JURASSIC PARK 3

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“JURASSIC PARK 3”

written by Dominick Cappello

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POSITIVE:

The problem with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997) was that it failed to recapture the adventurous spirit of “Jurassic Park” (1993). It was such a dour movie. However, this third entry in the series was an undeniably fun popcorn flick. Joe Johnston took over for Stephen Spielberg as director. No easy task, but Joe Johnston had already proved himself capable of crafting fun for the whole family adventures like “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” (1989) and Jumanji (1995). Also, Stephen Spielberg stayed on as producer to assure a level of quality that was missing in the sequels to “Jaws” (1975).

Sam Neil reprises his role as Dr. Alan Grant. It seems that years haven’t been kind to him. He is now estranged from Dr. Ellie Sattler, his former love interest played by Laura Dern, and he struggles to find funding for his research because he isn’t eager to cash in on the public’s fascination with his connection to John Hammond and Jurassic Park. He has taken on Billy Brennan, played by Alessandro Nivola, as his protégé. Paul Kirby, played by William H. Macy, arrives at their excavation site and invites them to diner. Mr. Kirby and his wife Amanda, played by Téa Leoni, claim to be billionaire adventurers, planning to spend their anniversary touring Isla Sorna from the safety of a private plane. Dr. Grant is reluctant, but desperate for funding, so he agrees in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money, unaware that Mr. Kirby has also employed a team of mercenaries.

Dr. Grant is shocked to learn that they plan on landing on the island. He protests, but gets knocked unconscious by one of the mercenaries. When he wakes, they’re already on the island. It doesn’t take too long before all hell breaks loose.

“You said we were going to Disneyworld!”

They are attacked by the badass Spinosaurus and two of the mercenaries are gobbled up. The Spinosaurus also destroys their plane, stranding them on the island. To make matters worse, they bump into the T-Rex while evading the Spinosaurus. The two apex predators then battle for supremacy, a scene that appeals to the kid in our heart, successfully fulfilling that childish wish of AWESOME DINO BATTLE. Even more awesome, the battle leaves us with the genuine surprise of a T-Rex defeat. This is satisfying and clever on two levels: 1) we’ve been shocked 2) the filmmakers have in an economic and clever way told us this predator is more deadly. Plus, with a new dominant villain, the series is kept from stagnation.

“Round 1…FIGHT!”

After the chaos dies down, Dr. Grant and Billy realize that Mr. Kirby is a fraud. He’s no billionaire and he and Amanda are divorced. Eric, their son played Trevor Morgan, was left stranded on the island after a parasailing accident several weeks ago, so Paul and Amanda concocted this elaborate scheme to rescue him. Though, Mr. Kirby does vow to remodel their bathrooms as compensation, which is amusing. Dr. Grant has little interest in helping them. His plan is to make it to the shoreline and signal one of the planes that patrol the island. They find the rotted remains of Amanda’s boyfriend, then they stumble upon a nest. Dr. Grants knows that the eggs they discover belong to his arch enemies… Velociraptors.

Billy steals several of the eggs, thinking that he can sell them and use the profit to fund his and Dr. Grant’s research. He truly suffers from hero worship when it comes to Dr. Grant. The Velociraptors hunt them down and kill the last of the mercenaries. Dr. Grant finds Eric and reunites him with his parents, but the Spinosaurus is still a threat. He had swallowed a satellite phone earlier and the ringtone gives him away. He chases Dr. Grant and company into a massive bird cage, which was used by InGen as housing for Pteranodons. Billy sacrifices himself to save Eric.

“Polly want a cracker, beyotch.”

The loss of Billy puts Dr. Grant in a funk, but the Spinosaurus doesn’t leave anyone with much time to grieve, attacking them on a river boat. Before the boat sinks, Dr. Grant calls Ellie on the satellite phone, which they found earlier in Spinosaurus excrement. Dr. Grant shoots the Spinosaurus with a flare gun and it is never seen again.

