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Jurassic Park

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 6, 2000 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

What is there really to say about "Jurassic Park" that has not been said already? The film, besides being one of the most popular blockbusters of all time, really ushered in an age of incredible visual effects. I think that, aside from some characters that aren't completely written, the effects do work well with the story; the film boasts some incredible (well, for that time they were incredible and I think they're still fine today) visual effects that both scare audiences and create a sense of awe.

The story revolves around all-around rich guy John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) who is working with scientists on an island to bring back the dinosaurs from DNA, and to make what will likely be one of the more amazing theme parks in the world. Hammond brings in 3 experts to test the waters of the park; Alan Grant(Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler(Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm(the amusing Jeff Goldblum). Of course, things do begin to go terribly wrong, mainly due to a park employee who hacks into the Park computers to shut down security so he can smuggle out dino eggs. This is one of the few elements of the film that does go somewhat wrong; Knight plays that same character time and time again, and in a movie so slick and generally serious, it's kind of odd to have Newman(see "Seinfeld") stealing dino eggs.

And when the terror begins, the film turns into your normal "hunter and the hunted" genre, but with Spielberg, he knows the right timing and the right way to work around the "usual" situations and make them at least appear fresh. Timing is really the all-important factor here, and the director knows how long to keep the audience on the edge of their seat before hitting them. It also helps that the actors do a fine job in their roles. Goldblum's bit was less interesting in the sequel, but his humor works very well here, and occasionally gets some big laughs. Neill and Dern are quite good, and the two kids aren't half bad, either. I really don't have that many problems with the film's screenplay, which isn't always fully-written, but suits this kind of film well and provides some above-average dialogue. It succeeds simply at being great entertainment.


VIDEO: Universal has obviously gone to great lengths to create a marvelous presentation for "Jurassic Park" in terms of image quality. The cinematography of award winner Dean Cundey("Dances With Wolves") combined with the beautiful locations makes for a pleasing viewing experience which looks all the better here thanks to Universal's clear and clean presentation.

The usual flaws - pixelation, shimmering, print flaws, whatever - they don't appear here. Nowhere did I see any instances of pixelation or other such flaws. The print used is nearly perfect, with no marks or scratches. The only thing that I noticed was that a couple of scenes here and there looked only the slightest bit soft.

Clarity and detail in even the darker scenes is excellent, and the film's few smoky/misty scenes look smooth and crisp. Colors are perfect; the rich, deep greens of the jungles look beautifully rendered here. Black level is excellent and flesh tones are accurate and natural.
SOUND: This is an interesting and positive section to discuss. It's been a long time since I've watched the film and there are expectations that go into watching a film like this one in terms of sound, and to built upon that, there are considerations in terms of that this is now a 7 year old film. I'm happy to say though, that this DVD presentation satisfied my expectations and I do believe that this soundtrack does stand up well compared to many of the soundtracks that we do hear today.

The entire film is a fantastically active sound experience without overdoing it or becoming the slightest bit distracting. Surrounds are put to very agressive use throughout the film and really serve the film well, adding to the tension of the film. An effective scene is in chapter 14 when the stampede of dinosaurs sounds as if it's running full-force through your room. Ambient sounds often are very natural and add to the sense of space and dimension in the scene. Bass, especially in the T-Rex scenes (check out chapter 11 for the famous sequence where the T-Rex enters or 13 for the chase), is absolutely superb and certainly very powerful, and will get your neighbors wondering if there's a thunderstorm on the way. And simply, to finally hear those incredible, deep roars on DVD is a wonderful thing. The John Williams score sounds excellent, and dialogue is clear and never overshadowed by any of the rest of the chaos going on. A wonderful soundtrack. DTS review will be coming soon.

MENUS:: Universal has prepared subtle, but nicely done animated menus that keep with the film of the movie. They're not agressive, but the enjoyable animation that shoots us into the main menu is a cool intro.


The Making of "Jurassic Park": Narrated/hosted by James Earl Jones, this 50-minute documentary takes a look at not only the movie, but during some points also gives us a bit of a look at the history of dinosaurs as well. The documentary leads the viewer from the early production stage all of the way through, showing how computer and other effects were created and how the look of the film was created. The fact that the film's creators were unsure of exactly how to go about creating something like this makes the moments where the filmmakers strike it rich early on that more enjoyable to watch. The kind of obstacles that the filmmakers had to deal with are on display, and interviews with the effects crew and Spielberg give us the details on how it all happened. After watching this it seems all the more unfortunate that if we couldn't get at least a commentary from Spielberg, could we have gotten a commentary from the effects crew? Certainly, there have been many effects crew commentaries in the past few months.

Early Production Meetings: This section is a few minutes worth of fairly hazy video of Spielberg meeting with the effects crew to chat about his ideas for what the creatures should be doing, and what they look like.

Featurettes: Also included are two short featurettes; Location Scouting, which is the crew looking for particular places to shoot; a featurette on foley artists and their role in the film and a featurette on the animatics for the "Kitchen" scene. All 3 are a couple of minutes each.

Other Materials: Storyboard Gallery, Production/Concept Art Gallery, Production Notes/Cast & Crew Bios, Dinosaur Encyclopedia.
Trailers: Trailers for "Jurassic" 1/2/3, all in Dolby 2.0.

Final Thoughts: "Jurassic Park" is simply the DVD we've all been waiting for, and it's finally arrived. Thankfully, Universal has done a fine job on the presentation and this one's certainly a must-see disc.

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