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Jurassic Park III (2001)
Makes The Lost World look good
This is the film in which we learn that velociraptors are "smarter than primates". Please!! The raptors as portrayed in the first film possessed intelligence far beyond their cranial capacity, but I suspended my disbelief and simply enjoyed a fine piece of movie-making. I failed to do that in Part III. The silly plot of this film was a very flimsy excuse to get Sam Neill et al. back amongst the dinosaurs, which this time around were rather more unconvincing than they had been in the original Jurassic Park. The Spinosaurus and the raptors were no longer animals - they were movie monsters. And this film showed as much respect for realism as the majority of monster movies. Spinosaurus, an animal about which scientists know very little, was given a fish-eater's skull but with bone-crushing T-rex-like teeth. Worse than that, it lacked the spark of life that Spielberg's dinosaurs seemed to possess. And that, I think was the crux of the problem - Spielberg's deft touch was absent. Okay, so The Lost World was a pretty poor offering ... but it did have its moments, and compared to Part III it suddenly doesn't seem so bad.
The saving grace of this film was, in my opinion, the pteranodons. They were new and different, and unlike the Spinosaurus they were very convincing. Their first appearance was genuinely scary, and for me was the highlight of the film.
The cast was okay. Sam Neill is always value for money, and William H Macy is, I am convinced, incapable of giving a bad performance. But they all suffered from having to recite uninspired dialogue and do the very stupid things that the 'plot' demanded of them. Apparently they threw out the original script at the start of the shoot and made it up (practically) as they went along. It's hard to imagine how the original story could have been worse than the final product.
Still, it was high energy entertainment, and at under 90 minutes did not outstay its welcome. Recommended for the undiscerning.
Jurassic Park 8/10 Jurassic Park: The Lost World 5/10 Jurassic Park III 4/10
Curse II: The Bite (1989)
Worth watching for one erotic scene
The movie is lousy, I won't pretend it isn't. But it will always rank in my Top 10 list of Most Erotic Movies Of All Time, because of one scene near the end of the film. Of course eroticism is subjective, but in my own humble opinion this film contains some of the most erotic footage ever committed to film. Fans of Showgirls (which I found about as erotic as corned beef) will probably not agree, but fans of Dario Argento's brand of erotic horror, or of JoBeth Williams towards the end of Poltergeist, should really check out The Bite (as it is known in England). Skip through the first hour or so if you wish - go on, I won't tell anyone - but that one scene will amply reward you.
Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000)
The series is getting tired
The first one was an awe-inspiring, ground-breaking triumph of a game, perfectly paced and plotted. I've played it all the way through 3 times now and I'm still not tired of it. The second, graphically far better, was not nearly so exciting or innovative, but it was eminently playable despite having way too many human adversaries. The third was beautiful to look at and in terms of playability was something of a return to form, though the shift from fantastic locations to more humdrum ones (London rooftops and subways??) made parts of the game (dare I say it?) rather dull. That said, it was still a great game with some very memorable moments. Number 4 was supposedly a return to TR's roots, though with the entire game based in pretty much the same place and all-too-similar environments, this was a duller-than-dull entry in the series. I was never hooked - it took me months to finish it.
TR Chronicles, while not quite so tedious as The Last Revelation, is a mere shadow of Lara's former glory. Graphically it's fine, though the block-based level design should long ago have been superseded by something more realistic. Playing Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine recently showed me what the later TR's *should* have been aiming for. Chronicles features several stories, none of them particularly involving, though the weaponless teen Lara on a remote Scottish island was quite cool and definitely the best adventure of the batch. And what's with the difficulty....? Tomb Raider had some pretty challenging moments (fire-topped pillars, anyone?), 2 and 3 were progressively harder (I don't think I could have got through 3 without a walkthrough). 4 was pretty tough in places as I recall (though it was such an unmemorable game that I can't really remember). But Tomb Raider Chronicles seems, by comparison, astonishingly easy. I didn't feel challenged. (Well, perhaps in terms of figuring out what to do next, but certainly not in terms of manoeuvring difficulty.)
Ratings for the series (out of 5):
Tomb Raider *****
Tomb Raider 2 ***
Tomb Raider 3 ****
The Last Revelation *1/2
Tomb Raider Chronicles **
The series needs to be either dropped or radically revitalised. Perhaps the forthcoming movie can do that. Let's hope so.
Hell Mountain (1998)
Heck, I thought it was great - one of the most erotic films I've ever come across. I mean, you don't rent something like this for the plot, do you? The whole concept - of nubile young women working as rock miners in the most ridiculously impractical (i.e. revealing) outfits - was brilliant. I sure as hell wasn't rooting for Jack Scalia's rescue team. Please bear in mind that in England, where 'the real thing' is not to be found in video stores, this is generally as 'adult' as it gets. Having said that, I'd rather see this movie than any hardcore flick - this was far more erotic. The director and I seem to share a very similar taste in camera angles! And the hosing-down scene was awesome.
Incidentally, this movie was known in England as "Chained Heat 3: The Horror of Hell Mountain". A sequel/remake has just come out on video: "Chained Heat 2001", which I believe is known in the States as "Rage of the Innocents". It's even worse than this one (in terms of quality film-making) and re-uses a fair bit of footage from "Hell Mountain". Having said that, if you like one you'll like the other.