On Second Thought: “Jurassic Park III”

Some things should be left alone. Just because you find success with two films doesn’t mean there needs to be a third. With most film series, if it hasn’t already bombed, the third entry tends to be the one that fails the most. The one where you hope the studios realize they’re franchise should’ve ended by now. No one got the message here, and for that, we all must suffer.

The Universal Pictures film “Jurassic Park III”, aims to be something, but only really succeeds at being an unfortunate part of the film franchise.

This film stars Sam Neill (“Peaky Blinders”, “Escape Plan”), William H. Macy (“Dial a Prayer”, “Walter”), Tea Leoni (“Madam Secretary”, “Tower Heist”), Alessandro Nivola (“A Most Violent Year”, “American Hustle”), Trevor Morgan (“Buttwhistle”, “Abducted”), Michael Jeter (“Open Range”, “Taken (TV mini-series”), John Diehl (“A Long Way Off”, “Almost Human”), Bruce A. Young (“The Next Three Days”, “Into Temptation”), and Laura Dern (“When the Game Stands Tall”, “The Fault in Our Stars”).

The film was directed by Joe Johnston (“Not Safe for Work”, “Captain America: The First Avenger”) and written by Peter Buchman (“Che”, “Eragon”), Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”) and Jim Taylor (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”, “Sideways”). It is based on characters created by Michael Crichton.

The film originally hit theaters on July 18, 2001.

As much fun as I’ve had watching these films about dinosaurs, I must say this one did put a bit of a damper on things. I think it was just purely because I knew it was the weakest of the three, but still part of the series and therefore must be watched. A series re-watch just wouldn’t have been the same without this entry. While I dislike this one, for a lot of reasons, which you’ll see soon, it is still fun enough.

Once you can get past the introduction of the film, which includes that incredibly fake looking background when Morgan is high in the sky, you’ll get to the rest of the characters. Neill’s you know, so we don’t need to waste time there. However, as with Neill’s, you don’t really learn all that much about any of the new characters. They’re there for one purpose and deep character insights isn’t one of them. Sure you get some backstory on Leoni’s and Macy’s characters, but it feels more like filler stuff. Gotta find a way to achieve a run time that’s close to average. You don’t actually get a chance to dislike anyone as the action begins quite quickly. There’s no villains, just freely roaming animals, some of which, are hungry.

The biggest, and probably best addition to this film is the Spinosaurus. Even while watching the all too brief fight between him and the T-Rex, where T-rex comes out the loser, it was still exciting enough. At the time it kind of made sense that the writers would want another animal instead of the familiar T-rex. From that standpoint, it was a successful move. Because of this shift, not only do we get exposed to what is considered a more ferocious carnivore than T-rex, but we get a pretty fun first attack scene. Apparently there’s gotta be something destroyed by a dinosaur in these films. First the car, then the trailer, and now a plane. Surprisingly the execution was good. The scene allowed for this new dinosaur to really show how deadly he really is. To showcase what he can do with longer arms and a longer snout.

Along with being able to see a new, more dangerous creature, we still get pretty good special effects. Since this is the third outing, the novelty has really died down. It’s not as exciting. While the Spinosaurus looks pretty good on the reality front and detail, I have more problems with some of the other dinosaurs. The raptors are both good and bad with design and how they come off on screen. Maybe having so many more of them, and seen from a farther and faster distance, didn’t really help in the end. Since this was early 2000’s it’s not bad, but as it’s been 14 years since, I’m hoping, somehow, the visual effects for the next film had better be even more amazing than the original film.

As with any film, there’s bound to be some bad parts. Possibly, a lot of bad parts that come together and make for a bad film.

Up first, when the Spinosaurus finds the survivors at the old fence. Yeah, no. I don’t buy that this massive carnivore would just be standing there while they all reunited at some old fence. Nice scene (which there really seems to be a lot of), but completely stupid. It’s too distracting and that’s what annoys me the most.

There’s also the change that was made to the raptors. I can pretend to understand how there are now male raptors, but I can’t wrap my mind around this other change. They were always portrayed as being smart, I have no problem with that. It’s actually what makes them more terrifying. However, in this film, I feel that the writers went so far out of their way to make them even smarter. They suddenly became REALLY smart. “They set a trap. They actually set a trap.” Um, no. I can’t buy this lunacy. Yes it’s still an entertaining scene, but I still dislike it.

There’s something else that keeps popping up about this film, and maybe I’m over thinking it, but it’s always bugged me that there’s only one T-Rex in this film, especially when there were a total of three in the second film. Then, as we’ll see later, there’s all these “secret” dinosaurs InGen created. How is it that they’re just now being discovered or interacting with the other dinosaurs? This doesn’t make any sense, even though I’m capable of ignoring it and somewhat enjoying this film.

And, of course, why stop there with the bad and maddening things. Let’s throw in some random dinosaurs (which still makes no sense how we’re just seeing them), and call it a day. That Ankylosaurus, you don’t need context. He’s just grazing. The carnivore dinosaur in the poop scene, he’s just there for no reason. They apparently just wanted to cram as many dinosaurs in and say they have the most. Dumb! Total waste. And, while I’m on the subject, the Pteranodons. An okay scene, which more or less came out of the first book, but how is it that they’re just being discovered now? How big is this damn island? Going off of info from the previous film, I can buy the territorial aspects. However, if in this film, the Spinosaurrus and the T-Rex can randomly meet, why didn’t they before? I should just stop thinking too much about it and enjoy the film for what it is.

It wasn’t just dinosaurs that were wasted. One character in particular was completely pointless. As much as I like Dern as an actress, there was no need to see her again. Sure, especially if you liked her character in the first film, which I did, it’s great seeing her. However, as is so clearly evident, she serves no purpose. You can tell me all day long she does, but it’s purely to just get everyone else out of trouble. I feel bad for Dern.

Even with all this bad stuff, there’s one slight bit of good. It was a short film. At the same time as this is good, I put blame on the length. I think the shortened time made it far more difficult to build an actual story, certainly one worth telling or even one that could be called a good plot. Definitely the worst of them all! This is also the weirdest thing, I own it. If I dislike it so much, why own it? It’s part of a series I love. That’s reason enough. Although, I don’t own “Terminator Salvation”, so we’ll see if “Jurassic World” can do better than this film. It shouldn’t be that difficult as the bar set by this third film isn’t that high.

The trailer:


2 thoughts on “On Second Thought: “Jurassic Park III”

  1. It felt like Sam Neil’s character was thrust into the plot purely because he was the person in the first movie that everyone connected with the best and make up for the fact that the first sequel was all about Jeff Goldbloom’s character.


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