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I am a big fan of Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, however I would have to say my opinion of the movie adaptation is far less enthusiastic. Let’s face it; the movie is an emasculated version of the novel, which allowed Steven Spielberg to tell the story of a scientist learning to like children. Looking past the screen story, JURASSIC PARK the motion picture, brought dinosaurs to life for movie going audiences, and in that regard, the movie is a complete winner. In the face of the tremendous success of JURASSIC PARK, Michael Crichton produced a sequel to the novel and Hollywood produced a sequel to the film. Now, as movie sequels go, THE LOST WORLD wasn’t particularly good one. However, in the movies favor, audiences lined up again to marvel at the highly realistic CGI and animatronic dinosaurs. And, with THE LOST WORLD earning enough money to justify another film sequel, we come to the third installment JURASSIC PARK III ($27).

Although the basic plot of JURASSIC PARK III doesn’t come from a Michael Crichton story, the film does include a cinematic adaptation of my favorite sequence from the original novel… and this time you will believe that dinosaurs can fly. Sam Neill returns to the role of Dr. Alan Grant, who finds himself hoodwinked into visiting the second island off of Costa Rica, populated by cloned dinosaurs. Although Grant thought he was going to play dinosaur tour guide during an island flyover, he soon finds himself an unwilling participant in an ill advised rescue mission. William H. Macy and Téa Leoni portray Paul and Amanda Kirby, the divorced couple that shanghaied Grant in an effort to find the teenage son Erik (Trevor Morgan), who disappeared on "Dinosaur Island" after a parasailing accident. Although the script of JURASSIC PARK III is paper thin, the first rate cast manages to flesh out their under-defined characters. The supporting cast of JURASSIC PARK III includes Michael Jeter, Alessandro Nivola, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young and Laura Dern. Director Joe Johnston keeps things moving quite well; plus the film’s brief ninety-three minute running time seems to make proceedings race by even faster.

Universal Studios Home Video has made JURASSIC PARK III available in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is very good, producing a clean, clear image with a solid level of detail. Colors appear bright and vibrant, with very appealing flesh tones. Blacks are deep and solid, plus the image produces a healthy dose of shadow detail. Despite the amount of information encoded onto the DVD, the dual layer authoring keeps most signs of digital compression artifacts from becoming noticeable.

JURASSIC PARK III includes both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 channel soundtracks. As you would have to expect from this kind of action/science fiction film, JURASSIC PARK III features a highly aggressive sound mix. Sound effects emanate from every corner of the soundstage and they convincingly pan to the various channels. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and all the dialogue is completely understandable. The bass channel is ground shaking, which really brings the bigger dinosaurs right into your listening room. As for the differences between the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks, they aren’t terribly pronounced. DTS has a slight edge in terms of clarity and overall fidelity, but if you are listening in Dolby Digital, you aren’t missing all that much. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice array of supplements. Starting things off is a running audio commentary with members of the effects team including Stan Winston, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, and Michael Lantieri. This is a fun and informative track that fans of the movie will enjoy. The Making of Jurassic Park III runs more than twenty minutes and this featurette is a few notches above the standard PR piece. At eight minutes, The New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III takes a look at the new and different creatures created for this film. There is also a Tour of Stan Winston Studio that gives the viewer a glimpse at the creation of the animatronic dinosaurs. A Visit to ILM looks at Industrial Light And Magic’s contribution to the film. Dinosaur Turntables presents the modeled CGI dinosaurs in a 360° view. Three Behind-the-Scenes sequences are included, as are three Storyboards to Final Feature Comparisons. The Jurassic Park III Archives is a still gallery of production photos and advertising materials. Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs is a short program concerned with real efforts to discover dinosaur remains. Theatrical trailers for all three JURRASIC PARK movies are included on the DVD, along with production notes and cast biographies/filmographies. JURASSIC PARK III is also DVD-ROM enabled with a few extras for PC users.

For my money JURASSIC PARK III is a better movie than the second outing. The cast, great special effects and flying dinosaurs make it enjoyable escapist fun. Universal’s DVD looks and sounds great, plus it offers a wealth of supplements. So, fans of the series will find this to be a DVD worth checking out.


Jurassic Park III (Widescreen Collector's Edition)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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