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Jurassic Park III

Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy
Director: Joe Johnston
Genre: Action
Year: 2001
Rating: 2 / 5

The best thing that can be said about Jurassic Park III is that it is no worse than its predecessor, The Lost World. The third installment in the Jurassic Park trilogy is the first without director Steven Spielberg at the helm and the first not derived from a Michael Crichton novel. I cannot pinpoint which is more at fault for this disappointing offering, but regardless, Jurassic Park III amounts to little more than state-of-the-art special effects and some passable action sequences. The wonder and awe of dinosaurs is gone for us, just as it is for the characters on screen. One can only hope the individuals in charge of this franchise can see this and stop tarnishing what was a truly special beginning.

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is going back to an island full of dinosaurs, something he swore would never happen. (One wonders if actor Sam Neill, absent from The Lost World, ever swore that he would not return for another Jurassic Park film.) He is coaxed into returning - under false pretenses - by separated parents Paul (William H. Macy, taking a break from the indie circuit) and Amanda (Tea Leoni, taking a break from husband David Duchovny) Kirby. On a playful boating excursion with Amanda's new boyfriend, son Eric (Trevor Morgan) becomes stranded on Isla Sorna, the island last seen in The Lost World. The Kirbys are determined to rescue him, no matter what it takes.

Sam Neill is the telling character in this film, always wearing his sheepish here-we-go-again grin. He seems to be speaking for the entire audience, as we begin to wonder what it is that causes us to keep returning to the same godforsaken islands. Jurassic Park, based on the phenomenal best seller by novelist Michael Crichton, is something remarkable. The dinosaur special effects, the best in the business at the time, seem ordinary in retrospect, and the advances illustrated in Jurassic Park III are hardly worth noting. Even more sobering, new director Joe Johnston seems to have abandoned all illusions of a story, instead hoping that flashy effects and action-filled sequences can sustain a film.

Jurassic Park III is certainly not a difficult film to watch - it is simply not memorable. William H. Macy and Tea Leoni play cardboard parents, drawn back together in a time of tragedy. While such a thankless role is clearly beneath Macy's talents, I dare to say that it is even a step down for Leoni. Sam Neill, on the other hand, is right at home. He seems content in the knowledge that, just like his character, he is along for the ride merely to collect a paycheck. Director Joe Johnston (Jumanji, October Sky) is out of his league in this big budget spectacle, neglecting the sort of storytelling that propels October Sky in favor of pure action. Save the popcorn and save the time - visiting season is over at Jurassic Park.

Cast:

Sam Neill..........Dr. Alan Grant
William H. Macy..........Paul Kirby
Tea Leoni..........Amanda Kirby
Trevor Morgan..........Eric Kirby

Certification: Rated PG-13 for violence.
Running Time: 92 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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