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Jurassic World: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Jurassic World (2015) movie poster Jurassic World

Theatrical Release: June 12, 2015 / Running Time: 124 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Colin Trevorrow / Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver (story & screenplay); Derek Connolly, Colin Trevorrow (screenplay); Michael Crichton (characters)

Cast: Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Irrfan Khan (Simon Masrani), Vincent D'Onofrio (Vic Hoskins), Ty Simpkins (Gray Mitchell), Nick Robinson (Zach Mitchell), Jake Johnson (Lowery Cruthers), Omar Sy (Barry), BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Judy Greer (Karen Mitchell), Lauren Lapkus (Vivian), Brian Tee (Katashi Hamada), Katie McGrath (Zara Young), Andy Buckley (Scott Mitchell), Jimmy Fallon (Himself), Brad Bird (voice of Monorail Announcer), Colin Trevorrow (voice of Mr. DNA)

Buy Jurassic World from Amazon.com: Blu-ray 3D Combo Blu-ray Combo DVD Limited Edition Gift Set Instant Video
Buy the 4-Movie Jurassic Park Collection: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD

The timing felt right for a new Jurassic Park movie. The disappointments of the two sequels had been forgotten, if not forgiven. Meanwhile, the original film had been elevated from cultural event to modern classic, treated as such with a 3D theatrical reissue for its 20th anniversary.
In recent summers we've seen franchises dormant or diminished like Planet of the Apes, X-Men, and Toy Story get revived and revitalized with the right touch and tact.

So, here is Jurassic World, a sequel that is fine with you not remembering the two sequels before it. It doesn't so much set out to do right where they went wrong as to be a new generation's Jurassic Park while still appeasing those who grew up adoring Steven Spielberg's triumphant 1993 filming of Michael Crichton's bestseller.

Today, Isla Nublar, the Central American island where the original park was built, is thriving as the site of Jurassic World, a fully open and incredibly popular family attraction. While the original Jurassic Park was part-zoo, part-museum, Jurassic World is closer to Disney and Universal theme parks with a touch of SeaWorld: highly commercialized, faintly educational, and loads of fun for kids and their parents or chaperones. (Also, product placement is a breeze when you've got a setting that can support Starbucks and other stores.)

Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) shows off his unrivaled skills as a raptor whisperer in the most imitable scene of "Jurassic World."

While their parents (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley) are secretly getting a divorce, two kids (Nick Robinson and Iron Man 3's Ty Simpkins) have been sent alone on a Christmas break trip to the park. Their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is one of the people in charge. A career-driven woman who refers to the dinosaurs exclusively as "assets", Claire fits the kids with VIP wristbands and leaves them in the company of her British assistant. Those nephews' enjoyment isn't high on Claire's priority list, not when one of the park's biggest creations to date -- a monstrous genetically engineered hybrid whose make-up is unknown even to her -- is feared missing.

The disappearance is on everyone's radar, especially Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a Navy man turned raptor whisperer who has been training the deadly predators like a platoon of pets. Other parties alerted include the park's hands-on owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), an adventurous successor to John Hammond, and Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), an InGen executive who is cooking up something big and probably bad. Manning controls and providing light comic relief is Lowery (Jake Johnson), a more playful variation on Samuel L. Jackson's techxpert, with dinosaur figures on his station and an eBay-bought Jurassic Park shirt on his torso.

Jurassic World illustrates the very fine line between genius sci-fi blockbuster and Syfy monster B-movie. It treads that line, putting the steep estimated $150 million production budget to work on suitably grand visuals, but also occasionally feeling like the kind of movie that in thirty years you'd be astonished was ever in fashion. The characters lack the maturity and sophistication of the original film's personalities. Most ridiculous is Claire, a joyless buttoned-down workaholic who improbably turns into a sweaty, tank-topped Ellen Ripley-type badass over the course of a few hours.

Driven by Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson) get more excitement than they imagine when all hell breaks loose at Jurassic World during their Christmas vacation.

