I finally made the effort to rewatch Jurassic Park III – something always came up to distract me, and I’m easily distracted if I don’t want to see the movie in question. But I’m glad I did it: the movie isn’t so bad once you’re aware of the retched parts.
It’s like rewatching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I know Jar Jar and midiclorians are going to bother me. So I just ignore those things and enjoy what’s nice, like the Pod Race, or anything with Qui-Gon Jinn, and the Duel of the Fates lightsaber battle. Anyway. Back to Jurassic Park 3. (See — distracted even now.)
Jurassic Park 3 is an acceptable offering in the series, as long as one acknowledges the really annoying things, like Alan Grant’s little raptor daydream (“Alan”), and the constant yelling the humans do on Isla Sorna. Way to hide from mega predators, guys. Sheesh. They all yell, except Grant (who knows better but no one listens to him). Tea Leoni is the worst, and I feel bad that she had this terribly scripted character to work with. She’s a decent actress, normally. But her presence in this movie marks the series’ nadir…at least she didn’t come to the island in high heels (Hi there, Bryce Dallas Howard).
One thing I totally forgot in JP3 is that this all takes place in Isla Sorna. I thought if was another excursion on Isla Nublar. So this isn’t the T-Rex from the first film: it’s one of the three from The Lost World. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the juvenile T-Rex, all grown up, who got a taste for human flesh from that dumb villain (who’s name I can’t be bothered with), the one who ran InGen — remember, he was hobbled by the San Diego T-Rex to teach her baby how to hunt.
In any case, this T-Rex, as usual for EVERY Jurassic film, saves the humans by fighting another threat. Seriously. Watch every film in the 5 we have so far, and notice how Rexie saves the day. In this case, he fights the Spinosaurus, and dies, which is sad. I like the T-Rexes. They act more like animals than monsters, which is another “bone” (haha) I have to pick with this series. What makes an animal aggressive?
Several things. Hunger. The desire to protect resources/territory or fend off invaders. Protection of their young. To fight potential rivals to their mates. And that’s really it. If you aren’t a threat, and you leave sated large predators alone, they won’t hunt you. This isn’t Godzilla, after all.
In the African Savannah, prey animals can freely walk by a sated lion. Said lion only needs to hunt a few times a week. I don’t know how much dinosaurs need to feed, but I’m going to say that a nice meal should be plenty for awhile for these types of barely warm-blooded species.
And speaking of the Spinosaurus, I don’t know who would win in a fight. They seem evenly matched to me. This video addresses the issue. (I’m Team T-Rex, BTW. He’s much smarter, despite the ridiculous arms.)
Something I did like from the film was the Carnosaurus cameo. While the humans were sticking their arms in gigantic steaming piles of poo, the Carnosaur, who looked ready to attack the humans, sniffs the Spinosaur scat and just…walks away. He knew better than to hang around the Spinosaur’s habitat. That was a nice touch.
What wasn’t good, besides all the yelling, was the satellite phone. Holy hell. This phone can take being eaten, sitting in digestive fluids, and is workable on the other side of the gastric tube. Not to mention that the kid could hear it ringing while inside the Spinosaur. What kind of magical phone is this? I want one. Also –they hear the phone jingle, but not the footstomps of this 9 ton predator? The movies established that we hear and FEEL the movements of the largest sauropods and theropods. This is yet another nit to not pick, to enjoy the film at all.
So, since this is Isla Sorna, and not the Isla Nublar from three of the five other films, we can assume that there are still dinosaurs on this island, even if (SPOILER) Isla Nublar exploded in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I think the Jurassic World films conveniently forgot about the second island. Things would have been simpler to remember Site B when Fallen Kingdom came around. Continuity can be fun!
What else is notable? It features yet another divorced couple who see each each other in a new light after running for their lives. It has the “dashing” Billy, who I suppose was intended to be a popular character. He’s like a really roughly sketched version of Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady from the Jurassic World films, and not a touch as good.
The ending had pterodactyls flying over the ocean, presumably to the mainland. So…we’ve seen this referenced in several of the films now. And it’s not until Jurassic World 2 that something comes of it. Continuity, people!
Alrighty. Good things from JP3, and there are surprisingly quite a few:
- Some of the Velociraptors had feathers, which was a nice touch if you know that some of these Oviraptors went on to become birds.
- Although the Spinosaurus followed the humans across the entire island like a rabid dog, it still acted like an animal and not Godzilla. (We can save that strange behavior for the engineered creatures in the Jurassic World films.)
- The scene with the embryonic dino incubators was an homage to Aliens, especially with the raptor looking through the tube, giving everyone (and the audience) a well deserved scare.
- The Hadrosaur running scene was a fun callback. (“They’re flocking this way!”)
- The obligatory kid was smarter than any of the adults: he survived alone on the island for 8 weeks. He was almost better off not being saved. And how he acquired T-Rex urine? “Better off not knowing.” Heh. One can only imagine.
- Alan Grant still doesn’t like Ian Malcolm. (“Did you read his book?” “It was kind of preachy.” And Grant sits back, satisfied. That moment kind of completes his arc. )
- The raptors were smart enough to set a trap for the humans. The implications of this are disturbing, in a good way. (“Clever girl.”)
- The best scene, by far, was the set-piece in the misty and unstable Aviary. I still get chills from it. It has all the great atmosphere of the best scenes in this series, with a genuine sense of growing suspense, dread, and horror. What an amazing scene. I appreciated that this was a leftover passage from the first Jurassic Park book, as was the ‘jungle cruise’ segment. It’s not a surprise that the better scenes were the ones originally penned by Michael Crichton.
- They included a scene with some downtime: namely, the conversation in the water truck with Grant and Eric (the kid). All the better movies have these little scenes where the characters catch their breath, since it gives us, the audience, the chance to do so as well. Plucking at our adrenaline strings for two hours makes for an exhausting film experience.
- The Astronomers vs Astronauts conversation reminded me of Angel’s (the vampire TV series) running conversation about Cavemen vs Spacemen. Probably not a real homage, but: cool.
- There is one stirring, magical scene, when the little boat goes by a peaceful pasture of herbivorous sauropods co-existing. The familiar musical theme from John Williams swells, and we feel transported. I’m happy the film had that moment.
- The odd juxtaposition of Barney the Purple Dinosaur on television, while Ellie’s toddler clutches the phone — with people dying from actual dinosaurs.
- Cool early use of a 3-D printer, making a raptor vocal organ. And nice callback use of said organ later.
Well, that’s a decent list of good things from a really poor movie. But I might be grading on a curve, since I love dinosaurs and the original Jurassic Park. After seeing five of these films, I can safely say this one is the worst, but has definite watchable elements. It’s worth viewing for those, if you can ignore the stupidity of humans blundering and yelling about in the brush, ostensibly trying to hide from very large predators. The shouting goes on the entire movie, and only Grant never once gives in to the impulse. He’s not an idiot.
At least, not as completely an idiot. He should have kept to his instincts and not gone to Isla Sorna in the first place.
Movie Rewatch Grade: C
Here’s a fun look at JP3 by Honest Trailers – It’s kind of better than the actual film:
RunPee’s Jurassic Movie Reviews: