Jurassic Park III 4K UHD Review

Dino-rama

Jurassic Park III doesn’t need to exist. It’s a plotless monster movie that fails to advance the Jurassic Park story arc. Nothing that happens matters. Yet, it’s a special breed of kitschy, a throwback to adventure filmmaking of the ‘30s, when Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack trotted out their eclectic jungle tales like Chang or more to the point, King Kong. Jurassic Park III matches their scanty frame (80-minutes) and adrenaline rush. The scenery is exotic and the animals ferocious.

That’s paired with an A-budget, splashy and exciting as animatronic dinosaurs whip people around or attack. There’s no wider story to consider (even King Kong had that down), just people marooned on an island of genetically reanimated reptiles.

Jurassic Park III is running on a B-team of blockbuster filmmakers, fueled by the B-movie script and lanky character details

Steven Spielberg is gone. The capable Joe Johnston replaces him in the director’s seat. Jurassic Park III is running on a B-team of blockbuster filmmakers, fueled by the B-movie script and lanky character details. William H. Macy and Tea Leoni star alongside a returning Sam Neill, a tenuous connection to the original Jurassic Park. Forget that though: Know that a corporation made dinosaurs, those creatures remain confined to an island, and Sam Neill made this trip before.

There’s a small glimmer of potential in this script considering Neill’s character. Alan Grant gives speeches on digging up fossils. During a Q&A when hands go up, nearly all want to learn about Jurassic Park. It’s an extension of Grant’s mournful looks in the original as he realized paleontologists were now irrelevant. It’s nice, if lacking any real arc.

Once onto the island – and it won’t take long – bodies pile up. Jurassic Park III enjoys being a relentless slide into chaos. More so, it loves the dinosaurs. The barrage of monsters is ceaseless, sometimes with kooky foreshadowing or wonky jump scares. Stale as Jurassic Park III seems (how many times can dinosaur attacks still feel fresh?), it wins because every strike is invigorating.

A sense of humor is enough to lock in the B flavor, and Macy is joyous as a sheepish salesman posing as a millionaire. Jurassic Park III does avoid total self-mockery. This is still played for genuine danger, but the coils unwind, letting the action breathe with a series of one-liners, playing to the summer routine. While never great, Jurassic Park III’s action blitz overcomes the droopy plotting, recalling a time when cinema existed for the sheer will of escapism.

Video

Well, this is a blunder. It’s unlikely Universal remastered Jurassic Park III since the original DVD release. Maybe that’s not entirely true – the edge enhancement of the previous releases is gone. Resolution though, that doesn’t appear to have changed or improved.

On UHD, the murky presentation comes to life with cruddy grain structure and meandering fine detail. Facial definition pops only when in close and jungle scenery whittles in front of the camera. Softness is the dominant form factor of this transfer.

Worse, the HDR effects add a distracting quality. Black levels float in place rather than look natural. It’s as if the HDR pass was pasted on. It’s similar to Bourne Identity on UHD (Patreon exclusive review), also from Universal. A slight gleam in the contrast adds minimal energy to the dreary cinematography, and mostly in the book-end opening and ending scenes.

Flattened color makes Jurassic Park III look like it’s persistently cloudy. Scenery falls to a graying palette, removed from any bright primaries. Flesh tones fall to a pale hue.

Audio

Remastered into DTS:X, there’s definite kick in the bass response. A crashing plane, a Spinosaurus roar, a stampede, and sprouting fire all dominate the LFE. It’s deep, powerful, and thick, everything the low-end needs to do. It fits into the dynamic range forcefully, making beefier moments sound as such.

Jurassic Park III is not its two predecessors though. While surround use pops up as Raptors surround characters and an eerie scene inside the Pteranodon atrium swirls around the soundfield, this is an oddly tepid outing. The zest of the previous films is lost. It’s fine, but compare the Spinosaur rain attack to the T-Rex attack in the first Jurassic Park. The rain listlessly falls here, notable in the front soundstage with limited reach into the rears. All of the jungle marching invites minimal ambiance, leaving the island sounding dead.

Where needed, the DTS:X track pushes energy. As the Spinosaurus rolls the plane, panicked screams swirl around in a fine bit of audio trickery. That’s a highlight in a disappointing if still passable mix.

Extras

Jurassic Park III is the first in this trilogy package with a commentary track, bringing in a roundtable of special effects crew members to piece together how this was all done. For those prior DVD/Blu-ray owners, that’s not freshly created material. The final piece of Return to Jurassic Park is here, a 22-minute documentary on the sequel’s ideas, purpose, and who was involved.

The rest is a complete copy of the DVD. The archival department breaks down into seven sections, another 22-minute making-of, followed with pieces on the dinosaurs, special effects, ILM, audio, artwork, and an ILM press reel. There’s a final bit on the discovery of new species in Montana.

Behind-the-scenes also splits into seven different areas of interest, including multiple studio tours, scene deconstructions, storyboards, and set photos.

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 21 Jurassic Park III screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 12,000+ already in our library), exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.