Jurassic Park III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a pretty good SD-DVD presentation.
Sharpness provided a strong aspect of the image. A little softness crept into a few wider shots, but those instances remained minor. The transfer provided no problems related to jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes were minor. In terms of print flaws, I saw a few small specks but nothing big.
Colors varied depending on the setting. Early in the movie, it used a nicely naturalistic and warm palette, but the tones became much colder and starker once the characters were in the thick of dino-madness. In any case, the DVD consistently represented the colors well, as they seemed vivid and bright when necessary, and they came across as clear and drained of intensity when appropriate.
Black levels also seemed nicely deep and rich, and shadow detail usually appeared accurate without excessive heaviness. A few low-light shots on the island were somewhat thick, but these instances were rare. As a whole, Jurassic Park III offered a slightly flawed but generally very positive visual experience.
Even better were the soundtracks of Jurassic Park III. The original Jurassic Park was the first theatrical release to feature DTS audio, and both it and its sequel can be found in DTS and Dolby Digital configurations on separate DVDs. However, III is the first of the series to provide both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 sound on the same disc. Although each of the mixes seemed solid, I gave the definite edge to the DTS track. Initially I’ll discuss it, and then I’ll summarize the ways in which I felt it differed from the Dolby Digital mix.
The soundfield for JPIII consistently came across as engrossing and lively. The music displayed an excellent presence with solid stereo imaging, while effects created a terrific show. Ambient elements cropped up all throughout the movie to provide a realistic and involving setting.
Of course, the louder action sequences gave us very active audio action. From the front, effects were appropriately localized, and they moved across channels and blended cleanly. The surrounds kicked in with strong reinforcement of the score and they allowed the effects segments to really breathe. From the early battle between the T-Rex and the Spinosaurus to virtually every other action scene, the soundtrack forced all five channels to work overtime, and it all made for a fantastic listening experience.
Audio quality also appeared to be excellent. Despite the fact that much of the dialogue needed to be looped, speech always came across as natural and distinct, and I discerned no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Music boasted fine fidelity, as the score sounded bright and vibrant throughout the film. Highs seemed clear and bass response was deep and smooth.
Again, the effects contributed the finest aspects of the soundtrack. All variety of elements - from the quiet ambience to the loudest roars and explosions - appeared accurate and distinct. The mix displayed fine clarity, and the low-end really kicked into overdrive much of the time. JPIII provided a serious bass-fest, and the DTS track reproduced these elements with solid depth and warmth. Overall, I thought JPIII featured the kind of amazing sonic experience that we expect from the series.
When I compared the DTS track to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, I thought the latter showed slightly less strength. The Dolby edition seemed to pack less of a punch in regard to low-end; while it still seemed positive, it lacked the amazing force of the DTS version. In addition, the Dolby track appeared to blend together a little less smoothly, as the elements seemed somewhat “speaker-specific” at times. On its own, the Dolby version still offered a fine soundtrack, but I simply preferred the DTS edition and thought that it provided a superior piece of work.
This “Collector’s Edition” release of Jurassic Park III contains a fair number of supplements. First up we find an audio commentary from live dinosaur creator Stan Winston, effects supervisor John Rosengrant, animation supervisor Dan Taylor, and mechanical effects coordinator Michael Lantieri. All four were recorded together for this running, screen-specific track.
I was happy to finally get an audio commentary for a Jurassic Park flick, and this one included some decent information. Not surprisingly, the emphasis was on technical aspects of making the movie, but the participants helped ensure that it didn’t become a dry and tedious discussion. Yes, I heard a lot of statements that told us what was practical and what was computer animated, and the piece seemed somewhat self-congratulatory at times; they offered a lot of praise for all involved.
Still, the movie was very effects intensive, and this track told us how the filmmakers worked their magic. The information was related in an easily understandable manner and it revealed a fair amount of depth about the topic. I especially liked the parts that covered the ways in which the dinosaurs have “evolved” over the years from their original Jurassic Park counterparts. Ultimately, this was a good but unspectacular commentary that should be reasonably enjoyable for big fans of the series.
Next we find a program called Making Jurassic Park III. This 22-minute and 42-second piece offers the standard mix of movie snippets, shots from the set, and interviews. In the latter category, we have comments from producer Kathleen Kennedy, actors Sam Neill, Michael Jeter, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Trevor Morgan, and Alessandro Nivola, director Joe Johnston, production designer Ed Verreaux, paleontologist/advisor Jack Horner, creature creator Stan Winston, effects supervisor John Rosengrant, visual effects supervisor Jim Mitchell, animation director Dan Taylor, and effects coordinator Michael Lantieri.
Overall, this is a fluffy but decent overview of the production. Most of it seems pretty basic, and it runs through the topics at a rapid pace. However, it gives us a reasonable synopsis of the issues faced during the making of the film, and it comes across as entertaining and compelling. Best of the bunch are the clips from the set, which provide a nice look behind the scenes.
The New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III appears like an extension of the prior show. This seven-minute and 53-second piece offers interview snippets from earlier participants Johnston, Horner, Macy, Kennedy, Winston, Neill, and Taylor plus it adds ILM CG modeler Ken Bryant. Essentially it just gives us a quick look at some of the new critters and the modifications made to the old ones such as the raptors. It’s interesting and breezy but somewhat insubstantial; the material should have simply been included in the “Making of…” program.
