Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An All-Too-Real Dinosaur 'Puppet'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An All-Too-Real Dinosaur 'Puppet'

Article excerpt

Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy, and the rest of the "Jurassic Park III" ("JP3") cast are under no illusions. In this latest installment of the Michael Crichton-inspired franchise, only one star roams the set: As in the previous two films, it is whichever dinosaur is the biggest, scariest, and most difficult to escape from in this movie about a genetic experiment gone wildly wrong.

In this third visit to a tropical island populated with escaped dinos from the misguided InGen theme park, the current king of the beasts is the spinosaurus. This predatory, long-snouted meat eater, for which only one complete set of bones has ever been discovered, was carefully re-created in a joint effort by the two special- effects industry giants, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and the Stan Winston Studio.

The first "Jurassic Park" had only 55 shots of dinosaurs, compared with more than 400 in "JP3." And while much of the action between the actors and dinosaurs in "JP3" (see review, page 15) was computer-generated, one of the most frightening scenes was a real challenge for the performers.

Early in the film, a scene depicts a plane carrying an assortment of scientists and adventurers crashing on the dinosaur-inhabited island. The actors are attacked by a 26,000-pound spinosaurus "puppet." But, the performers say, that word puppet is misleading.

"It's as huge and scary as a real dinosaur would be," Ms. Leoni says, "and just as dangerous." The computer and puppeteer- controlled creation actually bit down on the plane fuselage, as well as crashing into it with the actors inside. "Anything can happen in a situation like that," says Leoni. "When we looked scared, that's because we were."

In person, the spinosaurus puppet represents the next generation of scientific knowledge about the dinosaur, combined with the latest in technical wizardry. …

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