JURASSIC PARK III
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All through LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK I was asking myself, "Where are Alan and Ellie, the two main scientist characters from part one? And why won’t Jeff Goldblum shut up?" Alan and Ellie were the characters you cared about and you want to find out what happens to them.
JURASSIC PARK III was directed by Joe Johnston and written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. It opens with an adventurous father and son parasailing near Isla Sorna, the dinosaur island seen in LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK. The whole area is supposed to be sealed off by the U.N. and the airspace restricted by Costa Rica (it's their territory) but apparently the Costa Rican air force isn't up to the task. Of course the boat pulling the parachute has some Jurassic bad luck and the two are forced to land on the forbidden island.
Cut to a charming family scene between Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill: OMEN III, DEAD CALM, EVENT HORIZON, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS) and Ellie (Laura Dern: BLUE VELVET, WILD AT HEART, JURASSIC PARK) playing with what we think are their children. We quickly are shown that the children belong to Ellie and her new husband. She and Alan are still friends but that's all, giving the movie a bittersweet twist.
Alan returns to his latest raptor dig, still studying the bones of the creatures that almost ate him. The existence of living dinosaurs would be a tremendous boon to paleontology but it wouldn't mean studying ancient fossils would become obsolete. The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park are mostly taken at random from many different eras and are as much strangers to each other as they are to us. The whole thing would still need to be put in context.
As always Alan is running low on funding for his studies. He travels around giving talks on raptors in a search for new benefactors. After one such talk a patented Simpson's moment takes place when he asks the audience if they have any questions. Every hand is raised. Alan says, "Does anyone have a question about something besides Jurassic Park?" Every hand drops.
Faster than you can say "rich crackpot" Alan is approached by Paul Kirby (William H. Macy: FARGO) and his wife Amanda (Téa Leoni). They're an adventure-seeking couple and have somehow gotten special permission to visit the dinosaur island seen in LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK and they want Alan to serve as tour guide. Alan plays hard to get until Paul offers him a big enough check. We've already established what you are; we're just negotiating the price.
Just that fast everyone is aboard a small plane flying through the "restricted" airspace that surrounds the island. The group includes Alan, The Kirby's, Alan's assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola: FACE/OFF) and three mercenaries. Alan doesn't know these extra members are mercs, which is only the beginning of what Alan doesn't know.
It's just too much. The science here is fine but I feel an overwhelming need for a
The mercenaries are packing serious heat but (just as in all these movies) circumstances conspire to prevent them from using any firepower against the Jurassic monsters. I don't care how big and tough the T. Rex looks – one anti-tank missile and he'd be toast. Claws and teeth are impressive but in the long run they are no match for a big brain and opposable thumbs.
Of course the group gets stranded and after the mercs become dino-snacks Alan and Billy find out that Paul and Amanda aren't the rich adventure seekers they said they were which means – among other things – that the big check they wrote is going to bounce. The Kirby's reason for doing this is understandable but Alan and Billy are far too forgiving when they discover just how much they've been used. It's one more reminder that the whole plot is just a vehicle to show off some more dinosaur special effects. I would have appreciated a little more attention to logic, human nature and especially, acting.
I give it two shriek girls.
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