25 years ago, summer was revolutionized by the arrival of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster . Back then, not only did the dinosaurs cause a sensation, but so did their spectacular special effects, totally ahead of their time.
Jurassic Park took over from the technological milestone marked by Terminator 2 a year earlier and, with a stroke of the pen, ended the habit of adding impossible stop motion-based creatures. The dynamic of presenting fantastic creatures by computer was born.
To celebrate the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom , the previous four films in the Jurassic Park saga have been reissued, both in a commemorative Blu-Ray box set, and as separate 4K Blu-Ray editions. For this reason, we wanted to see how the first Jurassic Park holds up in Ultra HD format . His special effects have set the bar for special effects for years. Are they still kings?
The first thing to comment on the UHD edition of Jurassic Park is that it is not a new master designed to take advantage of the higher resolution of the format, something that can be seen, for example, in the spectacular general shots of Isla Nublar (that great moment in which the helicopter brings the visitors, for example). Yes, I know it very well, but every detail of the vegetation and orography is not glimpsed, as it happens in more recent films. Take a look at the landscapes of Mad Max Fury Road or Mars, for example, and you will notice how the level of detail in the settings is much higher.
Despite this, there is a “collateral effect” of the film that is appreciated. In general, if you are going to watch a movie in UHD, you will normally do it on a TV with many inches (we have tested it on a 65). As the film is presented in a 1.85:1 format (most films in home format are usually presented in a 2.40:1 format ), viewing occupies practically the entire screen (we are talking about 17:9 compared to 16:9 on a TV , so there is a very slight black border on the vertical), so the experience is much more spectacular than with the classic film with huge black borders. It’s almost, almost, like watching it on a movie screen.But let’s move on to the film itself. One of the flaws blamed on 4K Blu-Ray is that, being so detailed, it highlights the flaws in the special effects. The first time the film is put to the test is in that legendary scene where Alan Grantand his companions see a dinosaur for the first time: that majestic brachiosaurus the size of a building. Go ahead, even 25 years later and even having seen the movie lots of times, that scene still gives you goosebumps. The viewer is infected with amazement and excitement to see such an amazing living creature. The direction of the actors is good, the plans are perfect and the music is spectacular at that moment, so the special effects would have to be very bad to throw everything else to the ground.
The truth is that… Yes, you can see the passing of the years. You no longer have that feeling that the dinosaur is really there, something “sings”. As used as we are to seeing digital effects everywhere, we now quickly notice if the lighting, resolution, focus or any other aspect is not perfectly integrated into the actual footage. Be careful, we are spinning fine. The digital effects hold up, of course, and are even spectacular at times. Simply, part of that magic that we felt in 1993 has been lost, that feeling of doubting if a dinosaur had really been filmed for a moment. The special effects have improved a lot and we are more “chastened”, we suppose.There is also a certain “lack of integration” (very subtle, but just enough to be noticed) in another iconic scene: the T-Rex jeep chase. It’s very intense, but the T-rex figure doesn’t quite feel one with its surroundings. The small nuances in the optics of a lens (point blurs, changes in lighting) were tremendously difficult to emulate at the time and from time to time make the figure not quite fit with the whole. Curiously, the velociraptors do turn out to be much more believable, perhaps because of the lighting in the kitchens in which they appear. Or is it that we have a soft spot for them?
Beyond the digital effects of Jurassic Park (which, let’s be clear, were a revolution then and are still super worthy 25 years later), it is symptomatic that the abundant animatronic effects easily survive viewing on Blu-Ray 4K. Once again, it seems that craftsmanship stands the test of time better… Seeing the gigantic gabbe of the T-Rex crush the children’s jeep is as terrifying as it was in the 90s.