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Hey kids, do you like... DINOSAURS!? Do you like giant monster lizard things stomping about, eating people like they're made of... well, warm, tasty flesh? Did you like Jurassic Park, but felt that The Lost World did little to satisfy your dino-cravings? Well, you'll be glad to hear that Jumanji-man Joe Johnston's JP3 is the sequel Spielberg should have made last time around.
Not that it's going to change the face of cinema or anything. But in terms of summer popcorn, it's a far chunkier offering than JP2. It get us onto the island and into the dinos' jaws as quickly as possible, but never ditches solid, likeable characters (including the kid!) and a gently, self-knocking sense of humour in order to do it.
Between them Sam Neill and William H Macy compensate for the inevitable plot holes, the ""Oh, is that it?"" ending and Téa Leoni's irritating flappy-girl turn. Neill keeps it dry and sardonic, while Macy is perfect as the average schmo dealing with the idea that he can be chomped to mush any second. He brings some welcome humanity to the CG action. Speaking of which...
With JP3, the mantle of king-dino passes from T-Rex to Spinosaurus, a bigger, nastier and faster "super-predator" than Rex. It takes a little while to get used to this new addition to the monster family, especially as he looks like a ginormous, upright crocodile with a frill on his back, but once it's chomped on a few support cast, you shouldn't have a problem accepting it as the new daddy.
Sidelined in JP2, the raptors move to centre stage again, with their lizardine menace upped by the revelation that they can talk to each other making them "smarter than primates". But even they aren't as creepy as the razor-beaky pteranodons, striking from a misty sky in one of the film's most thrilling set-pieces.
It all, unfortunately, goes a bit wrong at the end - like fellow summer flick Tomb Raider it's missing a showstopping climax - and it's clear that scenes were dropped and plot strands snipped with little tidying up done afterwards. But Johnston keeps it pacy and satisfyingly suspenseful, so while it's never quite breathtaking, it's never boring either.
Scratch Spielberg's sloppy The Lost World from your brain, and focus on Joe Johnston's simple but monster-packed addition to the franchise. He's obviously realised it's better to make a fun, lean B-pic than a disappointing, bloated blockbuster.
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