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Jurassic Park 3

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Jurassic Park III

Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni and Trevor Morgan
Screenplay by Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Based on characters created by Michael Crichton
Directed by Joe Johnston

And before we get started, we've got CrankyCritic® Star Talk with stars Sam Neill and Téa Leoni, both by our guy in LA, Paul Fischer PLUS over a dozen desktops from the Jurassic Park films, courtesy Cranky's blistered fingers.

IN SHORT: Great Effects. Limp story. [Rated PG-13 for Sensuality and Some Language. 90 minutes]

It is a long standing policy of this site that you should not have to know the Source Material of a movie to understand the film. You shouldn't have to read the book, or see the original teevee show and so forth. We are a little easier on movie sequels but even so, when we sit through a movie knowing the pair that has come before and still don't care about the characters we're watching, that's not a good thing.

Then again, better than half the point of sitting through any of the Jurassic Park movies is to wait for the "wow factor" to kick in when anything really big and reptilian munches down on anything small and puny and human. If that's all you want, well, you've already got two you can rent. If you want nothing better than to plop down with the godzilla combo at your local multiplex and feast on what Stan Winston and the ILM effects crew (led by Jim Mitchell) have managed to come up with this time around, then feast away, because the script is about as lame excuse for a thriller as you can imagine. To wit . . .

The government of Costa Rica has done such a great job of keeping the curious away from the islands of Nubla and Sorna, home to the original Jurassic Park site and its cinematic successor "Site B," that any wealthy man and his boy can rent a boat and parasail over Isla Sorna. Carry a videocamera when you book your flight with the "Dino-Soar" company, you never know what kind of beastie you'll see during your flight. That's how we meet Ben (Mark Hareliki) and teen-in-tow Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan). While they're high above Isla Sorna, their towboat is engulfed in fog and -- wouldn't you just know it? -- the crew vanishes, the boat is drenched n blood and and the pair must cut loose their lines and glide into the forbidden wilderness of Site B.

Back in the States, paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is trying to raise funds to continue his studies of the dinosaur called velociraptor, which he is convinced has intelligence that, were it not for that nasty whateveritwas that wiped out the species, could have led to raptors becoming top dog on the evolutionary ladder. A survivor of the first expedition to JP, Grant has sworn never to go near the InGen abominations ever again, but money is money and when the ultra-filthy-rich Kirbys (William H. Macy as Mr. Paul and Tea Leoni as Mrs. Amanda) come calling, asking that he narrate a flight over the island (a wedding gift from Mr. to Mrs.) the good doctor feels his knees buckle at the sight of a blank check. With his assistant Billy (Allessandro Nivolo) in the row behind him and a couple of bruiser types of unknown origin in the other seats, the private plane heads south for its touristy jaunt.

Dr. Grant starts to suspect that something ain't exactly kosher when the plane's pilot starts asking about a landing sight. Only then is it revealed that Mr and Mrs Kirby are a) not mr and mrs, but divorced. They are not multi dripping in fabulously wealthy and intent on funding all of Grant's research -- though if he ever relocates to Enid Oklahoma and needs a new bathroom, that they can do. It seems that Eric Kirby, the boy seen parasailing into Isla Sorba in the arms of Ben (!) was doing the bonding thing with the ex mrs Kirby's new boy toy. Once all is known, we discover that Mrs. Kirby is prone to screaming a lot and ignoring specific instructions meant to keep dinosaurs away from her position. Ah, white trash. Don't you just love 'em. . .

We haven't even bothered with minimal writeups on the other humans that are dumb enough to make the trek to Isla Sorba since they're inevitably going to end up as meat. Though she doesn't make the trip, we were pleased to see a cameo by Laura Dern in the movie, making us think we forgot something important that may have happened in JP2. Another reason not to rely on source material.

What is important in these sequels is the discovery of what new dinosaur types have evolved and how dangerous they are. You know -- bigger, faster, deadlier, all expected in sequels. These improvements are exactly why we need a paleontologist like Grant along for the ride. Unfortunately, all the mentions of the new dinos we will (eventually) see come at an off sight fossil dig. It's kind of hard to associate bare bones with flesh and sharp toothed carnivores and it fails here. What's left is a simple, get off the island alive, story. Been there, done that and, frankly, if the effects are good enough, we'll do it again and again.

We love effects. We love dinosaurs. We love it when we give a damn about the characters we're looking at an actual hope that some of them escape in the most derring do manner. None of that happens in Jurassic Park III, which means we're left with this..

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Jurassic Park III, he would have paid . . .


Neat effects, but no one in our audience cheered when the eventual escape finally occurred. One twist at the end is flat out unbelievable and, frankly, for once we were more interested in seeing things from the thinking dinosaur point of view. Get a big popcorn and see the effects on the big screen.

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