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Jurassic Park III DVD Review

Jurassic Park III

June 15, 2003

Director: Joe Johnston,
Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young, Laura Dern,

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DVD Review

‘There is absolutely no force on this earth that would get me onto that island’ proclaimed Alan Grant when asked if he would travel to the island of Isla Sorna to study the habits of raptors up close.

We all know he will, it’s just a question of which life and death excuse will persuade him. As it turns out it’s just money, and the need for it that forces Grant back into biting range of all manor of prehistoric beasts.

Jurassic Park 3 continues where The Lost World left, only this time following the adventures of Alan Grant (Sam Neil) rather than those of Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum).

The introduction to Grant’s character sees him playing in a garden with children and his girlfriend from the first film, Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern). Clearly they are now married and have the children that they talked about so much in Jurassic Park?
Well no actually, this is a subtle little trick played on the audience by Johnston, Ellie is now married to someone else and Grant is on his own. This is obviously a way of explaining why her character isn’t in the film, a method know as ‘writing her out’ but the way it’s achieved is so impressive that you can quickly forgive her absence from the action. Lesser movies would have used a throw away line such as ‘it just didn’t work out’ and left it there, but thankfully JP3 was crafted a little more intricately and had respect for the characters created in Jurassic Park.

Director Joe Johnston, while not blessed with an extensive back catalogue of work, does come from an impressive stable. He was art director of visual effects on both Return of the Jedi and Empire Strikes Back and an effects designer on Star Wars. He also has numerous credits on both Spielberg and Lucas projects, so clearly he has learned from the best.

I was a little apprehensive when JP3 was announced without Spielberg at the helm, fearing nothing more that a by the numbers cash in. Luckily, and somewhat surprisingly that’s certainly not what we get from the film.

This film was mainly hyped on the presence of a new, more fearsome dinosaur. That’s exactly what we get too, and with it a Ray Harryhausen style monster bash when the new Spinosaurus grapples with the now firm family favourite, the T-Rex.

The velociraptors in this film are different from those in the previous two movies. Dr Alan Grant is working on a theory that the raptors can communicate with each other on a level of intelligence higher than that of dolphins. Luckily for him he manages to put this theory to the test when they set a trap for him – seems that the dinosaurs are far more intelligent than the humans in this film, they didn’t voluntarily land on an island inhabited by huge hungry lizards.
This new ‘intelligent’ raptor theory isn’t as hokey as it sounds, and serves to add to their scare factor considerably.

We also get something that was cut from the first film at the storyboard stage, and was only mentioned at the end of The Lost World, the Pteranodon. Finding themselves trapped inside a giant bird cage our foolish heroes nearly succumb to being morsels for a nest of baby pteranodons. The large Pteranodons are frighteningly created as one emerges through the smoke, wings wrapped around its body and walking towards the startled humans.

As a whole this film is impressive with a more rounded degree of charatcerisation than that of Jurassic Park: The Lost World. There are no gymnasts kicking Raptors in this movie! It’s also much more violent than the previous two films, I don’t know about young children needing parental guidance but I could have done with some myself. The Spinosaurus bites a man in half whereas the raptors actually snap a man’s neck. That’s gotta hurt.

This DVD, as you might expect, comes packed with extras that, when placed into a PC with DVD ROM, come into there own. There are countless short snippets of behind the scenes interviews all focusing on the design and creation of the true stars of the films, the Dinosaurs. The tour of Stan Winston’s studio was a personal highlight for me as a big fan of his work. With so many great films behind him Jurassic Park 3 represented a new challenge, and as he himself says – the Spinosaurus in the water scenes represents the finest work he has ever done. For a man that created the Werewolf transformation in American Werewolf in London that’s some admission.

There is of course the almost inevitable ‘Making of’ documentary that tries to sell the film to you after you’ve bought it, but this is to be expected now with American movies. The rest of the informative documentaries and interviews more than compensate for this and if you’re remotely interested in Dinosaurs then you’ll be more than satisfied.

I can’t hold in my excitement any longer, as soon as I popped this into the DVD player I flicked around the menus to see what features it contained and I stopped in amazement at the trailers screen. What could be so impressive about some this I hear you ask? Well, it had trailers for upcoming releases from the good people at Universal and one was, well, staggering. If I say to you Huey Lewis, I then say Michael J Fox and skateboards you should know what I’m talking about.
That’s right, the Back to the Future trilogy is scheduled for a summer release on DVD, and by gosh am I excited about that.

Darren has enjoyed an interest in film for many years, studying the subject at Newport Film School where he worked on the film ‘Cop on the Edge IX: Prelude to Justice‘ in a directing and acting capacity. The official site can be enjoyed here. Darren setup WhatDVD.Net in 2003 to further his love of films and to write passionately about the movies he enjoys, and about those that he doesn’t.

Although his day-to-day activities mean that he now has less time to review movies than he would ideally prefer, he still tries to review new releases, and DVDs from his extensive collection, whenever possible.
view all DVD reviews by Darren Jamieson

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Rating: 83%

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