Jurassic Park III (2001)

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Released 20-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The New Dinosaurs Of Jurassic Park III
Featurette-Tour Of The Stan Winston Studio
Featurette-A Visit To ILM (13)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park II, E.T., Back To The Future
Featurette-Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-3
Storyboard Comparisons-3
Gallery-2
DVD-ROM Extras
Featurette-Dinosaur Turntables (12)
Audio Commentary-Special Effects team
dts Trailer-Piano
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 88:25 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joe Johnson
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sam Neill
William H. Macy
Tea Leoni
Alessandro Nivola
Trevor Morgan
Michael Jeter
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music John Williams
Don Davis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jurassic Park III has already been released as a rental disc; you can find my review of that disc here, but you don't have to read it because I'll be repeating most of the synopsis. This is the retail release of the movie, with lots of the extras that I lamented being absent from the rental version.

    Jurassic Park III is a sequel (surprise!) to Jurassic Park, and Lost World (Jurassic Park II). If you haven't seen at least the first movie, then allow me to discourage you from reading this review - I think you'll enjoy this film far more if you have seen the first one, and this review contains spoilers for the first two. If you insist on continuing, may I suggest you skip forward to the Transfer Quality section?

    Jurassic Park was (is) an impressive film. Its basic premise is an interesting one: what would happen if dinosaurs were alive today? With the aid of a fair bit of pseudo-science, and more than a little bit of real science, Michael Crichton came up with a way to justify that idea. He had scientists working for a private company (called InGen) obtaining samples of dinosaur DNA from mosquitos trapped in fossilised amber, sequencing that DNA, and filling in the gaps with modern frog and lizard DNA, then reproducing the results using cloning technology (technology we are even closer to now). The justification for the immense expense involved was a theme park, with dinosaurs as living attractions. Had they stuck to plant-eating dinosaurs all might have been well, but they wanted meat-eaters for excitement. They got their excitement, and so did we. 

    In Jurassic Park we are introduced to the theme park by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough - hints at his brother's natural history documentaries...) when three scientists, played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, are asked to look the park over to approve it. The theme park was set on Isla Nublar, an island off the Costa Rican coast. By the end of the film, the scientists decide not to approve it, and John Hammond agrees. The ending is left a little open - maybe the dinosaurs will die out (they are supposed to), or maybe they won't.

    In Lost World, we learn that Isla Nublar (which means North Island, I think) was not the only island InGen was using. They were working on Isla Sorna (South Island), too. In this movie Jeff Goldblum is sent to Isla Sorna for a number of reasons, and he finds that there are many more dinosaurs roaming freely around this island. This is not as well plotted as the original movie, and contains at least one scene that provoked scoffing snorts in the cinema when I saw it (you probably know the scene I mean - with a falling caravan...). I thought this felt like one of those sequels that kills off a series by being quite dreadful. I didn't expect there to be another sequel, but I wasn't allowing for our fascination with dinosaurs...

    Early in Jurassic Park III we are reunited with Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) as he presents a lecture on dinosaurs; he is talking about new theories suggesting that raptors were more intelligent, and capable of more complex communication, that previously suspected. Understandably, given his experiences in the first movie, he says: "No force on Earth or heaven could get me on that island", in reference to a question about Isla Sorna. That makes it inevitable, right? He and his colleague Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola) are running out of money to fund their excavations - they are continuing work on fossils of velociraptors. They are offered a lot of money to provide an informed commentary on a low flight over Isla Sorna by a pair of rich thrill-seekers (William H Macy and Tea Leoni). Things don't quite go according to plan...

    The makers of these films have worked closely with palaeontologists, and they keep abreast of the current theories. The velociraptors in this movie look different from the ones in the first movie, because more is known about them now. We get to see some new dinosaurs, too - very cool.

    I should warn you - there's a scene in this film where a mobile phone rings. The realism of the soundtrack is such that there was a stir in the cinema, as though some of the audience was preparing to jump on the offender who'd left their mobile switched on. Even at home, with the dts soundtrack, the phone sounds real. Later on, that mobile becomes fairly important (shades of Peter Pan - you'll see).

    It is quite evident, when you go back and compare the first movie with this one, that the state of the art in CGI has advanced considerably. The graphics are far more convincing this time around. Very impressive stuff, and explained in quite some detail in the ILM extra.

    The rental disc starts with three advertisements, something I find objectionable; I'm pleased to report that this is not the case on this retail disc. They've dropped the Crocodile Dundee ad altogether, and moved the ET and Back to the Future trailers into the Trailers section of the extras (best possible place for them). 

    We get an impressive selection of extras on this retail disc, which was all I was expecting to be added to the rental disc, but I am pleased to report that they've also redone the movie, and improved it. The improvement is very slight, but I reported a couple of compression-related artefacts on the rental disc, and these are gone - looks like they didn't need to compress the movie quite as much, and the result is really nice.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced; this is the theatrical aspect ratio, and looks marvellous on a widescreen TV. Yes, there are really thin black bars making the difference between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1, but I prefer this. Besides, it means that the owners of 4:3 televisions can take comfort from the fact that even a 16:9 TV will show black bars... (Ed. Actually, they won't because of overscan.)

    The image is sharp and beautifully clear, all of the time - I'd rate this disc as the best of the 3 versions of this DVD I have now seen, albeit by a very narrow margin. When I reviewed the rental disc I reported a couple of moments that looked like they were a little over-compressed, resulting in poorer picture quality; I carefully checked those spots on this retail disc, and they are noticeably improved. There are still a few moments of minor grain in the picture (look at 39:19 and 44:30), but it is never more than barely noticeable, and I am sure that it is part of the source material (being the same on all of the discs, including the R1). Shadow detail is excellent and there is no low level noise.

