Thursday, 10 May 2012

“Jurassic Park – Augmented Reality Edition BLU RAY”. A Review Of The 2012 Reissue In Universal’s “100th Anniversary” Series.

“…Clever Girl…”


Part of Universal Studios "100th Anniversary" celebrations - there are 15 UK-released titles in this 23 April 2012 BLU RAY and DVD series - and "Jurassic Park" is one of them - an "Augmented Reality" issue.

Each of these re-releases has generic "100th Anniversary" card-wrap packaging on the outside with matching artwork on the inside box (no repackaging of old discs). The full series list (including US titles of which there are a lot more) is in the 'comment' section attached to this review…

So what is "Augmented Reality"? It's a 3D mini-show that's built into the front sleeve of each release. You download the free "Universal 100 App" from their website to your Smartphone or Tablet (iPhone 3GS or above, iPad 2, Android and other high-end devices) - you open the download and hold your phone/tablet over the front sleeve. It wirelessly loads and then begins playing a 3D display that lasts about 20 seconds - in this case you're looking down at a Velocaraptor attacking a Tyrannosaurus Rex while the Rex lets out that distinctive roar. That's it I'm afraid. Pretty silly stuff and over as soon as its begun.

Better however is the 'price' - this is the first time Universal has reissued BLU RAY retailing at less than ten pounds - these singular discs are eight quid in most places - the DVDs two for a tenner. And it’s the first time "Jurassic Park" has been on BLU RAY as a single disc outside of the "Ultimate" Box Set (and with copious extras – some of which are new).

Truth told it's not great. I recently reviewed "The Blues Brothers" in this series and before that the "Back To The Future" Trilogy Box Set – both of which have fabulous print quality. I wish I could say the same for "Jurassic Park". A large amount of the time there are dollops of shimmering grain on the print – especially if the scenes are indoors – of which there are a lot. You wouldn't think this would put you off - but at times it's so prevalent (computer room sequences with Samuel Jackson and Richard Attenborough) – it's all you see. And while the T.Rex attack sequence is still mind-blowing – as are the Velocaraptor chases inside the main facility - time has caught up with the rest of the prehistoric renderings – many of the dinosaur special effects shots looking decidedly dated and every so slightly out-of-focus. 

Given a full on 7.1 surround remaster - the SOUND QUALITY is exceptional from the get go. Even on standard audio systems something as ordinary as the opening shot of trees blowing in the dark comes to life – leaves rustling and creature shrieks fill every corner of your room. It adds incredible power to so many scenes. I just wish the actual watch was better – but like "Close Encounters Of A Third Kind" – the BLU RAY seems to have made the viewing experience worse and not better – accentuating all too often how bad the print is.

First up - some marketing bright spark has also stuck a lengthy "Lifetime Of Memories" Universal sticker right across the back of ‘each release’ advertising holidays and prizes you can win - except that it completely covers that part of the back-cover which tells you what BONUSES on the disc. In other words you cannot visually tell what's actually on this release - even as you hold it in your hand! It's a simple mistake - but a staggeringly stupid one - and I'd argue sabotages sales of otherwise excellent titles.

And when you peel off the sticker – more carelessness. The card-wrap tells you there's a 'never-before-seen 6-part documentary featuring all-new interviews with Directors Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston – cast and crew including…William H Macy'. THERE ISN'T. That blurb belongs to the 5-disc "Ultimate" Box Set. What you do get however is impressive - the first '3-parts' of that documentary - and an impressive 12 (not 13 as the box says) archival featurettes of old. You have to say that it’s sloppy presentation to say the least and Universal could surely be had legally for advertising something that isn't on here? But – and it's worth re-stating this – what's on here is EXTENSIVE and properly indepth (see full list below).

The film itself is still hugely entertaining and a milestone in special effects development. The cup of water on the dashboard rippling as T.Rex approaches – the vegetation-eating long-necked Brachiosaurus nudging the children and Sam Neill in the tree – climbing the fence and getting off of it just before the electricity comes on – outrunning the 'meatosaurus' in one of the theme park cars with Jeff Goldblum caustically remarking afterwards "You think that was part of the tour?" – Bob Peck's face and remark as the Raptor ambushes him from the side instead of the front (dialogue above) - the 'When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth' banner falling to the ground at the end… "Jurassic Park" is Director Steven Spielberg at his entertaining best - expertly racking up so many scenes with palpable tension and thrills.  

To sum up then – the silly gimmick packaging, content misrepresentation and sometimes disappointing picture quality aside – the single disc of "Jurassic Park" gives you a lot of bang for your buck. But I still can't help feel that if you can plum the extra for the Ultimate Box Set (same thing for the "Back To The Future” Trilogy set too) – then the multiple is a far better buy.

A good release then (and with great extras) - just don't expect that "Perfect Hi-Def Picture" as per the blurb on the back of the box.

BLU RAY Specifications:
VIDEO: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
AUDIO: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese DTS Surround 5.1
SUBTITLES: English SDH (Deaf/Hard Of Hearing), French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish and Traditional Mandarin

1, Return To Jurassic Park: Dawn Of A New Era (NEW – Part 1 of 6)
2. Return To Jurassic Park: Making Prehistory (NEW – Part 2 of 6)
3. Return To Jurassic Park: The Next Step In Evolution (NEW – Part 3 of 6)
4. Archival Featurettes:
1. The Making Of Jurassic Park
2. Original Featurette On The Making Of The Film
3. Steven Spielberg Directs Jurassic Park
4. Hurricane In Kauai Featurette
5. Behind The Scenes:
1. Early Pre-Production Meetings
2. Location Scouting
3. Phil Tippett Animatics: Raptors In The Kitchen
4. Animatics: T-Rex Attack
5. ILM and Jurassic Park: Before And After The Visual Effects
6. Foley Artists
7. Storyboards
8. Production Archives
6. Theatrical Trailer
7. Jurassic Park: Making The Game
8. My Scenes

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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