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Jurassic Park III (2001)
Director: Joe Johnston

review by Ceri Jordan

Who said film isn't educational? Look at the things you learn from JP3. Kids, if someone offers you a paraglider flight over an island full of prehistoric beasties, just say no. Adults, never accept bribes from strangers, even to fund your dig. And never ever say 'No force on Earth or in heaven could get me back on that island!' Because the next thing you know, William H. Macy will knock you on the head, and where will you wake up..?
   So, we're back on Isla Sorna (site of JP2), in the company of Alan Grant (Sam Neill), and his over-eager assistant (Alessandro Nivola). They've been tricked into what they thought was an aerial sight-seeing tour by divorcees Macy, and Tea Leoni, whose teenage son has been stranded here after that paragliding incident. The dinosaurs sensibly pick off their gun-toting bodyguards first, and the principals spend the rest of the film on the run from large hungry lizards.
   The plot is predictable, though there are ingenious moments - the ongoing saga of their only (d'oh!) mobile phone is a particular delight. The characters are standard fare, though the kid (Trevor Morgan) is considerably less irritating than previous JP juveniles. Sam Neill, who shares Harrison Ford's ability to impart plausibility to the most outlandish material, does a fine job as a ill-tempered and generally ignored expedition leader. There's an underplayed subplot about raptor intelligence and the possibility of communication that adds a genuine SF element. But what we really came for is dinosaurs. And we get them.
   Though it lacks the dignity and the wonder of the first film, JP3 is far more effective at providing scares than the overblown JP2. There are dangers round every corner, and the slim running time ensures that none outstay their welcome. And it has pterodactyls. They're big, they're convincing, and they're scary. What more do you want?
   Well, a plausible ending would be nice. Since when did Laura Dern have authority over the US military? And though I won't give away a great plot twist, think about it afterwards: if Grant didn't know they were landing on the island, why was that particular item in his rucksack in the first place?
   But this is summer entertainment, not high art, and it does its job well - scary, inventive, well-paced, and just smart enough to satisfy.

Related pages:
tZ  - The Lost World (1925) review by Steven Hampton
tZ  - The Lost World (2001) review by Donald Morefield
Jurassic Park 3
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