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Eight years after his last encounter with the reptiles on Isla Nublar, Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is safely ensconced in research projects. But research needs money, and when he’s approached by Paul (William H Macy) and Amanda Kirby (Tea Leoni) to act as a guide on a joy flight to nearby Isla Sorna, where live dinosaurs are also roaming free, he finds the offer too tempting to refuse. What the Kirbys have withheld is that their flight isn’t to be a sightseeing excursion at all. Their son Eric (Trevor Morgan) has disappeared while parasailing near the island. Grant takes his eager research assistant Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola) along, and the Kirbys have assembled a motley bunch of “sightseers” for the journey. When the plane finally reaches the island though, it soon becomes clear that the group will have to mount a rescue mission - their own.

Review by David Edwards:
The DVD revolution reaches a new high point with Jurassic Park III. This fine package is so crammed with features, the movie itself becomes almost irrelevant, except as a starting point to explore the abundant extras. Produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Jurassic Park III bears many of the hallmarks of Spielberg’s films (naturally) despite being directed by Joe Johnston (October Sky and Jumanji). As you’d expect, the animatronics and digital effects are first class, and the DVD provides a fascinating insight into the process of creating the strange creatures which populate Isla Sorna. From the fossil research behind the animals, through to the way their muscles are made to move by the animators, this is a comprehensive look at the making of a big-budget Hollywood picture.

If you’re really into special effects, you can even watch the film with commentary from the special effects team. They take you through the way the picture was put together, down to which shots feature animatronics and which use CGI effects, offering a great insight into modern special effects work. Make sure you also check out the “behind-the-scenes” featurette, as the cast members go through their paces on set. I’m sure the human actors were all rewarded handsomely for their efforts, but when you see what they had to go through to make the picture, I’m also sure they earned every penny. William H Macy’s comment included in the featurette is priceless.

Oh, and in amongst all this, there’s a movie. A fairly ordinary movie, but infinitely superior to Jurassic Park 2. Johnston shows quite a deft touch with the simplistic material, keeping the acting moving at pace, and not allowing the creatures to completely overwhelm the human characters.

The story is straightforward, with few surprises and some schmaltz towards the end; but as is often the case with action movies, it’s at its best in the numerous action sequences.  The actors have little to do in the way of actual acting, as much of their time is consumed by running from, hiding from or fighting with, the dinosaurs. Sam Neill brings a laconic edge to Dr Grant; Tea Leoni is fine as the damsel in distress; Alessandro Nivola grunts it up as the action man of the group and young Trevor Morgan does his best Young Indiana Jones as Eric. It’s William H Macy though who just about steals the show as Paul Kirby. Even Macy’s skills however can’t match it with a massive meat-eating spinosaurus or a swooping pteradon for sheer thrills.

Jurassic Park III is one of the best DVD packages on offer at the moment. It’s basically film buff heaven, especially if your interest runs to state-of-the-art special effects. While the movie itself might not be that great, this DVD is a treasure trove of insights into the filmmaking process.

Published March 28, 2002

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CAST: Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H Macy, Alessandro Nivola

DIRECTOR: Joe Johnston

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: “The Making of Jurassic Park”: documentary and interviews; commentary by the special effects team; “The New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III”; Tour of Stan Winston's Studio; “A visit to Industrial Light and Magic”; behind the scenes footage; DVD ROM features; theatrical trailers; photo gallery; storyboards; “Dinosaur Turntables”: computer graphic visuals


DVD RELEASE: March 27, 2002

To celebrate the March 27 retail release of Jurassic Park III on DVD, Universal Pictures Video is offering a free DVD with every purchase.

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