The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 4th

Third `Park' Proves Dull

Remember when "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" came out? Everyone thought the story was pretty good, but Jar-Jar Binks was an annoying nuisance in the film, only a source of cheap comic relief aimed at kids.

The same holds true in "Jurassic Park III." Unlike "Jurassic Park," the second sequel relies on stupid, childlike comedy that cheapens the film with shallow laughs and a shallower plot.

Based very roughly on Michael Crichton's best-selling books "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World," "Jurassic Park III" returns Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to another dinosaur-infested island near Costa Rica to survive a prehistoric world.

Unfortunately, this film lacks the weighty themes that gave depth to the first two "Jurassic Park" movies.

Instead, director Joe Johnston spends most of his time making "Jurassic Park III" into big dinosaur eye candy. This approach is not surprising, given that Johnston comes from a background in visual effects -- he worked on "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," and all three films in the Star Wars trilogy.

So for the "Jurassic Park" enthusiast who came for special effects and puppetry magic, "Jurassic Park III" does not disappoint.

This is because Johnston filmed life-size mechanical dinosaurs doing real damage to real things, instead of relying on computer graphics for the action.

The greatest problem with the film, though, is that there is just no compelling story behind the action. Sure, the animatronics in "Jurassic Park III" are more technologically advanced than in 1993's "Jurassic Park," but effects cannot carry a story.

Though Crichton's works contributed to the creation of the this movie, there is no "Jurassic Park 3" novel to adapt directly to film, and it shows. Consequently, there are no interconnecting levels to the plot, resulting in a one-dimensional film with no depth.

"Jurassic Park III" is nothing more than a very expensive family film.

It fully exploits the public, just like the intent of John Hammond, the dinosaur theme park builder in "Jurassic Park."

Knowing that thousands of parents will take their children to see the life-like dinosaurs on the silver screen, the movie studio probably banked on the fact that they could get away with special effects alone and leave no meat for a real story.

The Tyrannosaurus rex that was played on so heavily in the original movie is dwarfed by the much larger Spinosaurus in this film.

The creators of the film were looking for a more aggressive dinosaur to combat the T-rex's superiority in the earlier films.

Similarly, the Spinosaurus' role in "Jurassic Park III" is analogous to the role of the movie in relation to the others in the dinosaur genre.

Like the Spinosaurus, "Jurassic Park 3" tries to win with over-the-top force. And much like the Spinosaurus in the movie, "Jurassic Park III" has trouble succeeding.

Jonathan Miller can be reached at jlmiller@email.unc.edu.

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