Jurassic Park came and went and banked a billion dollars. When The Lost World did almost the same, a third film was inevitable - and so the unimaginatively titled Jurassic Park III was born into existence.
When a young boy is left marooned on the island of Isla Sorna, his parents Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) trick Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) into flying with them over the island to help find their son. But when the plane crashes and they are left stranded, it's every man for himself. This time there's no fences, no weapons and absolutely no protection - ensuring this won't be a normal walk through the park. Pun intended.
Jurassic Park III entered production without a completed script and whilst Director Joe Johnston does the best with what he has, it's reasonably obvious that production was difficult. Barring the lengthy end credits, the film comes in at a scant 80 minutes - very short for a modern day film. Still, this is completely about the dinosaur action scenes, of which there are probably more than the first and second films combined. It also marks one of the last large projects for the Stan Winston's animatronics studio, who have become a victim of the fast growth of CG animation. Stan Winston himself died a few short years later.
Jurassic Park III isn't terrible, but as the third entry to a much loved movie series with a sizeable fan base, it's ultimately a disappointment. Compounding this is the troublesome ending that materializes, rather than coming to a natural conclusion. I just hope that Universal can make Jurassic Park IV happen - if only to give the series the conclusion it deserves.
Jurassic Park III is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (its original aspect ratio), encoded with VC-1 compression.
Again, it's fairly obvious that Universal have used an off-the-shelf transfer for Jurassic Park III, but its relatively young age makes this the stand out in the trilogy, so it isn't all bad.
The transfer is very sharp and offers a pleasing amount of fine detail. The upgraded texture maps on the computer generated dinosaurs, especially the new-look raptors and the Spinosaurus look very realistic and convincing. However, it's very easy to tell the CG and animatronic creations apart.
Jurassic Park III was released in 2001 when film colour grading was starting to get increasingly popular and the film looks strangely dark because of it - almost like the entire film was run through a neutral density filter one shade too dark. It's always looked this way, so this is not a fault of the transfer, but in comparison to the other films, it just looks weird.
I noticed a handful of small, but relatively unobtrusive film artifacts, but certainly no film-to-video issues.
Overall, this is a pretty decent transfer, just hampered by some of the original production methods.
The main audio track is encoded with DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 at 24 bits.
Just like the Blu-ray of the original, the audio track is the stand out performer, which represents a significant (and I mean significant) upgrade from the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track on DVD.
Again, the audio has been extrapolated into a 7.1 experience, using a variety of techniques. This is by far the most aggressive of all the Jurassic Park audio mixes, and the films emphasis on action certainly allows this to come to life.
I never thought I'd say it, but the .1 low frequency effects are a little 'too hot' and overly aggressive. Take for example the T-Rex vs. Spinosaur fight early on in the film. Almost all the low frequency is diverted to the subwoofer channel and hardly any is given to the full range channels. So, if you don't have a subwoofer, or have it turned off, it sounds like they are tip-toing. I don't believe this is film mixing as it should be. The .1 channel should be to support the films bass, not provide it solely.
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Unfortunately, John Williams bowed out of composer duties for the third entry, being replaced by Don Davis, who was at the time hot off The Matrix. Davis uses the irreplaceable Williams' cues and main theme, but his original work is mostly pedestrian.
Overall, an extremely pleasing audio track.
Despite flaws in other areas, Universal should be congratulated for including pretty much all the extra features produced for the film from DVD releases, as well as a new two and a half hour documentary spread across all three movies. Let's jump in.
First up is the sixth and final part of Return to Jurassic Park documentary, which totals around 25 minutes. Attention is given to the Universal Studios Jurassic Park ride (which I had the pleasure of riding for the first time a few weeks ago, at Universal Studios Japan) and how Spielberg asked to be let off before the final water dip at the end! - Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Laura Dern and Joe Johnston return to recount their experiences making the film, and it seems they are relatively proud of the film they made.
This entry is the only to receive a Audio Commentary including Director Joe Johnston and various members of the special effects crews. As such, the commentary is generally geared towards the visual effects. The most interesting tidbit I took from the track was the fact that there wasn't anything much in the way of deleted footage; it was almost all used, despite the films scant runtime.
Next up, under the heading of Archival Featurettes can be found The Making of Jurassic Park which is a far cry from the quality of the making of documentaries for the previous, but does reveal a little of the production. The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III is a fairly superfluous look at the dinosaurs featured in the film, focusing on the new threat - the Spinosaurus.
The next few featurettes are not new per se, but will be to many fans, as they were only available on the limited edition 4 disc DVD set some years ago. The Sounds of Jurassic Park III and The Art of Jurassic Park III take a closer look at the two elements of production. It certainly was interesting to see the evolution of the sounds for dinosaurs that we've never heard.
The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III is concerned with the creation of the visual and special effects and how the wizards managed to get the Stan Winston animatronics and the Industrial Light and Magic pixels to perform together. The Industrial Light and Magic Pres Reel features most of the films dinosaur action condensed into 14 minutes, albeit in low res SD quality.
Next we have a bunch of assorted short bonus featurettes, the meatiest which is The Tour of Stan Winston Studio and A Visit To ILM which contrasts the two areas of dinosaur creation, but also takes a look at specific parts of production including Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane, Raptors Attack Udesky, The Lake and some Storyboards to Final Film Comparisons.
Finally, we have the original Theatrical Trailer in basic standard definition.