Will new 4K incarnations render extinct the Full HD versions of these prehistoric blockbusters?
Jurassic Park needs no introduction, although it's difficult the believe it's been 25 years since its digital dinos ushered in a new era of VFX. Michael Crichton might have recycled Westworld for the theme-park-gone-wrong plot, but Steven Spielberg's assured direction resulted in a film as entertaining as it was astonishing.
Spielberg returned for The Lost World: Jurassic Park, a darker effort that lacked the focused narrative and memorable characters of the first movie. By Jurassic Park III the public were bored of dinosaurs, and the film's limited budget and silly story buried the franchise for 14 years.
After such a long hiatus no one expected much from Jurassic World, but state-of-the-art effects, likeable leads and a well-crafted screenplay made this genetic hybrid a box office hit. Suddenly dinosaurs were back from extinction – again.
Picture: The original Jurassic Park trilogy stomps onto UHD Blu-ray in a boxset that includes the 4K discs and the regular Blu-rays. The films are presented in their correct 1.85:1 aspect ratios and boast new 4K transfers with HDR10 (despite what it says on the packaging there's no Dolby Vision).
Unlike in the US, where all four movies were included in a single set, Jurassic World has been released separately in the UK. The 4K disc is based on a 2K digital intermediate and is presented in its original 2.00:1 aspect ratio with an HDR10 encode.
Jurassic Park looks stunning in 4K HDR, with detailed close-ups, deep blacks, vibrant colours and bright torch beams. There's a thin layer of grain that gives the image a film-like quality, and Spielberg wisely relied on animatronics rather than digital animation, so the effects hold up surprisingly well for a film of this vintage. The CG is fairly low resolution by today's standards and appears slightly soft, but the 4K disc is a clear upgrade over the Blu-ray, and Spielberg's dino-classic has never looked better.
Rediscover The Lost World… on 4K Blu-ray and find what is easily the best-looking of the original trio. It's much darker both visually and tonally, but the HDR retains those inky blacks and reveals all the detail in the shadows. The colour scheme is richer and although there's a layer of grain to the image, you'll be able to see every crack in Jeff Goldblum's leather jacket. While the animatronic dinosaurs look scarily real and the digital effects are better integrated into live-action shots, there's still some softness to them.
Jurassic Park III doesn't just disappoint as a film, it's visually the least impressive of the original movies. The increased resolution and HDR deliver some sharp and colourful images, but also highlight budgetary limitations that make the digital effects obvious. Like the other two films, the image on the disc is free of compression artefacts, banding or black crush, so the relatively poor image quality is inherent in the original production rather than the transfer.
Unsurprisingly, Jurassic World looks the best, with a gorgeous image and a pristine transfer from start to finish. The DI wasn't native 4K but the detail is remarkable, especially in the 65mm sequences, and the blacks are deep, the colours realistic, and the highlights bright. This gives the image a fantastic amount of depth that trounces the 1080p Blu-ray, making scenes like the first view of Jurassic World from the hotel balcony simply stunning.
Jurassic Park: Trilogy Collection picture rating – 3.5/5
Jurassic World picture rating – 4/5
Audio: Jurassic Park was the film that launched a thousand audio demos, so it's only fitting that the remixed DTS:X soundtrack is a sonic barnstormer. The object-based track delivers a wide and open soundstage that takes full advantage of the overhead channels; not just for obvious things like helicopters, but also for immersive atmospheric effects. John Williams' fantastic score is beautifully presented, while dialogue is always clean and focused on the screen. Naturally, the T-rex attack remains the stand-out scene and has never sounded better, with bass you'll feel in your chest.
The Lost World…'s soundtrack is equally as impressive, with a reference-quality DTS:X mix that makes full use of all the available channels. The audio has real clarity and plenty of dynamics, with an immersive soundfield and Brachiosaurus levels of bass. The surrounds are lively, and the sound designers make full use of the overhead channels as Stegosaurus tails whoosh overhead. This time it's the twin T-Rex attack that stands out, especially as the trailer is turned over and sounds emanate from every channel.
Jurassic Park III redeems itself aurally with a decent DTS:X mix that, whilst not as good as its predecessors, still delivers plenty of immersive dino-mayhem. The plane crash and Pteranodon aviary offer the best use of the overhead channels, but the entire film sounds solid, with constant use of the surrounds and clear dialogue. One thing is for certain: you'll be sick of the sound of that satellite phone's ringtone before the end.
As you would expect from a recent production, Jurassic World's DTS:X track is a masterclass in modern sound design. It mixes big effects with more subtle cues that immerse you in the settings. The sounds of the dinosaurs are delivered with foundation-rattling bass, while the mix makes full use of the overhead channels. The scene where the Asset Containment Team realise the Indominus Rex is directly above them is particularly effective.
Jurassic Park: Trilogy Collection audio rating – 5/5
Jurassic World audio rating – 5/5
Extras: There's nothing new here, with the extras all being repeated from the earlier Blu-rays (the highlight being the multi-part Return to Jurassic Park doc). And would it have killed them to also include the 3D BDs of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World? Anyway, click here for our review of the Jurassic Park: Ultimate Trilogy and here for our Jurassic World Blu-ray reviews, which provide some more info on the extras that can be found on this boxset's 1080p platters.
Jurassic Park: Trilogy Collection extras rating – 4/5
Jurassic World extras rating – 3.5/5
Jurassic Park: Trilogy Collection, Universal Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £70
We say: The original movies roar onto 4K with impressive HDR images and superb DTS:X sonics.
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
Jurassic World, Universal Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £30
We say: This surprisingly successful Jurassic reboot looks and sounds stunning on Ultra HD Blu-ray.
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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