Jurassic Park III [2001]

Director: Joe Johnston
Stars: William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Sam Neill, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 93 minutes

Surpassing expectations to qualify as an above-average sequel, Jurassic Park III is nothing more or less than a satisfying popcorn adventure. A little cheesier than the first two Jurassic blockbusters, it's a big B movie with big B-list stars (including Laura Dern, briefly reprising her Jurassic Park role), and eight years of advancing computer-generated-image technology give it a sharp edge over its predecessors. While adopting the jungle spirit of King Kong, the movie refines Michael Crichton's original premise, and its dinosaurs are even more realistic, their behavior more detailed, and their variety--including flying pteranodons and a new villain, the spinosaurus--more dazzling and threatening than ever. These advancements justify the sequel, and its contrived plot is just clever enough to span 90 minutes without wearing out its welcome. Posing as wealthy tourists, an adventurous couple (William H. Macy, Téa Leoni) convince paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his protégé (Allesandro Nivola) to act as tour guides on a flyover trip to Isla Sorna, the ill-fated "Site B" where all hell broke loose in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In truth, they're on a search-and-rescue mission to find their missing son (Trevor Morgan), and their plane crash is just the first of several enjoyably suspenseful sequences. Director Joe Johnston (October Sky) embraces the formulaic plot as a series of atmospheric set pieces, placing new and familiar dinosaurs in misty rainforests, fiery lakes, and mysterious valleys, turning JP3 into a thrill ride with impressive highlights (including a T. rex versus spinosaurus smack-down), adequate doses of wry humor (from the cowriters of Election), and an upbeat ending that's corny but appropriate, proving that the symptoms of sequelitis needn't be fatal. --Jeff Shannon

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