Jurassic Park III
Dir: Joe Johnston
Star: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Trevor Morgan
Cert / Year: PG - PG13 / 2001
Format: DVD R1

Palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) survivor of the original Jurassic Park incident is back to digging up fossils. Unfortunately his expedition is out of money (again!) so when Paul (William H. Macy) and Amanda Kirby (Téa Leoni) approach him with an offer to pay him to act as tour guide as they fly over site B he reluctantly agrees. Taking Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola) with him Dr. Grant get on the plane, however all is not what it seems as the Kirbys are not just sightseeing but want to land on the island. As it turns out the Kirbys are divorced and are together only to look for their son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who is lost on the island due to a paragliding accident. Of course pretty soon the rescue turns into a battle to survive on the dinosaur infested island.

Jurassic Park was an excellent film, mixing as it did brilliant dinosaur effects with some great action sequences the only drawback was a pretty thin plot. The sequel Jurassic Park 2 the Lost World built on the first strengths, but also increased the first films plots weaknesses (especially in the badly misjudged dinosaur in San Francisco section, which compares badly to Godzilla). In the latest offering things have gone massively pear shaped, as the dinosaurs (as still brilliant as they are) seem to have taken over.

All vestiges of plot and believability have been jettisoned in favour of the dinosaurs. It appears that the effects wrote the script and not the other way around. This becomes more obvious if you listen to the filmmakers who do not talk about what they do with the dinosaurs in this film but as to which dinosaurs they have managed to fit into the film. This is the effect movie ethos gone mad. You can just imagine the production meeting "I want a plane crash, and flying dinosaurs, and smarter raptors, and something bigger and scarier than T-Rex. Now go, you've got half an hour to write the script." Call me old-fashioned but I would have rather they had waited for a good script before working out what effects are needed. What we have here is cynical cash in on a rather tired franchise.

Is the script that bad? Well yes from the inexplicably dinosaur proof child (Surviving eight weeks alone on a dinosaur ridden island, sure. We are talking Newt in Aliens here), to the huge mile long Avery that no one has yet seen. Plot devices are just shoe horned in to generate action scenes and explain the presence of certain dinosaurs. This means that believability takes a back seat. The worst crime though is the super intelligent raptors that no longer want to eat you but want to stop and have a chat. In previous films these creatures were truly scary now they are just plain ridiculous. Add to this a far fetched and quite frankly out of place abrupt ending and you can see what I mean.

Things are not helped by the less than impressive situation on the human side of things. Sam Neill is a fine actor but is not leading man material (as demonstrated in the first film where he was upstaged by both of the kids and Jeff Goldblum) and here he is about as exciting as a house brick. Gone are the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough instead we have the decidedly B list cast of William H Macy and Téa Leoni who a magnificently miscast as the most unlikely movie couple ever seen. At least Trevor Morgan is well cast and delivers performance that stays well away from the usually annoying kid role.

Who do we blame? Well Stephen Speilberg has (wisely) done a runner leaving ex SFX man Joe Johnston to take the helm. He does a fine job directing the special effects and the action but maybe its his effects background that has biased the movie. Maybe the producers for giving the effects people far to great a freedom. Or maybe it was the studio for green lighting a name rather than a script as an attempt to make quick box office killing. The dinosaurs are fantastic and Jurassic Park III is a great demostration of effects technology, unfortunately as a film it is a rather dismall failure. Maybe it is time for the dinosaurs to become extinct again.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Perfect
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Roar!
Features A run of the mill Making of documentary
New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III a short featurette re-hashing the making of footage
A brief visit to Stan Winston Studio with no commentary
Commentary With Director Joe Johnston
Dinosaur Turntables, see those dinos spin (pointless)
Short Behind-the-Scenes Montage
Storyboard Sequences
Finding New Dinosaurs, a short featurette about finding real dino bones
Photo Galleries
Trailers for all three Jurassic Park films
Production notes
Cast Biographies
Animated but rather boring menus
Verdict An very good disc both film wise and in extras.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home