Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition
It's got Sam Neill, it's got a jungle-choked island off the coast of Costa Rica, and it's got some pretty impressive dinosaurs which is why watching Jurassic Park III is enough to make anyone feel like they've just experienced deja vu. The one big difference between this and Steven Spielberg's 1993 original? Some of the creatures in this flick can fly (please, hold your applause until the end of the review). Sure, the effects are impressive, and the new big baddie, spinosaurus, can literally kick T-Rex's butt, but this action adventure like middle child The Lost World before it is about as original as fruitcake at Christmas. Things get going when adventure travelers Paul and Amanda Kirby (indie darling William H. Macy and David Duchovny spouse Téa Leoni) convince Dr. Alan Grant (Neil) and his grad student Billy (Alessandro Nivola) to accompany them on an innocent fly-by trip to Isla Sorna, dino-engineering company InGen's experimental "Site B." But it turns out that the Kirbys weren't quite on the up and up, and before you know it, everyone's running for their lives and screaming a lot. That's pretty much the plot; the little twists and turns only add to the number of reasons to run and scream. To give the cast credit, they mostly seem to be getting into it and having fun (particularly Leoni and Macy), but they don't have much in the way of story or motivation to work with (Neill is more or less on autopilot; must've needed some cash...). Which might be okay, if the other part of the movie the prehistoric killing machines lived up to the hype. The special effects guys can argue the new dinos' superiority until they're blue in the face (and they pretty much do exactly that on the DVD's commentary track), but the truth is that, short of honest-to-goodness live dinosaurs, nothing's ever going to be as awe-inspiring as the original Jurassic Park's creatures were back in '93. The velociraptors' new-and-improved skull design (with quills, no less), may reflect new scientific research, but it's not going to scare an audience out of its seats, especially when there isn't a good story behind it. The film does look and sound good on Universal's Collector's Edition DVD: The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is strong, and the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks are clear as a bell (other options include French 5.1 and Spanish and English subtitles). Extras include the aforementioned commentary, a "making-of" documentary (plus featurettes on the movie's new dinosaurs, creature wizard Stan Winston's studio, and dino-hunting in Montana), an interesting effects "seminar" from the folks at ILM, 3D rotations of the CGI dinosaur models, behind-the-scenes and storyboard-to-final-feature comparisons, cast and filmmaker bios, trailers, production photos, a poster gallery, production notes, and DVD-ROM features. Keep-case.