On remote Isla Nuba entrepreneur John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has built the ultimate theme-park, populated by genetically engineered dinosaurs painstakingly reconstructed from DNA extracted from prehistoric amber... and, of course, frogs! Adapted from Michael Crichton's novels, Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" blockbusters became a cultural and commercial phenomenon thanks in part to the enduring appeal of all things prehistoric. But the films' extraordinarily realistic digital dinosaurs also showcased the spectacular computer-generated effects that have since become ubiquitous in Hollywood filmmaking. Indeed, in the years since 1993 it is debatable whether any films have revolutionised special effects to such an extent, and this DVD box set offers the perfect opportunity to relive both movies' visual and aural splendour (the original film was also the first to be released with a DTS soundtrack).
Given their rather insipid human prey (including Dickie Attenborough and Jeff Goldblum) there is little doubt that the dinosaurs are the real stars, from the benign majesty of the towering brachiosaurus to the reptilian menace of the velociraptors. Most memorable of all is the T-rex, displaying a spine-chilling combination of physical ferocity and child-like bewilderment in the face of its reincarnation in the modern world. While "Jurassic Park" still retains a unique power and a seminal place in film history, Spielberg's "The Lost World" sequel exceeds its predecessor in almost every respect: the digital dinos are more populous, faster and meaner, the set-pieces have more bravura, and the special effects raise the benchmark even higher in blending CGI and live action spectacle. Overall, the first film's sense of awe and almost stately contemplation of its own visual splendour are replaced with a more visceral style and darker tone, as the raptors and rexes attack with a predatory ferociousness more reminiscent of "Aliens" than "Godzilla". Highlights include the T-rexes' cliff-top assault on a trailer van, the trails of attacking raptors as they move silently through a field of tall grass, and the safari-style dinosaur round-up by the marauding hunters, led by a grizzled Pete Postlethwaite. --"Steve Napleton"