The Grand Re-Opening
22 years on and Jurassic Park is once again open for business and though it can't capture the magic and awe of the original it still makes for solid blockbuster fare.Paying tribute to the films that have come before - perhaps most obviously the first film - Jurassic World also fuses plenty of other ideas into the mix, some of which late Jurassic Park novelist Michael Crichton would have hopefully been proud of (he attempted some animal training in Congo, for better or worse) and plenty of which audiences will lap up (the Aliens-inspired motion-detector sequences make for a clever way of keeping within the boundaries of the increasingly malleable PG-13 rating whilst still delivering on the tension front). The story, too, cleverly gets almost immediately into the threat side of things, upping the tension and allowing the visually impressive exploration of the theme park/world itself to take place in parallel to the "main event", which helps maintain some pretty consistent pacing across what could have otherwise been a long slog of a 2-hour action-adventure. The end result, whilst tonally flamboyant, is a fairly cohesive story which manages to mix in hints of a whole bunch of other creature features, both good and bad (Jaws and Jaws-3D and Godzilla old and new are obvious examples), whilst thankfully leaving plenty of room for good old Jurassic Park too.Pratt makes for a decent enough hero even without his more likeable goofy side at full force; Bryce Dallas Howard needs less makeup and less heels to convince in the jungle, but is still a strong female counterpoint, whilst the dinosaurs, of course steal most of the limelight (ironically, it’s not the gigantosaur – or whatever – that proves the most memorable, but actually the underused aquatic Mosasaur). Trapped in script-rewrite limbo hell for well over a decade, it's a wonder another film ever made it off the ground, let alone one which not only attempts to forge its own voice in this well-trodden universe, but also somehow pays respectful homage to the original Spielberg classic which wowed us all those years ago. Ultimately, it has all been done before, but thankfully sometimes the story embraces this notion, playing to themes of consumer-driven economic viability, and bigger-is-better demands. In an age where every sequel has to be bigger and louder than the last, it feels apt to tell a tale about a theme park where the simple sight of long-extinct dinosaurs roaming the plains is just so yesterday. Now we want bigger. With more teeth. Thankfully this World offers it. And more.
3D/2D Picture QualityIt should be noted that, in a rather odd turn out for the books, the UK appear to have been well and truly done over when it comes to Jurassic World purchase options. Stateside, the packages are the more conventional 2D or 3D options, with the latter incorporating discs for both the 2D and the 3D versions. Rather than maintain this standard on this side of the pond, the UK releases are far more restrictive, with the widespread option to only buy the 2D or the 3D version, the latter being a single-disc release with no option for 2D (except via the added Digital Copy) and no extras. Indeed the only way to purchase both versions in one package is through HMV's exclusive steelbook release which sports both discs. Odd, to say the least.
Both versions of the film are presented in a somewhat unusual 2.00:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the 1080p/MVC-encoded 3D image providing a welcome rendition of the film's post-production 3D conversion. Avoiding any over gimmickry, Jurassic World's 3D shots go for broke in the depth department instead, allowing the gorgeous island vistas to expand out to the horizon, whilst large once-extinct creatures crawl across the fore- and middle-ground. Objects are well-rounded, with no cardboard-cutout distinction, and instead seamless natural depth. With no overtly frenetic sequences, and plenty of effects-work to make the most of the added dimension, it may not be the preferred option for all, but Jurassic World certainly looks impressive in 3D.
Although it may be hard to get a 2D/3D combo, if you appreciate the added dimension, it's worth the effort.
The standard 2D counterpart is striking reference material in and of itself, with an outstanding 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition presentation that not only affords us all the fine detail and rich texturing we could hope for, but also plenty of depth even for those who haven't ever really warmed to the 3D format. Skin textures are finely observed, with everything from the near-individually-differentiated strands of hair on Bryce Dallas Howard's head to the gorgeous green landscapes rendered with striking clarity and no overt signs of digital tinkering. The palette is broad and dynamic, with rich, lush tones and deep, solid black levels. Whether 2D or 3D, you're looking at reference material here.
Irrespective of whatever package you pick up, Jurassic World's Blu-ray releases all provide the same equally impressive and similarly reference quality audio.
Fittingly for the sequel to the film that launched the format we get a tremendous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that ticks all the right boxes, delivering striking precision, surround separation, and sound design. Dialogue is promoted clearly and coherently across the frontal array, and dominating these front and centre channels where necessary. It's hardly the priority though, with arguably even the dinosaur 'dialogue' of more importance, and thankfully their sounds are rendered with convincing authenticity. It's just the start of a great effects presentation, which is prepared to come at you from every angle, and even swoop overhead (shame there's no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X mix) as the skies come to life with angry creatures. Heralding some engaging LFE thrum to give greater weight to the effects, Jurassic World's audio track remains potent at all levels. Then there's the tributary score, which does its best to honour John William's signature turn, whilst remaining reasonably distinctive in its own right. Overall this is reference material.
ExtrasWhilst there's no commentary on offer, the simple term 'Featurettes' probably doesn't do the wealth of background material on offer justice, with a couple of hours of bonus material available on the Steelbook release (and the single-disc 2D release, but NOT the single disc 3D release). Trevorrow teams up with none other than Steven Spielberg for Welcome to Jurassic World, which charts the inception of the long-gestating project, whilst Jurassic World: All-Access Pass has Trevorrow and star Chris Pratt reflect on key sequences in the film and look behind some of the effects work done to bring them to life. Pratt goes into more lightweight mode for a tour of the Innovation Centre – a museum ‘exhibit’ designed for the film, whilst Dinosaurs Roam Once Again focuses more on the dinos themselves. Chris & Colin Take on the World is a joint interview between the star and director who discuss the franchise. There’s also a selection of Deleted Scenes – some of which may have even justified being reincorporated into the film (with yet more tributes to the original movie here) and all of which are worth checking out.
A comprehensive supplementals package with a total runtime that rivals the main feature.
The steelbook package itself isn't quite as impressive as it perhaps could have been, with the design - that fits in well with the steelbook designs of the preceding three movies, also recently released in this guise, but missing the opportunity to truly stand out with embossing, that would have made the logo-based design all the more impressive. Nevertheless, it's a nice-looking steel that benefits from sticking to a simple image.
Blu-ray VerdictJurassic World doesn't set a new standard for this franchise. It doesn't break the mould. It really doesn't do a great deal new at all. Its characters aren't well-rounded. Its story-arcs aren't unfamiliar. Its action/suspense set-pieces aren't refreshingly original. But it does work. It does, somehow, breathe life back into a franchise that many thought died over two decades ago, and that many others were wondering why they were even still bothering to resuscitate at all. That in itself is probably worthy of celebration, but the fact that it manages to do all this and remain quite faithful to the spirit and ideas of the original - drawing us right back into this world through plenty of direct references (old vehicles, locations, flags and even old dinosaurs - and that theme music binding the franchise together) - is certainly one mark of a truly ‘successful’ sequel.
Excellent in 2D and 3D, completists will need the steelbook package to get both.
With excellent, reference 2D and 3D, as well as a stomping DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track to boot, Jurassic World looks and sounds amazing and comes with a comprehensive extras package. The steelbook design itself isn't quite all that it could - or should - have been, but still looks nice sitting alongside those of the preceding installments and, given that it's the only way, this side of the pond, to pick up a single release featuring both the 2D and the 3D discs and all the extras, even those who aren't collectors might want to consider hunting it down.
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