    The colour is excellent, with awesome greens for the jungle.

    There is even less aliasing, but there was very little to begin with, and no moire. The removal of the slight over-compression means that we don't see the light macro-blocking on the backgrounds that I mentioned on the rental disc. This is an impressive transfer - I can't point to a single objectionable artefact.

    The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles are easy to read, well-timed, and accurate. There are two sets of subtitles; one for the movie, and one for the commentary - I really like seeing subtitles for the commentary.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered - RSDL-formatted. The layer change is at 74:53, and it's noticeable mainly because the background noise stops momentarily; it is not annoying.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks - English Dolby Digital 5.1, and English dts 5.1 for the movie soundtrack, plus the commentary. I listened to the dts and commentary soundtracks, and sampled the Dolby Digital.

    Dialogue is easy to understand, although one or two asides are less than perfectly clear (given that these happen during high-action moments, they're not a problem). Audio sync is spot on.

    The score includes a lot of music from John Williams (the composer for the first two movies), with some new stuff from Don Davis; I wanted the music to be familiar, effectively echoing the earlier movies, and that's what we have - good stuff.

    There are some excellent directional sound effects in the surrounds. The score extends into the surrounds, but it's the ambience that makes the surrounds most impressive. Much more than simple "jet flies past" stuff.

    This movie screams "you need a subwoofer"! Without a sub this movie has greatly diminished impact. Your sub will get quite a workout on this movie, and you'll enjoy it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a retail disc, and we get a stack of extras - lots to peruse.

Menu

    The main menu is animated, with sound and transitions. There's a nice animated intro before the menu. The intro is the same as the rental, but the rental has static menus - the animation is subtle, but nice.

Featurette - Making Of Jurassic Park III (22:44)

    This is an above average "making of". Presented in 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. Interesting to watch - I recommend it.

Featurette - The New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III (7:54)

    There's a lot of overlap between this featurette and the "making of", but it is well worth watching.

Featurette - Tour of Stan Winston Studio (3:15)

    This is not narrated - it is a speechless display of some of the processes involved in building the animatronic dinosaurs.

A Visit to ILM

    This is amazing - layers upon layers of menus, but they aren't too annoying. It discusses the 400 effects shots that Industrial Light and Magic contributed to the film. This section is split into four sections, each of which is subdivided, and some of those are further subdivided... For example, the Process section contains a subsection called T-Rex vs Spinosaurus, with sub-subsections called Interview, Production Plate, and Final Shot. Admittedly, a couple of these are very short - the Animatic and Final Shot sub-subsection of the Pternadon Air Attack are only 2 seconds long - hardly seems worthwhile.

Trailers

    This is one area where we get more than the R1 disc - they only get the trailers for the three Jurassic Park movies. We get:

Featurette - Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs (4:20)

    The primary palaeontologic adviser on the movie was Jack Horner. This featurette is him talking about the discoveries he's making in Montana, excavating real dinosaur fossils.

Behind the Scenes

Storyboard to Final Feature Comparison

    These are very cool comparisons: they have the storyboard showing in the top half of the screen, and the final feature in the bottom half. There are mismatches, and that's cool, too - it shows what changed during filming.

Photo Galleries

    On the R1 disc these are labelled JP III Archives, but that's the only difference - the Production Photos are presented as a montage (2:51) with nice transitions between photos, and are quite attractive; whereas the Poster Gallery (7:21) is a simple sequence of stills, changing every 10 seconds. The one interesting thing I garnered from the poster gallery was that this film was apparently intended to be named either Extinction or Breakout, in the way that the second one was called Lost World. I guess they changed their minds.

DVD-ROM Features

    I didn't review these.

Dinosaur Turntables

    These are short sequences, showing each of the dinosaurs on a turntable. The models we see are:

    The 'Billy Brennan' model is used during part of the parasailing sequence, but it also serves to provide an excellent sense of scale for the dinosaurs.

Feature Commentary - Special Effects Team

    This is slightly exaggerated - this is not the full (200+) special effects team, just four of the leaders: Stan Winston, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, and Michael Lantieri. All except Dan Taylor have worked on all three Jurassic Park movies, allowing them to compare and contrast their work. They introduce themselves, and then start by telling fibs: according to them the dinosaurs are real but all the people are either animatronic or computer generated! Once they settle down it is very interesting to hear them talking about their work. It is indicative of how far the state-of-the-art has come that even the people who made the special effects get confused at times over what is animatronic and what is computer generated - a number of times they get confused over what is what - that's impressive. Some of the scenes are a mixture - there are some scenes which have both animatronics and animation; in some places they join together (part animatronic, part animated, on the same creature); that was not possible in the earlier movies.

    Even if you don't normally listen to audio commentaries, I suggest you consider this one: it is particularly good value.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc is a collector's edition, completely comparable with this one. 

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    Both discs have superb transfers.

    Note that several of the extras missing from the R4 are advertisements - I'm not sure I should call that "missing".

    On the review of the rental R4 I mentioned that I'd be happy to recommend the retail disc if it had a less compressed transfer and all the extras. It doesn't have all the extras (just all the important ones!), but I'm very happy to recommend it - they have done an excellent job of selecting the important features to include. I consider the subtitles for the commentary a big plus for the R4 - you can have them on while listening to the normal audio (in dts - very cool).

Summary

    Jurassic Park III is an excellent adventure movie, presently superbly on DVD

    The video quality is excellent - even better than the rental disc

    The audio quality is excellent, with both Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks

    The extras are comprehensive - nearly everything the R1 has, plus an important one missing from the R1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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