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Jurassic Park III

Jurassic Park III

Better than The Lost World

After the debacle that was "The Lost World," we didn't expect much from JPIII. After all, JPI was a terrific film, but "TLW" was an obvious attempt merely to cash in on the success of the first film (and book) and was basically an insult to the intelligence of the movie going public.

The fact that it also made huge sums of money may mean the producers were right - but that doesn't make such cynical tactics right.

Anyway, after TLW, our expectations were so low that there was really no way we epxected much from the third installment.

We were pleasantly, though mildly, surprised.

The writers did one thing right, right off the bat: they brought back Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant. He was always the best character from the first film, but the producers and author Michael Crichton chose to use the pompous Ian Malcolm in the second movie instead.

In the opening scene of JPIII, some people are boating near the now-infamous Isla Sorna. Two of them decide to do some parasailing but while things are pretty much up in the air with them, their boat is destroyed and the crew killed. By what? Well, we don't really get to see, but it isn't hard to figure it out, since this is, after all a Jurassic Park movie. The characters obviously haven't seen the first two film,s unfortunately, and have no idea wha'ts in store. Needless to say, they end up stranded on the island.

JPIII then becomes a search-and-rescue movie, which isn't a bad idea.

Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) trick Dr. Grant and his associate Billy (Alessandro Nivola) into coming along with them to fly to the island and find their son. Fair enough.

Then, in the Bigger is Better Hollywood tradition, we discover that the T Rex and Raptor aren't the most deadly dinos on the island. Nope; there's a dino even bigger and meaner than the T-Rex; meanwhile it's discovered that the Raptors are smarter than dolphins and primates - and possibly many humans (for instance, the scriptwriters of TLW).

The first really great sequence comes when the New Dino on the Block, the Spinosaurus, gets into a fight with the T-Rex. If you're a fan of the original King Kong, you'll see right away where they got this scene - and the do a pretty good job of it (Kong was still better, except for its technology).

The only other really interesting sequence involves a bunch of Pteranadons. But it's cool enough to make up for the other parts, with the exception of the ending.

Then they decided they just couldn't leave the movie good, and stuck on an ending that is just really, really, really bad. Perhaps they were writing it on location and the power to their word processors went out.

The performances are fine, as is Joe Johnston's directing. The movie is lit a little too darkly, though, which makes it hard to see some of the action (and isn't the action what it's all about?).

Jurassic Park III is easily forgettable, though not nearly as forgettable as TLW, though it has a few good - and a couple of very good - sequences. It doesn't come anywhere near the original, though.

Too bad.

The copy of the DVD we received was only a preview screener, which is a shame. The DVD is supposed to be a special edition, but these screeners don't include any of the extras (they don't even have chapter stops, often) so we can't comment on them. I was really looking forward to checking out some of the extras, which are absent from this particular screener.

Still, the anamorphic widescreen video (16x9 TV compatible) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio are both excellent.

Jurassic Park III, from Universal Home Video
93 min. anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Michael Jeter
Produced by Larry J. Franco, Kathleen Kennedy
Written by Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, directed by Joe Johnston.


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Updated May 13, 2006