The Velociraptors corner them one last time, targeting Amanda, assumedly because she is a female. They return the eggs and the Velociraptors depart before a rescue team arrives, comprised of both the Navy and Marines. How Ellie arranged such a rescue is anyone’s guess, but why harp on such things. The soldiers also saved Billy, who returns Dr. Grant’s fedora. The rescue choppers fly off into the sunset, as do the Pteranodons, continuing a motif from the previous “Jurassic Park” movies. Critics didn’t think too highly of the film upon its release. It was called a “saur-loser,” but I think it’s a lot of fun. I’m not surprised that director Joe Johnston later became part of the Marvel cinematic universe with “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011).

– Dr. Jelly

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INDIFFERENT:

The logos for this film feature the iconic ripple effect from the first two “Jurassic Park” movies, caused by the impact of the T-Rex. Unfortunately, the T-Rex doesn’t have much screentime in “Jurassic Park III.” Such is life. This movie isn’t really the third chapter in the “Jurassic Park” trilogy. It’s more like an alternate sequel to the original because the story focuses on the returning Sam Neil as Dr. Alan Grant after Ian Malcolm was the protagonist of the “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” I will admit that I missed Jeff Goldblum. He was definitely my favorite character, but it was nice to see Sam Neil back.

The plot here isn’t anything too convoluted. A kid and his mom’s boyfriend are left stranded on the island after a parasailing accident. You’d think that Isla Sorna would have better security, but this film was rushed into production, so there was no time to focus on small plot holes like that. I wouldn’t say that the screenplay was incomplete, but it probably could’ve done with some polishing. I guess we can assume that it was the Spinosaurus that killed the two tour guides since it can hunt in the water. It would’ve been cool to see more of the Spinosaurus attacking boats, especially during the climax, but again, this film was rushed. It’s runtime is a half hour less than the previous two films, which doesn’t leave time for much character development.

Alessandro Nivola’s character uses a 3-D printer to reconstruct the resonating chamber of a Velociraptor. Initially, I didn’t realize such technology existed. Paleontologist Jack Horner was the technical expert for all three films and an inspiration for the Dr. Alan Grant character. It was his idea for the Spinosaurus to replace the T-Rex as the main antagonist for the human characters. Also, the Velociraptors received a makeover. They were sleeker and the males were given quills, reflecting new discovers made since the release of the first film. The late Stan Winston did some of his best work on this film. The animatronic dinosaurs were incredible. I had to watch this flick a few times before I could spot the difference between the animatronics and CGI. Old fashioned rod puppets were also used for the baby Pteranodons.

“New and improved Raptor 3.0”

On the DVD special features, alternate posters for the film with sub-titles such as “Breakout” and “The Extinction” with tag-lines like “Survival of the Fittest” and “Evolve or Die.” Personally, I would’ve gone with something like “Evolution.” “Breakout” doesn’t work since no dinosaurs leave the island until the final scene with the Pteranodons. “Extinction” is no good since nothing about this film implies that was a finale. Maybe if there was subplot with the government voting to bomb the island and wipe out the dinosaurs within 24 hours, giving the film an urgent ticking clock? The “Evolution” title works because that explains why the T-Rex is no longer the apex predator and why the Velociraptors look different. As if InGen had tampered with their DNA to speed up the evolutionary process. So, if I had worked for Universal Studios way back in 2001, the title would have been “Jurassic Park III: Evolution” or some variation.

Though an enjoyable flick, “Jurassic Park III” was basically hobbled together from the scraps of the first two films. The sequence with the Pteranodons was cut from “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and the climax with Velociraptors being scared off by rescue choppers was the ending of Michael Crichton’s original novel. The scene where the Spinosaurus fin emerges from the water was obviously an homage to “Jaws.” The characters even pile into a cage for protection, reminiscent of Matt Hooper vs. the great white shark. I loved “Jurassic Park,” was disappointed with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” but had a lot of fun viewing “Jurassic Park III”  in spite of its simplistic story.

– Dr. Rochester

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NEGATIVE:

Was the plot of this movie written on the back of a cocktail napkin? Isla Sorna is now quarantined, but it’s no big deal. All you have to do is wait for the one plane on patrol to make its flyby, then tour guides can simply approach the island via speedboat. There should be nothing to worry about because InGen could not have possible cloned any aquatic prehistoric beasts since they used DNA from petrified mosquitoes. I’m no expert, but I don’t think a mosquito can bite you underwater. Anyway, the tour guides are killed by something in the water. Horseshit. Then, a kid and the guy banging his mom are marooned on the island.

Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Grant visits his ex-girlfriend, Dr. Ellie Sattler, who is now married and has two children. Wow, that has to be so freaking awkward. And what’s with her husband? Why is he so happy about his wife’s ex-boyfriend coming to dinner? Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler breaking up is a middle finger to anyone who was a fan of the first film. I’m guessing that Laura Dern didn’t want to be in this shitty movie beyond a cameo, so they had to write her character out of the story. She’s almost as smart as Jeff Goldblum, who probably changed his phone number when he heard that another “Jurassic Park” was green-lit.

Just like in the original movie, Dr. Grant has no funding for his research, which is distressing for his annoying sidekick, Billy Brennan. A mysterious billionaire named Paul Kirby offers Dr. Grant a big payday if he’ll accompany Paul and his wife Amanda on their vacation to Isla Sorna. Just like in the original movie, Dr. Grant succumbs to greed. Not a lot of integrity for a protagonist. They are joined by three mercenaries. You know that one of them is evil because he dresses in all black and wears dark shades. During the flight, Dr. Grant has a nightmare about a verbose Velociraptor. The fuck?

“Sup, Alan?”

Despite of Dr. Grant’s objections, they land the island. One of the mercenaries is quickly eaten by the Spinosaurus, a dinosaur not seen in the last film even though it’s supposed to be the same island. Seriously, where the hell was this Spinosaurus during the last movie? Was he as bored by the plot as I was? The plane crashes and the second mercenary has his head bitten off. At least, that’s what I think happened. The camera cuts away because this is a spineless PG-13 movie. I was about to applaud the filmmakers for giving us this lame Spinosaurus, so that I would be thrilled when the T-Rex shows up in the climax, similar to how he saved the day in the original movie by killing the Velociraptors, but the T-Rex makes an appearance early on and is killed in an underwhelming fight with the Spinosaurus that lasts less than a minute. That’s it? Are you kidding me? The T-Rex is already out of the movie? Bullshit. I want my money back.

Dr. Grant finds out that Mr. Kirby isn’t really a billionaire. He owns a hardware store, so the check he wrote isn’t any good. Wait one damn minute… Dr. Grant didn’t cash the check before he went to the island? He was going to do it when he got back? The fuck? Why didn’t he cash the check immediately? What was Mr. Kirby thinking? His entire plan relied solely on no one doing a background check on him. I know that he desperately wanted to save his son, but wouldn’t the mercenaries have done their due-diligence for sure? Hell, they might have killed Mr. Kirby when they learned that he was going to stiff them. Also, the head mercenary isn’t really a mercenary. Were all these secret identities meant to make the plot seem more complex and less idiotic than it really was?

Billy steals Velociraptor eggs and puts everyone in danger. Dr. Grant scolds him, but feels guilty after Pterodactyls peck Billy to death. I’m glad he’s dead. He sucked.

“God damn it, Billy, this is your own fault.”

The Spinosaurus is hot on their heels after they rifle through his shit. I’m serious. They actually stick their hands in giant piles of shit. That was funny in the original film only because Jeff Goldblum was on hand to point out how ridiculous it was. When the Spinosaurus attacks them in the river, Dr. Grant calls Ellie on a satellite phone. Even though her toddler answers the call, Ellie somehow knows what is happening on the island. This is when Barney the friendly purple dinosaur makes a cameo. Sigh.

The next morning, the Velociraptors surround Dr. Grant and his lame co-stars. Instead of an exciting climax, the raptors are scared off by the sounds of rescue choppers. Well, that was disappointing. Soldiers save everyone… including Billy. A happy ending? I guess so since Dr. Grant and Billy have more chemistry than Paul and Amanda. Then, they see the Pterodactyls escaping the confines of the island. A happy ending? Hell to the no. They’ve been established as carnivores, so this bad news for a lot of people. Joe Johnston was rewarded for this mediocre film by being given the reigns of the “Captain America” franchise. But, don’t worry overrated Marvel cinematic universe, your day will come.

“Is this a test?”

– Dr. Frisbee

Author: Marvin Mercer

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