I have always found it funny how movies sometimes fall into patterns. Not so much the plot, but the real life happenings regarding the movie, particularly the release date. For instance, Star Wars was released on May 25th, 1977, and every subsequent release of the sequels and prequels were released in May as well. Trust Disney to screw up this tradition but that’s a different matter. So in 1993, the original Jurassic Park was released and 4 years later, the sequel came out. So it only made sense that if a third movie was going to come out, it would come out 4 years later. Sure enough, the word came out that a new Jurassic Park movie would be coming out in 2001. However, without Spielberg directing or an original novel by Crichton for inspiration, there was a lot of debate on just how good Jurassic Park III would be.
The plot: Ben Hildebrand and Eric Kirby are parasailing off the coast of Isla Sorna in the hopes of getting video of some dinosaurs when the boat crew is killed by an unknown creature, forcing them to detach the safety line before the boat crashes onto some rocks. Meanwhile, Dr. Alan Grant is having dinner with his old partner, Dr. Ellie Sattler and her family, and discusses his latest project with Ellie, that Velociraptors could communicate with each other. After hosting a lecture where he was unable to get more grants, Alan returns to his dig site in Montana, where his assistant Billy shows him a 3D printed model of a Raptor’s resonance chamber. Suddenly, a man named Paul Kirby appears and invites Alan and Billy to dinner with him and his wife Amanda, where they offer to fund his research if they will act as their guide on an aerial tour of Isla Sorna, which Grant reluctantly accepts. Alan, along with Billy, join the Kirby’s and their associates Udesky, Nash, and Cooper, as the fly to the island. When they arrive, Alan begins describing the various dinosaurs that they see but when it becomes apparent that the Kirby’s are looking to land on the island, Alan tries to stop them but Cooper knocks him out. When Alan comes to, he finds that they have landed and Amanda is yelling out into a bullhorn for someone. Alan tells Paul to get her to stop but they suddenly hear a loud roar, and Udesky and Nash come running back to the plane, telling everyone they have to leave. As they are trying to take off, they see Cooper at the end of the runway but suddenly a Spinosaurus comes out of the jungle, kills Cooper, and inadvertently causes the plan to crash into some trees. As Udesky and Nash try to call for help on the radio and satellite phone respectively, the Spinosaurus attacks the plane, ripping off the nose of the plane and killing Nash. As Alan and the others escape towards the back of the plane, they cause the wreckage to shift and fall out of the tree, where the Spinosaurus continues to attack the wreckage in an attempt to get at them. They manage to escape the wreckage and briefly lose the Spinosaurus when they head into some thicker jungle but after catching their breaths, they wind up chancing upon a T-Rex. Fleeing from the T-Rex, they run into the Spinosaurus again and the two massive carnivores began battling each other with the Spinosaurus killing the T-Rex by snapping it’s neck, which allows Alan and the others to escape as it begins to feed on it’s kill. Alan strikes Paul and gets the truth out of them, that the Kirby’s are divorced and they are really here to find their son, Eric, and Amanda’s boyfriend, Ben, who have been missing on the island for 8 weeks. Alan and Billy decide to salvage what they can from the plane and then head to the coast to try and get rescued, and the others decide to tag along. As they make their way through the jungle, they come across the parasail and the remains of Ben caught in a tree as well as Amanda’s video camera, which showed that Eric was alive when they reached the island. Amanda goes running off and when Paul catches up to her, they discover a bunch of egg-filled nests near a stream, which Alan identifies as Raptor eggs. They come across the remains of the InGen facility and start looking for Eric when they are suddenly attacked by a Raptor. They manage to trap the raptor but when it begins calling out, Alan realizes that it is calling for help. They run into a herd of dinosaurs to help cover their escape, but get separated as they make their way towards the jungle, with Billy, Paul, and Amanda managing to climb some trees while Udesky is attacked by the Raptors. When Amanda tries to go help him, they realize that the Raptors had set a trap and used the injured Udesky as bait, but with the trap having failed, the Raptors kill Udesky and head off. Meanwhile, Alan finds