The success of the original “Jurassic Park” had a great deal to do with director Steven Spielberg attempting to prove he could out-do the viewer”s imagination. Before the original film, computer generated images had peaked with films like “Tron,” which showed futuristic, video game-like backgrounds inhabited with real people (well, Bruce Boxleitner). “Jurassic Park” made living, breathing entities out of graphics, and literally (pardon the sweeping generalization) changed how special effects films were realized.
That was eight years ago.
Computer graphics have advanced leaps and bounds since then, as well as the way filmmakers incorporate visuals to enhance storytelling, instead of simply making it the story itself. While “JP3” is still impressive to look at, once the dinosaur has been taken in, there is almost no repeat entertainment value in seeing it again. The much touted Spinosaurus is frightening as we watch it school the infamous T-rex in the art of fighting, but the more it appears on screen, the more the “seams” start to show, and the less the viewer believes a real dinosaur is on screen. Same goes for the flying pteranodon it looks damn cool, but once you”ve seen it, the story does nothing to make it more interesting.
In perfect “special effects movie” style, a troupe of talented actors are squandered and eaten by dinosaurs. The bare-bones script (written by about eleven people, including “Election”s” Alexander Payne) has desperate (and divorced) couple Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) posing as wealthy thrill-seekers who are willing to fund Dr. Grant”s (Sam Neil, returning from the first film) floundering research if he will take them on a fly-over tour of the OTHER dinosaur island, visited in “JP 2.” He agrees, but the whole thing has been a ruse to get an expert on the island to help find the Kirby”s missing son Eric (Trevor Morgan), who has been stranded on the island alone for eight weeks. Throw in the oft-nerdy Michael Jeter as a tough mercenary contact, and Laura Dern in a benign yet incredibly useful cameo, and you”ve got yourself quite a unused group of talented actors that utter lines such as “It”s a giant birdcage,” and replies of “Yeah, but for what?”
The silliness of this exchange by people on an island inhabited by dinosaurs pretty much speaks (screams, actually) for itself.
Now, snarky-ness aside, the movie itself just isn”t as much fun as the first “JP” installment, though is far superior to the 1997 sequel. The action here is passable, and if brainless action is what you”re looking for, it”s not a bad way to spend six bucks (don”t spend any more than this). Sure, the dialogue is hackneyed and the actors are just biding time before they”re handed paychecks, but it”s really hard to eat popcorn and root on dinosaurs during a production of “Measure for Measure.”