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More DVD Tuesday: 'Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy': Details and Extras on the High-Def Release

If you were old enough to be going to the theater in 1992, you'll undoubtedly recall Jurassic Park being one of the most astonishing movies you'd ever seen--remember watching Sam Neill and Laura Dern staring in shock, as John Williams' iconic score swells, and your jaw dropping along with theirs as the camera panned up to the first sight of giant Brachiosaurus on-screen? It was like nothing else, right? 

Well, the trilogy makes its Blu-ray debut Oct. 25 (also available on DVD, and in a limited edition gift set that includes a collectible T-rex figure poking out of the park gates) and fans of the movie(s) won't want to pass this release up. All three films have been digitally restored and reengineered in 1080p HD--but the real treat is hearing that unforgettable score in 7.1 lossless surround sound. Turn the volume up and you'll think you're back in the theater, heart pounding with each THUMP of the T.rex's feet and rumbling roar of danger approaching.
The first movie is really the jewel in the pack as the one that introduced us to those hapless paleontologists (Neill and Dern), nutty chaos theorist played by Jeff Goldblum, eccentric scientist and park creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) and of course the dinosaurs he cloned for his tropical island park--T. rex, Velociraptors, a sickly Triceratops, the gentle herbivores. Even though that Brachiosaurus was clearly green-screen, it remains remarkably awe-inspiring after almost 20 years, and even puts some of today's movies' (no, not naming names) effects to shame. The colors are bright and true, images sharp, the scenes in the rain are clearer and more detailed. There is still some grain to be found, but overall the quality is so much better than the DVD it doesn't matter.
Its 1997 sequel, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, was perhaps unfairly maligned for being just more of the same, but looking back, so what? There are some nail-biting moments involving not one but two T. rexes, and a cliffhanger that takes the word literally. This time, Julianne Moore and Vince Vaughn come to the island to see what's up; Goldblum's quirky mathematician is now hampered by an annoying and pointless daughter--the characters are less engaging than the dinos. Jurassic Park III arrived four years later, this time with director Joe Johnston (most recently of Captain America: The First Avenger) at the helm and Sam Neill returning to lead a wealthy couple to one of the park's islands to find their son. With the introduction of the massive land-and-water dwelling Spinosaurus and flying Pteranodons, it's horror-monster movie rather than event movie; more about everyone basically running for their lives from these toothy terrors and less about slowing down to take in the CG wonder--although the flying reptiles make for some fun set pieces and the movie jams along at a brisk 90 minutes. It's also the best-looking of the bunch, which makes logical sense given it came out in 2001, not 1993.
Now, for the extras: New to this release is an exhaustive six-part documentary featuring Steven Spielberg and the filmmakers along with many of the cast from all three films. If you ever wondered how to make a dinosaur movie, there's so much information and encyclopedic detail here, you'll be able to make one yourself after you're done watching.
All six episodes are recorded in HD (and do also appear on the DVD edition):
Disc 1:
-"Return to Jurassic Park: Dawn of a New Era" (25 min.) - Here filmmakers discuss how they originally planned the movie, pre-CGI
-"Return to Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory" (20 min.) - Viewers learn details of the actual filmmaking process, how the dinosaurs, particularly the T.rex and raptors, came alive in sound and animatronics.
-"Return to Jurassic Park: The Next Step in Evolution" (15 min.) - Here, Spielberg (at the time filming Schindler's List) talks about developing the CG effects, and we get details about the sound/soundtrack creation.
Disc 2:
-"Return to Jurassic Park: Finding The Lost World" (28 min.) — On the development of the sequel with author Michael Crichton, whose book differed from Spielberg's original idea for a second film.
-"Return to Jurassic Park: Something Survived" (17 min.) - Focuses on the technical production including sound and foley, and details how the conclusion was created on a whim.
Disc 3: 
-"Return to Jurassic Park: The Third Adventure" (25 min.) — Behind the scenes of the final movie, including the how and why of the Spinosaurus.
Check out some screenshots (via High Def Disc News). Think this is one set you'd buy? 



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Next Article by Stacie Hougland

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DVD of the Week: 'Captain America"; Plus Cult Hit "Attack the Block," Charming "Winnie the Pooh," and More

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