andJurassic Park III
star Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Julianne More and Pete Postlethwaite; Steven Spielberg directsJurassic Park
; Joe Johnston directsJurassic Park III.
The Plot: People visit an island filled with live dinosaurs. (That's the plot for all three films, so we're not going to repeat ourselves.)
The Execution: Jurassic Park is great, The Lost World - Jurassic Park is okay and Jurassic Park III is only slightly better than your average made-for-TV-movie. (Not that JP fans care. This is the Ultimate Trilogy super-deluxe set we're talking about here, the films are secondary to the extras.)
The Extras: Okay, we've made you wait long enough -- there are 33 extras included in the box set. There's Return to Jurassic Park, a six-part documentary with all-new interviews with directors Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston, the cast and crew, several original featurettes on all of the films, the Making Of featurettes for each film, digital copy of all three films (download is available only for a limited time), an interview with author Michael Crichton, deleted scenes, featurettes on the sound, art, special effects and dinosaurs used in the films, early pre-production meetings, images from the Jurassic archives, theatrical trailers and on and on. (And we're not even going to tell you about the little dinosaur that comes with the Ultimate Trilogy Gift Set.)Luther
stars Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Paul McGann and Ruth Wilson; Sam Miller directs.
The Plot: DCI John Luther (wonderfully played by Idris Elba) is a homicide detective who has committed a few homicides himself. His exploits in season one of the BBC crime drama got him bounced off the force, but loyal friends have had him reinstated for season two. Not that Luther's any more in control of himself than before; in some ways, he's more fractured than ever. He solves cases, but strays into unethical, if not outright illegal, territory, as often as not.
The Execution: Elba is brilliant. Unfocused, with a day-old beard on his face, Luther walks around in a haze, coming up for air just enough to figure out who the killer is and then slowly sinking back into a mental fog. (A scene in the first episode shows him putting a loaded gun to his head and pulling the trigger. When it doesn't fire, he shrugs and heads out for his office, as if to say, "Oh, well, I didn't kill myself, I might as well go to work.")
Luther understands how the criminals he chases think; that's what makes him so effective as a detective. Unfortunately, the reason he understands their thinking is that it mirrors his own, which is what makes him so explosive.
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The action isn't very violent (at least not by American standards) and Luther moves along like slowly spreading lava -- burning everything in its way and yet beautiful to watch.
The Extras: Sadly, there are none. And the box set contains just two discs with a total of four episodes. But for fans, four is enough.
Also worth your notice: The 1932 Island of Lost Souls starring Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi and Richard Arlen with Erle C. Kenton as director has just made it to Blu-ray. An early version of the H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, the film has Laughton as the mad doctor conducting gruesome experiments on a remote island, with Arlen as a shipwrecked sailor trapped there. Lugosi is wonderful as the doctor's favorite specimen, a half-man/half-animal. Extras include a high-definition digital restoration of the uncut theatrical version, interviews with filmmaker John Landis, horror film historian David J. Skal, Devo founding members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh, the theatrical trailer and more.