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JURASSIC PARK III

SYNOPSIS:
Desperate to find their missing son, Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) and his wife Amanda (Téa Leoni) hoodwink eminent paleontologist Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) into accompanying them to Isla Sorna, a second InGen site, eight years after Dr Grant swore never to return to the area of the would-be amusement park built by wealthy misguided visionary, John Hammond (played in JP and JPII by Richard Attenborough). Dinosaurs were smart and sophisticated – smarter than primates, at one stage, as Dr Grant knows. His worst fears are realised as the small team embark on what seems an impossible and hair raising task, searching through a deserted island inhabited by ferocious dinosaurs.

Jurassic Park III reminds me of a joke in which a barfly drunk tries to imitate a sober customer to attract the attention of the barmaid, but his fatally flawed imitation is a grotesque rendition that barely resembles the original. This is the first of the Jurassic Park films not adapted from a Crichton novel, and Spielberg’s role is a nominal (meaningless) one as Exec Prod. If it weren’t for the quality of the cast, the quality of the photography, music and the digital effects, the movie would be laughable. As it is, it barely scrapes through on the strength of its predecessors’ credentials and aforementioned good work. The script, however, deserves to be shredded, and I’m not that keen on the formula driven direction either, which can’t tell the difference between self parody and self mutilation. The biggest failing of the film is that it fails to establish any interest in its characters, so the relentless mayhem that begins as the Universal logo fades and ends as the next sequel is signalled before the endless end credits, is just so much noise. It’s a hysterical melodrama. Because bone crunching stunts and deadly dinosaurs are only tools of the filmmaker’s trade, not an end in themselves, as director Joe Johnston seems to believe. There is little to hold the interest, in what is essentially a series of chase sequences bound together by dreary dialogue.
Andrew L. Urban

The fascination for dinosaurs continues in Jurassic Park III, a dino-drama creature feature decked with a dynamite cast. You might be forgiven for dismissing this three-quel with a shrug. After all, it's true that the novelty value is long gone; we all were blown away by Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking, award winning technology in 1993. Still, there's something about dinosaurs that continues to capture our imagination. They are extraordinary creatures, and meeting them on the big screen thanks to the brilliance of ILM, is indeed an event. It struck me that the script writers had a lot of fun with the screenplay; here is an invitation into a fantasy world whose origins begin 65 million years ago. Smart dinosaurs with mobile phones? Cute idea. Might be a bit far fetched, admittedly, but I like my imagination to be challenged, and if you are ready for sheer escapism with awesome effects, you may enjoy a stroll in Jurassic Park III. Predictably there is a lot of running, screaming and gasps of 'What was that?' but that is to be expected. Besides, director Joe Johnston's credentials in visual effects have been well documented, having won an Academy Award for Raiders of the Last Arc (with three others). In fact he created the original design for Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. The big plus for me is that I liked the characters; they are not Hollywood perfect, and actors like Sam Neill, William H. Macey and Téa Leoni bring an element of class to the project. Leoni manages to look great through plane crashes, storms, underwater adventures and in all precarious situations, while Macey is entertaining as the amenable rogue. Totally credible, likeable and very human, is the anchor Auzealander Sam Neill, who is rock solid as the reluctant hero. A good balance of humour and tension keeps us on our toes and there's a fun reference to that lovable purple television dinosaur Barney, who grabs the attention of an impressionable three year old at a rather crucial moment when the real dinos are holding the aces. Superb effects and a versatile music score from Don Davis that features John Williams' great original themes are high on the list of pluses. You can rely on the fact that Jurassic Park III delivers what you expect.
Louise Keller

A schlockiest B-movie adventure this year, JP3 is not as intricate or as new as the original, nor as howlingly elaborate as the sequel, but in its own formulaic way, it’s a nice little thrill ride that achieves what it’s designed for. I put that down to three things. One: 92 minutes running time. In a year of B-movies with A-movie budgets and lengths, this knows when to say when. Two: breathlessly paced and ever-inventive action sequences. Flying pterodactyls, fighting T-Rex’s, and cunning Raptors all get a nice slice of the pie. And three: a no-nonsense, nicely self-reflexive script from Election’s Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor and the highly touted Peter Buchman. When Neill’s Dr Grant exclaims “no force on heaven or earth will get me on that island,” you know he’ll be on terra firma in two minutes flat. Sensing rolling eyes in a weary public, the filmmaker’s great idea is to keep the movie, well, moving along, letting the plane’s lesser passengers get eaten up in quick succession, and upping the ante with Grant’s revelation that the raptors have a sophisticated communication system that’s “smarter than dolphins, smarter than primates.” They could be Einsteins for all I care, they still look like sharp-toothed chooks on steroids. Neill wisely skipped the King Kong-ish second instalment, and here he spends much time looking suitably disgusted with the situation. To see the “Oh why not” look on his face when he accepts the cheque from Macy is to wonder if that’s how Neill looked when he agreed to be part of this continuing franchise. As for Macy, he just spends his time looking bewildered at being in a big budget Hollywood movie. So if we’re to believe Raptors are so smart, expect them to have subtitles in the next. And as JP3 ends, you know another is on the way. Such a bold ending can mean only one thing; in JP4 the dinos invade earth, kill the humans, and become the dominant species again. I might be dreaming, but what a movie!
Shannon J Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

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TRAILER

JURASSIC PARK III (M)
(US)

CAST: Sam Neill, Téa Leoni, William H. Macy, Michael Jeter, Laura Dern

DIRECTOR: Joe Johnston

PRODUCER: Larry J. Franco, Kathleen Kennedy

SCRIPT: Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (based on characters created by Michael Chrichton)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shelly Johnson

EDITOR: Robert Dalva

MUSIC: Don Davis, John Williams (theme)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ed Verreaux

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 30, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: January 9, 2002







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