Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

JURASSIC PARK 3

Directed by Joe Johnston (2001, Universal Pictures)
Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, William H. Macy, and Tea Leoni

After crashing onto the Site B dinosaur island, a group of people must search for a missing boy.

 

 

1 star+

February 3rd, 2012 on TV, for the second time  
   

Even the second time around, I can't say that I enjoyed this movie. Compared the The Lost World, this is thoroughly enjoyable, but not on any real critical scale. From the beginning, it's obvious that this this is going to be a bad idea, as nobody even does a background check on the people funding the sightseeing tour, or checks with the Costa Rica authorities. The dinosaurs are smart, but only the new ones, who can track for days on end, smashing through concrete holding the electric fences, or the raptors who have forgotten how to chase, but can use subterfuge and essentially say thanks for giving us our eggs back, or the winged beasts who know to fold up their wings to get through a tunnel in a way that they don't get caught on anything. Or a bunch of more instances. It's too bad these movies turned out to be so bad, because there was so much potential.

 

 

1 star

August 14th, 2001 in the Theatre  
   

I guess I was expecting too much. Better than The Lost World (nothing could be worse), this movie still seemed rather uneventful. Just running from dinosaur to dinosaur, with little logic or common sense, and no new ideas.

I guess I was expecting too much. I had hoped they would return to the original island, which was much more interesting than "Site B", maybe to check on the clues that we were left with at the end of Jurassic Park. There was a nest of broken eggs, an inexplicably sick dinosaur, some embryos left in a gush of running water, and a possible "lysine contingency" that didn't make sense and might not have been implemented properly. Exploring that island, to see what survived, to revisit the original complex, and so on, would have been great. As long as they had some sort of story to piggy-back it on.

As for Site B, it was touted in the last movie as being a place where the dinosaurs could roam free, without interference from humans. Then why did they have all sorts of (non-functioning) electric fences in this movie? The complex I can understand, but the fences? And the giant bird cage? Does nobody remember that there were pterodactyls in The Lost World? They didn't escape here because Grant and company left the door open... They had managed to destroy all the other fences, so why couldn't they create a gap towards the sky? If the giant fences were to protect the human complex, why was the bird cage so far away? Without human intervention, how did humans get from the complex to the bird cage? Just some questions about continuity, that's all.

As for the movie, it seemed rather one-note. Once the plane crashes, they encounter a dinosaur, who seems to be hunting them rather persistently. Either it has developed a taste for mammalian flesh, or it's smarter than we thought. For it appears throughout the whole film. It's funny that the satellite phone keeps ringing even after the man who had possession of it was eaten, and they later find it in the dino-poop, still ringing. Once they escape the spinosaur (for that's what it is called, with a giant fin on its back), with the help of a T-Rex, they get to rest for a short while. The T-Rex was completely wasted here, but at least it gave the film its best moment, where it fights the spinosaur and gets killed.  Other than that, a complete waste of potential.  The creators decided to go even bigger- or maybe the T-Rex was so embarrassed by the last movie that it decided it could only do a cameo!  And what was with its stripes?  What did we learn between the last movie and this one to give dinosaurs that sort of colour?

The spinosaur was able to crash through the giant fence that was once electric, concrete pillars, steel girders and all but couldn't push through a thin steel door! Then they find a raptor nest, and are chased by raptors through the bunker. The scene where Amanda Kirby browses through the various suspended raptor tanks, only to come upon a raptor playing dead, was really predictable, though for some reason, I found it to be pretty funny.  Time to run again...

After being chased into the forest by raptors, who seem to be retarded versions of the raptors from Jurassic Park, because they can't even outrun a human, they take refuge in some trees. Lucky the pterodactyls have been all caught and put in the bird cage! The most absurd part of the movie occurs where the raptors set a trap for the people in the trees, nearly killing a member of the group, then leaving. When the man twitches, a rescue seems appropriate, but the raptors return and nearly the person trying to effect the rescue. Pretty smart of them, having only seen a few humans in The Lost World (we have to assume these are the same raptors, especially since these are the only group we see throughout the whole movie). When the trap fails, one of the raptors grabs their "bait" by the head and breaks his neck! Wow! Those guys must have read a book on human physiology! Or taken martial arts, or something. That trick might have been fine if the raptors dragged him off to eat, but these guys seem to kill just for the heck of it. They seem pretty human to me. 