Pratt, who is top-billed following his lovable turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, one of a string of great movies he's made over the past few years, doesn't get to do much with his lead, who kind of recalls a less humorous Indiana Jones or a more focal, American variation on the original film's park warden Robert ("Clever girl!") Muldoon.
Jurassic World wrapped production mere days after Guardians opened, but it's not like Pratt's comedic chops were a secret until then. It is strange those gifts weren't put to use here, as if Owen was designed to be more like Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm (who makes a background book cover cameo here) in The Lost World than in the original Jurassic.

Khan, adding a touch of class, and Johnson, some welcome humor, are two of the brighter spots in the cast. But it's not as if the typical viewer is here for the humans. They're here for the dinos, of which there are plenty, all but one of them the digital variety as opposed to the mix of practical animatronics and computer animation employed on the original. I guess the effects here have improved upon 1993's definition of state of the art. But the effects are only as good as the story allows them to be and this one doesn't have the intrigue and universal appeal of Crichton and David Koepp's stellar, streamlined adaptation. It does show a bit more imagination than the sequels, only the first of which had a literary basis.

World's timing was not simply to allow demand to build up, but to figure out how to get this potentially quite lucrative franchise back on track. Four writers are credited with the screenplay, two of them -- Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the duo behind the unexpectedly excellent recent Planet of the Apes reboots -- also attributed on the story. The late Crichton's characters credit is very nearly unnecessary; just one of his characters -- BD Wong's Henry Wu -- is back. You appreciate that one clear link to the original film, even if that character is tainted in the reprisal process. Most notable among the credited scribes (and who knows how many people chipped in without credit) is Colin Trevorrow, who also directs. Having made just one previous film (the appealing indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed), Trevorrow seemed like an inspired outside-the-box selection for this helm. But this film could have been directed by anyone who knows the kind of big movie a studio wants and respects their wishes above any creative impulses he may have.

It was easy to anticipate that Jurassic World would be in fashion for at least one enormous opening weekend. But the movie outperformed even the most optimistic expectations, running away with the summer box office crown. With $651.5 million domestic and $1.67 billion earned worldwide, World has become the third highest grossing film of all time. As impressive as that sounds, aided by premium ticket prices and steep inflation, this reboot still only sold around 86% of the tickets the original Jurassic Park did. Nonetheless, it smashed the competition, dwarfing anticipated king Avengers: Age of Ultron and even other foreseeable hits like Furious 7, Inside Out, and Minions.

The success did seem more a direct result of timing than quality. Reviews were fairly favorable and the public's assessment was in line (hence, the respectable but far from spectacular 7.2 user rating on IMDb). But people weren't forking over upwards of $15 for a must-see movie as much as they were to be part of a cultural experience. It's tough to find anyone who doesn't harbor at least some admiration for the original Jurassic Park, and, given the alternatives -- mostly new installments of frequently active franchises -- this stood out as something kind of different. Jurassic World sold tickets on its title and star alone. The world proved ready for more dinosaurs and even if this isn't close to the intelligent, breathtaking experience Jurassic Park was twenty-two summers ago, it is a passable popcorn diversion, an enjoyable two hours that almost certainly won't stand up to much thought or cynicism.

Despite its astronomical commercial success, Jurassic World still took a fairly ordinary four months to reach home video, doing so in this week's mix of combo packs and four-movie collections.

Jurassic World: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.00:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-rays: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS (Spanish, French)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
All: Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $49.98
Three single-sided discs (2 BD-50s & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase in Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray Combo ($34.98 SRP), standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP), Limited Edition Gift Set ($119.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video
Also available in 4-Movie Jurassic Park Collection as Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($89.98 SRP), Blu-ray + Digital HD ($59.98 SRP), DVD ($64.98 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

It would be stunning if a film of this size was treated to even moderately imperfect video and audio on Blu-ray. It is no surprise, then, that Jurassic Park looks and sounds great in high definition. The picture, utilizing the non-standard 2.0:1 ratio, is sharp, vibrant, and immaculate. The 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is terrific, distributing dialogue, score, and, most noticeably, sound effects -- including plenty of potent roars and rumbles -- with clarity, purpose, and impact. Universal equips the Blu-rays with uHear to clarify a missed line at the press of a (yellow) button.

Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) gets down and dirty in this deleted scene in which she covers herself in dinosaur feces. That's right: the great Steven Spielberg shows videos on his phone to his friends just like you!

