I’m interested to hear other opinions about this film because, to me, this film is an oddity in the franchise. I don’t know if Universal had some sort of mandate to produce another film, but it feels like it was made as an obligation to a contract. Nothing about this film feels like it moves the needle forward or introduces anything of any real substance. At its core, it’s a truly pointless sequel made to cash in on the name Jurassic Park. Saying that, I really do find the film to be enjoyable. It’s a sleek 90-minute thrill ride that delivers on plenty of dino-action. And isn’t that what we came to see?
Early in pre-production, it seems that Michael Crichton was part of the pitch process but apparently couldn’t come up with a suitable idea and left the project. Eventually, the idea of a group of people getting stranded on Isla Sorna became the starting point and we got the movie presented. While I have no proof of this, I genuinely believe the script was written with Alan Grant as a supplemental character since he is kind of unnecessary when you think about it. Sure, he’s the dino “expert” but does his presence change anything outside of their rescue at the end? Any of the other characters could have been that person.
And I’m not saying this as a slight against Sam Neill. He is a welcome treat returning to this franchise and the movie is better off with him in it. It’s just a feeling that they weren’t 100% sure they could get him back for this film. But again, I have nothing to base this on besides the way things have been presented. Furthermore, the rest of the film feels smaller than the last two outings. The cast of characters is more streamlined and even the island feels condensed.
Let’s talk about that cast, shall we? I think since we had a return of Sam Neill as Alan Grant, it was nice to see Laura Dern return as Ellie Sadler, even if it was more than an extended cameo. The filmmakers could have easily explained her away, but it was nice seeing that the pair still had a relationship even if it wasn’t a romantic one. And to be honest, they weren’t all that affectionate in the first film anyway, so their separation doesn’t come as much of a shock. At least not to me.
Since there are no other returning cats members. Let’s focus on the Kirbys. Tea Leoni is a fine actress and all, but here she plays a typical “mom” role. You tell her not to shout for her son and she does it anyway. She comes off a bit incompetent which I undertsand. She’s just a mom now being chased by dinosaurs. Just makes you wonder how she and the rest of them survived. Same goes for William H. Macy, who is a great character actor, by the way. He feels somewhat wasted here but he was down to do the movie for no other reason than to “fight a dinosaur.” Guess those opportunities don’t come up very often.
Trevor Morgan plays Eric and is a fine child actor. He has seemingly worked steadily through the years but I couldn’t tell you many more films he’s been in besides this one. Furthermore, what is up with kids in all these damn movies? Why must there ALWAYS be a kid? Here, at least he’s a plot device but was Ian Malcolm’s daughter really necessary to the plot? I know I should have brought that up last time, but it just hit me here. I guess kids are a target audience with these movies. They seem to love big imaginary monsters like dinosaurs.
And since this film needs some form of antagonist for some reason, Alessandro Nivola plays Billy, the assistant looking to make a name for himself. Seriously, in what world would you think stealing the eggs of an animal would just go over well? He played his hand pretty hard too, freaking out over his precious bag. It’s possible he could have gotten them off the island, but no doubt at the cost of everyone else. I do like that moment after the Pteranodons have seemingly killed him and that one looks back at Grant and Mr. Kirby with this gaze that says “Youse guys wanna be next?” Billy should have died in my opinion. How he survived is one of this film’s biggest mysteries. Actually, it ISN’T, seeing as how the actor whined about his character dying that they changed the script.
The rest of the cast is fine too, but nothing to note since they all become dino fodder pretty quick. Although I will shout-out the amazing Michael Jeter, a local Tennessean like myself, who always turned in a great performance in whatever he did. He left us way too soon.
The film’s directorial duties were handled this time around by Joe Johnston, a man who feels like he should have more film credits to his name. Even if you don’t know him by name, chances are you’ve seen one of his films. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the Rocketeer, Jumanji, the Wolfman, Captain America: the First Avenger… and those are just a few he directed. Johnston was apparently eager to direct a Jurassic Park film and even lobbied to direct the Lost World. Since Spielberg took that opportunity from him, he offered him the chance to direct this film to make up for it. Spileberg was busy with his next big hit that we all remember, A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
With Spielberg directing another film, you know Big John Williams won’t be far behind. So the score was handed off to Don Davis who does an admirable job rehashing Williams’ original score. Am I saying he’s a hack? Not necessarily but considering, outside of this film, the only other film franchise of note that he scored was the original Matrix trilogy? And even that, what do you remember from that score but that title sting? Maybe I’m being too harsh on the guy. I mean he DID score Warriors of Virtue… gonna let that one sit for a moment.
Speaking of music, a fun little tidbit I thought I would share is that the country-western song being played at the bar where Alan and Billy meet the Kirbys, apparently is a telltale sign that the Kirbys are not being honest. One of the lyrics reads,” And I lie, lie, lie,” which can be heard as the scene ends. Considering this song is written and performed by everyone’s favorite composer Randy Newman, this is a purposeful song about lying and is intentionally placed within the scene.
One thing I can say with confidence gets increasingly better with each film are the effects. In each film, they find ways to add new textures and details to the dinosaurs which I appreciate. Here, they went with some interesting color schemes which seem natural to reptilian creatures, but I’m not gonna say that I think they all work. I commend them for at least trying to do something different. Even more impressive is the animatronics work on display with the Spinosaurus model being the largest ever built at the time, measuring at 25 feet high, 40 feet long, and weighing 24,000 lbs. Pretty damn impressive if you ask me!
While I have no indications how a raptor would act, I do appreciate the added nuances to them here, showing their intelligence and how pack hunters would coordinate to hunt. The scene where they essentially set a trap to lure out the survivors was particularly clever. Would animals actually pull that off? I don’t see any reason they wouldn’t if they could deduce it would work. Plus, I appreciate that the raptors are only attempting to get their eggs back. Would they have chased them had the eggs not been stolen. That’s the real question. One I am not certified to answer. But if I were, I’d like to think not.
And I know the talking raptor scene is going to be brought up and torn to shreds because people hate it, but IT’S A DREAM SEQUENCE, PEOPLE! A DREAM!! It’s about as real as dinosaurs, so stop whining about it!
How about that Spinosaurus? Prior to this movie, I was unaware of this particular species. How I have no idea considering the first record of a fossil discovery was 1912. I genuinely thought the writers made something up for this movie. Now, it’s funny that I thought that because if certain details are true, then this film connects deeper to the newest trilogy even more. If you take into account that this movie takes place on Isla Sorna, the first real question to ask should be, “Where the hell was this Spinosaurus in the last film?” And that’s pretty damn valid. However, take note of a comment from Billy when he and Grant are talking about it. “I don’t remember seeing that on InGen’s list.” To which Grant responds, “It wasn’t on their list. Which makes you wonder what else they were up to.”
This line along with certain supplemental material suggests that the Spinosaurus in this flick was a prototype hybrid, a precursor to the Indominus and Indoraptor, created by InGen scientists AFTER the events in The Lost World. If this is true, then this film no longer feels like an oddity but a precursor to the events in Jurassic World. Here’s hoping they tie it altogether in Dominion. Stay tuned to hear if they did!
Jurassic Park III isn’t some hidden gem that moviegoers have overlooked, but I think it’s underrated by comparison to its predecessors. The film doesn’t attempt to emulate Spielberg. It attempts to give you what you came to see: an action packed adventure full of dinosaur action and carnage. A true popcorn flick in every sense. It doesn’t get bogged down with complicated exposition or unnecessary plot points, although I guess one could argue Billy’s role is just that. In any case, you get what you paid for and there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes. Believe me. I’ve seen Troll 2.