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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, July 03, 2015

Movie Review - Jurassic Park III

Jurassic Park III (2001)
Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, and Laura Dern
Directed by Joe Johnston

After the debacle that was The Lost World, Jurassic Park III really didn't need to do much to fare better and fortunately this third film of the Jurassic Park Quadrilogy at least finds itself having a little more fun than its predecessor.  There's an action-comedy vibe reminiscent of Romancing the Stone here thanks to the repartee between newcomers William H. Macy and Téa Leoni as divorced couple Paul and Amanda searching for their son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who is lost on the dinosaur-infested Costa Rican island after a paragliding accident.  Paul and Amanda trick original Jurassic Park character Alan Grant (Sam Neill) into helping them find their son and -- surprise, surprise -- a bit of chaos ensues.

Right off the bat, bringing Alan Grant back into the mix proves to be a much bigger benefit than Ian Malcolm of Part 2.  Jeff Goldblum's stuttering kooky shtick worked as a secondary player in the first film, but having him take the bulk of the focus proved to be more annoying than anything else.  Sam Neill's Alan Grant has already played "the lead" before and he carries a bit more authority and believable presence which works in the film's favor.

Some may find Macy and Leoni a tad obnoxious, but I found their banter a pleasant diversion, adding the light comedy back into the mix that was welcome in the first film (wherein Grant and Laura Dern's Ellie bounced barbs back and forth to one another -- Dern also appears here in a brief role and is a welcome addition).  This couple's plight and their lovingly conniving motivations for coming to the island worked as a valid storytelling reason to return to this land again.  Surprisingly, the film doesn't add too many superfluous characters who are simply there to be eaten.  This is a positive as we already know the carnage these giant reptiles can enact so no need to be so blatantly over-the-top with it.

Here, Steven Spielberg stepped down as director and Joe Johnston stepped up to the plate, proving to be more than adequate.  He attempts to blend a little more puppetry/robotics into the mix a la the original Jurassic Park and while he isn't as successful as Spielberg's first effort, the effects are still much better than The Lost World which still boggles my mind with how dismal the dinos looked in it.  Johnston also keeps the pace surprisingly quick with this being the shortest entry into the quadrilogy by nearly thirty minutes.  There isn't much exposition at the start, but it's certainly enough to set up the story and get the ball rolling.

Jurassic Park III is a different beast altogether -- it's a "rescue" movie whereas the first two dealt a little more with the science of bringing these giants back to life.  There's not much talk of gene-splicing and DNA in this one and that's a bit of a relief.  Unfortunately, despite all the positives, the film still isn't all that fantastic.  It works, but it's still a pale shadow of the original.  It lacks the spirit and awe-inspiring moments of Jurassic Park.  While infinitely better than The Lost World, Jurassic Park III is simply a little-better-than-average summer popcorn flick.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Join in tomorrow as we explore more of the Jurassic Park Quadrilogy:
Tomorrow:  Jurassic World
Previously:  Jurassic Park
Previously: The Lost World: Jurassic Park

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