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin with a short reel of deleted scenes (6:08). The longest and most notable addition sees Grady and Claire covering themselves in dinosaur excrement (seriously).
There are also two additional moments between the boys, a close encounter with an unseen dinosaur, a moment between Simon Masrani and the techies, and a couple of throwaway snippets.

"Chris & Colin Take on the World" (8:57) is a light-hearted conversation between the star and the director of the film. It starts with Pratt's amusing 2009 prediction he'd be in the movie (which is shown) and moves on to discuss the first three Jurassic films, memorable moments from their reboot, and the experience making it.

"Welcome to Jurassic World" (29:52) is an all-purpose documentary that opens with Spielberg's remarks on his origins with the series and then delves into the making of this new installment. Behind-the-scenes and talking heads footage abounds, with us gaining some good insight into this large-scale production and its many creative processes.

It's true: men in gray pajamas with raptor heads on theirs stood in for the film's vicious dinosaurs. Director Colin Trevorrow talks about modeling certain aspects after the classic original 1993 "Jurassic Park", shown beside him.

"Dinosaurs Roam Once Again" (16:29) focuses on the mostly digital dinosaurs created for the film and the human actors who had to use their imagination to perform across from them and their stand-ins.

"Jurassic World: All-Access Pass" (10:11) seems like a highly abridged version of those video commentary modes studios used to provide a few years back. Chris Pratt and Colin Trevorrow address the camera in between concept art and behind-the-scenes footage specific to the scene they're discussing.

Chris Pratt gives a goofy tour of the Innovation Center out of character in this bonus feature. Iconic moments from the original film feature in "Barbasol Presents: Jurassic's Closest Shaves."

"Innovation Center Tour with Chris Pratt" (2:01) mixes talking heads about the location's significance with the actor's deliberately uninformed tour of Jurassic World's Samsung-sponsored visitor center.

Finally, we get "Barbasol Presents: Jurassic's Closest Shaves", a 3-minute montage of suspenseful clips from all four films in the series (bust mostly the original and World),
starting, naturally, with Dennis Nedry's Barbasol can antics. It's fun.

Of these extras, the DVD only includes the deleted scenes, "Chris & Colin Take on the World", and "Dinosaurs Roam Once Again".

The discs open with trailers for the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray collection, Minions, Jurassic Park: The Ride, Ted 2, Tremors 5: Bloodlines, Self/Less, The Gift, Jarhead 3: The Siege, the video game LEGO Jurassic World, and R.L. Stine's Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls.

The main menu runs through an ordinary, scored screen-filling montage of clips.

The black Blu-rays and red DVD share a standard keepcase with a booklet of ads and your iTunes/UltraViolet-compatible Digital HD code. The case is topped by a slipcover reproducing the same artwork, but with a lenticular face.

Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are given a bit of a romantic comedy arc with their love-destined squabbles.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The most widely-seen film of 2015 by far, Jurassic World succeeded on being good enough. Though a far cry from Steven Spielberg's classic original blockbuster, this aptly-timed reboot reinvigorates the franchise by simply helping to fade the failings of the previous sequels. It's an entertaining diversion you'll be glad you saw, but unlikely to proclaim an all-time favorite.

Universal's Blu-ray 3D combo pack doesn't go above and beyond to make the year's biggest hit the season's must-own release. But the feature presentation offers great picture and sound, plus the extras are worthwhile company.

Buy Jurassic World from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D Combo / Blu-ray Combo / DVD / Limited Edition Gift Set / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

Buy the 4-Movie Jurassic Park Collection from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD

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Chris Pratt: Guardians of the Galaxy The Lego Movie | Bryce Dallas Howard: The Help The Village Hereafter Spider-Man 3
Written and Directed by Colin Trevorrow: Safety Not Guaranteed | Written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Nick Robinson: The Kings of Summer | Ty Simpkins: Iron Man 3 Insidious Insidious: Chapter 2
Produced by Steven Spielberg: Men in Black Transformers Poltergeist
Blockbusters: Titanic Avatar Toy Story 3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest | Monsters: Godzilla (2014)

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Reviewed October 22, 2015.



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