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Jurassic Park III

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4


*Also starring: Sam Neill, Michael Jeter, Alessandro Nivola, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
4.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review ---
5.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

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 ADVENTURE.)

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

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