Jurassic Park III
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

After seeing the third installment of the Jurassic Park series, you may feel like you just saw a TV movie of the week.  Jurassic Park III is much lighter and funnier than its predecessors and like a TV movie, stars a bunch of refugees from prime time.  The cast includes such notables as William H. Macy (ER), Tea Leoni (The Naked Truth), John Diehl (Miami Vice), and Michael Jeter (Evening Shade).  Maybe I'm just  no longer able to be impressed by special effects, but it seems that the budget for Jurassic Park III was perhaps a little smaller than for the first two movies.  There are long stretches of the movie where we don't see any dinosaurs and many scenes look like they were shot on a soundstage rather than in the jungle.  I spent the movie trying to figure out whether the writers meant this to be a comedy or whether it just worked out that way.  There's no doubt that there is a lot less blood and gore.  I half expected a notice at the end saying that no dinosaurs were killed or injured in the making of this film.  Even though Steven Spielberg is not the director this time, the plot involves a kid (Trevor Morgan) who is stranded on "Site B", the second island populated by dinosaurs which was the locale of The Lost World.  How the kid gets stranded in the first place, strains one's credibility since he is para-gliding from a boat 200 miles off the coast of Central America but only about 100 yards from Site B.  I don't have to describe what happens next.  Soon,  we get the boy's parents (Macy and Leoni) hiring Alan Grant (Sam Neill) famous survivor of Jurassic Park, to accompany them to the island in search of their son.  Neill's ex-girlfriend and fellow Paleontologist (Laura Dern) has a small cameo.  She has given up on Neill and also, apparently, on her career to get married, have kids and become a stay-at-home mom.  As if this isn't sending enough wrong messages to the young girls in the audience, later in the movie, Neill tells the kid that there are two kinds of ``boys" in the world, those who want to be Astronomers and those who want to be Astronauts. No mention of what "girls" want.  By the way, I wanted to be both.  Anyway, the small part played by Dern just makes you wonder what ever happened to her career.  Perhaps it isn't possible to survive dating both Billy Bob Thornton and Jeff Goldblum.  Anyway, the action moves to the island where the distraught parents, Neill, and some minor cast members doomed to be eaten, crash land and start trying to stay alive while searching for the boy.  The new angle for this film is that the Raptors are much smarter than previously thought and can communicate while working together to kill stupid humans.  This is all a bit reminiscent of Aliens and soon we find that the boy has survived in much the same way as ``Newt" did in that movie.  However, there is never much tension and all the extras are killed off half way through the movie so there really isn't much of a climax.  In fact, this is the first time I can remember in this kind of a movie, where we come to the apparent end when we are supposed to be scared out of our seats by one last dinosaur attack, and it really is the end. Nothing happens!  There are a few funny bits such as when the T-Rex first arrives and Neill advises everyone to stay very still. They all run off leaving Neill to face the T-Rex alone.  There's even an appearance by Barney which is a lot scarier to me than the rest of the movie.  Neill and the rest of the hapless humans are chased for most of the movie by a giant dinosaur who has swallowed a cellphone that keeps ringing.  Does this sound at all familiar to anyone? Captain Hook and the crocodile that swallows the alarm clock, perhaps?  Oh well, I guess everything is derivative now.  The cast is good and amusing.  Neill, as always, is great, and William H. Macy, a.k.a. the busiest man in Hollywood, does another good job here.  Leoni doesn't get to do much except look worried and scream.  Jurassic Park III is definitely an example of a movie where the trailer is much more exciting than the movie, itself.  The smart Raptors are pretty much missing through most of the movie.  This is because the Raptors have all got married, had kids and become stay-at-home dinosaurs.  Who knows what kind of a message this is sending to the young Raptors in the audience.  What's this world coming to when our favorite kind of dinosaur has become a bunch of girlie-Raptors!