Jurassic Park III

Jurassic Park III (2001) Director: Joe Johnston


The third Jurassic Park installment plays with certain themes alluded to in previous films, particularly the question of communication among dinosaurs. It was an eyebrow raising move especially when considering that velociraptors barely managed to open a door in the first movie. At any rate, Steven Spielberg did not direct this film, instead handing the reigns to his friend Joe Johnston, and it was the first Jurassic Park film not to be based on a Crichton novel. Director Joe Johnston was a former Industrial Light and Magic special effects curator before moving into the director’s seat with movies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Jumanji (1995). Predictably, the production for Jurassic Park III was a mess –Michael Crichton departed from the project early on and vowed never to watch it, while the script was constantly being rewritten and the concept cycled through various writers and ideas. In addition, John Williams was unavailable as he was busy scoring Spielberg’s other concurrent film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

In this third installment, the paleontologist Dr. Allan Grant (reprised by Sam Neill) is brought back and swindled by a divorced wealthy couple (played by William H. Macy and Téa Leoni). They pledge funding to his archaeology dig-site in exchange for an aerial tour of the island of “Site B” from The Lost World known as Isla Sorna island. Grant reluctantly agrees but as it turns out they land on the island, and the true mission is to search for their son who disappeared near there while parasailing. They try to leave the island but the plane crash-lands after one of the crew is eaten by a “Spinosaurus.” Now they must find a way to radio for help, but this was the “Site B” island so Dr. Grant is not familiar with the terrain, nevertheless they soon locate the long-lost boy and try to make their way to safety, all the while learning that the dinosaurs are now capable of sophisticated forms of communication as well as possessing the ability to coordinate complex traps to capture the human beings. In the end the group battles the Spinosaurus, and Dr. Grant radios for help. Just as the raptors are about to attack him, the Navy and the Marines suddenly arrive to save the day. As they are rescued we see a flock of Pterodactyls soar up into the clouds.

In Jurassic Park III there are a few compelling action sequences, such as scenes of raptors attacking from a distance like highly intelligent mercenaries, and one notably eerie scene which takes place inside a giant Pterodactyl cage. However, I just didn’t care for the attempts to “humanize” the vicious dinosaurs aas solely fixated on caring for their young, and there are a variety of other ridiculous scenes (especially in a nightmare/flashback wherein Dr. Grant dreams of a velociraptor speaking to him on a plane). In all, this is a mostly forgettable movie.

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