- Directed by Joe Johnston
- July 16, 2001 (Universal Amphitheatre) / July 18, 2001 (US)
A divorced couple trick Dr. Grant into helping them find their son who is missing on Isla Sorna.
Jurassic Park III is the third (that’s in the title) and final film in the original Jurassic Park series. It is probably one of the shorter ones too. The film clocks in at a little over 90 minutes. And because of that it sets things up pretty quickly. In short order you learn why they’re headed back to the island, you see where Grant is with his life, and you’re on an airplane to Isla Sorna.
From my humble perceptions there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much dinosaur killing people carnage as there was the first two. Or maybe the body count is the same but the times you actually see something not so much. There is a great deal of implying what happens and very little macabre evidence.
The whole focus of the story here is to save the son of a divorced couple. Eric (Trevor Morgan), Paul (William H. Macy) and Amanda Kirby’s (Téa Leoni) son, is not the precocious cute kid but rather an intelligent child able to keep their head in this stressful situation. He uses his brains to stay alive and does it make it on pure pluck. Not necessarily a precocious kid.
The character of Grant (Sam Neill) in this movie appears ready for children. Maybe not his own but he can handle kids now. Apparently that didn’t happen fast enough for Ellie (Laura Dern) as she is married with a child. Grant struggles to get funding for his work and comes off a bit upset with his lot in life. It seems that having real dinosaurs has put a crimp in his research.
In this sequel can get two new ones at least here-a Spinosaurus who becomes the new big bad and an ankylosaurus. And what I presume was an opening for future sequels with different dinosaurs Dr. Grant mentioned in dialogue that the Spinosaurus was not on InGen’s original list and it makes him wonder what else was not on that list.
Jurassic Park III is more of a fun adventure film than it is a serious treatment. The deaths come off as less shocking and a little bit closer to dark humor. The mercenaries that are hired are a little goofier than they are authentic acting action film mercenaries. And if a first-time viewer doesn’t realize that there is a con by the couple then I question a lot of things about that person.
The dinosaurs look great and that’s the main thing. If these did not look good up there on the screen the movie would not work at all. You need to buy the dinosaurs. They need to look real to either engender fright or just impress you.
There are one or two moments where you’ll jump and those are accomplished through, well, jump scares. I’m not against them. If you’re looking to get scared or shocked and that’s how it happens then there’s no harm.
The main cause of the problems once again is greed. They probably would’ve been relatively safe on the island if it wasn’t for Grant’s assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola) in an act of poor judgement takes some raptor eggs causing other dinos to give chase. He is seeking to get funding for the work and those eggs would fetch a good price.
The story itself is a little thin but it moves steady and has plenty of action to cover for that. And the finale is as much of a rousing finale as one can get in something like this. You’re not going to stand up in your seat and cheer, but it’s a cool moment and more importantly for it to happen it is set up pretty early in the film. The Pteradons seen in the closing moments promised dinosaurs in some form or another on the mainland and it was many years before we got that unfortunately.
Gone is the “Wow!” factor of the first two. The amazement at seeing the dinosaurs both for the audience and the characters is missing. And that brings the movie down a bit. Without out that element this is no different than any number of survival yarns. The story needs to move from “Cool! Dinosaurs!” to “Crap! Dinosaurs!” It is part of the Jurassic Park schtick and here that is lacking.
Jurassic Park III is not one of the strongest of the original trilogy, but it is an entertaining movie. There is excitement and dinosaurs and a few shocking moments. And I say give it a look!