Director – Joe Johnston
Cast – Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Téa Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, Bruce A. Young, Laura Dern
Release Year – 2001
Reviewed by John of the Dead
It is considered the worst of the four films in the series, but I really enjoy Jurassic Park III. It is the first to not use a T-Rex and its antagonist, and it includes one of my favorite dinosaurs, Spinosaurus. This is also the first installment to not be directed by Steven Spielberg, and is instead directed by his good friend Joe Johnston, who would later deliver The Wolfman and Captain America: The First Avenger. I feel safe saying that this is the “worst” in the series, but it is by no means a bad film. It once again displays the advancements in CGI technology, and to an extent is the most like a horror film.
Dr. Alan Grant, now famous after the events that happened at Isla Nublar, is tricked into landing at Isla Sorno, otherwise known as Site B, by a scheming couple searching for their missing son.
The story, much like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, begins just like a horror film does, where a terrible act opens the film. Fast forward a bit and Dr. Grant is faced with an offer he cannot refuse. When the Kirby’s initially approach him he declines, then they offer a blank check to fund his research, and the dollar signs seal the deal. The agreement is for Dr. Grant to guide them on a low fly-by of Isla Sorno, but soon enough he realizes that he has been played. With his young assistant, Billy Brennan, by his side, he is once again face to face with dinosaurs on a deserted island. This time, however, nobody knows they are there, and there is no feasible way for them to escape. Things go awry right away, as a Spinosaur has ruined their plane and left them on the run from numerous predators, including a T-Rex, Velociraptors, and Pteradons. We see quite a few deaths early on, but much to my disdain the kills subsided about halfway through the film. However, the tension is far from gone and the film’s 90 minute runtime moves briskly. (This is the only film in the series to not be over two hours in length)
Joe Johnston does a great job of executing the predator scenes, giving us full-frontal cinematography of the dinosaurs and the kills they deliver. The Spinosaur close-ups were filmed with an incredibly large animatronic that made the experience as real as can be. I was especially impressed with the water scenes that involved this animatronic. Equally impressive was the initial Pteradon scene in the aviary. I remember seen this sequence in the film’s trailer and it left me so excited. The atmosphere is dark, gloomy, and the sets used were perfect. This is the case with all of the films in the series, but I feel that this effort was the “darkest”. If you dig dinosaurs, then Johnston may be one of the most under-appreciated directors of a killer dinosaur film.
Overall, Jurassic Park III is a flick that I enjoy as a dinosaur lover. I really dug the use of the predators here, and while the kills unfortunately subside early on the film is still an enjoyable experience that you should check out or revisit.