Jurassic Park III
All-you-can-eat buffet. Who'll be the next dino-snack (Leoni, Morgan, Macy, Nivola, Neill)?
dir Joe Johnston
scr Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
with Sam Neill, William H Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Laura Dern, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A Young, Taylor Nichols, Mark Harelik, Julio Oscar Mechoso
release US & UK 20.Jul.01
01/US 1h35
2.5 out of 5 stars

See also: JURASSIC WORLD (2015)

R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

not just a walk in the park The dinosaurs are back again, but this time without Steven Spielberg at the helm ... and it shows. It's still an energetic summer blockbuster, but nowhere near as good as it should be. We have two stars from Part 1 and the same plot as Part 2, which basically centres on Dr Grant (Neill) being convinced to fly over a third dinosaur-populated island with a pair if very rich tourists (Macy and Leoni), his assistant (Nivola) and various assorted mercenaries (Jeter, Diehl, Young, et al). Amid Grant's protestations, the plane lands on the island, so he knows something is amiss here. Soon they're all stranded, confessing to secrets and facing bigger and more intelligent creatures than anyone has ever seen. including some that can fly.

You can hardly go wrong with these films, yet Johnston has added nothing particularly notable besides a slightly above-average interest in the relationships between the characters. But there's none of Spielberg's extremely high standards for plot, character and, most of all, effects. Rather, we get superficial story elements populated by people who are never anything more than they seem to be (even their sneaky secrets are obvious and untextured). We also get no taut set pieces to raise the hairs on the back of our neck.

Yes, it's nonstop, loud, crashing action, but there's nothing new or original anywhere (Johnston even uses mist twice to try to build suspense ... unsuccessfully both times). Only some of the effects are remarkable; the animatronics are amazing, but the computer-generated stuff is weak. And we never for a second wonder which characters will survive--it's obvious from the beginning, so there's no real sense of menace or terror. That said, at least everyone in the cast is terrific, making the most of each glimmer of intelligence or humour scattered sparingly in the script. It's a watchable, mindless adventure ... but frankly that's not enough.
violence, suspense cert PG 17.Jul.01

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not just a walk in the park "Okay, one thing I gotta point out is that this is the first time someone is going to the island and getting involved with the dinosaurs without thinking of making money. The first film, this huge amusement park was planned and we know what happened with that. The second one, they were going to capture them, bring them back, and again dollar signs are blinding people's vision. This one is not about making money from these big uncontrollable creatures - they are just trying to escape! It does not have the same director, and some new characters are added - they have to add new ones, the old ones get eaten! All that being said, I highly recommend this movie - I even told a friend to take her 12-year-old son - and I want to go see it again. It gave me the same feeling I got the first time I saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - so much going on, I feel I must have missed something! It is a fun movie, a wild adventure and I jumped, laughed and was properly scared." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 23.Jul.01

"'No force on Earth or in Heaven could get me on that island.' So says Neill's Dr Alan Grant, who soon reinforces the Signorney Weaver-Alien rule that cash is a great incentive. Even though the plot for JP3 could well have been borrowed from an Alien sequel, this movie was actually quite entertaining. Neill and costar William H Macy were as watchable as ever, and of course, there were the monsters who were as spectacular as could have hoped, except perhaps the odd shot of the spinosaurus' snout poking at the terrified humans, which looked like a fairground attraction. Missing the refined storyline plot construction of Michael Crichton's original story, JP3 still has that unavoidable thrill of the possibility of dinosaurs living in the present tense, and director Johnston only really spoils it with the hasty ending, which makes the viewer feel maybe the spinosaurus took a bite out of the print before it got to the projectionist." --James Cartledge, London 1.Aug.01 Sam Neill meets the raptors

"I forget - which Jurassic Park has people running around trying to avoid getting eaten by dinosaurs? Open message to Sam Neill: Dude, the sequel you should make is to that one with all the naked supermodels (Sirens)." --Al Rodriguez, Los Angeles 8.Aug.01

© 2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall