Jurassic Park III (2001)

No Force on Earth or Heaven Could Get Me on That Island

Oh no! It’s getting worse! At least so far as Rotten Tomatoes is concerned, the third part to this trilogy is even worse than the second, dropping down to a lowly 50%. After watching the second one, I’m not sure if this movie also suffers from the comparison to the first movie that hurt the second one or if it benefited from comparison to the second one. That sentence just confused me. So, instead of trying to figure that out, let’s jump into my review of Jurassic Park 3, written by Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor, directed by Joe Johnston, and starring Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Trevor Morgan, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young, and Laura Dern.

Eric (Trevor Morgan) and his mother’s boyfriend Ben (Mark Harelik) are parasailing off the coast of the infamous Isla Sorna when something goes wrong and the people driving their boat disappear in the mist below them. They look up to see that the boat is about to collide with some rocks, so they detach the cable and sail off towards the shoreline. Meanwhile, Alan Grant (Sam Neill) is visiting Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) and her family. He then goes and does some presentation in order to try to get more funding for his digs, but people only want to ask him about Jurassic Park. He returns to the dig site where his assistant, Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola), shows Grant a device they have that makes replica’s of Velociraptor resonating chambers, something they think shows that Velociraptor’s can communicate. Grant is then approached by a wealthy couple, Paul (William H. Macy) and Amanda Kirby (Tea Leoni), who ask Grant to escort them on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. Grant is not down, but reluctantly agrees once Paul’s checkbook comes out. Much to Grant’s dismay, they land on Isla Sorna instead of just flying over it. It turns out that Paul and Amanda are Eric’s parents and, frustrated with the government’s decision to not look for Eric, hired Grant, Billy, and three mercenaries (Bruce A. Young, Michael Jeter, and John Diehl) to help them find him. And even more to Grant’s dismay, the mercenaries, and their airplane, are quickly dispatched by a giant Spinosaurus and they are now trapped on Isla Sorna.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. I actually thought about saying that in my review of The Lost World too, but I figured it’d be best to hold it until here. Another lackluster installment in the Jurassic Park series, but this one they decided they needed to finish off by putting the rest of the cast of the first, great movie that they had not yet put into a shitty Jurassic Park movie. They knocked out Goldblum, Attenborough, and the kids in the second one, leaving them only with Neill and Dern. Mission accomplished. The story was passable here, but they did a couple of things that I thought were so ill-conceived that it topped the previous movie in bad ideas. The graphics, however, were probably better than they were in the previous two movies. If that was all it took, this would be a great movie. It’s not all it takes for me, though. It uses a much flimsier approach to getting the traumatized person back to the island, and one they already used. Neill was already hesitant to go to the island in the first movie, and Attenborough’s cash got him to go back. I understand Macy and Leoni’s reason for going to the island, but Neill should know better. I know he was heading towards hard times, but money shouldn’t have worked as it did in the first movie, even if he was so sure that he’d just be flying overhead. Has going to these islands ever worked out, Grant? On the plane, they used one of the worst ideas they ever had by making Grant have a dream that Billy was a Velociraptor, that then started speaking his name as the non-dream Billy did. This was SO corny and stupid. If you were so worried that you had gone too long into the movie without showing dinosaurs you could’ve just waited a few more seconds until they saw them. Otherwise there was really no reason to try to do something so dumb. This movie also does something I hate: they bring an expert, but then choose to ignore him. When they’re staring at a Tyrannosaurus, Grant says “Don’t move” and everyone runs. Why bother bringing an expert if you’re going to ignore him at the risk of your lives? It gets worse that they then mention almost exactly what I just said right after I wrote it down. They do a lot in this movie to show how intelligent the Velociraptor’s are, but I think they went way too far. The worst example of this is when they’re looking around the deserted lab, looking at the broken eggs and dead dinosaurs in jars. I can believe that Leoni would look at a Raptor that appeared to be in a jar and think it was just another one, but I won’t believe a Raptor would be three feet away from a person that was looking right at it and be intelligent enough to know it should just hold still and they would think it was a mannequin. As a good thing, I was happy to see that (even though it took them three movies to do it) they finally made Pterodactyl’s a good part of the movie (which I say because I believe they were shown flying in one of the other movies). The look and mood of the Pterodactyl cage area was pretty nice. The thing that bothered me about them is that Leoni forgets to close the cage, allowing the Pterodactyl’s to fly free in the world, and the people leaving the island really don’t seem all that concerned that they let them loose on the world. They could have at least thrown a “Don’t worry, they can’t fly far enough to reach the mainland” to make me feel better about it.

The very worst part of this movie, to me, was the Spinosaurus. Not the Spinosaurus itself, but what they did with him. I understand that you wanted to amp things up for this movie by throwing in a dinosaur that was bigger and scarier than the Tyrannosaurus, but having him lay a massive beatdown on the T-Rex we had grown to love over the last two movies was bad form. You can have the Spinosaurus beat the T-Rex, but you can’t allow him to make the T-Rex his bitch. T-Rex did right by you for two movies already, and this is how you treat him? Especially when you replace him with a dinosaur that can’t possibly make it through a tiny, metal door, but can bust through a giant, barbed, metal fence like it was tissue paper. For another good note, I can’t think of any dinosaurs in the movie that didn’t look good throughout.

The performances were still pretty solid in this movie, probably because they didn’t know how bad it was going to be while filming it. Sam Neill still brings it, and Laura Dern still does nothing for me, but this time it was because she was barely in it. William H. Macy is just a great actor, even in this movie. Tea Leoni was a bit of a miss for me. Her performance was fine, but her hairdo was not. She’s gorgeous with long, brown hair, and even really good with long, blond hair, but short, blond, dike-y hair? Not so much. I kind of liked the Eric character in the movie, but not really because of Trevor Morgan. I mainly liked it because it was a total swagger jack of Newt from Aliens. It was almost the same character! A little kid that has to survive for a prolonged period of time in a place full of dangerous creatures and is also all alone because those dangerous creatures killed everyone else. But, instead of dying as you would expect, they become an expert on them and are able to get around somehow. Same damned character! But I did love Newt, so some of that comes off on this character. I got pissed when the little shit was cocky enough to ask Alan Grant if he knew what a Raptor claw was. Are you shitting me? This guy was studying Raptors when you were still semen in William H. Macy’s balls AND he survived the first movie. You’ve been at this shit for eight weeks. Cocky little fucker. Thankfully, he gets punished for this a few times in this movie. I got to thinking that, after being stranded on the island, having your adult accompaniment killed, and then getting singularly selected by the Pterodactyls as food for their kids, you ever think that God might just want you dead? I will say, in favor of Neill, Macy, and Leoni, there was at least one point in the movie when I totally related to them. Sadly, while watching this movie, it was the scene where they were digging through giant mounds of shit.

The third part to the series further tries to drag down the great things Jurassic Park did. The tools it uses are a decent story bogged down with stupid ideas, the defeat of a much beloved dinosaur in order to replace it with a dinosaur I don’t give a shit about, and hit or miss performances, some of which were stolen right out of Aliens. I feel like this movie did to Jurassic Park what the Spinosaurus did to the T-Rex. The worst thing in the movie was that damned ringtone they used constantly for the satellite phone. Every time I hear that ringtone on someone’s cell phone it reminds me of this movie … and to kill the person whose phone was ringing. You can skip this movie, but I can’t ’cause I’m a reviewer and the thing came in my three pack. Jurassic Park gets “Reverse Darwinism – survival of the most idiotic” out of “This is T-Rex pee.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Ghost Town (2008)

RedBox, you’ve done it again.  You’ve given me the ability to see movies I didn’t trust enough to see earlier.  I’ve always found that I like Ricky Gervais, but I never trust his movies.  First I was surprised by The Invention of Lying to find that I liked it, then I was not as surprised to find I did not care for either Night at the Museum movies.  This movie is not those movies.  This movie is Ghost Town, starring of course Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, with a little bit from Aasif Mandvi and Kristen Wiig.

Ghost Town is the story of a douche nozzle named Bertram Pincus (Gervais), a dentist, who goes in to a doctor for surgery on his butt, administered by Kristen Wiig.  On his way home he starts seeing people that people can walk through.  People of questionable amounts of life.  People that are ghosts.  Zak Bagans runs in and shoves a digital recorder in their face, but Gervais can hear them sans digital recorders, and see them without the use of full-spectrum cameras.  Gervais is quick to return to Wiig to find that he died a little during his surgery, which has caused him to Haley Joel Osment it up.  The most pushy of the ghosts is recently deceased Greg Kinnear who needs Gervais to help his widow Tea Leoni break up with her boyfriend who only wants her for her money that Kinnear left her.  Gervais, being a more douchey version of myself (someone who does not like other people), develops a bit of a crush on Leoni and decides the best way to get her to dump her boyfriend is to become her boyfriend himself.  The rest of the movie is the quest to make this happen before Bruce Willis shows up.

I’m going to throw out all subtlety here: This movie is great.  It’s equal parts funny and touching, and also something I can find myself relating to because I feel that my loner ways will eventually progress to the levels of Gervais’ in this movie, and this will happen while I work to become a dentist.  I wouldn’t say that this movie is laugh out loud funny in the same vein as previously reviewed Hot Tub Time Machine as that’s not really Gervais’ style.  It’s subtle and witty humor, which I tend to value about as highly as the laugh out loud kind.  I may have mentioned it in another review (I’ve kind of lost track by now), but I one day intend to marry Kristen Wiig, or at least kidnap her and force her to entertain me.  Wiig tends to be the funniest part of any movie she’s in, and she keeps that up here.  The rest of the movie is pretty funny too.  It’s also nice to see Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi showing up in more movies, as I believe the only other one’s I’ve seen him in are Spiderman 3 and The Last Airbender, and I like him too much to think he deserves such a resume.

This movie is more than a simple comedy.  It has a dusting of Rom-Com to it as well.  But it’s also very touching, as aforementioned.  Obviously there’s going to be sadness when there are dead people around, but the big secret of the movie (Spoiler, I suppose) is that the ghosts are not, in fact, stuck around because THEY have unfinished business, but because the people they loved won’t let them go.  So it’s not until Leoni falls for Gervais (or the other way around, not to spoil that) that Kinnear can finally be let go.  And the last scene is just purdy.  Leoni comes to visit Gervais in his dentist office because she has something wrong with her tooth, and the movie ends with Leoni saying “It hurts when I smile” and Gervais saying “I can help you with that”.  That is just damn purdy writing.

This movie has the kind of message I like to see in a movie: That someone uglier and fatter than me with similar personality problems can get better and land them a Tea Leoni.  And as I’m skinnier, prettier, and less emotionally damaged than Gervais in this movie, I should be able to land a younger Tea Leoni, like Leoni from Bad Boys.  Mmmmmmm.  Sorry, I got distracted.  I give this movie “The feel good movie I REALLY needed to see today” out of 13.