Movie File (Starburst Reviews) Movie Reviews by Alan Jones
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This review appears in Starburst #277

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Alan Jones reviews Jurassic Park III

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Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter & Laura Dern.
95 mins. Cert PG-13/12. Released America & Britain: July

Jurassic Park 3 - when dinosaurs attack

Honey, I chased the dinosaurs!

Producers, Kathleen Kennedy & Larry Franco. Executive producer, Steven Spielberg. Director, Joe Johnston. Scriptwriters, Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, based on characters created by Michael Crichton. Music, Don Davis, with original themes by John Williams. ILM visual effects supervisor, Jim Mitchell. Live action dinosaurs, Stan Winston Studio.

Although it has the daftest plot imaginable, and the characters do the dumbest things to spark off the action, Joe Johnston’s second sequel to Steven Spielberg’s two Jurassic juggernauts is a great thrill-ride packed with back-to-back scares, pulse-pounding escapades and directorial flair to spare. Borrowing stark adventure images liberally from such past prehistoric classics as One Million Years B.C. and Gorgo, Johnston’s well-crafted, kid-friendly nightmare even puts a Saving Private Ryan climax in the homage frame as it unfolds a basic story that shouldn’t be put under too much scrutiny.

After narrowly escaping death in Jurassic Park, celebrity paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is offered massive funding for his ongoing dinosaur fossil research by wealthy adventurer Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his wife Amanda (Tea Leoni) if he accompanies them on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, the second InGen site used as a primordial breeding ground.

Against his better judgment, Grant agrees and, with his protégé Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola), heads back to Costa Rica with the Kirbys and a planeload of suspicious looking heavies. When the party crashes on the island inhabited by genetically cloned dinosaurs, the truth emerges: the excursion was actually a rescue mission to find the decidedly middle class and divorced Kirby’s son Eric (Trevor Morgan) who disappeared while paragliding over the island with Amanda’s boyfriend.

Now stranded on an island Grant has no prior knowledge of, the marooned group try and find Eric while fending off an array of terrifying creatures including the familiar T Rex and Velociraptors as well as two new up until now undisclosed InGen creations, the land/sea-hunting Spinosaurus and the flying Pteronadons. But just how many of them will get to the coast and be rescued?

Johnston expertly piles on the atmospheric tension as Stan Winston’s dino animatronics seamlessly merge with ILM’s miraculous digital imaging for perfect results. Less wide-eyed than Jurassic Park and more tightly constructed than The Lost World, this seat-edged sequel is the superior exploitation version of Michael Crichton’s literary brainchild that you knew lurked in there somewhere if only someone with a foot in both popular and perverse tastes could straddle the common ground. Johnston, the director of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Jumanji, is clearly that person.

From the sudden Spinosaurus attack and the brilliant trashed laboratory introduction of the Raptors to the creepy Pteronadon giant aviary and the unmistakable signal for yet another sequel, this Jurassic Lark - one that will add untold confusion in the audience with its use of mobile phone rings as a plot point - makes its highly effective mark to Starburst Rating: 4/5emerge as the best summer popcorn fantasy flick so far. Go, park brain, and enjoy.

Reviews © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction