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Click above to purchase "Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition (Widescreen)" from DVDEmpire.com

 

Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition
(Widescreen)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Intense Sci-Fi Terror and Violence)

Running Time: 93 minutes

Starring: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter

Written by: Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Based on characters created by: Michael Crichton

Directed by: Joe Johnston

 

Studio: Universal

Retail Price: $26.99

Features: The Making Of Jurassic Park III, Audio Commentary with Stan Winston, Effect Supervisor John Rosengrant, Animation Director Dan Taylor, Mechanical Effects Worker Michael Interi, The New Dinosaurs Of Jurassic Park III, Tour Of Stan Winston Studio, A Visit To ILM, Dinosaur Turntables, Behind-The-Scenes, Storyboards To Final Feature Comparison, Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs, Cast and Filmmakers, Production Notes, Recommendations, Special Offers, Theatrical Trailers. DVD-ROM: DVD Newsletter, JP Institute

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scenes (20 Scenes)

Released: December 11th, 2001
Also Part Of: The Jurassic Park Trilogy

 

 

I'll admit I wasn't really keen on seeing the third installment of Universal's incredibly popular dinosaur franchise. I don't know why, something about it just didn't appeal to me. As much as I love Steven Spielberg as a filmmaker, "The Lost World" disappointed me greatly as it did with many others. While the sequel shattered box office records, it didn't live up to the first one as far as an entertaining movie and finanically. It seemed to me that this was yet another opportunity to cash in and a lot of it just appeared to be a bit un-natural to me. However, I bought into the hype and some positive reviews, and overall, I was pretty surprised how much I liked this new tale.

"Jurassic Park III" marks the return of Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, who is in desperate need of research money. As he is reluctant to talk about the events of the past, he is tricked by Paul Kirby and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni, respectively), a divorced couple who pose as a wealthy one that are intact to go with them on a trip. In return, Grant will get funding. As it turns out they are not that wealthy and their trip is more of a rescue mission to save their son Eric (Trevor Morgan), who has been missing for weeks. They end up landing on an island inhabited by... you guessed it, killer dinosaurs. It's up to them and their crew to find their son and get off alive.

There's a lot of positive things that work with this movie, but with some of those things there is bad mixed in. If you're expecting a dialogue driven, talk-fest between characters as they analyze dino theories and solutions, you're going to be really disappointed. The movie is not based on a book like the last two installments, and David Koepp, the screenwriter from the first two, does not return for the third. What we do get are newcomer Peter Buchman and Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, the last two responsible for such independent fare "Citizen Ruth" and the fun, devious "Election". I suppose Payne and Taylor did sell out (I'd never see them writing a movie likes this - people need to make money somehow), and while I was expecting no masterpiece with this movie, what is churned out from the trio is pretty much average, but a load of fun that surprisingly works well. I guess I expected more with Payne and Taylor's usual quick wit, nice setups and snappy dialogue, but none of that is to be found within this movie. "Jurassic Park III" is basically all action, as it quickly jumps from one thing to the next and barely goes back to what has happened beforehand. The plot is really nothing new, there is very little science talk while I thought the ending was decent, it was really oddly foreshadowed and didn't make much sense when you think about it. The plots that form in the movie and the total outcome are very predictible, not to mention how they sneak in some family values as you know what's going to happen between the Kirby family. The script develops new characters that are two-dimensional at best that we've all seen somehwere before as far as intellect and emotion goes, while Dr. Alan Grant is barely expanded upon from the original, let alone another character from the first film (which I won't mention but I was glad to see). I was always happy to hear references from the first two movies, but those don't come up to much, but when they did, I was glad that the script made more connections with the first two rather then just the area of where dinosaurs were and characters. Again, I was disappointed considering how good writers Taylor and Payne are, but this movie does not consist of much talk. You'll hear some stuff in the first half-hour that deals with the dinosaurs and other things, but once the actual search begins, you'll hear a lot of screaming, a lot of uninspired and cheesy "help" lines and a lot of... not talking. Yet within this, there are some nuggets to be found such as some pretty funny jokes or situations. I heard there were a lot of problems with the script and that it was written as the film went along with its shooting. I guess it sort of shows, but this movie is heavy on action which I will get to next. Let me just say that if you're expecting a hardcore plot, a lot of intense dialogue and the wonderful originality Payne and Taylor usually bring to their work, you're not going to find it here (I don't think their credibility will be ruined that much either). That's okay though, as that's not the point of this movie. The script is supposed to be like this, though I felt the movie could have been even better if there was a whole lot more development and more of a plot. "Jurassic Park III" is nothing new in the story department, and despite what's been done before and how it sometimes doesn't add up, I just clicked with the story. It sounds like I bashed this script, but I rather enjoyed the campy fun it brings. But the ending... prepare to be confused.

The man responsible for all of this is director Joe Johnston. I actually am a pretty big fan of his work, as he put together some nice family based films with "Jumanji", the crinimally overlooked "October Sky" and the live action portions of the 1994 animated bomb "The Pagemaster". When I heard he would be directing it, my doubts began to form. It was nothing against him or his work personally, as I said I really like what he's done before, but to me, Steven Spielberg was really the only one who could handle this franchise with his great storytelling methods and how he knows the world of dinosaurs and the first two films. Okay, so maybe we did need a change after "The Lost World", but to me, it just didn't feel right that Spielberg would not be directing the third one. I don't know why, it just didn't sit right with me, I'll even go as far as saying it really annoyed me. I felt the movie would be terrible (but not as bad as "The Lost World", hohoho) and it would just be a pathetic cash-in that would be messy as all hell. Spielberg pretty much created the first two films, and with this, it's like a parent losing his or her child and handing it to someone new to take care of. I know I keep going on and on about this, but the whole money-making factors, how Spielberg was a giant part of both films... it just seems forced and not really fitting, just out-of-place (I guess this is what turned me off from seeing the movie originally). Still, Spielberg isn't gone totally (he executive produced) and I've accepted that Joe Johnston directed the movie. So how does Johnston stack up? He does an incredible job and despite my inhibitions at first, there was really nothing to be worred about and Johnston is a fine Spielberg replacment. Johnston sets this movie at a breakneck speed, it's really only an hour and a half. Compare that to the first two, which were over two hours long. Here, Johnston gives the audience what they want: less science crap, a hell lot more action and dinosaurs. I talked about the script earlier, and here, he gives a roller coaster ride of sorts where the action never really ends. The action scenes are pretty incredible and really well executed. This movie is not scary like the first one, nor creates a giant conflict like the second. Here, it's just dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs. The dinosaurs here are a lot more advanced and better, and do look really amazing. Stan Winston, who worked on the first two, returns and I was glad he did the third one. The dinosaurs are really cleancut and blend perfectly with the actors and settings. Still, with that said, with the action sequences there is only so much that you can accomplish. While they can be thrilling and are a lot of fun to watch, I found some of them to be a bit static and lacked a bit of punch. I also felt there could have been a few more even (now I'm being crazy), and that some could have been expanded a little more. Still, I'm not complaining. This movie is a lot of fun, it's popcorn entertainment. You don't have to think, you just sit back and enjoy the ride. Johnston tries to build tension a little, but it really doesn't work so well. Still, there's a whole lot of action and some great sequences that will bring joy to a lot of movie lovers out there. Johnston knows the movie and again, knows what people want to see in this movie and that's why it works so well. It has a nice, dark visual style, great editing and a great pace so you don't feel that the movie drags on. What I didn't like though is how the first two movies captured the wonder of the dinosaurs. While as an audience we've seen them before and while they look better, I felt with the characters the wonder was needed, but alas, that Spielberg sort of deal can't be found. Basically, Johnston brings the "Jurassic Park" franchise into the new millennium and I look forward to seeing him direct if more sequels are produced. Again, I accepted Johnston as a director for this movie, and he does connect as a director with this franchise very well. The torch has been passed seamlessly and I'm very glad about that.

The acting here is quite good for what it is. True, this movie is not dialogue driven, but when people say something I found their deliveries to be really good and natural. Physical aspects and emotions also tell a lot, and the cast does a great, solid job here. Tea Leoni, who I've previously bashed, I really enjoyed in this movie. So she doesn't say much, but her delivery was not akward and she is up to the challange with this role. William H. Macy, an actor I love and who I never expected to do a movie like this, I guess also sold out. Still, he brings his usual deadpan charm to Paul Kirby and I guess give this movie more as far as acting, he really does a fine job with the movie as expected, since Macy is a gifted actor as far as I am concerned (he complained a lot about making the movie but once it came out he seemed pretty happy). The other supporting roles are nice (and the mystery returning character I mentioned earlier), but I was happy to see Sam Neill back on deck as Grant. He was probably my favorite human character from all the movies, and Neill is also a great actor who brings his cunning senses, good skills and believable persona to Grant once again. Overall, the acting is very strong.

Another part of this movie are the sound elements. John Williams does not return to compose a new score for the movie, but his beloved and still catchy theme from the original returns and is overused a tad bit. Still, I was not expecting much with Don Davis' score, but I was really surprised what he pulled off. He creates a fantastic and thrilling score that sounds like something Williams would do as he sets it nicely to what is happening on screen. Not all of it is memorable, but he does a fairly good job as it represents moods and feelings. Also, the sound editing and sounds here are remarkable. The crashes, the noises... they sound noise while the dinosaur screechings are the most realistic and terrifying yet.

"Jurassic Park III" is a movie that most people are going to love and have a good time with, while others are going to hate. Those expecting a dino romp filled with deep characters and a balance of story and action... shouldn't. They should really just enjoy the ride despite how different it may actually seem. True, it may have been a nicer, but there's no denying how enjoyable "Jurassic Park III" really is. This is Joe Johnston's Jurassic Park and he does a lot of great things with it. I didn't want to see this movie at first as I was turned off by the bad press, no Spielberg directing and a few other things, but I was really surprised how much I liked the movie. Just give in and enjoy, you won't be disappointed and you'll have a good time at the movies. It gets the job done by entertaining. Besides, isn't that the point of movies?

 

"Jurassic Park III" is being released in two seperate versions individually (plus apart of the Jurassic Park Trilogy). There's a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a full frame transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transer is rather good, though I found it to be slightly disappointing. Despite the slight edge enhancment, this transfer embodies what many transfers should. There is some slight grain which is a bit noticeable, but it's all a rather spotless print thankfully. I didn't notice many blemishes, any scratches or any pieces of dirt which I was really happy about. There is some slight shimmering that is hardly noticeable in the scene or two they appear in. Colors and fleshtones look pretty natural and are well saturated throughout. The crisp greens of the island and dinosaur colors do standout. Black levels and detail are great too. So what is wrong with this transfer? It gives off this annoying, somewhat hazy/somewhat out-of-focus-kinda look. Contrast in some scenes are way too high, while there is that halo effect that you can see during some portions of the film. If some slight oversights would have been taken care of, I would have said this is reference quality stuff here.

 

The sound here does not disappoint either and features creative and great sound mixing that is surely to bring any home theater to life. With French and English Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, plus an English DTS track (YES!), I found myself really captured by the mixes. So who wins the battle? DTS, by a small margin. I feel imaging was better, and I was more satisfied with the fuller sound quality it brought. There was also much power to the DTS mix where I felt more centered through the action. Still, no matter which track you choose, you will not be disappointed with the mixing. When you think "Jurassic Park," you really think surround. And that's what you get here. The plane crashing and then the escape, the dinosaurs fighting, the dinosaurs roaring and screeching, the tension filled moments and the giant rip-roaring finale. There are tons of surrounds throughout which I loved and I felt brought a fine experience to the film. The subwoofer has great use here too and truly roars. Tiny sounds such as leaves rustling, grass waving and Don Davis' pretty decent score also are well mixed. The sounds don't fight for attention either, and are mixed as they should be. Dialogue is clear and crisp too. Dynamic range and fidelity are also great. Simply, some of the better mixes I've heard lately. English and Spanish subtitles are included too, in case you need them.

