“Arrgghhhh, make it stop!”
My sentiments exactly about the abomination that is Jurassic Park III. From start to finish, it is a film that has no merit. Plot, characterisation, script, direction…Jurassic Park III is the epitome of the failure of these on all levels. It’s a film that bombards you with the same information twice, or maybe even three times if need be. There’s no heart at all behind the scenes. We all know Joe Johnston for ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘Captain America: The First Avenger,’ amongst a few other late 80s/early 90s “childhood classics.” Scenes come and go without glue to hold them together. The characters spew lines that sound as if they were written by a primate. The plot…well, the less said about that the better. When the highlight of the film is a raptor saying ‘Alan!,’ you know something is wrong. Welcome to Jurassic Park…III…
The story was written on the back of a cigarette packet. Kid gets abandoned on Isla Sorna (yes, the same one from The Lost World). Kid’s (divorced) parents, Paul and Amanda Kirby, use deceit to employ several people, including Alan Grant, to save kid. A dinosaur swallows a phone which rings inside the dinosaur (and inside it’s faeces later on). Alan Grant rings Ellie Satler, whose husband is part of the State Department. The US Navy/Army invade Isla Sorna to save Grant and co. Sorry, spoilers…Of course, there’s a little more to the plot. The parents rekindle their love for each other, a few people are killed by dinosaurs, and there’s a character called Billy. Presumably he’s called Billy in reference to Seymour Skinner’s classic take on Jurassic Park called ‘Billy and the Cloneasaurus” (oh, you have got to be kidding me, sir!).
But the characters’ names don’t matter. The characters don’t matter. Grant is reduced to a caricature of the Alan Grant we grew to love in Jurassic Park. After meeting with a shoehorned in Ellie Satler and telling her about the resonating chamber of the raptor, he presents a lecture about the resonating chamber. Yes, we receive the same information about the raptor twice in less than five minutes. One of the two scenes was unnecessary. However, during ‘question time with Alan Grant,’ Grant says “no force on earth or heaven could get me to that island,” in reference to Isla Sorna. A few scenes later, the Kirby’s persuade Grant to accompany them to Isla Sorna with the bribe of lots of cash to fund Grant’s digging expedition. Oh, okay then…it just took the force of dollar signs to sway Grant!
“Nobody move a muscle”
Well, apart from banging one’s head against the wall as dialogue hits the eardrum like claws on a chalkboard. As does the frequent use of the iconic Jurassic Park theme tune. It blares out in the most abstract of scenes, without any wonder to accompany it. Just like the ill-use of dinosaurs, the film misuses the iconic tune. It turns out the Kirby’s have lied about their access to plenty of cash, but Grant is only angry about it for a few minutes. Billy, his digging companion, steals a raptor egg. Grant is only angry about that for a few minutes. Motivations and character development are almost non-existent, meaning that the audience have no interest in what’s happening on the screen. Of course, the argument can be made that the film is about the dino action, and not the characters.
But even here, the film fails. An early confrontation between the Spinosaurus and the T-Rex only arouses a sigh. Of course, for the third film running, the raptors are the main focus. They are the opposition to our characters in the final showdown. Wait a minute…that’s happened before! Sure, some new dinos are on the scene, like the pterodons, but they appear only to put our characters in peril by pecking at them. The birds in The Birds posed a much greater threat than these massive flying predators. The Spinosaurus serves as a bigger T-Rex in threat level, but not in screen presence. When a phone starts ringing in his belly, it brings laughter, not horror, to the audience. Both humans and dinosaurs do not involve the audience in any way.
“Let’s go home”
I thought I had judged the film too harshly when the film was first released. Back then, Jurassic Park was not yet ten years old, and the memory of that classic film was still as fresh as my youth. However, watching it in preparation for Jurassic World, my perception has not changed. There is no saving grace to Jurassic Park III. From the raptor talking to Alan in his dreams, to Alan using a replica resonating chamber to send the raptors away (how did that work, by the way? Surely the raptors knew the sound was coming from Alan? If Alan was sounding for help, why did the raptors run away? So many questions…), Jurassic Park III represents everything that is wrong with the cheap sequel cash-in.
VERDICT: 2/10. Poor, poor, poor, on so many levels…