Movie review: Jurassic Park III (2001)

While Jurassic Park III lacks a certain magical something that it’s two predecessors were saturated in, it is still a fun flight of terror with plenty of dinosaurs waiting around every corner. Just don’t expect too much of it!

Despite the horror stories about the dreaded Isla Sorna, tourists Ben and Eric (Trevor Morgan) go parasailing around the island. Travelling into a patch of dense sea mist the speedboat crashes, sending Ben and Eric to float down onto the island.

Meanwhile palaeontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), who is now separated from Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), has become a reluctant celebrity because of his survival and reporting of the incidents at Jurassic Park. He has gone back to digging up bones, a profession he appreciates all the more after meeting some of the deadliest dinosaurs in the flesh.

While talking to his assistant Billy (Alessandro Nivola), Alan is approached by Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H Macy and Tea Leoni). They wish to have an aerial tour of Isla Sauna, and in return offer to fund his dig for the next three years. Cajoled by an enthusiastic Bill, Alan reluctantly agrees.

The group set off to the island, and Alan begins his tour, pointing out the dinosaur species grazing below. However he is incensed when the pilot announces he has found a suitable landing strip and is ready to set the plane down and swiftly knocked out by one of the Kirby’s associates as he tries to charge the cockpit. When he comes to they have landed and he can hear the Kirby’s shouting for Eric, whom Alan learns is their son.

The plane becomes damaged and suddenly the group are face to face with a new dinosaur Alan didn’t come across the first time: Spinosaurus. Bigger than the Tyranosaurus Rex, it lays waste to the big baddie of the first two movies when the two end up crossing paths, taking its throne as the king of dinosaurs.

While making their escape to the coast where there may be boats left by InGen staff that used to work on the island, they stumble upon not only a giant birdcage housing hundreds of Pteranodon, but a set of Velociraptor nests. Unbeknownst to the group, seeing has chance to make a fortune, Billy steals a couple of raptor eggs, a decision that could prove deadly for everyone if the Raptors catch up with them.

My main problem with Jurassic Park III is that there is no character that you can really ‘like’. Even Alan, while he was good in the first movie, just isn’t as likable in this one. The new characters are very two dimensional and you can’t empathise with them, or care when they’re ripped to shreds and eaten. And the whole happy-family family-values ending is terrible.

After the spectacular leaps in animation and storytelling as shown off in Jurassic Park and The Lost World, the third movie had to add something new and different. It basically didn’t do that. Sure, we got the new, gigantic Spinosaurus, and we got to meet the dinosaurs of the skies, the Pteranodons, which is all well and good, but the premise of the movie is pretty much exactly the same as the first two. And for some reason the animation at times looks worse. I don’t even know how that can happen!

Having said all of that if you disregard the first two movies and enjoy this one as a standalone picture, it is quite enjoyable. It is fast and exciting and has scares and everything you would want in a summer blockbuster. In itself it is not a terrible movie, and it is not until you compare it to what has come before that it begins to fall apart. So if you can watch Jurassic Park III with fresh, unjudgemental eyes, then it is still a fairly enjoyable hour and a half.

Jurassic Park
The Lost World

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One thought on “Movie review: Jurassic Park III (2001)

  1. Well said about lack of character development. My big problem watching this film is the missed opportunity set up by the scene of the hired goons blowing up a junked airplane with high-tech weaponry. The technology vs. beast aspect tempts the audience at that moment, then once on the island all weapons are lost. It would have been so much more rewarding and would have distinguished this from the other two if for at least a while the goons got to shoot up some dinosaurs. And then, at the movie’s close, the military shows up and not one shot is fired. All movie fans recall the sad but cumulative effect of bi-plane machine guns on King Kong atop the ES building. How movie-moment would it have been to see a T-Rex go down or a few raptors take some rounds before their savvy and numbers won out? Still, like you say, a watchable piece of celluloid.

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