Walt Disney in his grave. Using blood from ancient insects caught in amber Ingen obtains dinosaur DNA. Soon cloned dinosaurs are the star attraction at Hammond’s Jurassic Park.
Bonding agents are a little nervous so Hammond hires Alan Grant (Neill), famous dinosaur expert and Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) to put their stamp of approval on the project. Approval becomes secondary when a disgruntled computer programmer shuts down the Park’s vital systems to steal dinosaur embryos.
Grant and Malcolm along with Hammond’s grandchildren and Grant’s partner (Dern) spend most of the film being chased by the Park’s prized T-Rex and the intelligent Velociraptors.
Jurassic Park was released in separate DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 versions. On a good system there is little difference between the two formats. The DTS track is punchier particularly in the sub ranges. Both are impressive. The T-Rex chase is a great showcase for the tremendous reproduction of the lower ranges. Few sound effects in the history of film are as chilling as the first roars of the T-Rex. In a brilliant decision notice that there is no music during the initial attack. WOW! Ambient sounds are cleverly placed throughout the film. John Williams’ masterpiece soundtrack is majestically reproduced. It should be noted that Jurassic Park was the first film released in theatres with the DTS soundtrack. Sadly there is no commentary track on the disc.
Jurassic Park is presented in the original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio 1.85:1.I expected there would be a few mild flaws due to the abundance of CG and matte use in the film. I am pleased to report that as hard as I looked I could find little wrong with this transfer. The blacks and shadows, so essential to the T-Rex attack, display wonderful depth and detail. The incredible daylight shots of the lush island are brilliantly reproduced. Look for outstanding color especially in the many subtle shades of green in the islands plant life. There are moments of grain in some scenes at the end of the film but they actually appear to fit the “dust has settled” mood of the film’s coda.
If you enjoy bonus features, then I would recommend the Dolby Digital release over the DTS disc. The DTS disc is free of all Special Features, while the Dolby Digital release has a number of them. Since the audio is so good on both I go for extra features.
James Earl Jones presents the hour-long “Making of Jurassic Park” feature. It is loaded with cast interviews and informative looks into the unique effects created for the film. Another feature takes a look at the kitchen scene throughout its development. There is a cool “Claymation” draft of this scene.
There was a special web-link to the production of Jurassic Park III but I never did get it to work at the time. The disc includes a look at one of Spielberg’s production meetings where he discusses some ideas with the crew around a boardroom table. Trailers, storyboards, and a few text-based primers on dinosaurs are also included.
No human has ever seen a real dinosaur. Don’t tell that to anyone who has seen Jurassic Park. Never before have these extinct animals interacted so flawlessly with human actors. Michael Creighton’s story is a bit watered down, but let’s face it… You didn’t go to see Jurassic Park for the story. All of us would love to spend a couple of hours at “The only amusement park where the exhibits eat the customers”.