himself surrounded by the Raptor pack but before they can attack, a pair of gas grenades are thrown into the pack and Alan finds himself being rescued by Eric, who has managed to survive the eight weeks on the island. The next day, Alan and Eric manage to spot a boat docked on the river and decide to make their way to it when Eric hears the sound of his dad’s satellite phone ringing. They follow the sound and come to across a large fence, where they find Paul, Amanda, and Billy on the other side. As Eric and his parents hug, Paul asks how he found them and Eric tells them that he heard his dad’s phone ring but Paul says the last person to have the phone was Nash just before he was eaten. They all look to see the Spinosaurus right behind them so Alan and Eric run along the fence and manage to get through an opening before the Spinosaurus gets them. When the Spinosaurus bursts through the fence, they run into a building and mange to secure the door so the large dinosaur can’t get in. Inside, Billy asks Alan to give him his bag back, saying it isn’t safe, causing Alan to open it and discover that Billy had grabbed two of the Raptor eggs from the nests, which was why the Raptors attacked them. After berating Billy for what he did, The head down the stairs and coming to a mist covered bridge, they proceed to cross one at a time. As Eric is making his way across, Alan realizes that they are inside a giant birdcage, just as a Pteranodon grabs Eric and flies off. Hoping to make things right with Alan, Billy decides to use the parasail to rescue Eric, Billy saves Eric but when a group of Pteranodons attack them, he is forced to drop Eric into the river, just as Alan, Paul, and Amanda are also forced into the river by another Pteranodon. Amanda and Eric escape the enclosure while Alan and Paul try to help Billy, but they are too late as the flock continuously attack Billy as he falls down river and out of sight. Alan and Paul swim underneath the cage, where they meet up with Amanda and Eric on the boat and proceed to head downriver towards the coast. That night, the hear the ringtone from the satellite phone coming from a large pile of droppings near the riverbank and manage to retrieve it, avoiding a confrontation with a Ceratosaurus due to the dropping’s smell. Later on, Alan tries calling Ellie for help but before he can tell her where they are, the Spinosaurus attacks them. and sinks the boat. Paul manages to distract the Spinosaurus, allowing Alan to fire a flare at the spilled gasoline, scaring off the Spinosaurus. As they get close to the beach, they are suddenly surrounded by the Raptor pack, still searching for the eggs. Alan hands the eggs to Amanda to give back to the Raptors, then uses the model resonance chamber to confuse the raptors. When they hear the sound of approaching helicopters, the Raptors take the eggs and leave, and Alan and the others discover the US Navy and Marines arriving to rescue them, as well as Billy who is badly injured but still alive. As the helicopter flies to a waiting aircraft carrier, they spy a flock of Pteranodons flying off, searching for a new nesting site.
Jurassic Park III met with mixed results from the critics, earning a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics seemed to be that while it was darker and faster than the previous movies, it didn’t make up for the lack of creativity. At 92 minutes, this movie would wind up being the shortest movie out of the entire series by a full half hour. In spite of the mixed reviews, it would be a box office success, but with a return of just over $368 million, it would be the lowest earning entry in the franchise.
Is this the best entry in the Jurassic Park franchise? Not even close, but it is a good movie in itself. The acting is good among the 5 principal characters although I think Sam Neil did the best with reprising his role of Alan Grant and his reluctant evolving viewpoint on how the living dinosaurs will change his field of expertise. The plot was ok but a felt a little simplistic to me as compared to the other movies. I did like that they finally had the Pteranodons in the movie as that was something from the first book that I had wanted to see make it onto film. The dinosaur scenes were pretty cool and very well created, especially the scene as they are floating down river and watching all the nearby dinosaurs. I liked the transition of the Spinosaurus being the new “big bad guy” in the movie but the Raptors had a rather small part when it seemed like they should have played a bigger role in the movie. Still it was a good entry into the series and a fun movie to watch.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5