Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III (2001)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: July 18th, 2001 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Joe Johnston Actors: Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young, Laura Dern, Mark Harelik




lmost all of the magic of cinematic dinosaurs is gone by the third “Jurassic Park” picture, even though further attempts are made to increase the magnitude and intensity of gargantuan reptiles on the loose. Sam Neill returns, along with a brief appearance by Laura Dern, but Spielberg gives up the directing throne to Joe Johnston (“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” “The Rocketeer”), who doesn’t have much of a script to work with (despite the project being penned in part by Alexander Payne). “Jurassic Park III” follows a similar construction to the second film, focusing more on adventure, new dinosaur species, and nonstop thrills than an engaging plot. Annoying supporting characters, glib dialogue, a problematically short running time, and constant, contrived solutions to inescapable predicaments prevent this final outing from being memorable or even as enjoyable as “The Lost World” – which couldn’t match up to the perfection of the original.

At the Site B island of Isla Sorna, where an isolated but thriving ecosystem of bioengineered dinosaurs roam free, young Eric Kirby (Trevor Morgan) is stranded during a risky hang-gliding vacation (humorously manned by the company Dino Soar). His parents, Paul (William H. Macy) and Amanda (Tea Leoni), con first-hand-experienced paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) to accompany them during an adventure-seeking flyover of the highly restricted island, along with his protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola). Grant prides himself on having the brains to never set foot on another dinosaur-infested location, but money seems to persuade even the most strong-willed. Like clockwork, the plane crash-lands into the jungle, leaving an unsuspecting group at the mercy of several new species of dinosaurs not documented by InGen’s original list of embryos.

Compiling the remaining cast members who didn’t make an appearance in “The Lost World,” “Jurassic Park III” practically retells the same story from the second movie – a rescue effort that goes awry. This time, Grant sports a fedora and mannerisms of a third-rate Indiana Jones; the special effects have decreased in impressiveness, as if the budget couldn’t accommodate better CG resources; and the monsters themselves have lessened in potency – a result of concept artists. A Spinosaurus takes the place of the T-Rex, simply for variety, while many other new creations trot across the screen just to parade different designs; the whole movie is an excuse to show more dinosaurs (including Barney) and action-packed chase sequences from said toothy critters.

Fortunately, it wastes no time getting right into the suspense, ignoring character development and plot, though pathetic moments of bonding are pointlessly thrown in for the broken family to appear more human or sympathetic. It’s a small group again, focusing chiefly on running and hiding rather than dinosaur feasting; the cast is so tiny that there’s barely room for casualties. Yet the dinosaurs are smarter and the humans are stupider: “Dr. Grant says this is a very dangerous territory,” stutters Paul to his wife when she continues to shout her son’s name into the jungle. Apparently, neither one was fully conscious during the sequence not five minutes prior, in which they flee from a raging T-Rex battling the Spinosaurus. “Jurassic Park III” is certainly a long shot from the unforgettable 1993 blockbuster, but it isn’t without appeal to generic monster movie lovers. After all, dinosaur movies come around so infrequently.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10