Joe Johnston is a name that should be better known in the movie biz. His first film, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” is a classic. “The Rocketeer” was a wonderful film, not only in capturing the feel of the comic book but as a period piece. (I re-watched it this year and was shocked to realize that Howard Hughes is played by Locke from “Lost”!) Speaking of period pieces, he also did “October Sky,” about four boys in a dead-end coal mining town who decide to pursue rocketry; if you have not seen it, put it on your Christmas list. I have yet to watch it without getting choked up at the end. He did “Jumanji”, which wasn’t my cup of tea but that’s probably due to Robin Williams being in it.
Joe directed “Jurassic Park 3,” a significant improvement all around over Spielberg’s “Lost World.” It’s the first JP movie where the kid was smart and not annoying. There is a joke with a phone’s ringtone that is the best bit in the movie. The ending’s a dud, but that’s entirely due to Spielberg’s animal rights meddling. It was supposed to have the main characters about to be eaten by the spinosaurus when a Blackhawk helicopter whooshes in and blows it away, but Spielberg quashed the idea. Steven Spielberg may have gotten his big break by detonating a shark, but since then he’s adopted this ideal that you have no right to hurt an animal just because it’s trying to eat you… or hadn’t you noticed that nobody ever hurts a dinosaur? Thus, the ending just has the army arrive and not do anything.
Oh yeah. Johnston, when he was working in special effects, worked on a few small films called “Star Wars”, “Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Here’s hoping that his directing “Captain America” does for him what “Spider-Man” did to the cult film director Sam Raimi.
Hat tip: Dirty Harry, who points out that the Prince Caspian writers are also the writing team for Cap.