 

No ultimate edition yet... but this Collector's Edition won't disappoint. We begin with The Making Of Jurassic Park III has clips from the first film as well as the third, plus behind the scenes footage of the third. Yet what drives this featurette are the interviews. We have interviews with producer Kathleen Kennedy (who does a lot of talking here), Joe Johnston, Trevor Morgan, Sam Neill, Leoni, William H. Macy, technical advisor Jack Horner, Stan Winston and others. This is a bit fluffy, but has a variety of focus. Where to take the movie next, the special effects and more. It's not bad and runs a little bit under 23 minutes.

Yes, the movie has an Audio Commentary with Stan Winston, Effect Supervisor John Rosengrant, Animation Director Dan Taylor, Mechanical Effects Worker Michael Interi. I was a bit disappointed there wasn't a commentary from Joe Johnston or the screenwriters on their personal input on continuing the franchise, but if you like the technical stuff and that stuff only, you'll go nuts here. They all have some good input on creating the special effects and dinosaurs, and do offer a lot of praise while remembering all sorts of names who worked on the film. They share some jokes, but when there is not much technical stuff happening, they revert back to other stuff and try to fill the gaps, which I appreciated. This track is not for everyone, but if you want to know about the challanges the special effects guys faced, this is a fine track to listen to.

The New Dinosaurs Of Jurassic Park III has film clips and behind the scenes footage, and has interviews with Jack Horner, Joe Johnston, William H. Macy and others. This featurette focuses on creating new dinosaurs and how the new dinos would make the movie different from the others in the previous movies. An interesting focus to say the least, but it's a decent watch at about eight minutes.

Tour Of Stan Winston Studio also has film clips, but I found this to be a rather neat feature. Running over three minutes, this is a montage of people working at Stan Winston's house of magic and behind the scenes footage. As we see how props and dinos come together, it's truly interesting and how many talented people go to work for the film for such stuff. Nicely put together.

A Visit To ILM is broken down into four sections: Concepts, The Process, Muscle Simulation and Compositing. Again, this is truly a more technical type of thing. Under "Concepts," we have an intro from Jim Mitchell, the film's visual effects supervisor who explains the process. We can then see how "The Spinosaurus," "The Preteanodons" and "The Raptors" and how they were created, with rought footage and clips all narrated by animatior director Dan Taylor. In "The Process," we have a Dan Taylor intro that's over a minute and a half, and then "Models," "T-Rex vs. Sipnosaurus," "Pteranodon Air Attack" and "Raptors: Returning The Eggs." Each of these has their own interview, and then you can view the models, the original rough shot and then the final shot. Very cool. In "Muscle Simulation" we have an intro and demo about making the dinos muscle's move and finally, in "Compositing," we see what the process is all about and then how it all comes together. Surprisinly in-depth and detailed. Enjoy!

In Dinosaur Turntables, we get to see basic models for one dozen dinos. This is pretty neat. In the Behind-The-Scenes section, we get to see brief featurettes on how the following shots were made: "Spinosaurus Attacks the Plane," "Raptors Attack Udesky" and "The Lake." Each uses film clips and behind the scenes footage. Well done! Also, there are Storyboards To Final Feature Comparison for "The Lab," "The Avlary" and "The Boat Attack." You see storyboards at the top and final film at the bottom.

In Montana: Finding New Dinosaurs, this is a true to life featurette where we see paleontologists at work. Lasting a little over four minutes, this is informative and goes well with the film.

The rest is purely, and I mean purely promotional. There are six Universal Recommendations, Production Notes that are decent and Cast and Filmmakers bios while the Jurassic Park III Archives is pure marketing: We have Production Photographs set to music and in a spiffy design (lasting 2:50) while there is also a Poster Gallery that automatically moves for us (or that we can control). We have Theatrical Trailers for all three Jurassic Park films, and under the Special Offers, we can watch commercials for the soundtrack, Universal theme parks and the new ScanCommand Jurassic Park III game which seems to be a revival of Barcode Battler (YES! and you probably have no idea what I am talking about). On the DVD-ROM side, there are a few weblinks.

 

"Jurassic Park III" is a really fun movie. Don't take it seriously and you'll enjoy it. Audiences have, as the film was one of summer 2001's biggest hits, grossing nearly 200 million dollars (but the lowest grossing so far). This DVD has a great presentation, fantastic sound mixes and a good deal of supplements fans will like. Rent this if you want a good time, but if you liked it, get it for your collection!