Jurassic Park III
Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni


Jurassic Park III

First, let's get the bad news out of the way. Would you believe that a 10-year-old boy would go parasailing near an island 270 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, an island that has been officially declared off limits to all forms of contact because it contains - oh, you know who I mean. And that he is able to land on the island and survive alone for eight weeks? Well, I wouldn't either. But that's the premise on which this film is based, and we just have to accept it.

We accept it because once that dreadful opening is out of the way this film turns out to be rather well done. Unlike most third films in a series, this one actually works. For the first time in the series the various dinosaurs look and act truly real. And the match between live human and computer-generated reptile is uncanny. No disjunctions, nothing like the hundred-foot wave in "The Perfect Storm" that never quite reaches the boat; nothing like the tornado in "Twister" that's about as real as the one in "The Wizard of Oz." These creatures mean business, and they are worthy adversaries.

The very slim plot brings Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) back to the island when the boy's parents (Willam H. Macy and Téa Leoni) lie about making a contribution to his research, so that they can land illegally in order to find and save their son Eric (Trevor Morgan). The rest of the film is nothing but reptiles vs. humans, and it is well done. If you've seen the trailer you've heard Sam Neill say "They've set a trap for us!" And they have, but not to worry; this is a studio film, after all. Everybody does a lot of running, falling, climbing, and suffering, and the peripheral characters die early, so we can focus on the important people. The action never stops, and director Joe Johnston does a good job of making the implausible plausible, or at least tolerable. In this summer of dogs, "Jurassic Park III" turns out to be one of the few films worth seeing.