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Universal Studios
Official Site
Director: Joe Johnston
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy, Larry J. Franco (Steven Spielberg, Exec. Prod.)
Written by: Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni and Alessandro Nivola

Rating: out of 5

Eight years ago JURASSIC PARK offered audiences a titillating scare with dinosaurs pounding toward their slack-jawed victims and chomping them to bits, while also serving as a parable of the hazards of genetic science. The sequel, LOST WORLD, was a dud, in part because the morality theme was absent, and in its place was a silly plot with the same special effects most moviegoers had grown accustomed to.

So who knows what kind of movie JURASSIC PARK III would turn out to be. On a scale between a good film or one that sucks, it could go in any direction, but let’s face it, we know some characters are going to be tossed into the air and chewed up like raw liver through a meat grinder. The real question is simply figuring out what poor hapless slob will suffer this fate and who is going to make it off the island alive. Herein lies the fun of JURASSIC PARK III, why it’s a good movie and not one that sucks. It’s full of plot twists and interesting characters, and just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, it surprises you.

Sam Neill reprises his role as paleontologist Alan Grant, duped into traveling to Isla Sorna, the island overrun by genetically engineered dinosaurs and declared off limits by the Costa Rican government. Offered a huge wad of cash to serve as a guide from the safe distance of a chartered plane thousands of feet overhead, Neill reluctantly accepts the job. But he has really been offered the gig with the intent of helping to search for Téa Leoni and William H. Macy’s 12-year-old son, missing on the island for eight weeks in a windsurfing mishap. As one would expect, everything can and does go wrong. The plane crashes and the survivors are forced to trudge across Isla Sorna, fighting for their lives while searching for the missing boy. Along the way they encounter a bevy of menacing dinosaurs, including one so darn testy that T. rex in comparison, looks like a pet you want to take home and cuddle up with.

The jungle serves as a spectacularly spooky backdrop to the action and it’s part of the reason JURASSIC PARK III works so well. When the characters stumble upon the abandoned labs of InGen, the fractured buildings with their grotesquely twisted steel and shattered glass provide a creepy feeling and convey a hopeless understanding that even a well-executed authority could not control the Frankenstein monsters they created.

This is not to say the movie is a fresh piece of work; in fact most of the really good scares are borrowed. They come at the expense of ripping off great classic suspense films of the past 30 years, including RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, and especially ALIENS. Despite the lack of originality, JURASSIC PARK III is a kick in the head, one of the better movies to come out late this summer. In the competing market of action films vying for your fist full of dollars and lazy summer days, this one is one worth checking out.

—Nancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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