It’s perhaps a little difficult for movie fans young enough to have never really experienced life without the Internet to understand the buzz of anticipation that surrounded the build up to Jurassic Park in the twelve-months or so prior to it’s release in the summer of 1993. At the time the notion of the event movie was still in it’s infancy and the carpet bombing marketing campaign saturated an uncontested market so by the time of the actual release anticipation was at fever pitch levels. And boy did the movie not disappoint.

Much criticism has been leveled at Spielberg over the years that he can only express himself through shameless, unfettered sentimentality (see Hook), and while there is something to that it certainly doesn’t apply here. For sure this is a thinking man’s blockbuster, with much musing on such dry subjects as corporate accountability and man’s responsibility to reign in his baser instincts. While he doesn’t always get the balance right here Spielberg is as comfortable having smart people sit around a table and talk about smart things as he is having them run screaming in terror from a thirty-foot Tyrannosaurus.

For all the talk about the groundbreaking CGI it is sometimes easy to forget that this was arguably the last great hurrah for old-fashioned puppetry and animatronics. Yes, the wide shot where paleontologists Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and Dr. Satler (Laura Dern) first lay eyes on a herd of wandering herbivores was a jaw-dropper, but it’s the close-up glint in the eye of the malevolent Volociraptor that people remember most.

The sequel, The Lost World – Jurassic Park, is no slouch either, which in true blockbuster sequel fashion is bigger, darker, and more expansive. It’s not quite as good, of course, but then with the cat out of the bag, so to speak, Spielberg had little option but to retreat to the safe confines of genre convention in delivering what is ostensibly a much more straight-forward thriller. At times it feels a little thrown together, with virtually next to no character continuity for Jeff Goldblum’s returning Dr. Malcolm, now charged with anchoring the story. The final climax that sees a Tyrannosaur make it to mainland San Diego is anti-climactic to say the least and almost feels squandered. But when it works, such as the spine-tingling cliff-top dangle underneath a trailer gradually succumbing to a mudslide, it’s supremely effective.

Of course nothing elevates an average picture to greatness like a dreadful one placed next to it, and so we come to Jurassic Park III. With Spielberg having by this time handed off directing duties to protégé Joe Johnston, who would later go on to such things as Captain America, the series had devolved into a straight up creature-feature, lacking in character depth and devoid of any and all subtext by then. Given that, this blu-ray boxed set is less of a triumphant trilogy than it is a brilliant film with sequels. But it’s hard to understate the impact, influence and legacy of Spielberg’s audacity that he could deliver a picture where humans walk seamlessly amidst the grace and beauty of another world. Without Jurassic Park there would be no Avatar. It’s that simple.

Blu-ray Special Features:

In addition to flawless color transfer (this is a gigantic improvement on the DVD version) each film has been grated an ear-splitting 7.1 DTS. Along with the films comes a limited-time offer to obtain digital copies, as well as hours and hours of special features. Each film carries with it a monstrous archive of information relating to both pre and post-production, the crown jewel being a six-part making of documentary. Of course, Spielberg’s no commentary track policy still irks, but only the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons would complain about the bounty on offer with this package.