Folks love to get all snooty about Jurassic Park. They breathlessly tout Stevie Speilberg's genius for hiring a bunch of computer geeks to bring the wonder of seemingly living dinosaurs back from oblivion. They stutter a bit when it comes to Part 2, especially when the golden director has Japanese tourists fleeing a T-Rex on city streets. And they turn absolutely pasty when it comes to Jurassic Park III (2001, 93 minutes), which is danged peculiar, because with its toothy disregard for human life, lack of yip-yap kiddies and cute-cuddly critters -- it's the best ride of 'em all.
The movie: It's tough being mom's boyfriend. Especially when she's got a teenage son who secretly wishes you'd spontaneously combust. That's probably why the fella in this picture agreed to go tandem parasailing with the kid off the coast of JURASSIC PARK -- and the inevitable happens. Didn't this yahoo see the first two movies? While in Paleontologist Park, Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) has rejoined the franchise so he can make faces mimicking constipation and yammer about how scary and really MEAN raptors are. Grant's cut a monstrous check to haul a pair of adrenaline junkies (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) for a dino safari at the hap-happiest place on Earth. Incidentally, the sum of the check was precisely the amount it took for Mr. Neill to agree to appear in this sequel. This aerial tour foolishly opts to LAND among the not-so-kindly lizards with glandular problems who greet the human invaders with their typical inhospitality. T-Rex is yesterday's news with this new bully on the block who has a crocodile's snout the size of a Datsun and a big curvey sharkish fin on its back. So it's up to Dr. Grant to keep his own kind off the menu by evading one genuinely thrilling close call after another -- including an assault by winged flesh-eating beasties. CineSchlockers will be amused to know that spunky Jurassic castaway Trevor Morgan faced the big guy himself in Barney's Great Adventure.
Notables: No breasts. Seven corpses. Jurassic pan flute. Dino stampede. T-Rex pee. Jingle bell dino. Gratuitous urination. Excrement digging. All-American breaststroke. Gratuitous independent film actor starring in a blockbuster so his kiddos will think he's a really cool guy.
Quotables: Dr. Grant might as well give up on earning the Dr. Sunshine nickname, "Reverse Darwinism. Survival of the most idiotic!" and "You probably won't get off this island ALIVE!"
Time codes: Gee whiz CGI moment as low-flying plane scatters hundreds of frolicking dinosaurs (18:38). The big boys tangle in an old school street fight with ferocious fervor (26:50). Someone forgot to change the newspaper in this value-sized bird cage (1:01:45). Behold the true horror of this flick (1:13:36).
Audio/Video: Pristine widescreen (1.85:1) transfer that could have easily buckled during some of the darker scenes with rain, but doesn't. A separate fullframe release is also available for the narrow minded. Both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio goodness that expertly puts viewers in the center of the action.
Extras: It'd be easier to list what it DOESN'T have. There's a commentary by FX gurus Michael Lantieri, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, and CineSchlocker fave Stan Winston in which the fellas dish about their fiendish creations. Typical "making of" featurette (23 mins). A look at the new dinosaurs (7 mins). A nifty paleontologist tag-along to find fossils in Montana (5 mins). Various behind the scenes bits (5 mins). Storyboard-to-film comparisons (6 mins). Photo montage with music (3 mins). The visit to Winston's workshop is disappointing as it features only video with no explanatory voiceover -- had this been the CGI section, there'd be 15 guys telling you how they do everything and why it's so freakin' COOL (3 mins). And believe me, they do that on this disc, there's even a section to peep at individual dinos as they spin like tops on various backdrops. Poster gallery including many generations of concepts. Trailers for all three flicks. DVD-ROM doodads. The usual Universal promos. Animated menus with audio. Printed insert with Jurassic police lineup.
Final thought: Never foolish enough to presume it's more than it is and delivers every gargantuan Spinosaurus step of the way. Also a prime example of how CGI and practical FX can work in tandem to create a superior level of realism. Highly Recommended.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.