Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi terror and violence.
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: Peter Buchman
Based On The Character’s created by: Michael Crichton
Staring: Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, and Laura Dern
Either way… you probably won’t get off this island alive. -Dr. Alan Grant
JP III was a success where The Lost World failed. The Lost World had so many problems revolving back to the epic feel of Jurassic Park, but then continually lost sight of the bigger picture and regressed into a simplistic monster movie. From the first five minutes of Jurassic Park III there is no question it’s goal is to be nothing more than a monster movie. While the ideology of the original is lost and forgotten and there is virtually no remnants left of the mystery and awe of Crichton’s original vision of what Jurassic Park really was, JP III was better than I could ever have expected. The character’s are the same only by name, the locations familiar, but the enigma of the creation is completely gone and irrelevant in JP III as it becomes an action packed sci-fi movie that leaned more towards fan fiction than a professional movie, but somehow turned out as agreeable.
The dinosaurs this time around are nothing more than props of fear to drive through our character’s who’s motivators are skeptical and humorous rather than actually serious. The plot is so paper thin you can’t take it seriously and suddenly this movie that seemed like it was going to be a nightmare becomes entertaining. It’s funny, action packed, and keeps you busy throughout it’s short ninety-two minute span. If not for the return of Alan Grant played again by Sam Neill it is possible I would be singing a different tune. The familiarity of his character, the comfort of his dinosaur knowledge, along with his brilliant acting talents doesn’t make the story plausible, but it makes it have some form of integrity, even if it’s very small.
Dr. Alan Grant is back to doing what he does best: digging up the bones of the extinct creatures of Earths past; dinosaurs. Even with a terrible fiasco involving a lose Tyrannosaur and San Francisco he has moved on with his life in the peace and harmony of the vastness of Montana’s badlands. That is until he’s approached by a rich couple who offer an enormous amount of money to be flown around the island of Isla Sorna and take Grant on as a guide. The couple insists even after Grant explains he never was on Isla Sorna, and finally against his best judgment he gives in. While explaining to the Kirby’s about some of the islands herbivores the plane sets down, Grant is knocked unconscious and awakens to being attacked by a dinosaur bigger than the T-Rex and the knowledge that the Kirby’s were really on the island in search of their son. With the plane destroyed from the attack, Grant finds himself stranded on an island full of viscous dinosaurs once again.
Forget the mysticism or curiosity about the past of our “Terrible Lizards” which was vastly explored in Jurassic Park, and mildly touched on in The Lost World. In Jurassic Park III they are both visually and otherwise made as pawns to
stimulate action scenes that put the main character’s in constant peril. With some pretty ridiculous claims about eggs, dinosaur feces, dinosaur urine, Raptor communications, and Isla Sorna itself, Jurassic Park III takes no time to really divulge any new theories or information about the dinosaurs in recent years. However, that becomes pretty clear after the first dinosaur attack. If you aren’t liking what you are seeing at that point, it doesn’t really evolve much. I would say, this movie probably just isn’t for you.
Frankly, it’s not entirely clear what the directors and writers goals were for this movie. If they only wanted to make a silly monster movie then they were successful. This is no masterpiece, but it’s not a bad movie, in spite of itself either. It is almost what T3 was to the series of Terminator, except The Lost World was a disaster instead of superior. Either way, it’s not really an addition to the story, it’s a stand alone that is good if you look at it as a stand alone, rather than an additional piece of a puzzle.
The best part of the movie visually was the scene in the Aviary. That was just simply put together so well and an homage to Jurassic Park the novel without actually being obvious about it. The other dinosaurs were pretty extreme again, but they lacked the realistic feel they did in both Jurassic Park and The Lost World. There was too much CGI that often left them feeling fake, even though it was pretty impressive CGI. They lacked the life in their eyes, and that made them considerably less frightening and interesting.
Sam Neill making the return for this addition was a pleasure. His character was missed in The Lost World even though it had no relative place, but the down to earth level headed bravado of Dr. Grant was sorrily missed. Perhaps this version was less focused on the dramatic aspect of the story, but he carried it well and his timing on the jokes made some of the more cheesy one liners laughable. William H. Macy and Tea Leoni are both pretty strong actors and each played their roles perfectly. Tea Leoni as the whiny and annoying wife and William H. Macy as the neurotic and insecure Dad who is in way over his head came off much more natural than those roles had a right to be, but their delivery made it possible. Laura Dern’s cameo provided a hysterical finale, but also a neat tie-up between herself and an explanation of the relationship between herself and Grant. It gave it a lot more integrity with her actually playing the role rather than have Grant verbally explain it.
The truth is if they made another Jurassic Park like the Lost World, I would have very little desire to see it, but if another was made like Jurassic Park III I would feel inclined. It’s really a pretty awful movie, but somehow still likable. The annoying characters, the ridiculous plot, the new understanding about Raptor intelligence and communication, the over the top new dinosaur foe is all so implausible you sit threw the movie laughing hysterically at it’s nonsense but enjoying the nonsense in the same moment. Each time I finish viewing it I can’t comprehend the passing enjoyment I have from it. Truly, it’s a paradox, but I don’t believe I’m alone in this sentiment either. So onward JP creators and writers. I praise not taking yourself too seriously and having a movie turn out in mediocre fashion rather than a mediocre movie taking itself too seriously and becoming unlikable. Thumbs up for the nonsensical enjoyment that is Jurassic Park III.