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Case Number 01543

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Beyond Jurassic Park

Universal // 2001 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Erick Harper (Retired) // November 28th, 2001

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All Rise...

The Charge

The evolution of adventure!

Opening Statement

You've got to hand it to the people at Universal; they took a very fair and decent approach to their upcoming Jurassic Park trilogy box set. The new box set comes in a nice looking collector case, and includes all three dino thrillers, plus a fourth disc of extra material. So, you may ask, what if one has already bought the first two flicks on DVD, and has no desire to buy them again just to get the nifty box and the extras? No problem; this is no ordinary case of a greedy studio double-dipping a DVD release. If you already own the first two movies you can go out and buy the Jurassic Park III disc, fill out a form, send in some proofs-of-purchase and $6.95 or so, and you can get the collector case and this nifty DVD of bonus features. It's the best deal I've seen since I sent in all those Star Wars proofs-of-purchase for that rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure twenty-odd years ago.

The Evidence

Universal has filled this DVD with around two hours of extra material relating to the three Jurassic Park thrillers. This is broken up into five or six short featurettes relating to each movie. Here is a quick list of what is available, broken down by installment in the series:

Jurassic Park

• Original "Making Of" Featurette—As one of the older items on this DVD, it also looks and sounds the worst. Other than that it is a fairly standard featurette, with the standard assortment of talking heads talking about their characters and the story, and a token attempt to tie the movie's premise to real-world science.
• Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park—This could have been an interesting feature if someone had taken the time to interview Spielberg. As it stands now, this is a collection of on-set footage edited together with the finished scenes from the final movie. You won't learn much from this one, other than catching a few glimpses of sets and camera moves. The seamless editing from unfinished to finished scene is a nice touch, but nothing special.
• Animatics—T-Rex Attack—This is a shaky, grainy, soundless look at storyboards for the T-Rex attack sequence. It consists for the most part of still pictures with the camera panning across the frame to give the illusion of movement. There are a few glimpses of some maquette test footage and some very crude, rudimentary CGI sketches, but nothing to write home about. Some narration would have been helpful here, or at least some music to make watching this footage more palatable.
• Hurricane in Kauai Featurette—In the midst of filming this movie about controlling nature, the cast and crew also had to survive some of the nastiest that nature has to offer. This featurette interviews various people who were there, including Steven Spielberg, and also makes use of documentary-style footage shot at the time. It makes for an interesting story.
• ILM and Jurassic Park—Before and After the Visual Effects—upon watching this featurette I informed those present that "this disc just stopped sucking." Here we get a step-by-step look at the digital compositing process that brought the dinosaur scenes to life. It is a silent presentation set to John Williams's rousing score, starting from the original "clean" 35mm photo plate and taking us step by step as each digital element is added to the scene. We also get a look at the evolution of the digital dinosaurs, from wire frame digital models through more detailed skeletons to adding muscle and flesh, to the final detailed textures. This featurette was fascinating; I could have watched two hours of this stuff alone.

The Lost World

• Original "Making Of" Featurette—Again, this is fairly standard material, although the picture quality is quite nice and sharp. It is occasionally quite grainy, but for the most part looks good. Content is exactly what you would expect from such a featurette, much like the one for the first movie.
• Interviews with Michael Crichton—This is an interesting look at the man who wrote the original novels upon which Jurassic Park and The Lost World are based. He also wrote The Andromeda Strain and is one of the creators behind E.R. This is a lengthy featurette at just over 15 minutes, and is well worth the time.
• ILM and The Lost World—Before and After the Visual Effects—Over 20 minutes of special effects wizardry for the viewer to appreciate. This time the presentation uses split screens for most of its length, allowing a direct comparison between what was shot live and what was added later. All told, it is quite fascinating.
• Compie Dance Number—Someone at ILM had way too much time on their hands and put together a little song-and-dance number with a large cast of tap-dancing lizards as a thank-you card to Steven Spielberg. I was hoping they would break out into song, preferably "Hello my honey, hello my baby…" but alas, it was not to be. As it is, this feature is stupid and boring, but on the bright side, it only lasts about a minute and a half.

Jurassic Park III

• The Special Effects of Jurassic Park III—Another look at the various live-action and CGI techniques necessary to bring ancient dinosaurs to life on the big screen.
• ILM Press Reel—This is an effects showcase put together by ILM to show off their work on this movie. It includes a number of before and after comparisons, as well as scenes where the viewer is challenged to pick out which dinosaurs are CGI and which are animatronic puppets shot live on set. One flaw in this presentation is the annoying degree to which sequences are repeated over and over again.
• The Sounds of Jurassic Park III—This is an interesting look at the sound effects work that goes into a movie like this. We see the sampling process, which often involves recording and mixing sounds from a wide variety of animals, ranging from lions and tigers to arctic sea birds.
• The Art of Jurassic Park III—This featurette was apparently made during the pre-production period, and features the various concept artists discussing their creations and the kinds of dinosaurs and sets they are going to build. We also get to see a lot of storyboard and concept art.
• Jurassic Park—The Ride—This is a quick, first person POV trip through some of the exciting things one would encounter on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. It may be cheesy marketing at its worst, but I must admit it looks like a blast.

Closing Statement

The content on this bonus disc is kind of hit-and-miss, but the sheer volume of it is impressive. In any case, I'm tempted to recommend this disc just to reward Universal for being so kind and considerate to the DVD-buying public. Whether you already own the first two movies and take advantage of the mail in offer or are buying the Jurassic Park movies on DVD for the first time I think you will find that the material on this disc is overall a very satisfying collection.

The Verdict

Universal is to be commended for its honest and fair treatment of its potential customers. This disc is acquitted; although the material varies widely in quality, it makes up for it in quantity.

We stand adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Extras: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• See Review


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