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Jurassic Park III
2002 - PG-13 - 93 Mins.
Director: Joe Johnston
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Larry Franco
Written By: Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Laura Dern, Michael Jeter, Alessandro Nivola
Review by: John Ulmer
Sequels are usually horrid things. Sometimes they come out okay, but most of the time they are a disgrace to the original. Well, "Jurassic Park III" might have been cashing in on "Jurassic Park" a bit, but it is still a solid action movie.

Sam Neill reprises his role as Dr. Alan Grant from the first film. He has recently been trying to get funding for a new scientific process revolved around dinosaurs. His theory states that velociraptors used to "Talk" to each other by means of vocalization in the throat. High pitched screams, if you will. Unfortunately for Grant, no one really cares about this - they all want to hear about his experience at John Hammond's Jurassic Park. A tired Grant, exhausted from having to explain all the time, now ignores questions about the park, as we see in the beginning of the film when he says, "Any questions?" And everyone raises their hands. He then says, "Any questions NOT regarding Jurassic Park?" Everyone puts their hands down.

Desperately seeking money for his funding, Grant reluctantly agrees to fly over Isla Sorna - site B of Jurassic Park (the island in the first sequel) - with rich explorers/couple William H. Macy and Tea "Emma Thompson lookalike" Leoni. But after their plane lands on the island, Grant realizes the truth behind the couple's story...and comes face-to-face with a new breed of dino.

"Jurassic Park III"'s respect for the original comes in very handy. It is easy to see that the filmmakers were ready to try again after the awful "Lost World" sequel, and they pulled it off well.

Steven Spielberg has since handed over the reigns to new-yet-old director Joe Johnston. “’Jurassic Park’ is one of those turning points in movies,” Johnston states. “They put a living, breathing dinosaur on the screen. These are hard movies to make.” Well, if I do say so myself, “Jurassic Park III” is every bit better than “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and a step down from the original, which is where sequels should be. Not that I don’t like sequels to surpass the originals. I do like that. But sometimes sequels try too hard to overcome the original (“Lost World”) and fail miserably. What Johnston and team did is great. They knew they couldn’t beat the original, so they spiced it up in other areas. They didn’t re-hash the original.

For instance, there is more of a man-against-nature feel in this film. Dr. Grant and friends are trapped in this marsh land and are surrounded by dinosaurs. Unlike they could in the first film, the humans have nowhere indoors to go. It’s man-against-nature, and it creates a very pleasant mix of paranoia and suspense for the audience, and some lush landscapes.

At times I feel like I could reach out and grab the marsh they are in. Unlike some films (including the original, to a certain degree) the plants don’t look fake. They have the same look as the first film (remember all those ferns?) without looking as cheesy. They don’t look like plastic.

And much is the same with the ever-improved dinosaurs. The detail on the dinos is amazing in this film. Their muscles move care-free, their skin has the coating of a lizard, and we feel like they are real. There is an excellent scene with a fighting t-rex and spinosaurus. You simply can’t get your dino fix any better than that.

If you read my original review on “Jurassic Park,” I state how much I hate it when CGI is not-so-seamlessly blended with puppets and plastic models. One scene the creatures are moving carefree when they are digitalized, in another they are puppets that move slow with no muscles. Well, that’s what I enjoyed about the “Jurassic Park” trilogy. THE DINOSAURS LOOK REAL WHEN THEY ARE CGI AND PUPPET. You can’t tell when it’s CGI and when it’s fake puppets. We can thank the best creature effects man out there: Stan Winston, whose work I have appreciated since “The Terminator” to “Predator” (extra koudos on that suit!) to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Winston is the best, plain and simple.

And the acting in this sequel is nothing to fuss about. Unlike the complete one-eighty Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) did in the first film-to-sequel - from annoying guy to brave, annoying guy who thinks he’s smart - Grant is the same as always. He reminds me of Indiana Jones - and no, not because of the hat. It is because his personality is the same. He doesn’t really enjoy what he’s doing, but he does is anyway, because he is Grant, and that’s his job.

William H. Macy uses his acting ability to full advantage here - I still say he’d make great as Ned Flanders if they ever made a live-action “Simpsons” movie/show.

I have read both “Jurassic Park” books by Michael Crichton. The first novel is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read a few thousand. It easily blends everything you want in a novel. Something about the way Crichton writes gets me hooked even if the story stupid. I recently read “Rising Sun.” Most books I start to read nowadays I read one hundred pages into and drop. I’ve been guilty of this with John Grisham and Robert Ludlum novels. But I finished “Rising Sun” in a few busy days. What I’m trying to get at here, is that Michael Crichton is one of my favorite living authors, if not THE favorite. And I must say, his books have been done justice - well, at least the first one. I respect that one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors was treated well. The third film wasn’t based on a book, but it still does justice to the roots of the tale, and that is always good.

“Jurassic Park III” is more than just a surprising sequel.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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