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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Jurassic Park III lacks bite
Jurassic Park III
The hunt is back on in the third Jurassic film
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

Just when you thought it was safe to return to an island infested with man-eating dinosaurs along comes the third part of the lucrative Jurassic Park series.

After two movies with Steven Spielberg at the helm, Joe Johnston sits in the director's chair and it is to his credit that the three films feel alike in tone and in texture.

Sam Neill
Sam Neill returns as Dr Alan Grant
Sam Neill reprises his role as palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant and a suitably ludicrous plot is concocted to put him back on the island with little hope of rescue or survival.

This time around he is joined by Tea Leoni and William H Macy who play parents searching for their son who has gone missing on the island.

Laura Dern, who also starred in the original, makes the briefest of cameos and was probably laughing all the way to the bank with her screen time of about five minutes.

Star value

The moral and ethical subplots that bubbled away in the background of the first two adventures are dispensed with in Jurassic III and the film is a straightforward chase thriller.

It is man versus beast and the minor characters quickly become dino fodder in the race for thrills and chills while the star value of Neill, Macy and Leoni ensure they won't be too troubled by gnashing jaws.

Tea Leoni
Tea Leoni is looking for her missing son
Spielberg's visual stylistics may be missing from the movie but his usual themes of childhood and family life are trotted out rather wearily.

The search for the lost boy helps the concerned parents re-unite after a messy divorce, while Sam Neill continues his role as the child-phobic scientist.

Johnston keeps the pace up with a series of eventful set pieces, punctuated by some misplaced attempts at humour.

Right note

The centrepiece sequence with pterodactyls is carried off with aplomb and is the only original piece of action added to the previous two films.

It is intended for a young audience and it just about strikes the right note with the right quota of stomping dinosaurs and chase sequences.

The film is short at 87 minutes but it is at this point that children's attention spans begin to wander - exactly one hour after everyone else's interest wavered.

It is better than The Lost World which Spielberg seemed to have made in a tired stupor following Schindler's List but it does not match the wonder and awe inspired by the first sighting of computer generated dinosaurs in the original.

After three outings, many deaths, and many, many special effects surely it is beyond the talents of any scriptwriter to convince anyone to return to Jurassic Park again.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jurassic Park III
Watch a clip from the film
The BBC's arts correspondent Rosie Millard
"This is very charming, it's not bad at all"
Film Critic Nigel Andrews
"One doesn't feel that it's completely run out of ammunition"
Téa Leoni
"I was not in shape at the beginning of this movie"
William H Macey
"You couldn't take your eyes off the raptors"

Interviews, clips, picture galleries etc. from Jurassic Park IIIDinosaur mania
Browse BBC Online's Jurassic Park III site
See also:

25 Jul 01 | Reviews
Jurassic Park III: Press views
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