Jurassic Park III Movie Review
No Spielberg directing this movie, Crichton left as a writer after not being able to come up with an idea, and the T-Rex was sent into retirement.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi / Thriller
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Trevor Morgan, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Jeter, Bruce A. Young, John Diel & Laura Dern.
Run Time: 92 min.
US Release: 18 July 2001
UK Release: 20 July 2001
German Release: 02 August 2001
Welcome to my third post of the Jurassic Park films. If you followed my previous posts, you’d know that I am currently reviewing the original three films before the release of Jurassic World, which is coming out tomorrow. This review will concentrate on Jurassic Park III, also known as that movie that nearly ruined the franchise. The second sequel was directed by Joe Johnston and sees Sam Neill returning as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, as well as starring William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola and Trevor Morgan.
I am not a fan of this movie at all! The story has many issues, as well as the way the characters are written and the effects that are used in this film. I don’t even know where I should start. Thankfully, I do have a structured set-up for my review, so let’s start with the story.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
The plot is about two parents (Macy & Leonie) who trick Dr. Alan Grant (Neill) into guiding them through Isla Sorna, to find their son Eric, (Morgan) who crash-landed on the island; accompanying Grant is his protégé Billy (Nivola), as the uneven group make their way through the island trying to survive.
Originally, the plot was supposed to revolve around a group of teenagers that stranded on Isla Sorna. Alan Grant is sent to rescue the group and protect them from getting eaten. Thinking about it, I might have made for a much better story then the one this movie stuck with, as apart from Dr. Grant and Eric Kirby, the characters are unbelievably unlikeable, stupid and irritating, with the plot having as much depth as a puddle.The main reason why this movie was a box-office failure, though, was the fact that the production team tried building an uninspired story around sequences and plot elements taken from the previous films - In other words, this sequel has no originality.
The river and aviary scenes are taken from left over storyboards that were not used in the previous two movies. The lucky bag and mercenaries are taken straight from the Lost World: Jurassic Park. The action sequence in which the protagonist crash land into a tree is a rehash from the first movie; the scene were the T-Rex attacks Lex and Tim in the Ford Explorer. There is even a scene in the plane with Alan Grant, that is a close one-to-one copy from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Jurassic Park and its first sequel, have a message embedded in their story and portray dinosaurs not as ravaging monsters but as wild animals. This movie undoes all of that and portrays them as bloodthirsty beasts, taking away the charm that made the previous two blockbusters special!
The romance between Dr. Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) was meddled with as well. The first film devoted a grand part of its story to resolve Grant’s distaste towards children, and build upon the relationship of the two scientists. This is once again undone by breaking them up in this film, without even stating a reason for their fallout. The audience just gets to know that she married a guy, who is on screen for a 5-second shot.
The best part about JP III, is the return of Sam Neill as paleontologist Alan Grant. He is still the same person that he was in Jurassic Park, as the writers did not try to rewrite the character of this likeable person. Neill is once again fantastic at portraying the grumpy but smart scientist. The scene were he is explaining Sattler’s three-year-old child the difference between carnivores and herbivores is beautiful.! It was great to see him back in the franchise. Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) is the only other likeable character in this feature. He is the kid Alan Grant came to save and the audience figures out that the teenager is not only smart but also tough as nails.
Amanda Kirby (Tea Leoni) and Paul Kirby (William H. Macy) are the worst characters of this picture! They are not only despicable liars but also cause the death of three people hired by them. Amanda is especially irritating with her yelling, attracting predators and other threats. Billy (Nivola), Dr. Grant’s protégé and friend is, apart from being a backstabbing douchbag, possibly the most redundant character in this film.
Most of the dialogue in this movie is horrible and that is due to the inclusion of Macy and Leoni in the cast. Between the action scenes Johnson tries elevating the atmosphere by making situations and conversations very jokey and humorous. It does not work and Macy’s jokes fall flat.
I did talk about close-ups in my previous post of Poltergeist and just like in that horror remake, Jurassic Park III has an immense amount of them. Not only does Johnson overuse close-ups but he also adds shaky-cam during the Spinosaurus' attack, possibly to hide the bad movement of the animatronic. Ironically, shaking the camera during those shots has the opposite effect, making the dino look even clunkier. Apart from the raptor scene, most effects in this action-adventure flick look bad and really dated. The parasailing scene at the beginning uses aweful green screen and the rope the characters are attached is bad CGI. That is one of the worst looking openings I have seen in a movie! The picture relies heavily on cheap computer imagery, while the animatronic Spinosaurus feels unreal, largely due to those bright coloured yellow eyes.
The musical score, on the other hand, is a real plus. The feeling of nostalgia flows through the film, once the score opens on that first scene with Grant, talking to Ellie’s young son. By the end of the movie, however, during the over-the-top scene, where the US Navy & Marines come to the rescue, the score is ruined by turning it into an army march.
There is so much more I would like to rant about but won’t, as this would otherwise turn into an "uber" long review. What I will do, though, is give you a short list of the points that annoyed me but won’t get into detail:
- Talking raptor dream.
- Overly smart raptors in the film.
- Raptor & egg scene by the end.
- Last scene with pterodactyls flying out into the world and the characters completely calm about it.
Verdict: Jurassic Park III is a nonstop thrill ride that includes chasing and roaring dinosaurs, which kept me entertained throughout the movie. Yet, the lame and rehashed story, the irritating characters and bad camera work turned it into a really disappointing sequel. The computer imagery used looks cheap and did not stand the test of time, while the writers completely misunderstood what the previous two films were truly about. I will therefore give Jurassic Park III a 5.0 out of 10.