A review of  Jurassic Park III” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for intensity and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

 

Yet another Isla (Sorna not Nublar), yet another herd of bloodthirsty dinos (Pteranodons not T-Rexes), and even another cluster of brainless human nitwits who think they can outsmart 65 million years of genetics.  The Jurassic Park franchise is back – not bigger, not better, but not as bad as I had feared.

Sam Neill (who needs a down-payment on a new condo?) reprises his role as Dr. Alan Grant, something an anti-social dinosaur himself.  Bold, brainy, and thoroughly oblivious to the transitions of the modern world, Grant continues to seek funding for his theories on Velociraptors et al.  His financial saviors are Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni), a pair of wealthy, reckless adventurers hungering to post a primordial breeding ground on their thrill-seeking resume.

It doesn’t take long to discover that the Kirbys are poseurs – everyday folks searching for their lost son rather than that quick adrenaline fix.   An unexpected accident (yawn) strands the naïve party at InGen’s site B, Isla Sorna.  Long since abandoned by John Hammond’s disciples, the island has blossomed into a reptilian bacchanalia. Quick as you can say carnivore the gang develop into potential appetizers for a plethora of dino residents, a list that reads like a Prehistoric Social Register.  Spinosaurus’, flying Pteranodons, and those madcap Raptors all muscle in for a flesh feast of lip-smacking human proportion.

A smart script by Alexander Payne (of “Election” fame) is the saving grace of this been-there, done-that monster mash.  The actors keep it relatively low key, bordering on spoof, to prevent triple-threat overkill.  Alessandro Nivola (“Mansfield Park”), as Grant’s hunky assistant, ditches his trademark waistcoat for a tight T, baggy cargos, and a men-with-tools charisma that fits the bill quite nicely, thank you very much. Short scenes involving “Jurassic Park”’s Neill and Laura Dern work wonders to anchor this sequel-to-a-sequel  to the original, well crafted project – lest “Lost World” has wormed its way into viewers’ cinematic conscience.  Cell-phone swallowing monsters push the silly quotient and Stan Winston’s beasties have lost their luster, but overall this is a thoroughly respectable summer romp.