Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4
After the wildly popular but cheesy THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK,
moviegoers have been wondering whether JURASSIC PARK III, this time directed
by Joe Johnston (OCTOBER SKY and JUMANJI), would follow the usual movie rule
whereby each sequel is another drop in quality from its predecessor. Well,
I'm here to report that JURASSIC PARK III is a rule breaker, a smartly
written and funny popcorn flick that is a lot of fun. It isn't as
needlessly gory as LOST WORLD, so it should appeal to younger ages, and the
screenwriters, first-timer Peter Buchman and the CITIZEN RUTH and ELECTION
team of Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, pack plenty of goodies for older
viewers as well. And the monsters, I mean dinosaurs, are more realistic
than ever, including some new flying dinosaurs.
This time the trip to dino island is chartered by a pair of super wealthy
adventurers, Paul and Amanda Kirby, played with their usual blend of
intelligent vulnerability by William H. Macy and Téa Leoni. Along with some
soldier of fortune types, the Kirbys also bring aboard two paleontologists,
Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola). Early on
we hear Alan claim, "no force on earth could get me on that island," which
means, of course, that he'll soon be island-bound. Trevor Morgan plays the
Kirby's resourceful and strong-willed son, Eric. (Morgan's dinosaur
credentials go way back to his first starring role in BARNEY'S GREAT
Of course, the plane will crash, leaving the occupants stranded. As always,
the audience gets to play the game of guess which guy first has "lunch"
written on his forehead. The corollary is guessing who will survive to the
end, which is typically easy since you are usually safe figuring out the
salary of the stars and then reasoning that the studios will want to get the
most bang for their buck.
Alan tries his best to take charge. But, when he orders "Nobody move a
muscle," at the sign of the first large carnivorous dinosaur, everybody runs
like crazy anyway. Later he sticks to simpler instructions, like, "Run!"
The new gimmick this time is that they've found that the raptors can
communicate with each other and that their brains are quite advanced. This
means that eluding them proves extra tricky. The script lets the humans
find just enough tools of various kinds to make it. Ingenuity is at a
premium and the survivors evidence both courage and brains.
The best part of the movie may be the length. Just when you are completely
satisfied and before you ever have a chance to get tired and start checking
your watch, the movie concludes quickly and efficiently. And it ends
without any doubt as to whether the studio wants to call an end to the
JURASSIC PARK franchise. (Like that was ever in doubt!)
JURASSIC PARK III runs a fast 1:32. It is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi
terror and violence and would be acceptable for kids around 8 and up,
depending on how well they handle monster violence.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ****. He said it was much better and not as
blood thirsty as LOST WORLD. He thought the plot was cool and the graphics
were great. His friend Sam, age 12, also gave it ****. He liked the way it
related back to the original in story, style and music.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes