People do stupid things. They fly kites near high-tension wires. They tailgate on black ice. Some will even throw Sammy Sosa a 3-1 fastball right down the middle. Just plain dumb. So if there’s a remote island swarming with man-eating, genetically engineered dinosaurs, don’t expect a two-film body count to deter other thrill-seekers from venturing dangerously close and becoming part of the Jurassic Park buffet line. The franchise’s third installment opens with a man and boy parasailing just off the coast of dino-infested Isla Sorna. After being forced to disconnect their tow line, the pair drifts into the trees, leaving the young man’s parents back home desperate to retrieve him. Mom and Dad hire a plane, a crew and a pair of paleontologists, one of whom is Dr. Alan Grant, a survivor of the original film who wouldn’t go anywhere near the island except that 1) he’s desperate for money to fund more research, and 2) he’s unaware of the lying couple’s true intentions. Alan thinks they want an aerial tour. When their plane crashes into the native flora, everyone’s stranded and it’s just a matter of time before a scaly welcoming committee has them running for their lives.
positive elements: On separate occasions, Alan, Paul, Billy, Amanda and Eric all engage in selfless heroics on behalf of people in peril. Eric reminds Alan of the need to express sincere appreciation to others. Alan’s old research partner, Ellie, articulates her undying support and friendship. Realizing that noble motives don’t excuse bad decisions, Alan warns Billy, “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” Although parental desperation leads the Kirbys to deceive and jeopardize the safety of others (far from virtuous), the couple risks everything to save their son. [Spoiler Warning] The film has a warm spot for two-parent families, reuniting a divorced couple during the search for their only child and keeping all three safe ‘til the end credits despite some frighteningly close calls. After his associate is attacked by flying reptiles, Alan regrets that his last words to Billy were unkind.
spiritual content: Alan reverently alludes to Darwin and evolutionary theory, yet later comments that the dinos were created by scientists who were “playing God.” In appreciation for a colleague’s support, Alan says, “God bless you, Ellie.” So, Dr. Grant, which is it, an impersonal emergence from the primordial ooze or a benevolent Creator who can bless people? Also, a mercenary sarcastically claims that he made his shady business contact “through church.”
sexual content: None, though Amanda is shown taking off her shirt, revealing her brassiere.
violent content: This is where JP3 earns its rating, though none of the dino-induced deaths is quite as disturbing as watching two T-Rexes grab a guy at opposite ends and tear him in half, as seen in The Lost World. Intense action violence ranges from a plane crash to people being traumatized by angry dinosaurs. Two men disappear from the deck of a boat (implied deaths, blood stains). Early on, mercenaries are chomped and/or stomped by a huge Spinosaurus (this sequel’s largest, most intimidating species). Another is subdued by a pack of Velociraptors which kill their prey and later take a bite out of its head. Eric gets snatched up by an airborne Pteranodon and dropped into a nest full of hungry, violently pecking offspring. Several of the bird-like reptiles converge on another character as well. A decaying human corpse falls out of a tree. The special effects team pits an angry T-Rex against the Spinosaurus in a duel to the death reminiscent of King Kong and old Ray Harryhausen movies. Also, a thug knocks Alan cold with a single punch. Alan belts Paul.
crude or profane language: Fewer than 10 instances, all mild for a PG-13..
drug and alcohol content: Beer is consumed at a honky-tonk.
other negative elements: While not exactly “objectionable,” a gross scene finds a guy reaching into a huge dung heap to retrieve a cell phone.
conclusion: More of the same. Sure, audiences get plenty of dino-bang for their buck this time around (there are as many computer-generated creatures in Jurassic Park III as in its 1993 and 1997 predecessors combined), but the franchise hasn’t evolved much in eight years. Flying Pteranodons, a few Ankylosauruses, a crimson Ceratsaurus and the towering Spinosaurus add a new dimension, but it’s basically another helping of scared humans pondering the wisdom of genetic engineering while trying to avoid becoming extinct themselves. The writing here is actually pretty good. I liked the way a fractured family is drawn together as they try to keep from being—quite literally—torn apart. And the action is wild. Mature viewers who had no qualms about ravenous reptiles in Jurassic Park and The Lost World will enjoy this thrill ride. Conversely, families turned off by earlier carnage have no reason to expect part three to be any different.