Blockbuster Movie Month: "Jurassic Park III"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: July 18. 2001
Directed by: Joe Johston
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy

Modern dinosaurs are once again on a rampage in the fast-paced, high-energy thriller "Jurassic Park III." This exciting sequel to the films "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" keeps audiences breathless with its mix of interesting characters and compelling, action-packed sequences. Unlike the first two films, however, "Jurassic Park III" does not employ the talents of director Steven Spielberg. Instead, Joe Johnston, the director of such audience favorites as "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" does the honors. Johnston keeps the story moving at a brisk pace and delivers a powerful adventure the entire family can enjoy.

The first film in the series that is not based directly on a novel by noted author Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park III concerns the efforts of a divorced couple, Paul and Amanda Kirby, to find their missing son. The son, Eric, disappeared while visiting the island of Isla Sorna, the location of the events featured in "The Lost World." The couple contacts noted dinosaur expert Alan Grant, played as he was in the original "Jurassic Park,'' by Sam Neill. Paul and Amanda know that Grant's expertise will come in handy when the group reaches the dinosaur-infested island.

In a surprise twist, however, the Kirbys, portrayed energetically by Tea Leoni and William H. Macy, do not tell Grant the real reason they want him to accompany them to Isla Sorna. They fear Grant may refuse if he knows they plan to land on the dangerous island. The Kirbys tell Grant that they simply want him to give them an aerial tour of the location. Alan Grant is not particularly happy about accepting their offer, but the cash-strapped scientist needs the money the couple is offering as a fee to fund his research.

Director Joe Johnston is noted for his action sequences, but he lets the suspense build slowly in this part of the film. This technique gives the audience a chance to learn more about the characters and identify with them. It also ensures that viewers will care about the fates of the characters when they face threats to their lives later in the story.

After the plane carrying the Kirbys, their paid bodyguards, Grant and his research assistant Billy Brennan crashes on the island, the pace of the film picks up almost immediately. Everyone in the expedition comes under threat from the various species of dinosaurs living on the island. Two of the bodyguards working for the Kirbys are killed in attacks shortly after the group arrives. The rest of the group must fight to stay alive while fending off numerous assaults from the voracious and relentless animals.

The attack sequences are the most exciting moments in the film due to the extraordinary special effects created by Joe Johnston and his technicians. The dinosaurs that the audience sees on the screen are a combination of animatronics and computer-generated imagery, or CGI. Animatronics is a technology that involves the use of electronics to move large robotic figures. The special effects team for the film combines this technique with computer imagery in a way that is almost seamless. The dinosaurs in the movie, which of course do not actually exist, seem to inhabit the very same space as the actors. This gives the movie a realistic feeling despite the fact that it's a fantasy film and is obviously not based on actual events.

When Alan Grant is separated from the others, he comes under attack by a group of raptors, a particularly dangerous species. He is helped to safety by Eric Kirby, who managed to stay alive on the island by hiding from the dinosaurs. Grant and Eric find their way to Eric's parents, who are joyfully reunited with their son. The group still faces grave danger, however, as a pack of raptors surround the party and prepare for a final attack.

Director Joe Johnston saves the best for last, as he shows his superb ability to create hair-raising action sequences in this last section of the movie. The excitement is almost nonstop during the climactic moments of the movie. Audiences will not be able to contain their excitement as the film reaches its jaw-dropping conclusion.

"Jurassic Park III" is a worthy successor to the first two "Jurassic Park" films in every way. It retains the commitment to character development and the stunning special effects of the earlier movies. The powerful acting from the stars of the movie also helps to bring a note of authenticity to the story. Any movie fan who loves action adventure tales will want to check out this astonishing film.