I had my doubts going into this movie figuring it would just be a cashing in on a franchise that's been very successful. With Steven Spielberg gone and Joe Johnston in his place, that could also have been an easy way to say it's not going to succeed.
This movie was a bit short on story line but very large on special effects. Since I'm a big effects fan this one had me all the way through. Had I seen this movie 10 years ago I would have been floored. As effects have progressed I've become more and more demanding and less easily blown away. The combination of animitronics and animation is incredible. I felt the need to go back and watch each scene a second time just to figure out how it was created.
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant has clearly defined the tone of the Jurasic movies. His character keeps the franchise together. I was less excited by William Macy's performance of Paul Kirby. He and his ex-wife Amanda, played by Tea Leoni, have reunited in a scheme to trick Dr. Grant to take them to an island, "site B," to find their lost son. The characters just didn't give me the impression that the fear was real enough, and there was a great lack of remorse when others were being eaten by dinosaurs. I suspect that character development was exchanged for more action scenes.
.Lastly, I would have liked a way to see Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, back on the island with Dr. Grant. She, however, was busy at home taking care of her son.
There were a couple things that bugged me in this movie. One was how this remote island was somehow accessible to a small boat on a parasailing tour. The second was how no attention is given when four people are missing in the beginning, but when Dr. Grant is stranded the entire navy shows up to take him home.
Johnston definitely carried the torch on this one and made this more than just a remake of existing concepts and effects. A better story would have helped push it higher.