This Time It's Not Just A Walk In The Park
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Last summer during the American League pennant race I ran into fellow film critic Jeffrey Lyons in the New York City subway system and he was wearing a very offensive Boston Redsox cap. At the time, he was talking sports only, so I didn't get a chance to impress him with my vast knowledge of Patrick Dempsey movies and besides, I didn't recognize him until someone told me who he was after he had left the train. The other night I ran into the bow-tied gentleman again, but this time we came across each other as I was watching TV in Queens and he was inside the TV talking about the new Jurassic Park movie. Now I know that we don't agree in sports or movies. But not so shockingly, we do agree that the Mets suck.
I'm not sure if it's proper etiquette to bring up other reviews in your own (it seems wrong) but I need to begin by bringing up a point that is troubling a number of people about this movie. The biggest complaint I have heard is that Jurassic Park III is merely more of the same. More dinosaurs terrorizing humans, more running and hiding, and more disbelief at the monstrosities that reckless man has unleashed. My question to these people who are disturbed by the repetitiveness is, “Have you seen the first two movies?” and if so, “Why would you not want more?” These computer generated and mega-puppet dinosaurs are absolute marvels and every scene where they lurk, snarl, or rampage steal the oxygen from your ever-pounding heart. So before we can criticize the movie itself, which unfortunately is a little too easy, it is important to realize that the price of admission is paid in full immediately following the terrifying and mesmerizing Pteranodons sequence.
Regardless of some of the great moments you will see in the movie, you may leave feeling cheated. This is probably a result of the annoyingly paltry 90 minute running time, and the fact that the first Jurassic Park blew you away- while this one, by comparison, only satiated your appetite for a new JP installment, but didn't nearly excite you the same way again. There is also the business of Joe Johnston (Jumanji) running the show here, while Spielberg remained behind the scenes as Executive Producer. Spielberg is only missed in the details; we don't get the sensitivity that Spielberg magically infuses his movies with. That one shot here or there is the Spielberg genius that brings humanity or comedic irony to the surface of even the most supernatural of moments. Johnston does a creditable job of keeping the action taught and the pace running smoothly and speedily.
However the most valid grievance is the skimpy running time. This makes the movie get to the meat too quickly and not allow us to savor the feast, before it is rushed back into the kitchen. The makers of this movie clearly have one intent – Show the people the dinosaurs! The plot is set up rapidly so that the people can be shown the dinosaurs! An ex-couple (a dowdy looking Tea Leoni and William H. Macy being his uneasy self) are looking for their son who was lost on the dinosaur island after a para-sailing accident. They recruit Dr Grant. (Sam Neil nobly reprising his role) and a few thugs to assist in the dangerous rescue (we know the thugs are really just extra dinosaur food the second we see them). Luckily for the audience, Dr. Grant brings along his young prot