Jurassic Park III

Directed by: Joe Johnston
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Written by Nick McCann


Despite being on different ends of the quality spectrum, Steven Spielberg’s two “Jurassic Park” films made massive killings at the box office while pushing special effects filmmaking to new heights. Even though “The Lost World” couldn’t stack up to the original, many saw themselves embracing it in due time. At the turn of the century, came time for a third film. After some script revisions and production problems, it finally saw a release. And while it lacks in a lot of areas, it’s not that shabby.

The biggest letdown is the story. Things are stripped back significantly as far as general substance, coming off more as a side story B-movie serial. However, in that respect, it’s straightforward and briskly paced. If you’re looking for the bare basic Jurassic experience and just want to watch people run from dinosaurs, the story fits that bill fine. But the lack of intriguing concepts and higher questions on top of all that fun has me somewhat questioning how this is a mainline sequel. Had it been more tuned to being a side story, the sting would be lessened.

Character development also takes a hit. Sam Neill returns as Alan Grant, bringing back his reliable and likable grumpy attitude. There are also great players here like William H. Macy, Michael Jeter, and a returning Laura Dern. Their acting is good, but the writing doesn’t develop them uniquely compared to before. The worst offender has to be Téa Leoni. She is a 21st-century Fay Wray, an annoying scream machine that almost always makes dumb choices. Moments of stupidity occasionally come up from almost everyone, but she takes the dumb cake. Save for Neill, this is easily the thinnest character roster of the series.

For what it’s worth, the movie has it where it counts in its technical areas. The camera work is decent and sharp in composition. Production values also show a lot of nicely detailed sets and locations. Chiefly, we get new dinosaurs! The special effects are once again great, with the CGI looking particularly good this time. Practical animatronics are solid as ever, but the detail in the computer work is very good. Be it the littlest muscle movements or how they are integrated into shots with practical animatronics, it’s another step up.

On that note, the action sequences leave the audience with plenty to remember them by. Highlights include a T-Rex vs. Spinosaurus fight, a Pteranodon air raid, and a river boat attack. My complaint here is we see some new dinosaurs that only show up for a shot or two before leaving the picture. Nevertheless, the action feels slick and the tension definitely increases with each new set piece. Sound design is also on point, same goes for Don Davis’s score that hits in an appealingly different way from John Williams’ iconic work.

“Jurassic Park 3” is no doubt the weakest of the films, but it isn’t a complete travesty. At best, it’s a fun watch if you want some quick dinosaur thrills on a rainy day. The lack of familiar concepts and unique character development is a drag, but other movie sequels have done worse for their franchises. Still, a pretty tough sell calling this the third movie though.

“Jurassic Park III” Trailer

“Jurassic Park III” is streaming on HBO Max.

You can connect with Nick on his Facebook and Letterboxd.

Leave a Reply