Jurassic Park III (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Trailer-Crocodile Dundee In LA; E.T.; Back To The Future Trilogy
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
dts Trailer-Piano
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 88:25
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then 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
Laura Dern
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Don Davis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 for the Hearing Impaired 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 is the 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, 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 on the Region 1 disc.

    There are three advertisements at the start of this disc. Normally I hate ads at the start of a DVD, but I have to admit that I was a bit more tolerant in this case, because they were advertising Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles on DVD, an extended cut of ET (in cinemas!), and the Back to the Future trilogy on DVD (at last). Yup, all of these are coming in 2002 - cool!

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.

    The image is sharp and beautifully clear, almost all of the time. There are a few scenes that aren't up to the standard of the rest. Probably the worst is around 22:18, inside the plane. By comparing this with the Region 1 disc, I was able to determine that the loss of resolution is not inherent in the source material (the R1 is noticeably better) - I attribute it mostly to slightly over-aggressive compression. There are moments of minor grain in the picture, but it is never more than barely noticeable. Shadow detail is very good. There's no low level noise.

    Colour is excellent. Lots of lush green for the scenery.

    There are very slight traces of aliasing, but beautifully controlled, and no moire artefacts. The slight over-compression manifests itself most as light macro-blocking, particularly in the backgrounds - parts of the picture show reduced resolution that starts to look like larger square pixels. You have to be looking for this, and it shows itself most at the point mentioned above (around 22:18) - on smaller screens you will probably not notice it, and there's plenty of action to distract you from it.

    The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired. Even some of the dinosaur sounds are subtitled (you'll see...). The subtitles are easy to read, well-timed, and accurate.

    The disc is single-sided and single-layered. I think the explanation for the slight over-compression is to fit the movie onto a single layer.

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

Audio

    There are only two soundtracks - English Dolby Digital 5.1, and English dts 5.1. I am delighted to see a dts soundtrack on a rental disc. I listened to the dts soundtrack in its entirety, and sampled the Dolby Digital extensively.

    Dialogue is easy to understand, although one or two asides are less than perfectly clear. Audio sync is spot on.

    The score is credited as: "original themes by John Williams, new music by Don Davis". I guess they economised by having a cheaper composer work with the themes written for the first film. The music seems awfully familiar...

    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.

    This movie screams "you need a subwoofer"! Without a sub this movie has greatly diminished impact. Your sub will get quite a workout from this soundtrack.

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

Extras

    This is a rental disc, and they have chosen to put no extras on it - I guess they want to have something to add when they release it for sale.

Menu

    The main menu is static, with sound. There's a nice animated intro before the menu.

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 fully fledged collector's edition, chock-a-block with extras (the first disc I can remember with 3 pages of special features menu). The Region 4 is a rental disc with no extras. An uneven comparison... 

    The Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    The Region 4 disc has a very good transfer, if a little over-compressed. The Region 1 disc has a superb transfer.

    If you want to rent the movie, the R4 is OK. If you want to buy it, then the R1 is your only option today. If the sell-through version of the R4 comes out with all the features of the R1, and a less compressed transfer than the rental disc, then I'll be happy to recommend it.

Summary

    Jurassic Park III is a fine adventure movie, presented well on DVD, for a rental.

    The video quality is very good, but a little over-compressed. You probably won't notice it unless you look very hard.

    The audio quality is excellent, on both the Dolby Digital and dts soundtracks.

    There are no real extras on this rental DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
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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