JURASSIC PARK – 3D Blu-ray review

People know from past comments that I’m not a huge fan of 3D movies. Been there, done that—back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as a matter of fact, when the public’s fascination with stereoscopic vision peaked. 3D has improved since then, but there are still those annoying glasses to contend with, and I already wear specs. Then too, the cynic in me is suspicious of 3D films, thinking that studios may be partly driven by the higher ticket prices, and not every film seems a contender for 3D treatment. So my rule in reviewing 3D movies is to ask one simple question: Is the film better because of 3D?

In the case of “Jurassic Park 3D,” I’d grudgingly have to say, yes. The Blu-ray presentation was superb, but 3D really adds such sculpted depth that it actually pulls you into the film, visually, for what would have to be called an immersive experience. You almost feel like you’re right there in the car as the stomping footsteps of a T-Rex draw closer. And when a dino head bursts the plane of the TV and enters your viewing space, snorting, it’s even more dramatic than that moment could ever seem in 2D. Contributing to the effect is an all-new English DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio that’s also highly immersive and really supports the 3D in a big way.

But 3D has a price. Live action and quick movements pose challenges for the format, causing occasional motion blur, when the 3D effect is lost—and there’s a little of that here. What purists may object to, though, is that to minimize such problems Universal seems to have employed considerable DNR. As a result, detail is lost, and a frame-by-frame comparison with the previously released Blu-ray confirms this.

I praised Disney for creating a virtual pop-up book with its unique 3D presentation of “Sleeping Beauty,” but when you get pop-up moments in “Jurassic Park” it only seems like an inconsistency and a distraction. As much as the depth pulls you in, when the foreground, middle distance, and background are accentuated so artificially (this is NOT the way we see) it can have the opposite effect and pull you out of the experience. Thankfully those moments are few, and for the most part it’s easy to just enjoy “Jurassic Park” in a new way. It may not be a perfect 3D presentation, but it really enhances the film.

Of course, Spielberg did a pretty good job to begin with. Michael Crichton’s story was pure genius—a theme park with real dinosaurs cloned from DNA recovered from blood-sucking insects preserved in amber—and Spielberg brings it convincingly to life. Every kid is fascinated by dinosaurs, and the idea of seeing them in real life could have been only slightly amazing were it not for some dynamite special effects that make the creatures look real as can be.

So when a worker is killed and the man who runs the park (Richard Attenborough) invites a paleontologist (Sam Neill), a paleobotanist (Laura Dern), and a chaos theorist (Jeff Goldblum) to his island to inspect the park before it’s officially opened, they get in two Ford Explorers with the CEO’s grandchildren (Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello). Of course it breaks down, and the rest of the film involves a very real illustration of chaos theory in motion as everyone tries to stay one step ahead of the dinosaurs. The underlying question is interesting in and of itself: could humans have survived if dinosaurs hadn’t become extinct?

The real stars are the dinosaurs themselves, and this 3D presentation makes them seem even more menacingly alive.

Purists will shrug off this 3D presentation because detail is lost in the MVC/MPEG-4 transfer, but the effect is nonetheless impressive. Despite the loss of grain, a lot of people are going to like this version. Both the Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray feature aspect ratios of 1.85:1.

This 7.1 English DTS-HD MA is a tweaked version of what appeared on the Blu-ray trilogy that William Lee pronounced “definitive,” and I’d have to say that it’s enhanced in spots to produce even more chilling effects. The bass is still earth-shaking and she screeches enough to make you scream, but there’s a subtle redistribution of sound that makes the track seem more immersive. Subtitles are in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

This is a 3-disc set that includes a region-free Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, and UV. It’s also D-Box and BD-Live enabled, but if anything’s dead it’s BD-Live.

The one new bonus feature—“The World of Jurassic Park 3D”—tries to build a case for the value of 3D and the “return” of 3D in a 69-minute documentary that features interviews with all of the main people involved in the process of converting the original film to 3D. Spielberg also makes an appearance. It’s a fascinating feature if you’re a 3D believer, but the only bonus feature on the 3D disc.

The bonus features on the 2D Blu-ray are ported over from a previous release: “Return to Jurassic Park,” Parts I-III, plus close to 70 minutes of archival features and another 26 minutes of behind-the-scenes fly-on-the-wall clips. Other than that, it’s just the trailer and a “making the game” look at the Telltale video game “Jurassic Park.”

Bottom line:
The best 3D presentations make you appreciate the film even more, and I think that happens with “Jurassic Park.” It certainly ought to whet fans’ appetites for the “Jurassic Park 4” in 3D that’s scheduled to be released in theaters on June 13, 2014.