Another short piece offers a Tour of Stan Winston Studios. While we don’t actually get ushered around the place, we do see the process via which the practical creatures are created. Most of the three-minute and 14-second featurette is silent except for musical score as we watch the workers make their magic. At the end, we get some nice shots of the critters on the set. It’s too short to offer any real value, but it’s a good presentation of some basics nonetheless.
A Visit to ILM packs in a slew of small snippets. Under “Concepts” we find an “Intro” from visual effects supervisor Jim Mitchell and then watch material that covers “The Spinosaurus”, “The Pteranodons”, and “The Raptors”. All three of those pieces provide comments from animation director Dan Taylor; all in all, the clips last a total of five minutes and 33 seconds. The give us a decent overview of what the folks at ILM wanted to do with the characters, and they show some good behind the scenes material.
This “Visit” then moves to “The Process”. After a 95-second “Intro” from Dan Taylor, we go to additional subdomains. “Models” gives us a 40-second “Interview” with digital model supervisor Ken Bryan, and we then watch “View Models”, which shows some basic computer work along with more commentary from Bryan.
“T-Rex Vs. Spinosaurus” opens with an “Interview” from lead animator Glen McIntosh and then shows us the 13-second “Production Plate”; that piece depicts the film before the CG creatures appear. Lastly, we see the 10-second “Final Shot”.
After a 59-second “Interview” with lead animator John Zdankiewicz, “Pteranodon Air Attack” launches into a two-second (!) animatic and than gives us the five-second “Final Shot”. “The Process” ends with “Raptors: Returning the Eggs”. A 72-second “Interview” with McIntosh starts the section, and we then see an eight-second “Production Plate” and the five-second “Final Shot”.
That finishes “The Process”, and we move to “Muscle Simulation”. The “Intro” includes 49 seconds of comments from creature supervisor Tim McLaughlin, and we then witness a 103 second “Demonstration” of the computer techniques with technical animation supervisor Dennis Turner.
The “Visit” ends in the “Compositing” domain. In “Definition”, compositing supervisor Eddie Pasquarello tells us what the term means in 32 seconds or less, and the “Demonstration” shows 88 seconds of these techniques in action.
All in all, “A Visit to ILM” requires a lot of clicking for marginal payoff. Actually, that’s not fair, for the section offers some interesting material. Nonetheless, the presentation is less than cohesive. Anytime I have to access a separate segment for five - or two - seconds of material, something’s wrong. “Visit” should have been compiled into one neat running program that would have made the piece much more user friendly.
Additional clicking is required during the Dinosaur Turntables, though the technique is much less frustrating there. The “Turntables” show the computer-animated critters in basic configurations - without coloring or detail - and in final form as they spin for the virtual camera. Some of the segments add running or other interaction as well. Most of the clips last for 23 seconds apiece, but another is 34 seconds, two more are 37 seconds, and the longest - for T-Rex - goes 43 seconds. These are reasonably interesting studies but they don’t seem special and terribly fascinating.
Behind the Scenes continues the clickfest as it splits into three smaller areas. We find brief examinations of “Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane” (108 seconds), “Raptors Attack Udesky” (59 seconds), and “The Lake” (99 seconds). These all have some cool shots from the set, and they’re interesting as a whole, but unfortunately they show too many clips from the movie itself, and they also cut too quickly from image to image. As such, it could be tough to get a good look at the material.
The Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison shows the boards in the top half of the TV frame with the finished movie in the bottom segment. We see three scenes: “The Lab” (69 seconds), “The Aviary” (two minutes, 57 seconds), and “The Boat Attack” (121 seconds). I’ve never been terribly interested in storyboards, but this presentation seems pretty solid.
In the Jurassic Park III Archives, we locate “Production Photos” and a “Poster Gallery”. The former shows the images as a running program accompanied by the movie’s score. Sometimes this method works well, but here it makes the pictures fly by in too dynamic a manner; it could be tough to really see them. The “Poster Gallery” uses the normal stillframe format to show the 44 stills, and it’s very interesting, especially since we see some alternate titles contemplated for the movie.
“Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs” provides a good four minute and 20 second look at some dino digging. We hear from Jack Horner as he discusses his attempts to locate more skeletons, and we watch the diggers at work. It’s a nice view of the real-life research.
A mess of smaller extras finishes the DVD. We find theatrical trailers for all three JP flicks; these offer non-anamorphic images with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Production Notes includes some rather lengthy and detailed text about the movie, while Cast and Filmmakers offers basic biographies of actors Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young, and Laura Dern (whose character is mistakenly called Ellie “Sadler”). In addition, we get listings for executive producer Steven Spielberg, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Larry Franco, and director Joe Johnston.
Lastly, we see a mention of the “Jurassic Park Institute” and also find “Jurassic Park III Special Offers. Just like similar features on The Mummy Returns and The Grinch, there’s nothing special here; it’s just a collection of ads. We get promos for Universal Studios Theme Parks, the flick’s soundtrack, and a “preview movie” for the Scan Command JP III game. Yawn.
As a fan of the Jurassic Park movies, I enjoyed Jurassic Park III and I thought that it was a fun and entertaining piece of fluff. However, I must acknowledge that it didn’t live up to the standards of the first two movies; those flicks had their flaws, but JP III included even more problems.
Nonetheless, it remained fairly exciting and compelling for the most part. The DVD provided a good picture with excellent sound and a decent roster of extras. Though only a pretty good movie, Jurassic Park III seems interesting enough to merit your attention, and JP fans will definitely want to grab this DVD.