Actually, the raptors are chasing the group because Billy, Dr. Grant's assistant, stole some eggs from their nest. They track the group the rest of the way down a river that was traveled by boat, through a trap laid by the spinosaur (pretty smart creature -must have raptor blood), through the fire that engulfed the spinosaur (though it wasn't killed), through the bird cage to the coastline, where they finally decide to engage the thieves. Why not just attack and be done with it? It would have cost fewer frequent-runner points. 

And then the movie was over! It was so short compared to the other films in this series, and I wonder why? The rescue at the end seemed rather anti-climactic, even though there was no real climax to the film. After getting their hands on the satellite phone, Grant calls his girlfriend from the first movie, now married to some other guy, and with a kid. The kid answers the phone, but gets distracted by the purple dinosaur Barney on TV, which I found hilarious! When he finally remembers to give his mother the phone ("the dinosaur guy") Grant is in the middle of a spinosaur attack. But she figures it out anyway. And she uses the influence of her husband (a "some international relations stuff" guy, a point I almost completely missed at the beginning of the movie) to send in the marines. Did they not remember the events on the mainland in the last movie? It took more than machine guns to down the T-Rex, and more soldiers than they sent in here, that's for sure. And it's a good thing they arrived on the proper part of the coast. Must be a small island, or Grant has a GPS implanted on him (not a bad idea...).

And yes, there was some sort of story to get everybody onto the island. The son and boyfriend of Amanda Kirby disappeared onto the island 8 weeks ago, after an accident on an illegal parasailing trip near the island. Under the auspices of being billionaires on the lookout for a chance to view dinosaurs, the last frontier, so to speak, Amanda and her ex-husband Paul offer to pay for several more digs after Dr. Grant's... um... grant... runs out and is not renewed. How can he refuse? Of course, things go wrong. First, Paul Kirby is a plumber, and they are not going to get paid. The mercenary they hired with big guns (which blow up a plane at the start of the movie but never seem to get used on the dinosaurs they are hunted by) is really a broker of some sorts. Anyway, they find the parasail along the path they choose to take (!), and after they get separated, Grant gets rescued by the boy (using gas canisters), who has survived out here for these eight weeks, all alone! He has also managed to collect T-Rex pee, in a very funny scene in his hideout. 

And so that is that. The dinosaurs were very well done, but they were not shown off at all. Except for the raptors, they came in, did their scene for a couple of seconds, mostly in close-ups, and left. The pterodactyls were impressive, though. Folding up their wings to hunt inside such a cramped tunnel, grabbing the boy Eric to serve as lunch for its chicks, and soaring off after their escaped prey, fighting in the water, were all terrific. But I am way past the point where special effects can make a movie worth seeing. Somehow, after being mauled by the giant flying dinosaurs, Billy ends up being rescued by the helicopter before the rest of the group!

There was one other really laughable moment in the movie, right at the end. After giving the eggs back to the raptors, Grant finds his assistant's mockup of a raptor's resonance chamber, the place where speech is created in those creatures. Blowing into it, he is able to confuse the raptors by making the sounds that it makes. But Paul Kirby corrects him by telling him not to blow that message, but to "call for help"! When did they learn raptor speech? But it works, and the raptors are afraid that these meek little humans will have reinforcements soon. Instead of killing them quickly for stealing the eggs, they just pick up the eggs and disappear. 

There is setup for a fourth movie, as the pterodactyls fly to new nesting grounds. There is no reason they couldn't fly the 200 miles to Costa Rica; seabirds do that kind of mileage. Or they could perhaps fly some more DNA over to the original island, and we could take a research trip over there, and have a meaningful movie. But this movie, though it had potential, was nothing of the sort. Not totally terrible, it was nowhere near good, either.

 
   

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