Jurassic Park Trilogy review (Blu-ray)

The man who gave us the original thrill-ride blockbuster – Jaws – brings dinosaurs back to life with the first true blockbuster trilogy of the CGI age. Remastered here for Blu-ray, the Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is a must-own for anyone with even a passing interest in dinosaurs. While the original Jurassic Park is still far and away the best of the three, the two sequels – The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III – actually hold up pretty well ...

Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park remains a joy nearly two decades after its initial release. The story is one of an amusement park gone wrong. John  Hammond (Attenborough) finds some "dino DNA" in an amber-trapped mosquito and with a bit of help from some science nerds quickly populates a small island off the coast of Costa Rica with dinosaurs. After a worker on the island is killed, he invites mathematician Dr Ian Malcolm (Goldblum), paleobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler (Dern) and paleontologist Dr Alan Grant (Neill) to assess the viability of the project. Also along for the ride are Hammond's grandchildren, Tim and Lex. But things soon begin to go awry...

Jurassic Park is essentially a rehash of Crichton's own Westworld, the 1973 film about a Western-themed amusement park in which the star turns, robot cowboys, run amok. Here, though, the dinosaurs are the villains of the piece and even with the advances in technology, they still look fantastic. Aside from a couple of slightly dodgy animated long shots, the velociraptors and the T-Rex in particular are as scary as hell. It helps that there's also some animatronics going on and overall it's mightily impressive on the special effects front.

As with Avatar, this is a film big on visual spectacle and the years have not diminished the awe-inspiriing nature of our prehistoric pals on the big screen. Unlike Cameron's 3D CGI-fest however, Jurassic Park has a decent script and even beyond the dinosaurs, some great characters. Surprisingly undated – Lex's excitement over an "interactive CD-ROM!" aside – Jurassic Park stands up remarkably well.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Also helmed by Spielberg – the first time he ever directed a sequel to one of his own films – The Lost World is also based on Chriton's sequel to his first novel. Four years after the events of Jurassic Park, we learn of the existence of a second island – a factory floor, as Hammond puts it – on Isla Sorna. The animals there are free to run wild ... and breed. Hammond tricks Malcolm into going there to help an expedition. Joined by his girlfriend paleontologist (Moore), a wildlife photographer (Vaughan) and a professional big game hunter (Postlethwaite) among others, Malcom once again finds himself being hunted for a dino's dinner. While it lacks the awe and wonder of the first film, this is a pretty decent sequel with enough thrills and spills to keep you engthralled. And the King Kong-inspired romp with the T-Rex in San Diego is always fun to watch.

Jurassic Park III (2001)
Johnston takes over directing duties for this third outing, and it's actually better than a lot of people think it is. Parents Macy and Leoni rope Neill into helping them look for their son who's gone missing on Isla Sorna. Basically a series of set pieces, it suffers from a slightly precarious premise and again lacks the awe of the original, but there's enough action and fun for its major flaws to be overlooked. And it's great to have Neill back as Dr Grant.

EXTRAS ★★★★ The Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy is a great-looking Blu-ray set. The remastered transfers of all three films are excellent, and the sound is terrific. The CGI holds up reasonably well, but Stan Winston's animatronic beaties are still pretty amazing. On the bonus features front, the only thing new here is a decent six-part documentary, Return to Jurassic Park, which features new interviews with Spielberg and cast members from all three films. There's also a swathe of material from the previous DVD releases, including: a making-of feature with each film;  the featurette Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park; the featurette The Magic of Industrial Light & Magic; the featurettes looking at the special effects of each film; the featurette Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors In The Kitchen; an interview with author Michael Crichton; a tour of Stan Winston Studio; production archives: storyboards, models, photographs, design sketches and conceptual drawings; deleted scenes; and theatrical trailers. Plus this six-disc set also contains a digital copy of each film.• INTERVIEW: Ariana Richards on Jurassic Park

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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