Jurassic Park III
Surpassing expectations to qualify as an above-average sequel, Jurassic Park III is nothing more or less than a satisfying popcorn adventure. A little cheesier than the first two Jurassic blockbusters, it’s a big B movie with big B-list stars (including Laura Dern, briefly reprising her Jurassic Park role), and eight years of advancing computer-generated-image technology give it a sharp edge over its predecessors. While adopting the jungle spirit of King Kong, the movie refines Michael Crichton’s original premise, and its dinosaurs are…
Surpassing expectations to qualify as an above-average sequel, Jurassic Park III is nothing more or less than a satisfying popcorn adventure. A little cheesier than the first two Jurassic blockbusters, it’s a big B movie with big B-list stars (including Laura Dern, briefly reprising her Jurassic Park role), and eight years of advancing computer-generated-image technology give it a sharp edge over its predecessors. While adopting the jungle spirit of King Kong, the movie refines Michael Crichton’s original premise, and its dinosaurs are even more realistic, their behavior more detailed, and their variety—including flying pteranodons and a new villain, the spinosaurus—more dazzling and threatening than ever. These advancements justify the sequel, and its contrived plot is just clever enough to span 90 minutes without wearing out its welcome.
Posing as wealthy tourists, an adventurous couple (William H. Macy, Téa Leoni) convince paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his protégé (Allesandro Nivola) to act as tour guides on a flyover trip to Isla Sorna, the ill-fated “Site B” where all hell broke loose in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In truth, they’re on a search-and-rescue mission to find their missing son (Trevor Morgan), and their plane crash is just the first of several enjoyably suspenseful sequences. Director Joe Johnston (October Sky) embraces the formulaic plot as a series of atmospheric set pieces, placing new and familiar dinosaurs in misty rainforests, fiery lakes, and mysterious valleys, turning JP3 into a thrill ride with impressive highlights (including a T. rex versus spinosaurus smack-down), adequate doses of wry humor (from the cowriters of Election), and an upbeat ending that’s corny but appropriate, proving that the symptoms of sequelitis needn’t be fatal. —Jeff Shannon
Barnes and Noble
Prehistory’s progeny run amok again in Jurassic Park 3, the latest exciting installment in this popular series based on the bestselling Michael Crichton novel. Original leading man Sam Neill, who sat out Part 2 (Jurassic Park: The Lost World), returns as the intrepid paleontologist whose knowledge of Jurassic Park and its raptor residents proves invaluable to a married couple (William H. Macy and Téa Leoni) searching the island in a desperate bid to find their missing son, apparently stranded there following a parasailing mishap. Laura Dern, the first film’s leading lady, also reprises her role and figures prominently in this episode’s suspenseful climax. Director Joe Johnston (Jumanji), an old hand at effects-laden adventure movies, establishes his characters in a leisurely fashion—but once the island is reached, the action begins with a bang, after which the pace picks up and never slackens. As in the previous two films, animatronic creatures and computer-generated effects are employed in tandem to create the illusion that the prehistoric creatures are as real as the actors themselves. A rousing romp in the best Saturday-matinee tradition, Jurassic Park 3 supplies a surfeit of thrills and chills. Johnston explains many filmmaking secrets in his commentary for the DVD edition, which also includes a “making of” documentary, a montage of behind-the-scenes footage, photo and storyboard galleries, and alternate theatrical trailers. Ed Hulse
Steven Spielberg’s 1993 mega-hit rivals Jaws as the most intense and frightening film he’d ever made prior to Schindler’s List, but it was also among his weakest stories. Based on Michael Crichton’s novel about an island amusement park populated by cloned dinosaurs, the film works best as a thrill ride with none of the interesting human dynamics of Spielberg’s Jaws. That lapse proves unfortunate, but there’s no shortage of raw terror as a rampaging T-rex and nasty raptors try to make fast food out of the cast. The effects are still…
In the low tradition of knockoff horror flicks best seen (or not seen) on a drive-in movie screen, Steven Spielberg’s sequel to Jurassic Park is a poorly conceived, ill-organized film that lacks story and logic. Screenwriter David Koepp strings along a number of loose ideas while Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, the quirky chaos theoretician who now reluctantly agrees to go to another island where cloned dinosaurs are roaming freely. Along with his girlfriend (Julianne Moore) and daughter, Malcolm has to deal with hunters, environmentalists, and…