Tag Archives: Joe Johnston

Jurassic Park III (2001) Review

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Jurassic Park 3

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains medium level violence
Cast:
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
William H. Macy as Paul Kirby
Téa Leoni as Amanda Kirby
Alessandro Nivola as Billy Brennan
Trevor Morgan as Eric Kirby
Michael Jeter as Udesky
Director: Joe Johnston

Paul and Amanda Kirby, a wealthy couple, offer research funding to Alan Grant, a doctor, on the condition that he accompanies them to find their missing son on a deadly island.

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I had been making my way rewatching the Jurassic Park movies. I seemed to recall the third film being the worst of the Jurassic movies but didn’t have much memory of it beyond it starring Sam Neill and being the first film in the series to not be directed by Steven Spielberg. After rewatching it, I definitely think it’s the worst of the series, even though I have some enjoyment with it.

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Jurassic Park III’s plot is a bit weird when you compare it to the previous movies. It plays out more like a creature feature B-movie than a Jurassic Park movie. Not that there isn’t some positives in that, the plot is a relatively and refreshingly simple and straightforward monster movie. It’s also short at around 90 minutes in length. However, the plot just isn’t substantial, it’s a bit too simplistic, dull and is rather paint by numbers. The Lost World increased the number of dumb decisions made by characters, and Jurassic Park III increased them even further. This is especially the case with the Kirbys (as played by William H. Macy and Tea Leoni), who are very likely the worst part of the movie, quite irritating and hard to like. The plot connivences can also be a lot, even the reason to bring Sam Neill’s Alan Grant to the dinosaur island is just so contrived. It is definitely a movie where you need to suspend your disbelief even beyond everything happening with the dinosaurs. There are some very silly moments and aspects. For example, there are times where raptors almost seem to be talking to each other in dinosaur language or something. Sometimes the film can be funny though (intentional or not), like infamous scene in the first act where Alan has a dream, which has become the biggest joke to come out from this movie. It is worth noting that there were issues during production, with the script being written while they were filming, and it certainly shows. Not to say that it is not enjoyable. It does work as a B level monster flick at times, and it can be entertaining. It helps that the plot is fairly tight and is told at a high pace, not letting itself drag. It is basically a slasher movie with dinosaurs and plays more like a Syfy channel flick, and as that, Jurassic Park III does the job alright.

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There is a talented cast involved, unfortunately the characters aren’t interesting. Sam Neill returns as Alan Grant in the lead role and reliably gives a good performance, it was nice to see him again. Alessandro Nivola was a nice addition, he especially works well alongside Sam Neill. Those two were the two performances and characters I actually liked. The Kirbys as played by William H. Macy and Tea Leoni are rather annoying characters who weigh heavily on the plot, despite the talent of their actors. Leoni in particular is reduced to screaming throughout the whole movie and is very likely a strong contender for the worst major character in a Jurassic Park movie. However, the worst handling of a character in Jurassic Park III would be Ellie Sattler as played by Laura Dern, who returns from the first movie but only has a couple of scenes here, she’s barely involved with the plot. It was so minimal it honestly would’ve felt less offensive if she wasn’t in the movie at all.

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Instead of being directed by Steven Spielberg like the last couple movies were, Jurassic Park III is directed by Joe Johnston. He’s certainly no Spielberg, but his work on the whole is fine, the technical aspects are pretty good. The cinematography is nice enough and the production design is impressive. There are also some stunning visual effects, even if they aren’t quite as good as in the previous couple of movies. The action sequences are generally solid and tense, a highlight being a scene later in the movie involving a large bird cage. While the dinosaurs are portrayed okay enough for the most part, they just lack the magnetic screen presence that they had previously. I remember a scene where it tries to replicate the feeling of wonder from before, like when we first see a dinosaur in the first Jurassic Park, with the main characters watching in awe as the John Williams score swells. In the third movie however, it just doesn’t have nearly the same impact and instead comes across as hollow. The deaths are probably the most violent of the whole series, possibly even more so than The Lost World, sometimes it is like its from a slasher movie, just one involving dinosaurs.

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I don’t dislike Jurassic Park III, but its easily the worst of the Jurassic movies. Not that it doesn’t have some positive things; I liked some of the actors (mainly Sam Neill and Alessandro Nivola), the simple approach, and some of the action. However with its messy script, annoying characters and underwhelming (if competent) direction, its just feels subpar compared to the previous two movies. However, as a dinosaur slasher flick, it works. Its no surprise that after Jurassic Park III, there wouldn’t be another Jurassic Park movie until 14 years later.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Review

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Captain America

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Chester Phillips
Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan as Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Neal McDonough as Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan
Derek Luke as Gabe Jones
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Director: Joe Johnston

It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his part and join America’s armed forces, but the military rejects him because of his small stature. Finally, Steve gets his chance when he is accepted into an experimental program that turns him into a supersoldier called Captain America. Joining forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Captain America leads the fight against the Nazi-backed HYDRA organization.

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Although making a Captain America movie isn’t as big of a risk as making a Thor movie, it is still pretty hard creating a Captain America movie that takes him seriously. The 1990 film didn’t help this movie’s chances. However like Thor, Captain America is a surprisingly good entry in the Marvel universe. It’s not one of the best, but it is enjoyable, well-made and it does have an engaging story and establishes one of The Avengers’ key members.

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One of the best parts about this movie is of course the fact that it actually manages to take Captain America seriously. There are actually stages of Steve Rodgers becoming Captain America, as well as explanations for all the things that happen, for example there’s a reason Captain America decided to use a shield over other weapons. It’s not like the 1990 film where he becomes Captain America and suddenly has this design. I also thought it was a strong decision to have Captain America’s first appearance be in a World War 2 setting. It would be so easy to just have Captain America created and then rush his appearance into Modern day (again like the 1990 film) but it was a great idea to have him in this setting. A lot of the supporting characters end up playing roles in later movies so these characters aren’t just wasted being in the 1940s.

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Chris Evans is really believable as Captain America. It is so easy just to have Steve Rodgers be this generic good guy character but Evans makes this character feel believable. The supporting cast is also good, consisting of Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper and Hayley Atwell (the latter of which did a particularly good job). Hugo Weaving plays the main villain Red Skull and although he is good (and better than most of the other Marvel villains) he does seem like a standard villain. I don’t know much about Red Skull but I know that he’s basically Captain America’s biggest enemy so it’s unfortunate that he’s not very interesting here.

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The action scenes of course are well filmed, I especially liked how they incorporated Captain America’s shield. I also liked the look of Captain America’s suit, it feels like a war suit than a goofy looking outfit, something that the first Avengers didn’t get right. The only thing production wise that could’ve been improved was Red Skull’s head. It looked a little goofy and even the 1990 film version looked better. An effect that’s worth mentioning is that at the beginning of the movie, Steve Rodgers looks really skinny before he goes through the experiment and I thought that the effects used to show his change was really impressive.

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Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good movie. Its sequel, The Winter Soldier, was the movie that really advanced the Marvel series but this first film did do what it set out to do: make audiences take Captain America seriously. Not only that, it had a pretty engaging and interesting story, with good acting and good action. The film could’ve been better if they improved Red Skull but for the most part Captain America: The First Avenger achieves what it set out to do.