Jurassic Park III (2001)

(In theaters, July 2001) The first Jurassic Park was an action-adventure classic. The second was the epitome of the well-directed stupid blockbuster, with insanely enjoyable highs (the plate-window sequence) and jaw-droppingly bad lows (the gymnastic sequence). The third one, thankfully, is far more consistent, even though in the end it feels simply like a competent adventure film. Once again, idiot capitalist characters make a mistake and are stuck on a dino-infested island. This time, it’s Sam Neil who’s back as the crusty paleontologist Allen Grant. (There’s a funny scene in which his lecture is packed… but everyone wants to ask him about the events of the first two films.) Though deception, flattery and other usual tools of adventure scripts, he’s soon back on the island and he doesn’t like it one bit. As well he shouldn’t, given that he’s soon once again running for his life. Hey, you’ve seen this film before and the only things of interest are the action set-pieces, right? Well, they’re good. Not great, mind you, but good enough to make you enjoy the film in a monster B-movie kind of way. Pop-corn, air-conditioning, human-eating monsters…. this kind of fun. Could have been better if more characters could have died (especially the annoying ones), but then again we have to “think about the children!” Worth a rental as long as you expect more of the same.

(Second viewing, On DVD, May 2002) Given the straight-up action/adventure focus of this third Jurassic Park epic, it’s not a surprise if the DVD of the film spends almost all of its allotted bonus space talking about the special effects. The commentary track is especially bad, what with a half-dozen effects geeks discussing ad nauseam how this or this particular shot did or didn’t contain puppets or computer-generated dinosaurs. It gets tiresome very quickly, even for die-hard effects fans like me. It doesn’t help, naturally, that a lot of the information is repeated from segment to segment. The rest of the DVD is a lot like more of the same over and over again; wouldn’t it have been easier to just schlep everything in one single making-of? (Don’t miss browsing the “posters mock-up” gallery, though, as it suggests a series of far more interesting Jurassic Park III projects.) As for the film itself, well, it remains an average adventure B-movie. People. Dinos. What else do you want? Well, okay; a higher body-count.

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