Jurassic Park III (2001)

Director: Joe Johnston

Starring: Sam Neill, William H Macy, Tea Leoni

“No force on earth or heaven could get me on that island.” (Alan Grant, Jurassic Park III)

Some twat (Leoni) sends her son on holiday with her boyfriend, where they both go parasailing over Isla Sorna to try and see some dinosaurs. Clearly not bothering to pay attention to the carnage in Isla Nublar or the incident a few years prior in which a big T-Rex kicked the shit out of San Diego, they somehow seem surprised when things go wrong and they crash-land on the island.

Weeks pass and the twat and her loser ex-husband (Macy) are worried, so they pretend to be millionaires and propose an offer to the original film’s hero, Dr Alan Grant (Neill): be our tour guide as we fly over the island to see some dinosaurs, and we’ll pay you enough money to keep your archaeology gig going for years to come. Grant reluctantly agrees and is understandably pissed off when the plane instead lands on the island and the twat and loser tell him their secret – they’re actually not rich and he’s been roped into helping them find their missing son. This is no longer a research project, it’s a rescue mission… except Grant doesn’t say that because Jeff Goldblum already got to say it in the second film.

"Yes, you're right, there is some sort of mark on your back. Have you been rolling around in the grass or something?"
“Yes, you’re right, there is some sort of mark on your back. Have you been rolling around in the grass or something?”

If the original Jurassic Park was a spectacle – a unique film at the time that changed the face of big-bidget special effects cinema – and The Lost World was Spielberg’s homage to King Kong, Godzilla et al, Jurassic Park III is basically just a high-budget Lockjaw or Sharktopus. It’s goofy, it’s got some ridiculous moments in it and any thought-provoking social commentary in there (of which there’s very little) is there by complete accent.

The raptors have been given an overhaul this time around, and are so intelligent that it’s getting a bit silly. Now it seems they can talk to each other (in dino-speak, of course), something they oddly chose not to do in the first film when stalking two children through a kitchen, a scenario in which communication could have been helpful. Even more ridiculous is that Grant, by sheer chance, happened to have been given a replica of a raptor’s windpipe earlier in the film and in a key scene late in the film, just as he’s being surrounded by raptors, he blows in it and magically makes noises that not only sound like a raptor, but can actually be understood by them. How in the realm of fuck does that happen?

The prehistoric flasher strikes again
The prehistoric flasher strikes again

That aside, there are some new dinos chucked into the mix here too, which range from awesome (the Spinosaurus may actually be a little bit better than the T-Rex, as proven in the scene where they fight and it breaks the T-Rex’s neck) to disappointing – for years fans of the series wanted to see pterodactyls getting used in action scenes, but it’s all just a bit rubbish when we finally get our wish and are hit with a visually impressive but sloppy aviary scene. Not to mention the usual Jurassic Park name-fail by featuring dinosaurs that didn’t actually exist during the Jurassic period.

The strong trio of Neill, Macy and Leoni aside, the supporting cast have all the charisma of a packet of Monster Munch. Grant’s apprentice Billy is so boring and generic (just look as his name for Christ’s sake) that when he disappears, seemingly left for dead, then magically appears again at the end of the film with no explanation as to how he survived, you think “oh, I forgot about him” even though you only just saw him 20 minutes previously.

"No, Mister Ranger sir, I definitely wasn't starting a fire in the park. I... um... oh, this is awkward"
“No, Mister Ranger sir, I definitely wasn’t starting a fire in the park. I… um… oh, this is awkward”

Meanwhile, the series’ annoying child tradition continues when Grant finds the missing son but this time he’s even more annoying because, having survived in dino-infested jungle for so long, he’s a know-it-all kid rather than your basic screamer. Needless to say, the fact that the film doesn’t end with a raptor picking bits of him out of his teeth and speaking to the others in raptorese while a subtitle says “tastes like CHILDREN hahahaha” is nothing short of an injustice.

Any time I watch a film I consider what lessons I’ve learned from it. The lesson I learned from the original Jurassic Park is that you should never try to play God, no matter how appealing the results may seem. The sequel, meanwhile, taught me that you shouldn’t try to mess around with nature and try to take things out of their natural habitat because things will go wrong. The only thing Jurassic Park III taught me is that if you ever go to a foreign country and can’t speak the language, simply cut a native’s throat out and blow through their windpipe like some sort of obscene flute and you’ll get along fine.

None of the above is to say Jurassic Park III is a terrible film, mind you, it’s entertaining in the same way watching a fight going on outside your window is entertaining – it’s a good laugh and you’ll chuckle away for its short duration but you wouldn’t exactly film it and try to sell it to the Tate Gallery. This is a big-budget creature feature and is simply dumb fun.

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4 thoughts on “Jurassic Park III (2001)

  1. I completely agree. I’m a HUGE Michael Crichton fan and the first one was brilliant, the second one was enjoyable, and the third one was just a steaming pile of crap.

    Fun fact, Michael Crichton killed off Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) in the first book, but then pretended he never died when he wrote the second book. He explained it as “He was so badly injured there were rumors he had died”. No dude he totally died and it was an awesome and dramatic scene. Anyways, he had to bring Ian Malcolm back to write a second book because Malcolms mathematical theories are what ties the plot/themes/lessons together.

    Anywhos, Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park and the Lost World, but there was no Jurassic Park three. Basically they just took scenes from the book they hadn’t used in the first and second movie and just…threw them together…and waited for the money to roll in.

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